We now kindly request that you step out of the realignment mosh pit. For you see, we have games again! I don’t know if you’ve spent the last few days on Twitter (@jimmygards), but this "SOURCES" guy is really chapping my ass. There have been enough rumors and conjectures to exhaust even a gaggle of teenage girls. Mean Girls 2 – Big 12 Edition!
My week got bogged down with tedious nonsense, so apologies for your Viewing Guide coming after Thursday kickoff. Let’s dive into the games.
All times Central – where Dan Beebe claims to live (he could have died years ago and we’d be none the wiser)
Thursday, September 8
Arizona at Oklahoma State | 7 PM | ESPN
What a nice way to bring back the games. This is your standard "first-to-50" matchup between 2010 Alamo Bowl foes. The Cat and Poke offenses kicked open the 2011 doors last week and made waste of Northern Arizona and Louisiana-Lafayette respectively. Arizona QB Nick Foles is a wildly underappreciated player and he notched a solid 412 yards with 5 TDs in a 41-10 win in Week 1.
With the departure of offensive coordinator/resident gambler Dana Holgorsen to West Virginia, many wondered if the Okie Lite offense could maintain their torrid clip through opposing defenses. Enter Todd Monken. Merkin? No, Monken. He is tasked with keeping T. Boone’s boys oiled and running on offense. Did you know Justin Blackmon is currently maintaining an NCAA record of 13 (!) straight 100 yard games at WR? Holy balls.
I expect this to be a shootout with the Pokes ultimately pulling away with the Weeden-Blackmon connection.
Friday, September 9
Florida International at Louisville| 6:00 PM | ESPN
Florida International University is just a baby. It was founded in Miami, Florida in 1965 under the motto "Hope, Knowledge, Opportunity". If you were in Miami in ’65 like I wasn’t, you know this was a heady, HEADY time. The international narcotic trade was at its apex and life was yeyo and linen suits, gang.
There is no real reason to tune in here. I’m just here to educate our high school senior readership on the fine institutions this country and Cuba North have to offer.
Missouri at Arizona State | 9:30 PM | ESPN
This is some palpable Friday night programming. Mizzou had an underwhelming 17-6 victory over Miami (OH) last week behind new dual threat quarterback James Franklin. The Tigers only amassed 291 yards of offense against a MAC team. Gary Pinkel doesn’t much care for that level of output. Like the Arizona-Oklahoma State game, there are bowl memories here as Mizzou lost to Iowa in Tempe in last year’s Insight Bowl.
Meanwhile, Arizona State put the wood to UC Davis in their opener with a 48-14 victory. UC Davis sounds like the name of a shady dude who sells hooch to middle schoolers in Fresno. Linebacker Vontaze Burfict (perfect LB name) counts his interests as calligraphy, the Franco-Prussian War, and eating Tiger tacos in bulk. He is a monster and will be looking to knock James Franklin through a border fence.
Both these teams are remarkably beaten up for only Week 2. I like the Devils at home.
Saturday, September 10
Hopefully you’re fortunate to awake Saturday morning to nice crisp autumn air to knock out Friday night’s cobwebs. It is a well-known fact that September is the best month on the calendar. Cherish these Saturday’s, gang. Hopefully your team’s season isn’t ruined yet (RIP, Dayne Crist).
South Dakota State at Illinois | 11 AM | Big Ten Network
Whoops. Sorry. You have a couple options here – back to bed, farmers’ market with the lady, or commit yourself to a depressingly close game between a Big Ten also-ran and collegians from a Dakota. Tread lightly.
Iowa at Iowa State | 11 AM | FSN
I think this game is called the Cy-Hawk Series sponsored by Hy-Vee. I also think Hy-Vee is the euphemism given to a woman’s reproductive organs by folksy Iowans. Surely by now you saw the atrocious trophy that was bequeathed on this rivalry centered on ethanol futures, high fructose corn syrup, and morbid obesity.
From the Cy-Hawk Series website: "Call it a swing and a miss. Maybe the execution was off. Perhaps we could do better. Call it what you will but you were passionate about the new Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series football trophy and we listened."
Well if that just isn’t the most accommodating, confidence-lacking response that makes the state of Iowa so dadgum endearing. Slow, gritty white players on both teams. Hawkeyes win.
Toledo at Ohio State | 11 AM | Big Ten Network
Did you know it has been 32,844 days since Ohio State lost to a team from the state of Ohio? I’m no mathemaphysicist but that has to date back a year or two. What’s that? Dates back to 1921? Wow. Another nugget for you, dear friend: in 1921, Ohioan Warren Harding was in office and the United States was in year one of prohibition. By now it should be apparent that Ohio’s main exports to our development as a country are horrible presidents and race riots, but I digress.
UPSET ALERT – the Toledo Rockets were pegged as preseason favorites to win the MAC. They dismantled FCS stalwart New Hampshire last weekend to the tune of 58-22. This Toledo team beat Purdue last year, Colorado the year prior, and won in Michigan Stadium the year before that.
I hail from a long lineage of Toledo folks. Vegas has tOSU -20. I’m going Rockets.
Oregon State at Wisconsin | 11 AM | ESPN or ESPN 2
This is going to be a bloodbath. QB Russell Wilson for Wisconsin was superb in his debut against UNLV last Thursday. The O-Line and running back corps is as smash mouth as you’d expect from a Wiscy team and they are in midseason sync.
On the flipside, Week 1 was not good to the Pac 12. USC narrowly escaped the mighty Minnesota Gophers, Washington barely beat Eastern Washington, UCLA lost to Houston, Oregon got curbstomped in Dallas, Colorado lost in Hawaii, and Oregon State lost to some JUCO called Sacramento State.
Not good. Wiscy huge.
