What To Watch For: Weekend Games
By Steve Barnes
Finally the chat rooms throughout fiber-optic land have something to argue about this week.
Forget verbal commitments, arrests and autograph controversy. There will at long last be college football to be played.
Here are a few things to look for in the opening weekend.
IF IT IS AN UPSET AT ALL: Look for Cincinnati to beat Purdue in West Lafayette. Tommy Tuberville has a great team and later in the year could be the spoiler to Louisville's shot at being unbeaten.
HOLTZ TO LISP ON: Notre Dame will win against Temple and on late-night television, Lou Holtz will begin talking about the Irish as a national power. His saliva should fall on deaf ears. Notre Dame is not only not as good as Holtz thinks, they are not that good, period.
BIG NUMBERS: Troy's Corey Robinson will throw for more than 350 yards in the Trojans' opener against UAB. Even though the Blazers are experienced on defense, the kid who threw for 91 touchdowns and only four interceptions as a high school senior will light it up.
CLOSE CALLS: Even though the favorite will win, look for close wins for Oklahoma over Louisiana-Monroe, Arkansas over Louisiana-Lafayette, Minnesota over UNLV and Memphis over Duke.
DON'T EVEN START THE ARGUMENT: Everyone I have spoken to in the West tells me the Southeastern Conference is overrated. Unfortunately, there is a battle between bad teams in the Pac-12 and the SEC in week one. I still think Auburn has better players than Washington State, but if the Cougars win I will not be shocked. Either way, no one should thump their chests by winning this one. The Tigers and Wazzou will both finish near the bottom of their respective divisions. Each can brag when they can beat Alabama or Oregon.
WATCH THIS GUY: Named starting quarterback at South Florida, Matt Floyd will have a great game in the Bulls' opener against McNeese State. This kid is a scrapper. He will not run for 100 yards or throw for 300, but he will make the key plays to help USF to a win and will do it all season.
OH YES, HE IS FOR REAL: Labor Day evening, Florida State freshman quarterback Jameis Winston will show he is worth the hype. The kid might start off slow against Pitt in the Panthers' first ACC game, but he will hit his stride and take the Seminoles to an easy win. Winston, who starred as a freshman on the FSU baseball team, is in good company when it comes to Noles' two-sport players. Charlie Ward, also an FSU point guard, and Chris Weinke, who delayed his college football career to play in the minor league system of the Toronto Blue Jays, each won the Heisman Trophy. Winston is a better athlete than both of them.
ONE HALF OR TWO, NO BIGGIE: It seems Johnny Manziel is suspended for the first half of Texas A&M's opener against Rice. It really doesn't matter because the Aggies could win this one even without Johnny Football. But a one-half suspension? The NCAA can be weaker than a mixed drink in a strip joint. The only dumber suspension I can ever recall was in the early '90s at Auburn. Starting quarterback Jeff Burger was nailed cheating on an exam. His punishment was not being able to start the next game. On the opening play, backup Reggie Slack handed off for a short gain. Burger then entered the contest. I'll bet he really learned his lesson that day.
THE START OF THE DESERT STORM: Friday, Arizona will dispatch Northern Arizona fairly easily. That is just the beginning for Rich Rodriguez' bunch. The next two games for the Wildcats are at UNLV and Texas-San Antonio at home. Should 'Zona win in week four at Washington, it will be 4-0 the Cats roll into Los Angeles to take on Southern Cal.
GEORGIA SOUTHERN AND APPALACHIAN STATE'S SWAN SONG: Both traditional FCS powers cannot qualify for the playoffs this season as they each transition into FBS status. They take a combined nine national titles with them to the Sun Belt and they will have something to say about who goes to the postseason from the Southern Conference. GSU has won 31 games in the last three seasons and App State wide receiver Sean Price has NFL potential. It is quite possible the SoCon's third-best team will be its champ.