The 2022 college football season is underway with week zero in the books. I tend not to expect much from week zero as the marquee games are limited. It is usually Hawaii and some cupcake games. Week one is when the fun starts. The slate of games gets better but there are still plenty of mismatches. At least one game this last weekend was a good one. Northwestern upset Nebraska in Ireland. You have to wonder how many more lives Scott Frost has as the head coach of Nebraska. His decision to do an onside kick with Nebraska leading 28-17 midway through the third quarter backfired. It fired up the Wildcats and opened the door for a short touchdown drive. Hopefully, the free beers drowned out the Husker fans’ tears. While the coach can’t be blamed for his QB’s two costly fourth quarter interceptions, the single digit losses continue to mount. I don’t know how many more chances Frost will get, but he’s got to be on the hot seat at this point, especially with his buyout dropping in half to $7.5M on October 1. If Nebraska wins the remainder of their games to October 1, which includes a huge one with Oklahoma, he should be safe. If not, some realtor’s going to have a good fourth quarter.
I watched some other games, but they slowly turned into blowouts. Austin Peay hung with Western Kentucky for a while, but Wyoming didn’t last very long against Illinois. I wanted to watch the Hawaii game, if only to see the optics of them playing in the tiny Clarence T. Ching Complex while the Aloha Bowl is being renovated. It is not much bigger than a high school stadium, at a capacity of 9,300. Late night kickoffs are tough to stay up for when you are old, which I am. Vanderbilt rolled over Hawaii so there were no regrets for missing that game.
The real action, though, starts this weekend. Thursday night, WVU and Pitt kick things off with the “Backyard Brawl.” My pick, though, is for Penn State to cover against Purdue. It is a pedigree pick with literally no research. Friday night, I will be in Colorado watching the Buffs host the Horned Frogs of TCU, which is probably the best game of the night. The line has the Buffs getting 14, although I think that will come down. I am taking Colorado, abandoning the emotional hedge. The Virginia Tech vs. ODU game could be a good one because the Hokies always seem to struggle with the Monarchs. They may not cover the 7.5 spread. Saturday has a bevy of great games with Notre Dame against Ohio State being the top of the class. Hopefully Tulsa at Wyoming is a good game because I will be in Laramie for that match up. Again, we are taking the home team. Sunday and Monday have a couple of Power 5 match ups, FSU vs LSU should be decent on Sunday. I like LSU in that one as I still don’t trust FSU. Clemson is likely to torch Georgia Tech on Monday. Nonetheless, college football is back and I could not be happier.
Yeah, let’s be honest. Week Eight doesn’t have the most intriguing slate of games. It may be the right time to refill the bank with the boss, if you know what I mean. It is fairly likely that I won’t be watching all day this Saturday. I will just check for winners on my phone. Did I mention that I went 3-1 last week? I don’t know if I am taking my picks more seriously or I am just luckier this year. In any case, it was another productive week. Only Arkansas let me down. In hindsight, their 4-0 start was a bit fraudulent. I should have known. UTEP took care of business. Texas A&M had their game in hand very early. Lastly La Monroe held up the state’s high standards by beating Liberty outright despite being a 32.5 point underdog. I have seen a lot of game in Louisiana – they have great athletes.
Some other notes from last week:
Beating Florida could not save LSU Coach Ed Orgeron’s job.
UConn not only won a game, it was televised.
Even though they beat Texas in a comeback, I am not sure I believe in Ok State. Feels like Gundy is the coach that always has a good team, but one that’s never good enough to win it all.
South Carolina stole that game from Vanderbilt
Late in the afternoon, I switched to Central Michigan vs Toledo. My reward? OT!
Don’t want to jinx my late season trip, but UTEP vs. UTSA is looking good.
This week’s picks coming soon.
