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After A Strong Opening Weekend, College Football Takes A Nap

Good Gawd'a'mighty was the opening weekend of college football fantastic.

Good Gawd’a’mighty was the opening weekend of college football fantastic.

Tennessee barely held on against Appalachian State, Houston smacked the early season swag out of the Oklahoma Sooners, UCLA and Texas A&M gave us a thriller, Wisconsin put Les Myles and LSU on the hot seat from the jump and Nick Chubb looked amazing in his return to the Bulldogs.

Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett accounted for seven touchdowns,Texas gave Charlie Strong a signature win in overtime against an excellent Notre Dame squad and Alabama administered a good, old fashioned, behind-the-shed ass-kicking to USC that was worse than what Larry Holmes did to Randall “Tex” Cobb in 1982.

For a true college football fan, last weekend was like watching The Godfather. This weekend however, will be more like watching anything by M. Night Shyamalan that doesn’t have the line, “I see dead people.”


But even with a bevy of yawners, including UCF vs #5 Michigan, Nicholls vs #9 Georgia, Central Michigan vs #22 Oklahoma State, Troy vs #2 Clemson, Charleston Southern vs #3 Florida State, Tulsa vs #4 Ohio State, Louisiana Monroe at #14 Oklahoma, Nevada vs #18 Notre Dame, Wofford vs #19 Ole Miss and Western Kentucky vs #1 Alabama, among a number of other clunkers, there are a few games worth getting excited about.


Here are the one’s I’ll be paying special attention to this weekend:

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#13 Louisville vs Syracuse

If you don’t know who Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson is, you’ll want to tune in tonight. Kickoff is at 8:00PM EST on ESPN2. Jackson’s game is sick like the flu! Last weekend against Charlotte, my man ran for two touchdowns and threw for six more scores. AND HE ONLY PLAYED THE FIRST HALF!!! 


He set the record for total touchdowns by a Louisville player ever in a game, and he did it in two quarters. The Cardinals ate up 663 yards in total offense, with Jackson accounting for 405. Ummmm, to reiterate, my man was chilling on the bench after halftime. That’s a boss right there. 

Syracuse will be unveiling, on national television, first-year coach Dino Babers’ warp-speed up-tempo offense. Babers is one of the brightest young coaches in the country. He led Bowling Green to a MAC championship last year and two Ohio Valley Conference titles and appearances in the FCS playoffs in both of his years at Eastern Illinois.


If you want to see one of the most exciting quarterbacks in the game and are a fan of explosive offense, this game should be fun.

Arkansas vs # 15 TCU

Speaking of teams with excellent offenses that score more points than a Big Ten basketball squad, TCU is always worth the price of admission. Last week, they scored 59 points in their opener. But South Dakota State gained 461 yards and scored 41 points, which has to be troubling to Horned Frog fans. 

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Arkansas didn’t look very impressive in their opener either, squeaking out a 21-20 victory over Louisiana Tech. Keep your eyes on TCU quarterback Kenny Hill, an elite high school recruit a few years ago who recently transferred in from Texas A&M. Hill passed for 439 yards and five touchdowns in his debut last week.

Kickoff is on Saturday night at 7:00PM EST. 



Virginia Tech vs #17 Tennessee


Housed at the Bristol Motor Speedway, which has been converted into a football stadium for this border clash, many are calling for this game to set the NCAA’s all-time attendance record with close to 150,000 fans in the building.

The top five reasons to watch this game are as follows: Joshua Dobbs, Joshua Dobbs, Joshua Dobbs, Joshua Dobbs and Joshua Dobbs, because he spits hot fire!

Kickoff is on Saturday night at 8:00PM EST.

Penn State vs Pitt


These teams haven’t played in 16 years, and its a shame. This weekend, we get back the real battle for Pennsylvania football dominance and what was once one of the best college football rivalries around.

Yes, it’s fallen off the radar because they haven’t met since Carl Thomas and Montell Jordan were relevant, but the Nittany Lions and Panthers have played more than Auburn and Alabama, Florida and Tennessee, USC and Notre Dame or Florida State and Miami.

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This will be the 96th meeting between the two schools, which means that Morgan Freeman was about 20 years old the first time they played.  

And although they haven’t lit the world on fire recently, the Panthers claim nine national titles from 1915 to 1976, and the Nittany Lions claim two; in 1982 and 1986 under Joe Paterno. 


The rivalry has produced an incredible amount of Hall of Famers, including Franco Harris, Dan Marino, Tony Dorsett and Mike Ditka, among others.


When Pitt has the ball, keep your eyes on running back James Conner, who overcame both a serious knee injury and a Hodgkins lymphoma diagnosis in 2015 to score the team’s first two touchdowns last week. Senior quarterback Nathan Peterman completed 62% of his passes for 20 touchdowns last year.

When Penn State’s on offense, the man to watch is sophomore running back Saquon Barkley.

And I’ve never ever ever said this before, but when Penn State kicks off, focus on kicker Joey Julius as he runs downfield in coverage. You might see something like this:

Kickoff for this one is Saturday at noon.

Ali

Alejandro “Ali” Danois is the Editor-in-Chief of The Shadow League. His features “Humble Beginnings”, and “Rocky Flop” were mentioned in the Best American Sports Writing Anthology as among the country’s most notable stories of 2014 and 2015 respectively.

Ali is the author of the critically acclaimed book, The Boys of Dunbar, A Story of Love, Hope and Basketball, and he served as a Producer on the ESPN Films 30-for-30 documentary “Baltimore Boys”.

Follow him on twitter @alidanois