Despite what your heart may tell you, Auburn is not the only team playing this weekend. I know what it’s like going to the games sometimes... you feel like you’re in an orange and blue bubble, and if you’ve got AT&T, finding other scores can be difficult to come by. THAT DOESN’T MEAN THE OTHER GAMES DON’T MATTER. College football is back, and we’ve got only a dozen-odd weekends to soak it all in before our long national nightmare of NFL-only returns!
So, what else is going on this weekend? There are some big SEC games, some big national games, and I will tell you my personal feelings on each of these games and how you should also choose to support one side or the other.
There are a ton of games that don’t matter in the conference this weekend. Missouri/Missouri State, Mississippi State/Charleston Southern, Ole Miss/South Alabama, and Vandy/MTSU are all clunkers that won’t matter unless the crazy upset happens. With parity and the quality of the SEC teams in these games, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that we could see an upset, but you probably shouldn’t pull for it. If this is the year that we see a two-loss team get into the playoffs (not Bama, please), then the conference that produces one such team will need to be a murderer’s row. Conferences with losses to FCS/Sun Belt teams don’t get that designation.
SALAD AND BREADSTICKS
South Carolina vs NC State - 2:00 pm CST - Charlotte, NC
I think in general (aside from Georgia) we would all like the East to get a little better as a division. It has to start here for the Gamecocks if they’d like to return to the SEC Championsip Game for the first time in seven years. In Spurrier’s best seasons, they only reached Atlanta once, but with Jake Bentley at quarterback and a Will Muschamp defense on deck, they may be able to spring what would be considered a mild upset in the opener. NC State’s been a sleeper pick for the playoff (by Cole Cubelic), and they should be better, but it’s hard to see them taking such a big leap. Pull for the SEC team that we don’t really have a problem with.
Florida vs Michigan - 2:30 pm CST - Arlington, TX
In the second of our two early neutral-site games, Florida will attempt to beat Michigan short-handed, much like you’ll attempt to eat your entire Olive Garden dinner after seven breadsticks. It won’t happen. We have to look ahead. Should Auburn fall this year and Alabama make the SEC Championship for the fourth straight year, please give them a more difficult opponent than Florida. It almost seems like Jim McElwain has a soft spot for his old coaching stop, since he doesn’t really like to coach all that hard against them.
That said, let Florida lose early and often. Pull for the wildness that is Jimmy Harbaugh and let the Victors ring through Jerry World all afternoon long.
Georgia vs Appalachian State - 5:15 pm CST - Athens, GA
Auburn has inexplicably fallen to Georgia the past three seasons. The Tigers have been the better team each of those years, and somehow we’re 0-3 against Georgia. I know there are the honor-filled that want every team to be undefeated when Auburn plays them, but we need a little help. Let Georgia be a completely lost team when they come into Auburn in November for what will be a pride game only on their side. Let that start this weekend with either a squeaker or a loss to the Mountaineers.
App can absolutely pull this off. If they do, they’ll run the table and likely earn a New Year’s Six bid as the Group of Five representative.
What will really happen is that Georgia looks good in a big win, loses the weird game at Tennessee and somewhere else, and comes into Auburn where the Tigers will have to win on a late dipsy-doodle.
Still, pull for the former. Let’s go App.
Alabama vs Florida State - 7:00 pm CST - Atlanta, GA
In the inaugural college football matchup at the new Mercedes-Benz in Atlanta, we’re getting what’s been touted as the biggest opening weekend game ever. And for those of us going to the Auburn game, you likely won’t see a single second of this game live.
There’s a common thread in this game with all of the other big neutral site games that Alabama’s played over the years. The appearance of hope for the other side. We all know who to pull for, there’s really no doubt that Florida State must win this game, but it’s a long shot.
Under Nick Saban, Alabama’s beaten former Saban assistants by roughly 30 points per game. Just look at the scores in the big openers... 52-6 over Southern Cal last year, 35-17 over Wisconsin, 35-10 over Virginia Tech, 41-14 over Michigan. They’re always ready for these games.
But this one’s different. Yeah, Jalen Hurts was great in his freshman year, but nobody had any film to scheme against him. Now, his running will likely be limited with a new offensive coordinator, and he’ll have to try and make waves throwing the ball against the best secondary in college football with two preseason All-Americans in Derwin James and Tavares McFadden. Florida State’s good. Deondre Francois is one of the toughest quarterbacks in the country. The Seminole defense is chock-full of playmakers.
Alabama’s just the horror movie villain that isn’t dead until the credits roll and the studios have crushed any thought of a sequel. My heart says Go Noles, my head says no way. You know how to pull in this one, but don’t get your hopes up.
DESSERT AND COFFEE
LSU vs BYU - 8:30 pm CST - New Orleans, LA
Originally scheduled for Houston, we’re all aware of how impossible that would be with the horrible flooding thanks to Hurricane Harvey. Another wrinkle in this game is the fact that there may be suspensions coming for the LSU team, but Ed Orgeron’s remaining tight-lipped on that subject. Rumors are rampant, but we won’t know anything for sure until kickoff.
With Tanner Mangum at quarterback for BYU and a game under their belts already, this is a team that could be dangerous especially with everyone focusing on the weather as opposed to the game. If LSU really is short-handed, that’s an obvious problem. BYU didn’t look great last weekend against Portland State, but that could’ve just been because they spent much more time preparing for LSU. If the Cougs are able to spring the upset, Coach O’s permanent tenure in Baton Rouge takes an early hit.
I feel the same way about this one as I do about the Georgia game. We play LSU in Death Valley this year, and we need some help to break an eight-game losing streak in Baton Rouge. If LSU loses early and they start to wobble, we might be able to give them the death blow...
LATE NIGHT ALKA-SELTZER
Tennessee vs Georgia Tech - Labor Day - 7:00 pm CST - Atlanta, GA
In the second game this weekend at the new monstrosity in Atlanta, the Vols will meet the Jackets. Like we said, let’s pump up the East a bit, so we pull for Tennessee. It’ll be the only show that night, so you can get back into your weekly routine with Monday Night Football CFB-Style. We’re still mad about Reggie Ball, so go Vols.
(Also, my wife is a Tennessee fan, so I have to write this)