Five Intriguing Games This Weekend – From the Bird’s Nest
Last weekend saw one of the best opening weekends in college football, maybe ever. It used to be where the first three or four weekends of the season were games where the haves beat up on the have nots. And, that certainly still exists.
But, thanks to television and the college football playoff, where strength of schedule means something, you're seeing more and more marquee matchups, especially on the first weekend.
Naturally, week two is bound to be a letdown, comparatively speaking. That is not to say there aren't a few good ones this weekend. Here are the ones that have caught my eye.
PENN STATE (1-0) AT PITTSBURGH (1-0)(-5') 11:00 am, ESPN--A great way to start the day in college football. One of the negative byproducts of conference realignment has been the dissipation of long standing rivalries. But that isn't an excuse. There is NO excuse for these teams not to have met for sixteen years. At one time this was a big rivalry in college football. It's about time the teams get back together. Technically a neutral site game because it's at Heinz Field, Pittsburgh does get a home advantage in this one. Both schools are looking for something better. Penn State started 7-2 but lost their last four. Pitt was 8-4 during the regular season, with all their losses coming to very good teams. The Panthers could challenge in the wide open ACC Coastal. Penn State plays in the brutal Big 10 East. My guess is we'll still see the intensity despite how long it's been since these two programs last played.
ARKANSAS (1-0) AT (#15) TCU (1-0) (-7') 6:00 pm, ESPN--Neither coach has to be particularly happy about last Saturday when the Horned Frogs gave up 41 to those juggernaut Jackrabbits of South Dakota State, while the Razorbacks were fortunate to get to their locker room with a one point win over three touchdown underdog Louisiana Tech. But, you don't apologize for winning, and the bottom line is both teams found a way. The winner of this game will feel a whole lot better. The loser's fan base will act like their team is 0-2. Frogs and Hogs....let's get it.
BYU (1-0) AT UTAH (1-0) (-3') 6:30 pm, FOX--If you don't know how intense this rivalry has gotten in the last decade, you haven't been paying attention. This rivals Alabama-Auburn, Texas-Oklahoma and Michigan-Ohio State as one of the truly great rivalries in college football. The players don't like each other, the coaches don't like each other, the administrations don't like each other and the fans REALLY don't like each other. After beating Arizona State last week, BYU has another opportunity for their second straight road win. Don't expect a ton of points. Do expect a lot of passion.
VIRGINIA TECH (1-0) VS. (#17) TENNESSEE (-11') 7:00 pm, ABC--Justin Fuente gets his first test as the head coach of the Hokies after opening with an easy win over Liberty. This week he gets a different kind of Flames. The Vols are fighting to get re-respected (is that a word?) after escaping against Appalachian State, which caused a pretty significant drop in the polls. Many, as you might expect, suggested Tennessee was overvalued (you didn't expect them to give App State any credit, right?). An opportunity game for both teams. What makes this intriguing is the game is being played at the Bristol Motor Speedway, which can hold 150,000 fans. What makes it more intriguing is the thought of 150,000 people wanting to see this game.
WASHINGTON STATE (0-1) AT BOISE STATE (1-0)(-11') 9:15 pm, ESPN--Washington State started with a loss to FCS Eastern Washington, and that's the second straight year the Pirate has had to walk the plank on opening weekend against an opponent from a lesser division. What many forget is Mike Leach's club went on to win nine games, including wins over Oregon, both Arizona teams and UCLA. Now it's on to the blue turf to face last week's Louisiana opponent. The sidebar on this game is Washington State tried mightily to get QB Brett Rypien and there were a lot of Cougars' fans that were very upset when the Spokane native chose the Broncos. Fun on the blue turf, and a great way to close the day.