Tuesday, September 1, 2009

College Football 2009 Week One

Welcome back to The Campus Game and the opening week of the 2009 college football calendar.

This season the weekly posting schedule will typically include:

Tuesdays: Around the Nation and Tuesdays Top Ten Countdown ...

  • A look at the top national college football stories
  • TCG Top Ten rankings
  • A glance back at the previous weekend's major news
  • A preview of the ten most interesting games of the coming football Saturday.

Thursdays: Around the SEC and Professor's Picks ...

  • A survey of news and notes on the Southeastern Conference
  • The popular prognostication section "Professor's Picks" featuring predictions for all SEC games and selected national contests.

Around the Nation Week 1

If it aint broke ... Should you be one of those many misguided souls constantly harping for a college football playoff, consider ...

... Virtually every national television network - major and minor - will be televising college football this fall. ABC, CBS, NBC, ESPN and all its platforms, Fox Sports, Fox Sports Net, the Big Ten Network, CBS College Sports, the NFL network, Versus, and the Mtn (Mountain West) all have contracts to broadcast games.

... Ratings increased last season for every single one of those networks that broadcast games ... ABC Saturday Night Football (+20%), Versus (+33%), Big Ten (+113%), the Mtn (+78%), and NBC (+18%) were among the biggest gainers. The SEC Championship game on CBS was up 58% from the previous year, and that Florida-Alabama game marked the Tiffany network's top-ranked non-bowl game since 1990 (Miami-Notre Dame).

... Some complain about the number of bowl games, but attendance and television viewership reached record levels in 2008. More significantly (to those college presidents who count the cabbage), the bowls paid out an estimated $240 million in 2008-09, running the ten-year total to $1.84 billion. Over the next ten years, bowls are projected to pay $2.5 billion to teams and conferences in the Football Bowl Subdivision (Division I) who participate in football.

So ... if you think a playoff is near ... better read those numbers again.

Not a "Michigan Man" ... Rich Rodriguez is not a Michigan Man (yet), and that fact may cost him his job sooner rather than later. Well, that plus an inaugural 3-win that included ugly losses at home to Toledo (!!) and Northwestern (!), and recent alleged rules violations.

Michigan is college football's winningest program and has never been found in violation of a major NCAA rule. The allegations against Rich Rod (that he and his staff exceeded NCAA-mandated practice time limits) are serious. Making them potentially more damaging is the somewhat frosty relationship Rodriguez reportedly has with entrenched Big Blue supporters who wanted to follow the Wolverine tradition of bringing in one of their own to coach.

Even the allegations contain of whiff of "us" vs "them" between players recruited by the current staff and those signed by former coach Lloyd Carr. Of course, let Rich Rod reel off ten wins and whip Ohio State this season and he might become a Michigan Man pretty quickly (Bo Schembechler attended Miami of Ohio and coached at Ohio State before coming to Ann Arbor by the way).

Keep an eye on this situation in Big Ten country.

Tuesday's Top Ten Countdown

Here are the Top Ten Games for Week One
(Unless noted, all games are Saturday and Eastern Time)

10. Baylor at Wake Forest (3:30 ABC Regional): Art Briles brings the Bears and exciting QB Robert Griffin to Winston-Salem to face the Demon Deacs and senior QB Riley Skinner.

9. Maryland at Cal (10:00 ESPN2): Many predict Cal as the biggest threat to USC's run of dominance in the PAC-10. Ralph Friedgen typically has the Terps ready to play.

8. Nevada at Notre Dame (3:30 NBC): The Irish get a chance to start actually backing up some of the hype they've been receiving (including from here) against Colin Kaepernick and a sound Wolfpack team.

7. South Carolina at NC State (Thursday 7:00 ESPN): The head ball coach and unpredictable QB Stephen Garcia visit Raleigh where Tom O'Brien and the Pack are the pick of some to win the ACC Atlantic.

6. Cincinnati at Rutgers (Monday 4:00 ESPN): Last season's Big East champ Cincy takes on the Scarlet Knights ... a team many expect to take the crown this year.

5. Georgia at Oklahoma State (3:30 ABC): A terrific intersectional meeting between the Dogs from the defensive-minded SEC and the Cowboys of the high-scoring Big 12.

4. Miami at Florida State (Monday 8:00 ESPN): Randy Shannon and the Hurricanes begin a tough opening gantlet against a Seminole team expected to contend for the ACC championship.

3. BYU vs. Oklahoma (Cowboys Stadium, Arlington TX 7:00 ESPN): Heisman winner Sam Bradford and the Sooners open the 2009 season against a legitimate BYU team featuring QB Max Hall. Punters can take aim at Jerry's Scoreboard sponsored by Target (get it?).

2. Oregon at Boise State (Thursday 10:15 ESPN): Oregon travels to the blue field and the Ducks may be the team on the Boise schedule with the best chance to bust the Broncs.

1. Alabama vs. Virginia Tech (Georgia Dome 8:00 ABC): A couple of stout defenses will be banging around in the 2nd Chick-fil-A kickoff classic in front of a national prime-time audience and the ESPN Gameday crew.

The Campus Game Top Ten Rankings

While I dislike preseason rankings, here is our initial poll for the 2009 season:

10. Ole Miss ... I question whether the Rebels will be this good, but the schedule is favorable.

9. Georgia Tech ... this is my dark horse national title contender.

8. Penn State ... would surprise very few if Joe Pa is back in a BCS bowl.

7. LSU ... I like the talent on this team, but the schedule is tough.

6. Alabama ... Expect the Crimson Tide offense to be better than anticipated.

5. USC ... a freshman QB, no matter how talented, scares me in the Horseshoe in week 2.

4. Ohio State ... higher than most have them, but the Bucks could run the table.

3. Oklahoma ... Sooners cannot put up numbers like last year but should still excel.

2. Texas ... Longhorns have chip on shoulder from 08 jilting.

1. Florida ... Gators an overwhelming favorite but nothing is a given.

See you at kickoff!