College football kicks off tonight as #9 South Carolina visits #21 Texas A&M. A major clash to kickoff the “barely” advertised SEC Network and a juicy appetizer to wet our taste buds for another thrilling Saturdays of Fall. While most of our football obsessed nation is waiting for Sundays to arrive once again, down in the South Saturday is Football Heaven. It’s all they talk and care about, followed by Friday nights in a distant second. The NFL barely registers on Sundays in SEC country cause that is race day.
Professional sports are more entertaining than its collegiate counterpart, simply for have a collection of the world’s best talents competing against one another. However, college football comes the closest to matching its professional counterpart. There is no more exciting sports feeling than walking a college campus on a Saturday. The grills are smoking, every cooler is packed with beer, and hundreds of thousands of fans bristle with excitement in the anticipation of kickoff. The buzz is unparalleled anywhere else in sport.
I witnessed this first hand in college at Notre Dame. The population of South Bend more than doubled on Saturday Gamedays as fans poured in to watch the most losses over any four year stretch in school history. It didn’t matter, people still came to cheer and hope. Sports fans root for their team to feel part of something bigger, a community. Nowhere else in sports is that feeling stronger than in college football. The love of tradition and camaraderie pours over the throngs of tailgating supporters. The feeling only strengthens as fans step into the stadium to root on their team. The band plays the fight song, the crowd sings it word for word, and then the team marches out onto the field into pure mayhem of joy. Win or lose, it is an amazing experience that feels fresh every single time.
College football’s appeal goes beyond the excitement of tailgating and hearing the band play, the game itself has gotten much closer to the NFL level in the last decade. In the 90s, when I first started watching college football, the triple option was still a popular offense and something that would never be seen on Sundays. Now, college offenses have become so layered and advanced that NFL coaches actually borrow from the college ranks to improve their offense. No NBA team is looking to the college ranks to steal the “let’s pass it around the perimeter for 20 seconds then force up a three” offense. The Utah Jazz is the only team to borrow from college by starting five white guys.
Five Bold Predictions for the 2014 Season
1. Two SEC teams will make the inaugural College Football Playoffs – Since a special committee is overseeing the selection of the four teams to compete in the first ever playoffs the SEC will be graded on a curve due to its recent success.
2. No Pac 12 team will make the playoffs – The Pac 12 is a slaughterhouse this year, tougher than even the SEC. No team will make it out undefeated and since the conference does not get the respect it deserves the committee will not be grading on a scale leaving the Pac 12 out in the cold. Apologies to the Duck, Bruin, and Tree nations respectively.
3. A QB will not win the Heisman – Todd Gurley will and he is a running back from Georgia. Gurley is a beast and with the departure of three year starter Aaron Murray he will be depended on immensely throughout the season. Total season stat line prediction – 1,836 yards, 15 TDs, 49 catches for 423 yards and 3 TDs. A monstrous season combined with being the lone SEC representation and Quarterback fatigue leads to the Heisman win.
4. Wisconsin is the lone undefeated team when playoff starts– The Badgers toughest game of the year is this Saturday against LSU. Gary Andersen brings some of that Utah State flash to the offense, which combines nicely with the power running game and he out Madhatters the Madhatter Les Miles for the win. After the big victory the Badgers get to feast on this tasty schedule, vs W. Illinois, vs Bowling Green, vs. South Florida, @Northwestern, vs. Illinois, vs. Maryland, @Rutgers, @Purdue, vs. #22 Nebraska, @Iowa, vs. Minnesota. A cake walk of a regular season schedule which will allow them to add more wrinkles into the offense and gain momentum to topple Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship.
Where will the top ranked teams lose? #1 Florida State goes down on Thursday 10/30 at Louisville, as a lackadaisical Seminoles team is overwhelmed by a raucous, drunk Louisville crowd decked out in Halloween costumes. #2 Alabama falls on the road to a hungry LSU team on November 8th. #3 Oregon loses twice, first to Washington at home in a letdown game after defeating UCLA on the road, and then in the regular season finale at Oregon State as it has been too long since the Beavers won the Civil War. #4 Oklahoma loses on the road to the “Bro King” and part time Ryan Gosling impersonator Cliff Kingsbury and the Red Raiders of Texas Tech.
5. Florida State will repeat as Champs – Wait, this isn’t bold, it is as safe as they come. Is it though? So many people jumped on the FSU bandwagon over the summer that it began to tip and frighten everyone into nitpicking every little thing that could be wrong with this team. Thus leading to a ton of people jumping off the bandwagon and calling the team overrated or saying it will collapse under the pressure of repeating. Not me though, I’ll stick with the pick, FSU back-to-back.
Five Good Bets for the Weekend
1. Rice (+21.5) over Notre Dame – Notre Dame does not cover big spreads, especially in its opening game. It is far too high and moved a half a point in the last two days giving Rice a three touchdown advantage. Notre Dame will win the game, but not by three touchdowns. As an added insider tip, I will be attending the game on Saturday and they’ve lost four of six games that I’ve attended since graduating with the most losses of any class in Notre Dame history.
2. Georgia vs Clemson (O/U 54.5) – Take the over. It is set too low since both teams have new quarterbacks, but there are so many weapons on each side of the ball and a ton of new defensive players for each team as well.
3. Florida State (-18.5) over Oklahoma State parlayed with the under (O/U 63.5) – Florida State’s defense is tremendous and given months to game plan for the high octane Oklahoma State offense will lead to it dominating on Saturday. This will keep the scoring down and Florida State will cruise to a 38-10 type victory.
4. Wisconsin (+5.5) over LSU – The Badgers are going to win the game, getting the 5.5 is just a bonus.
5. Alabama vs West Virginia (O/U 55.5) – Take the under, Nick Saban still hasn’t selected a new quarterback and will rely on his defense to annihilate any hope West Virginia has. It will lead to a victory, but not many points will be scored.
College Football Playoffs
1. Florida State over 4. Georgia
3. Alabama over 2. Wisconsin
Florida State over Alabama