ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 06: An American flag covers the field as The Band Perry performs the national anthem before a game between the Arkansas Razorbacks and the Kansas State Wildcats during the Cotton Bowl at Cowboys Stadium on January 6, 2012 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Finally. The long wait is over. By now you have already had a few games to welcome you back to life as it should be, with college football. But now comes the first weekend, and while I hate to be the bearer of bad news, it is the first weekend.
While it is real live college football and not another replayed game on CSS or you beating LSU mercilessly with your Arkansas Dynasty team on EA Sports NCAA 13, the level of competition this Saturday will not be at its highest for most of the nation's more intriguing teams.
However, like I said earlier, it is football, which is infinitely better than no football. During this time of year, those who have mastered the art of catching no commercials on television have the chance to show off their skills on Saturdays because there is no RedZone-like television experience for college football fans.
No worries, now you don't have to watch ESPNNews' horrendous wannabe RedZone on Saturdays. Here, in this weekly post, you wiill have a source that will tell you which two or three games are essential for a college football fan to pay attention to during each TV time slot on a national scale and predictions for each game. In addition, if there are implications for the Razorbacks, those will be included.
No. 24 Boise State at No. 13 Michigan State- The Broncos will face a tough road test in the post-Kellen Moore era in their first game as a member of the Big East. The Spartans are also returning to the gridiron without a mulitple-year starting quarterback in Kirk Cousins. Both teams will fight all year long to repeat their last year's successes, but Michigan State starts out that road a little easier with a win tonight.
Saturday Morning (9 a.m.)
Notre Dame vs. Navy- Answer these questions for me: How often will you ever skip watching ESPN's Gameday to watch a game? I brought this up on Twitter earlier this week, but how is Navy the home team against the Fighting IRISH in Ireland? How is this a responsible use of tax dollars to send the Navy football team across the pond? Who will win? With a hand raised high and a call of, "Me. Me. Me." Once picked by the teacher, "Notre Dame."
Marshall at West Virginia- Here is your first look at Mountaineer quarterback Geno Smith, who could easily be raising the Heisman trophy in New York in December. With the weapons at his disposal, he could put up gaudy numbers. The other reason to watch is that this is a "rivalry game," though in mostly name only. West Virginia puts up huge offensive numbers and scores more points.
Ohio at Penn State- As far as the national picture is concerned, there is nothing here. But this will be a game worth watching through the kickoff just to see how the crowd at Happy Valley responds to this atrocious offseason. You could watch the final three minutes if it is close. Even in a close one, the Nittany Lions win.
If you were going to do something in the afternoon for the next 14 weeks, or look like a hero for hanging out with your wife or girlfriend on a Saturday in the fall, this is your one day. There are no games worth watching. Unless, of course, you are a football nerd like myself, watch Southern Miss at Nebraska.
No. 8 Michigan vs. No. 2 Alabama- They say Christmas only comes once a year, but when you get a kickoff game like this one it makes you think differently. The Crimson Tide starts their national championship defense with a neutral-site game at Jerry Jones, an Arkansas graduate, playground. They wear down the Wolverines by the fourth quarter and Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson is out by halftime. Michigan and Big 10 Jim Delany lose again to the SEC.
No. 14 Clemson vs. Auburn- The Tigers from the Plains are now officially Alabama's little brother. Sure they have their recent national championship but so does Alabama, two of them. Auburn might have the exciting kickoff game but the Crimson Tide have a bigger one against a higher ranked team. To add salt to the wound, the Plainsmen will not win their' like the Tide will.
Jacksonville State vs. Arkansas- Jack Crowe returns to DWRRS, this time as the opposing team's coach. He will leave with the same result he gave the Hogs in 1992, a loss. This game is more about the Hogs getting the chance to hit other people that they do not know and getting out of there with no injuries.
Arkansas State vs. No. 5 Oregon- Gus Malzahn begins his head coaching career with no cupcake and a tremendous challenge. The Ducks are coming off of a Rose Bowl win and will start this season in the same fashion they finished the last, winning.
Best game without a ranked team: Miami vs. Boston College- Now that the Jacory Harris disaster is over in Miami, can Al Golden take the Hurricanes back to national relevancy? Here is the first game on that long road ahead.
Upset special: Kentucky is bad, but you have to pull for the SEC out of conference as they play Louisville on Sunday. This is the type of game people like Chuck Thompson use in stats to show how the SEC is not as dominant as we would believe. For our own sanity, come on Wildcats.
If I could go to one game: Michigan vs. Alabama- Having never been to Jerry World, I can't imagine a much better atmosphere than with two fan bases known for their travel and rabidness.