THE SEASON AHEAD: WEEK 5 IS AT A NEUTRAL SITE
Ah, the allure of a neutral site game. Almost assured national television coverage, given the game is any good to begin with. A 50-50 split on revenues. And when you happen to be closer to the neutral site than your opponent, all the better.
In one of the most interesting nonconference games of the year, Alabama and FSU clash in Jacksonville, a city which apparently exists simply to host football games, during Week 5. This is old money, in the form of the Crimson Tide, versus new money, in the form of FSU.
Why ya reckon they made a football outta crystal?
It's odd to call anything at FSU "new," given the fact that their coach could be the great-grandfather of many of is his players. But the first FSU national championship came in 1993 -- after the Tide's last championship. (Something I would hasten to advise FSU fans not to mention while in Jacksonville. It could be hazardous to your health.)
Neither of these teams will get any TV mileage out of their current prominence because, face it, they have none. Several years of offenses orchestrated by Jeff Bowden and Mike Shula have proven that no tradition is safe from being left crumpled in a dark alley, bleeding, shivering and begging for someone to call 911.
But the tradition will bring it to television, and give us a game time.
Another rivalry that gets traction merely from the history and names of the programs involved is Air Force at Navy, a 1 p.m. game that airs on CSTV. So as long as you don't have CSTV, you don't have to feel unpatriotic for not watching it.
The two games airing Thursday and Friday have potential. In a clash of two of the consistently better mid-major teams in college football, Southern Mississippi travels to the land of the blue turf to take on Boise State. (Psssst -- watch out for the Statue of Liberty.) That's Thursday at 7:30 p.m. ESPN.
The next day, West Virginia journeys to South Florida at 8 p.m. in an ESPN2 game. Revenge could be on the Mountaineers' mind, given that the Bulls helped derail their Big East/national title dreams last year. USF, meanwhile, will be trying to prove that it has arrived.
Back to Saturday, the intraconference slate isn't shabby, either.
Auburn goes to Florida, with the time and network to be announced. If Al Borges has finally cracked the code of Brandon Cox, this could be a good shootout in the Swamp.
Two coaches that have well-established means meet in the best ACC game of the week as Clemson heads to Georgia Tech in the battle of the auto-pilot programs. Will this be part of Baby Bowden's eight wins or Chan Gailey's seven? Again, time and channel forthcoming.
Two interesting Pac-10 games on the week: Washington hosts Southern Cal as its year of purgatory continues. But don't label the Huskies losers yet; given a competent clock official, Washington would have had a decent chance at upsetting the other USC last year. (Yes, C&F is aware that "competent" and "official" don't belong in the same sentence when discussing the Pac-10.) The 8 p.m. game is either likely or going to be included in ABC's Saturday Night Football, depending on who you listen to, though it's also probably destined for regional coverage.
Cal at Oregon is scheduled for 3:30 p.m., meaning that it is almost destined to also be on ABC's slate, more than likely also for the West Coast. (C&F tries to break out of his East Coast bias, but The Man is keeping him down.)