Can you smell that, sports fans? The freshly cut grass? The grill at the tailgate loaded up with low-sodium, turkey kielbasa? The stumbling guy with matching hat and jersey who has had way too much to drink hours before tip-off? That’s right. It’s that time of year again and we are all ready for some football.
That means we can hunker down in front of the tube this weekend and enjoy, enjoy, enjoy. Here’s what you should be watching.
Troy at (1) Florida – (Saturday, 12:00 pm – ESPN – UF minus 36.5)
To the delight of everyone who resides outside Gator Nation, we only have about twelve more opportunities to watch Tim Tebow walk on Swamp water. Enjoy it while it lasts. In their opener against Charleston Southern, the Gators didn’t appear to miss Percy Harvin all that much, as they averaged 11 yards a carry and 14 yards a reception. Expect much of the same against Troy, their ‘scrimmage’ before conference play. If you like offense, be sure to tune in to the first half of the Florida game before Tebow sits the bench.
(3) USC at (8) Ohio State (Saturday, 8:00 pm – ESPN – USC minus 7)
If you’re going to watch only one football game this weekend, make sure this is the one. Never has a meaningless game been so meaningful, at least in Columbus, Ohio. The loser of this game can still win their conference and even conceivably play for a national championship. But after last year’s 35-3 beat down, many feel Ohio State needs to exact revenge against Southern Cal, not only for its program but for its conference. Can Ohio State stop USC’s ground game? Can they put pressure on freshman QB Matt Barkley? Can Ohio State’s Terrelle Pryor will his team to victory? If you’re not fortunate enough to attend this game in person, turn up the volume on your television sets. The Horseshoe should be rockin’.
(18) Notre Dame at Michigan (Saturday, 3:30 pm – ABC – ND minus 3)
It wasn’t long ago (last year) that these two teams sucked. In 2008, Michigan was a lowly 3-9 and Notre Dame was 7-6, which was the best season they’d had in years. The good news is it looks like head coaches Charlie Weis and Rich Rodriguez have turned things around for two of the nation’s most storied programs. In their first two games, Michigan and Notre Dame won by a combined score of 66-7. While Michigan Stadium might not hold the mystique of years past, at least not for Appalachian State, this game should determine which one of these teams is for real and which still has work to do before once again returning to prosperity.
Fresno State at Wisconsin (Saturday, 12:00 pm – ESPN – Wisc minus 9)
The Badgers are consistently one of the most difficult home teams to play in the Big Ten but Fresno State is no slouch – this is a team that only two years ago went 9-4 and they scored 51 points in their home opener. They could pose a problem for Wisconsin. Both teams feature two running backs that should see plenty of carries, so if you like a knock-down, drag out rushing attack, this could be the game to watch. Wisconsin, who went 3-5 last year, will need to be careful of a pesky WAC team, who’s not coming in for a friendly visit.
UCLA at Tennessee (Saturday, 4:00 pm – ESPN – UT minus 9)
Last year UCLA stunned Tennessee in an overtime 27-24 thriller to kick off the season. Then both teams went on to have disappointing years. Tennessee finished 5-7, resulting in the end of Phillip Fulmer’s tenure and the eventual ushering in of Lane Kiffin. Similarly, UCLA finished 4-8. Both programs are looking for new beginnings and appear well on their way, or at least they did in week one. UT put up 63 points in their home opener against Western Kentucky while UCLA beat up on San Diego State, 33-14. This will be Tennessee’s last tune-up before next weekend’s much anticipated visit to the Swamp.
Eagles at Panthers (Sunday, 1:00 pm – FOX – PHI minus 2)
Will the Michael Vick experiment work? How will he ultimately be used? Will PETA protestors picket passionately? Philadelphia fans won’t need to worry about those questions for at least two more weeks when Vick’s suspension is lifted but this is still a tough road opener for the Eagles. The game should determine whether the best of the NFC South can compete with the NFC East. The winner will also get an early leg up in the NFC playoff race.
Redskins at Giants (Sunday, 4:15 pm – FOX – NYG minus 6.5)
Any NFC East division game is worth watching. The ‘Skins and Giants both have a lot of questions that could be answered in the first week. Will Jason Campbell finally emerge as the quarterback the Redskins hope he can be? Will the Giants be able to cope with the loss of Plaxico Burress? And what of the Osi Umenyiora and his alleged dispute with new defensive coordinator, resulting in his skipping practice? Can the Giants put these issues behind them? In the NFL, winning cures all ills. But if the Giants drop their home opener, expect the New York media to perpetuate the soap opera.
Bears at Packers (Sunday, 8:20 pm – NBC – GB minus 3.5)
Jay Cutler’s first game as the new Bears’ quarterback will rudely welcome him to the NFC North. While there likely won’t be any frozen tundra in Green Bay in mid-September, Lambeau Field is still one of the most intimidating stadiums to visit. While the Cutler era begins in Chicago, Green Bay is one more full season removed from their Brett Favre drama and looks to rebound from a disappointing 6-10 season.