Mississippi State at Auburn | 11:21 AM | SEC Network
It took some actual game footage, but the country finally realized that a team that loses its Heisman winner and best defender is not, in fact, the same team that won a title. Auburn damn well could have lost its home opener to Utah State last week. Since you’re a Barking Carnival reader, you know this team is fraudulent when compared to what the media has propped them up to be. A bowl for this current roster would be a success.
In Starkville, Dan Mullen continues to flourish in a division that is probably better than the NFC West. I’m told Cecil Newton has organized a dice game outside the stadium for all boosters from both programs. Just good ol’ SEC fun, gang. There is a tasty underbelly of hate that has developed between these schools and I look forward to a sound beating from the Bulldogs on Saturday. I’m a big fan of Bulldog quarterback Chris Relf and running back Vick Ballard.
Stanford at Duke | 2:30 PM | ESPN U
This game will rival a Sunday at Augusta for rich assholes per capita. Fortunately, you won’t have to listen to Jim Nantz whisper sweet nothings to a golf course. Kids from really wealthy families are more than happy to take cool, unpaid internships that their parents can then brag about. Consider this Andrew Luck’s cool internship before he gets $22 million guaranteed in April. Some kids just can’t catch a break. I’m sure he’ll land on his feet one day.
Alabama at Penn State | 2:30 PM | ABC
This is just deluxe scheduling. Oregon and Maryland uniforms are for UFC fans that beat their girlfriends. Give me Penn State and Bama any day. The fossil of Joe Paterno is suffering from a broken something or other and he has been instructed to not be on the sideline Saturday. If I know anything about stubborn Italians (and I do), you don’t tell a man who fought in the Roman Coliseum what to do.
Neither program has a definitive answer yet at the quarterback spot. The coaches are holding the cards close to the vest, but expect to see more than two signal callers on Saturday afternoon. This promises to be a physical game won in the trenches. As obvious as that cliché sounds, it actually applies here. I think Bama’s defense is going to give the Penn State offense a lot of problems. They are not ready for the fastest AND most physical D they’ll play all year.
South Carolina at Georgia | 3:30 PM | ESPN
You have to know that Ol’ Ball Coach is licking his smug chops right now. First, he loathes Georgia from his days in Gainesville. Second, he has a very good football team. Third, this man is wired to extract glee from getting other coaches canned. If this thing is getting out of hand by halftime, the boos will be showering down in Athens calling for Mark Richt’s head. Hell, Spurrier might scoot over to the aforementioned Augusta for some twilight golf if this thing is in the bag.
Both these teams had bizarre openings to the year. Cock quarterback Stephen Garcia was surprisingly benched for sophomore Connor Shaw. Georgia got lit up in its indoor facility by a team from Idaho. Never one to compliment, Spurrier said, "we’re not a very good team right now" after a 56-37 drubbing of East Carolina last week. Meanwhile, Georgia is staring 0-2 in the face for the first time since 1996.
You have to love early conference games that will have a huge effect on the divisional race. I think this game is close, but the Cocks take it ultimately.
BYU at Texas | 6 PM | ESPN 2
Hey, Horns. Remember when Ohio State rolled into town a few years ago and drunkenly and obnoxiously overtook your bars? Rest easy this week. You have the Mormons this weekend. They’ll be efficiently ironing undergarments in a local Marriott property in preparation of converting you Saturday. While you are tailgating in Irish handcuffs (beer in one hand, whiskey in the other), Brother Joseph from Provo will be talking to you about the celestial kingdom. Not only is this a fake Heaven, it is also the name of BYU’s wildcat package. Pro tip: do NOT look Joseph in the eye. If you feel so inclined, offer them a Big 12 invitation.
Scipio and others have given you ample analysis of this game. Here is my brazen, lazy pick. If Mormon beats UT – NO offer. UT wins? OFFER. Calm down. UT wins.
Utah at USC | 6:30 PM | Versus
Nice little matchup in Troy on the hockey network. Incredibly, USC had a pretty mediocre offensive day last week despite a mammoth day from WR Robert Woods. 17 (!) receptions for 177 yards and 3 touchdowns is useful. Sadly, teams with a pulse can shut down one dimensional offenses. I like the Utes here.
Notre Dame at Michigan | 7 PM | ESPN
Your author will be making the trek up to this game. Gameday will be there, and ESPN has already force-fed you the cute novelties of the first night game in Big House history (welcome to electricity, Midwest). Sadly, Notre Dame laid an offensive egg last week against a team from Tampa in what was the strangest sporting event I’ve ever been to due to the weather delays.
Regardless, this game will get plenty of eyes and I am expecting a decent game. Everyone got up in arms with Brian Kelly’s outburst on the sidelines last week. This is surprising if you’ve never met an Irish Catholic. Spoiler alert – Irish Catholics sometimes have a short fuse and turn a bit flush when they are angered. Just be glad he didn’t have a fifth of Powers whiskey coursing through his veins. I’ll go Irish here because I’m biased. ND’s D is good and actually played a nice game last week. Tommy Rudy Rees gets the nod at QB. We’ll see what shakes out.
Drink of the Week: Gimlet!
As summer officially winds down, enjoy this incredibly refreshing cocktail. It’s simple and the saying "gimlet" makes you sound sophisticated and stuff. The recipe:
- 2 ounces gin. I highly recommend Leopold Brothers’ small batch gin out of Colorado.
- ½ ounce Rose’s lime juice. Try to find Rose’s, but if you’re white trash like me, the fake plastic lime with liquid in it will suffice.
- Two lime wedges.
Shake the gin and lime juice over ice and strain into a glass. Squeeze one lime wedge over the top and garnish with the other lime wedge. Look! No Scurvy!
I promise deeper analysis next week. Enjoy the games, everyone.