I love the favorites this week. Correction, I like the favorites this week. I am going to ride SMU until they lose. They should certainly be able to beat a struggling 1-5 Tulane. Maryland may have the same record as Minnesota, but I think there’s a big difference in the level of competition. This is my least favorite pick of the bunch so tread lightly with your wagering. Western Michigan just scores points. I was very confident of this pick until I saw that WMU lost to Ball State, whom Toledo beat. So, this game is essentially a pick ’em. For my last pick, it is ‘Bama, as in “Roll Damn Tide.” I think Tennessee is in trouble in this one. Some other observations on a fairly pedestrian college football weekend:
Wake Forest is quietly 6-0. Army should be a pretty good test for the Demon Deacons.
Oklahoma State gets no respect. Undefeated underdogs at 4-2 Iowa State.
Game day is going to SoCal for Oregon versus UCLA. Hard to fault that pick this week. It may be the best game of the weekend, if not the best teams.
Clemson aren’t what they normally are, but it is still a big game for Pitt.
San Diego State is another undefeated team that will be tested this weekend, taking on a 6-1 Air Force.
The game to avoid. UMass at Florida State. Ugh that’s some bad football.
After a long double weekend, I am not going to lie. I am happy to recover on the couch this weekend. It was a great time, but I am knackered.
Some thoughts on last week:
Minnesota did just about everything I could ask for. It was a close game that nearly went down to the wire
I was very pleasantly surprised by the Hokies. The only thing was that I missed the game as I was getting a nice buzz sitting on the “Terrace” at the Wisconsin Campus. I had such a good time I didn’t regret missing the Hokies outstanding defensive performance
Like the Gophers, Wisconsin nearly met expectations. A wire to wire game that was great to watch. Just a blast, but it felt like, even with the two PSU picks, that Wisconsin lost that game rather than PSU won it.
The Golden Flashes kept it close for awhile, but I knew the heat and their depth would catch up with them. A&M did what they were supposed to.
Good job by FSU. Maybe that program is finally turning the corner. Miami, however, not so much.
What exactly does the defense do at Oklahoma’s practices? Maybe they spend a lot of time on non-violent, problem resolution. How else do you explain 35 points to the Green Wave of Tulane?
Unless Georgia’s season goes into the toilet, Clemson won’t see much impact from this loss if they run the table from here on. It may be the same for LSU’s loss to UCLA, but I doubt it.
How’s that Grizzly cupcake taste, UW? Bitter, I would guess.
Nice to see Iowa State managed to survive the annual UNI scare
It didn’t take long for the other shoe to drop on Randy Edsell at UConn. Frost at Nebraska can’t be too confident beating up on Fordham, especially when Illinois loses to UTSA.
I am not loving my picks this week. There’s still not enough of a baseline to really know the UMass from the Bama’s yet. So with that disclaimer in place, here are my picks.
I was only slightly impressed with Ohio State last week. They really couldn’t stop Minnesota. I get the feeling the Ducks can keep it under fourteen.
I really don’t believe in the Huskies, but strange things can happen when coaches get fired. Plus, always bet against Cakes! (See the Sports Junkies on 106.7 the Fan in DC).
Again, this is really a guess, but I think the Cougars will be just enough to cover against the Owls.
Maybe Montana is really good, but I doubt it. I think Michigan runs away with this one.
No offense to UCLA, Illinois, Fresno State and UTEP, but now the season starts for real. First stop for me is Saint Paul, Minnesota to see the Gophers host the Buckeyes. Well, technically speaking, the first stop is actually the Minnesota State Fair. I was told that if I was going to Minnesota to see the Gophers, it had to be when the snow hit the ground. I laughed that off. I grew up in Erie, Pennsylvania. We eat snow for breakfast in Erie. I have played more than my share of football games in the snow. I have also sat through many games in the snow. No offense to my Gopher friend, who I won’t remind that we also have the O.G. – the Original Gopher – in Punxsutawney Phil, but I don’t need my snow card punched. It would seem hitting the State Fair is a good compromise anyway. It is a Thursday night game and I can’t wait to feel sixty degree weather again after roasting all summer in Houston.
