This is a continuation of CFR's look at college football's opening weekend slate of games, taking a look at Saturday and Sunday's games.
Saturday September 2nd
Grade II Stakes---California @ Tennessee, USC @ Arkansas
In horse racing, Grade I stakes races are considered to have the best field of horses, followed by Grade II and Grade III and several forms of non graded stakes. Texas vs. Ohio State or USC vs. Notre Dame would be a Grade I type game, for example. There are no Grade I games this weekend, but we do have two interesting Pac-10/SEC battles in the Grade II level. The SEC gets to take advantage of its most potent weapon: September home field advantage in the muggy south. Should be fun.
Grade III Stakes---Notre Dame @ Georgia Tech, Washington State @ Auburn, Southern Miss @ Florida
ESPN GameDay's headed to Atlanta to start the Notre Dame hype machine. It's more of a Grade III or non-graded, but given the hype we have it up here. We have yet another SEC/Pac-10 slam with Auburn taking on the Cougs and then Year II of Urban Meyer begins for Florida against perennial bowl team Southern Miss.
Non Graded Stakes and Claimers---BYU @ Arizona, Utah @ UCLA, Rutgers @ North Carolina, Virginia @ Pittsburgh
A good collection of teams trying to assert themselves and climb into the weekly rankings. There's some buzz about Arizona and Rutgers this year. UCLA's getting the first start from uber-recruit Ben Olsen. North Carolina has a new offensive coordinator hired from Fresno State. Virginia's trying not to collapse as critics swarm about coach Al Groh and the many coaching departures this offseason. Pittsburgh is looking for some returns on two years worth of quality recruiting. The early hype is on true freshman Dorin Dickerson.
Mac and Big Ten A Match Made In Heaven---Akron @ Penn State, Wisconsin @ Bowling Green
There's nothing wrong with these games. We get to see different styles of play at work between power teams in both conferences. Also a nod to the Northern Illinois and Ohio State game mentioned below.
Fun, Then Ugly---Northern Illinois @ Ohio State, Hawai'i @ Alabama, Vanderbilt @ Michigan
Three traditional powers, three likely victories. The hope is that the underdogs can make a game of these early battles before reality sets in.
Rare Bird Early Conference Battle---Stanford @ Oregon
You can thank the Pac-10's new round-robin schedule format for the early conference battle here. I won't complain. Oregon actually struggled against Houston in last year's opener before pulling away late. Stanford's looking to dig itself out of the Pac-10 cellar. It's a good quarterback battle with Trent Edwards and Dennis Dixon leading these squads.
In State Squabbles---Kentucky @ Louisville, Marshall @ West Virginia
Paranoia, thy name is West Virginia. Louisville has to do a better job of dispensing with the Wildcats. The game was too close for comfort last year.
Yawners---Syracuse @ Wake Forest, Utah State @ Wyoming, East Carolina @ Navy, Army @ Arkansas State
Syracuse was terrible last year. Showing life against the potent Wake Forest rush attack would give some hope to the faithful in upstate New York. Wyoming is a quality team but nobody's tuning in for this one. Navy and Arkansas State are bowl teams.
Texas Two-Step---TCU @ Baylor, Houston @ Rice, SMU @ Texas Tech
Saturday Night Lights? TCU and Baylor are legit bowl candidates.
Who Knew The Road To The Top Was Paved With Cupcakes?---McNeese stae @ USF, Idaho @ Michigan State, Murray State @ Missouri, Louisiana Tech @ Nebraska, Appalachian State @ North Carolina State, UAB @ Oklahoma, Indiana State @ Purdue, Villanova @ UCF, Florida Atlantic @ Clemson, Montana State @ Colorado, Alabama State @ Troy, Eastern Illinois @ Illinois, Montana @ Iowa, Alcorn State @ Louisiana-Monroe, Western Michigan @ Indiana, Richmond @ Duke, William & Mary @ Maryland, Weber State @ Colorado State, San Jose State @ Washington, Northeastern @ Virginia Tech, Western Kentucky @ Georgia, North Texas @ Texas, Illinois State @ Kansas State, Idaho State @ UNLV, Portland State @ New Mexico, Missouri State @ Oklahoma State, Louisiana-Lafayette @ LSU, Eastern Kentucky @ Cincinnati, The Citadel @ Texas A&M, Northwestern State @ Kansas, Tennessee-Martin @ Ohio
Sunday September 3rd
Dr. Hannibal Lecter Special---Memphis @ Ole Miss
Apparently Ole Miss coach Ed Orgeron does not shoot fire through his eye balls... but he gets the Hannibal Lecter cage isolation treatment anyway. His team has Sunday all to itself. Memo to Memphis: do not step into that cage to feed the man in the mask.