Oregon-Auburn Opening Weekend’s Marquee Matchup
The 150th season of college football kicked off with a “zero” week, and that’s what it looked like for fans of Florida, Miami and Arizona.
Already now proven to be overrated is Florida, the Gators looking like minnow bait to the rest of the SEC after that near-disaster against the light-winded Hurricanes. Other overrated teams have a few weeks to prove themselves as disappointments in proportion to their current positions: Michigan, Texas, Oregon, Notre Dame and Oklahoma.
Arizona, of course, can only be considered a disappointment because it hired Kevin Sumlin and that is always a disappointment to fans, alumni and school officials who were foolish enough to hire him in the first place.
So fill up your fridge, pull out all your university t-shirts and memorabilia the way you do decorations at Christmas time and put fresh batteries in the remote because college football 2019 is here.
Onto this week’s key games. All times PT because The Prognosticator lives on the West Coast.
Thursday, Aug. 29
UCLA at Cincinnati (4 p.m., ESPN)
After getting thumped by the Bearcats in basketball, the Baby Bears hired the school’s coach for its team. The same won’t happen in football, even if the hosts send the visitors back to Los Angeles with a big scar on their hides. The Baby Bears truly are babies, as three-quarters of the team is comprised of freshmen and sophomores. Whether or not they are an ol’ Chip off the Chip Kelly block remains to be seen. Winner: UCLA
Georgia Tech at Clemson (5 p.m., ACC Network)
The Fighting Dabos have been a bit chippy in the off-season, with Swinney sweeping down on the media. If they are not careful, they can get stung by some tricky Yellow Jackets swarming around the ACC’s Death Valley. It won’t be enough to send the team to the medical tent seeking relief, but an over-confident Clemson could find itself going back to “Clemson-ing” at some point in the season if its not careful. Winner: Clemson
Utah at BYU (7:15 p.m., ESPN)
The Mormon Bowl takes place in Utah, where college football is not exactly a religion, but if the Utes fail to get off to a good start their fans could be saying a few prayers. This is supposed to be Year of the Utes, when they take advantage of a weak Pac-12 conference (okay what else is new) to soar into the College Football Playoffs. Lee Corso, who apparently has put on one to many pieces of headgear, even has Utah playing Alabama in the title game. This dream could end quickly if this year’s Mountain Lions can pull off an upset like last year’s team, but it won’t happen this week. Winner: Utah
Friday, Aug, 30
Wisconsin at South Florida (4 p.m., ESPN)
The boys from up north have it all wrong – they should go to South Florida in November, not in August! Jonathan Taylor will be giving the Wisconsinites a warm feeling all season and will be able to bully the Bulls in Tampa. South Florida Coach Charlie Strong certainly gets a warmer reception from fans here than he did in Texas but he is going to get a chilly greeting from the visitors from up north. Winner: Wisconsin
Saturday, Aug. 31
Florida Atlantic at Ohio State (9 a.m., FOX)
The Twitter Troller will have fun with this one on social media, but the Acorns look to start the Day off right by winning one for their new coach. The visiting Owls don’t give a hoot about that, but they will clearly see they will be in over their heads before band even dots the “i” in Ohio. Winner: Ohio State
Alabama vs. Duke, Mercedes Benz Stadium, Atlanta (12:30 p.m., ABC)
The Pachyderms do their Elephant Stomp into their home away from home, Hotlanta, where they have stomped opponents in the preseason and the post-season. And after the end of last season, they are stomping mad. The Dukies may be hoping the ghost of Wallace Wade shows up but not even the magic of the former Alabama and Duke coach can help the Durham Devils. They are going to have a devil of a time slowing down this crimson-colored tidal wave. Winner: Alabama
Virginia Tech at Boston College (1 p.m., ACC Network)
The ACC Network goes from opening with Clemson to a real turkey of a game. That’s because it involves the Gobblers, who plan on gobbling up their hosts as if they were the ones on the dinner table. The Lunch Pails always struggle with season openers and they might in this one. But at least they are not playing East Carolina. Winner: Virginia Tech
Oregon vs. Auburn, AT&T Stadium, Dallas (4:30 p.m., ABC)
The Ducks are doing their darndest to become an SEC West team, as in way out West. First, they hire Mario Cristobal, Nick Saban’s former offensive line coach, then they go into SEC territory and pull out a couple big-time recruits and now they play the War Eagles, who may or not be a conference title contender. The Gus Busers head into Niketown with a rookie signal caller and and he’s going to either fly or flop. This won’t be a battle of quarterbacks, tho, but a battle of the lines and the real SEC West wins those wars. Winner: Auburn
Georgia at Vanderbilt (4:30 p.m., SEC Network)
The Dawgs get out of the Dawg House to open the season for an SEC game and sure are glad it’s against Vandy and not Bama. Big dog D’Andre Swift and the rest of the team will treat their hosts like a steak on a backyard grill. The biggest question about the Commodores is why is their slogan is “Anchor Down.” That means you’re done for the day and stuck one one place. It should be “Anchor Up,” as in we’re coming in to attack you. Either way, they will get blasted by the Kirby Warriors. Winner: Georgia
Fresno State at USC (7:30 p.m., ESPN)
Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott suggested showing Pac-12 games at 9 a.m., Pacific Time, in order to expose the conference’s teams to a potentially bigger national audience. It’s better for Hot Seat Helton to have this one played late at night, tho, for the unranked Trojans sort of need to sneak into the start of the season. The visitors, with former Cal coach Jeff Tedford now wearing a headset for the Bulldogs, will have some bite in them. If they take a chunk out of Troy, then Trojans alumni will be barking even louder at Helton. Winner: USC
Sunday, Sept. 1
Houston at Oklahoma (4:30 p.m., ABC)
It Hurts so good for Transfer Quarterback U, which is looking to roll over hapless Houston in its march to the College Football Playoffs and another Heisman. But as Corso is so fond of saying “not so fast.” The Cougars are no pansy pushovers, and as Boomer fans are about to discover, Jalen’s default play is rolling to the right at the slightest hint of pressure and throwing the ball high and out of bounds. The most pressure he will face in this game, tho, will be to live up to his transfer predecessors. Winner: Oklahoma
Monday, Sept. 2
Notre Dame at Louisville (5 p.m., ESPN)
The Domers are out to prove that last year was no fluke. And they will likely do that in time, and that is that they were not a playoff-caliber team. This little road trip is only a rest stop to a bigger one in three weeks, down the Southern interstates into Athens town against Georgia. Winner: Notre Dame