Alas, I won’t get to spend much time in Saint Paul as I will have to hop a bus to get to Madison, Wisconsin. Yes, another first for my somanystadiums tour. I had all intentions of renting a car and making the leisurely drive over to Madison while happily munching on cheese curds. However, when I went to rent a car, it was an astronomical $350 a day. I considered flying, but the times were just inconvenient so it was “one bus ticket, please”. It will be worth it to see PSU play Wisconsin in one of the best games of the weekend. I am a little bummed that the kickoff is at 11am but I am still looking forward to jumping around in Camp Randall. Haven’t got the tickets yet for either game and was surprised to see that the Minnesota game is the hotter and more expensive ticket right now.
Did I mention that Fox’s version of ESPN Game Day, Big Noon Kickoff, will be at both locations? I don’t really know what that vibe will be like. It feels like I should do my duty to check it out. To be honest, that kind of thing is good for about a half hour live. See the set, have a beer, and then bolt. Unless Fox is going to give me A.D.’s (attention dollars) by putting me on stage, I’d be happier eating a brat and drinking a Milwaukee’s Best (when in Rome…). That’s nothing against Fox by the way, I would say the same thing about ESPN’s Game Day which I have done a couple of times.
They are also kicking off the Dos Equis Ultimate College Football Road Trip. Mark Titus and Charlotte Wilder (yeah, I had to look them up too) are going to various towns to check out the tailgates etc. They kick off the tour with a stop at a local Madison bar, SCONNIEBAR, on Friday night. You may have forgotten when Dos Equis’ snubbed me in their most interesting fan in college football contest, but I have not. Given that the North Carolina – Virginia Tech game starts at the same time, I am strongly considering giving Titus and Wilder the stiff arm. I am a Modelo Negra guy anyway. On the other hand, it is Friday Fish Fry at SCONNIE’s – Perch anyone?
As the 2021 College Football season gets ready to kickoff, it occurs to me that the game may be fundamentally changing in a number of ways.
First, there was the announcement of a “proposed” new playoff field. Adding a 12 team playoff format brought D1 College Football into the 21st century. It also gave the smaller conferences an invitation to the dance. I am not saying it would be a recruiting game changer, but it would give perennial Group of Five leaders like UCF at least a puncher’s chance at the playoffs. However, with the recent announcement of Texas and Oklahoma heading to the SEC, one wonders what this does to the other conferences and ultimately the proposed playoff format. I have no doubt that the SEC could make an argument that they should get two automatic bids and depending on how the other major conferences shakeout, there could be more of the same. If, on the other hand, the proposed playoffs go through as planned, smaller schools may become more prominent.
But what about the recent ability of college athletes to get paid? On first pass, one would think that will disproportionately help the big dogs. On the surface, that would seem the case and the most likely one. However, it would not be surprising to see big donors step up to help smaller schools as well. I will use Oklahoma State as an example. I recognize that it is hardly a small school, but with no disrespect to the Pokes, they are not exactly what you think of as top tier. However, if T-Boone Pickens could had funneled his hundreds of millions into more than just facilities just imagine the roster he could have built. I don’t see this kind of thing making Troy State a perennial power, but you could see a situation where the right money to the right player at the right time could elevate a smaller team to the upper echelon for a year or two. Combine this with a playoff system that would let them in and the national championship discussion could be much different. Regardless of how it shakes out, the money will have the college game slowly creeping closer to the pro’s.
The third change coming down the road is far more ominous. The number of insurers willing to cover college football teams is slowly dropping to low single digits while the premiums are skyrocketing. Even If a college football team can find an insurer, they may not be able to afford them. The number of CTE cases continue to rise and it probably isn’t going to get better unless the game is fundamentally changed. There are ways to make the game safer but from rule changes to tracking cumulative “hits” on the head, they would all be impactful to the game as we know it.
The way I calculate my run rate to get to all stadiums, I figure I have anywhere from five to seven years to get there. I never thought I’d have to worry about the game changing before I got them all in. I am not so sure anymore.