THE SEASON AHEAD: WEEK ONE = KATIE HOLMES
Week 1 of the college football season is sort of like your first day out of jail. You'll hit on the first woman you see. Even if it's Mildred in accounting, the bespectacled 20-something who spends all night watching The Bachelor on demand and sobbing over its beautiful romance.
Or even her.
But fear not, college football fans. No, the schedulers never put a Jessica Alba out there, but rarely is Mildred to be seen. Instead, rate the beginning of the season a Katie Holmes -- cute, even if she is a little bit spacey and has a kind of a creepy, stalkerish husband out there. Yeah, you'll hit on her gladly, but with no expectation it will go anywhere, in part because it would be wrong, in part because of the creepy husband and in part because she believes spirits sprang from volcanoes millions of years ago. (Sadly, I'm not making this up.)
The first nationally televised game of the season begins at 7 p.m. ET on Thursday, Aug. 30, when Tulsa goes to Louisiana-Monroe. This game, for some odd reason, is on ESPN2, despite airing at the same time as Miami (OH) at Ball State, a game that at least has a chance of not putting you to sleep. If you're home by 7 p.m. (i.e., you don't live in Atlanta), watch this game to warm up.
But the real game that night is LSU at Mississippi State, which kicks off one hour later. Besides the fact that this is the first "real," nationally televised game of the season, there are a few reasons to watch it. First, to see if Matt Flynn can hang 40 on a team not named Miami. Second, to see just how scary good LSU's defense is going to be. And third, to see if this is the week that Sly Croom's voice actually causes the stadium to implode.
If Les Miles is rendered unable to speak, millions will thank you.
At the same time on Friday, there is a forgettable game between Washington and Syracuse. Forgettable because, let's face it, both of these teams will be forgotten by October.
But, ah, Saturday, that is when the games get underway for real. The Colorado/Colorado State rivarly matchup at 12:30 p.m. ET is on FSN. Yeah, it's a game between two teams that are going nowhere fast, but it's a rivalry, so it can tide you over.
At 3:30 p.m. ET, the day begins in earnest. On NBC is Georgia Tech at Notre Dame, in which we will find out if Gaileyball has lost its magical ability to leave us awed at the sheer volume of its underachievement. At the same time, ABC airs Wake Forest at Boston College (at least in the ACC region), a game that could give us a good clue as to whether Boston College is going to be a contender this year and whether Wake Forest was a one-year wonder or an underdog with staying power.
The 5:30 p.m. matchup, when Arizona travels to BYU, could be an intriguing matchups between a couple of dark horses -- 'Zona to compete in the Pac-10, BYU to maybepossiblywithahalfdozenbreaks get into a BCS game. That game is on Versus, which is actually a network. They're the folks that do hockey.
At 6:45 p.m., Georgia hosts Oklahoma State in what is becoming a popular upset alert. That game is on ESPN2.
The prime-time slate is a mix of intriguing and flat-out good. Kansas State goes to Auburn at 7:45 p.m. That's right, both Auburn and Kansas State have scheduled a nonconference game against a BCS foe. The same week, even.
Then, at 8 p.m. on ABC, we get the marquee matchup of the night: TENNESSEE AT CALIFORNIA. Both of these teams have been tantalizing at times the last few years, even good at moments. Tennessee is a team that has stagnated in the last three or four seasons, though, while Cal is the team that is always on the upswing, but never able to cross the mountain.
There are more games on throughout the day, but those are the good ones. Not bad for a first day of college football. Just enough to get you interested in the weeks yet to come.