Columbus better be loud on Saturday, DB.
Tell that Nick guy to leave hoarse or don’t leave at all.
That is one aspect of this matchup that is a sure bet!!
Dude, come one! UF vs Troy?! Are you crazy! I wouldn’t waste my time watching my Bulldogs play Troy, and that would be a more competitive game! I’ll be on the lake water skiing!
The only spreads I like to see nowadays are ones where it’s on a buffet table. Or where some buxom luscious beauty is lasciviously lying on a table with food discretely placed over her naked body. That way I can enjoy the appetizer all the more merrily. Need one say anymore ?
Georgia vs SC? Whatcha think? Georgia, right?
I will be particullarly interested in the UT/UCLA game because we have them next wknd, however, Ohio State/USC game will be the one to watch. NFL all good with many games to watch. I will watch all of them. You didn’t mention The Fed Ex BMW @ Cog Hill in Chicago. Great weekend of soprts on tap! Whoo Hoo…
Dan-O… come on. I had to justify including them on the list somehow. I mean they are the number one team in the nation.
That’s why I said watch the first quarter then hit the lake.
Al…. Sounds good to me, man.
Ath… I thought long and hard about putting that game on this list. It should definitely be worth watching.
I’m torn about who will take that game. Georgia should take it but I like Carolina’s quarterback and Georgia’s still struggling.
Spurrier always used to own Georgia but this year they might have too much talent again.
When Tiger’s playing, Brotha E only flips to football when there’s a commercial.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
None of these college game actually have me licking my chops wanting for more. In all honesty I’ve got to wait ’til at least 3 games have been played before I really get into things.
That way I things start to take shape as to the contenders and pretenders in one form or another.
So Iverson ‘tweeted’ that he’s joining the Grizzlies ?
How comes Madden didn’t do the same thing now that he’s about to become Goodell’s consigliere ? I mean if he’s going to take on the role of an advisor in the form of The Godfather’s Tom Hayden ( role made famous by Robert Duvall). Then I’d have expected Madden to have ‘tweeted’ about it , wouldn’t you ?
Dropped these two pieces .
PTI Inquiring Minds Need To Know …….
Where There’s A Will There’s A Way …………
I’m of the mindset when you’ve nothing good to say about an opponent . Then say nothing at all . ergo Miguel Cotto is spouting off that he’s going to knock Pacquiao out when they meet in mid November. Cotto struggled to beat Joshua Clotty . And now this ?
What the hell is wrong with the guy ?
Pacquaio is liable to tear him to shreds and then he’ll await the winner of the Mayweather Marquez bout.
Haven’t read your comments that I did on that piece entitled Rust ? What Rust ?
Not watching college football, Al? Are you feeling feverish? Tell your girl to let you out of the bedroom for a little bit.
That Ohio State game is huge, man. If they lose that game, that program will have to take a long hard look at itself and a once proud fan base will be miserable to say the least.
What are you going to do for that Pacquiao fight? Is it pay-per-view?
Dawgs Defeat Gamecocks 41-37!!!!!
Atlanta Falcons at home against the Miami Dolphins today!
Ath… that was an incredible game and it wasn’t even the fourth best game on tv yesterday.
Michigan-ND, UCLA-Tennessee, USC-Ohio State and UGA-USC were all riveting games. Who would have thought that game would have such high scoring?
Spurrier’s Garcia concerns will continue.
All I can say is, I can’t wait til the Gators play either one of them.
Didn’t even see the first minute of the UF game. I was already on the water already! Sounds like it was a nail biter! LOL I did see UGA/SC. Where did the defense go?!
The Paccquaio Cotto bout is in November and as far as that’s concerned . I’m not so sure as of yet. The Mayweather Marquez bout is this upcoming Saturday the 19th Sept and once again it’s a PPV event .
Actually, Dan, the Gators looked sluggish in the first quarter but then turned on the jets in the 2nd to score 28.
Looking forward to next week BIG time.
Al, when the fight rolls around, let me know if you want to meet up in the finest dive bar in Dundee that might be showing it.
Will do , that’s an affirmative. Hopefully it won’t conflict with my schedule.
So Urlacher is out for the season ? Does that mean that Paris Hilton will be there to fluff his pillows ?
Dropped this piece on the Bears and Bucs and then here’s a piece on the woefully inept Panthers.
The Emperor Has No New Clothes ………..
Bastard Out of Carolina …………
Just commented on both pieces.
Like I told Athens earlier, in Week One, it already looks like it will be a two team race in the NFC South.
With the Packers and Vikes fighting for position, we’re probably looking at some NFC East teams that will be left out of the playoffs.
You heard it here first.