These are the dog days of college football.
What better way to snap out of the summer malaise than take a look at college football's opening weekend for 2006.
Thursday, August 31st
Best Games---Northwestern @ Miami-Ohio, Toledo @ Iowa State
MAC powers Toledo and Miami of Ohio will try to topple mid-level BCS conference foes. There is always upset potential in these games, particularly early in the year. I'm excited about the debut game of Northwestern's future star quarterback, whoever it may be (likely sophomore C.J. Bacher or redshirt freshman Mike Kafka. Ames, Iowa is a tough road venue so Toledo will have to overcome the frenzied fans as well as jitters from their new quarterback in the post Bruce Gradkowski era.
Cupcake Specials---Boston College @ Central Michigan, Stephen F. Austin (I-AA) @ Tulsa, Rhode Island (I-AA) @ Connecticut, Minnesota @ Kent State, Southeast Louisiana (I-AA) @ New Mexico State, Sacramento State (I-AA) @ Boise State, Eastern Washington (I-AA) @ Oregon State, Northern Arizona (I-AA) @ Arizona State
Memo to the NCAA-Your most ardent fans are going to treat opening night with lukewarm enthusiasm when eight of fifteen games are throwaways.
Bad Teams, Bad Games---Eastern Michigan @ Ball State, Florida International @ Middle Tennessee, Temple @ Buffalo
Temple and Buffalo may be playing for the title of worst D-I team this year. I guess it's better they got that out of the way instead of prolonging the excitement of seeing who would be the first to record a D-I win.
Mildly Intriguing Matchup---UTEP @ San Diego State
UTEP's just fun to watch. Besides, its a priceless opportunity to get 60 minutes of Mike Price and the world's most perfect evil smug grin as his team turns the Aztecs upside-down and shakes the loose change out of their pockets. The SEC really missed out on the fun that is Mike Price on the sidelines when he was fired from the Alabama job after that little golf outing.
TV Says Special---South Carolina @ Mississippi State
TV loves Steve Spurrier. There should be a drinking game associated with him (if there isn't already). Every time an announcer references a thrown visor, take a drink. Every time "fun and gun" is mentioned, take a drink. Every time the name Jeremy Foley is brought up, take a drink (three if you're a Florida fan). You get the picture. Last year ESPN managed to hype the heck out of the South Carolina/Central Florida game, and they'll do the same for this one as well.
Friday, September 1st
The Stage Is All Yours---Nevada @ Fresno State
This will be a good game. After September 1 you and everyone else will know about Nevada's Pistol formation. They've run it since last year but since they're never on television, it doesn't exist (tree/falling/forest). They did, however, drive UCF crazy in the Hawai'i Bowl last year, ringing up 49 points, 369 rush yards (7.2 YPC) and 254 pass yards. They lack great talent, but when the scheme is working, it plays out beautifully on the field.
Fresno State will usher in the post-Pinegar era, and probably lean heavily on back Dwayne Wright, who returns from injury. The defense should continue its rugged ways, and look to muscle and intimidate Nevada away from their finesse attack.
Coming Up: a look at Saturday's games for opening weekend, 2006.