By Alan Brads
Have you ever had a theory that you don’t say out loud because it seems glaringly obvious but no one else seems to have thought of it? It makes you wonder if you’re a genius, going insane, or both. Well here’s mine:
I think it’s possible that the number one reason the NFL is overwhelmingly more popular than college football is not marketing, or parity, or format or even quality of play, it’s that Sunday comes after Saturday.
By the end of Saturday I love college football more than the NFL, but then Sunday rolls around and boom, I’m right back to the NFL. I feel like a junior high girl in a love triangle. Who do I love most? Whoever I’m with at any given moment.
But I don’t think I’m alone.
Come Monday morning, we all go back to school or work and talk about what’s freshest in our mind, the NFL, and bolstered by Thursday Night Football, that just continues through the week.
But what would America’s football landscape look like if we flipped Saturday and Sunday?
Well, if it was last week, not very good.
I predicted a sleepy week two of college football excluding Texas at Alabama, and largely I was right. The top 25 went 21-2 against ranked teams, and the new timing rules chopped off a couple possessions, so even blowouts winners frequently fall short of the 50-point mark.
Yes, the marquee matchup between the Longhorns and Crimson Tide brought the drama, but one game doesn’t make a weekend. So surely things will take a turn for the better this weekend, right?
I regret to say that this week will be even worse. Here’s a comprehensive list of every ranked vs ranked matchup this week:
- End of list.
Yikes. Ok, maybe the NFL has a little more going for it than the calendar.
But take heart, Fansville resident, there’s hope on the horizon. This weekend is just the calm before storm. Week four will more than make up for two lackluster slates, but until then we’ll dive deeper than usual to find some hidden gems. Let’s roll with three storylines and three games for week three.
#3- SEC stumbles in ways too big to ignore
It hurts for a midwesterner like myself to admit, but since 2006, the SEC ruled as the undisputable king of college football since 2006. 14 of the last 17 championships belong to the SEC, and five different teams won those 14 titles. That’s unfathomable even for the Big Ten. But…
The SEC is 3-4 against non-conference Power 5 teams. The wins came against Virginia, Cal and Arizona. Gross. Georgia rightfully sits at #1 in the country, but the SEC lacks the depth we’re used to seeing.
#2- Texas is (tentatively) back
Yep. I’m willing to say it. They can legitimately contend for the title this year because Quinn Ewers looked like the phenom he was promised to be. Look back at the Longhorns’ slate last year and you’ll see they flashed signs of greatness, but had some bad moments and some bad luck (all five losses last season were one-score games). Texas ought to win the Big 12 and make the playoff this year. Their talent is undeniable. Steve Sarkisian has nowhere to hide. He was supposed to resurrect Texas from over a decade of mediocrity, but if they blow it and prove yet again to be “not back” Sark has no business leading Texas in the transition to the SEC.
#1- The Alabama-Clemson era is officially over.
The changing of the guard came faster than I expected. For Clemson it happened in 2021, we just didn’t realize it. Alabama survived a little longer, and I doubt they’ll die as cruel a death as Clemson did, but I’m willing to plant my flag: Saban won’t win another title in Tuscaloosa. The recruiting gap between the “haves” and the “have-nots” will shrink with the expanded playoff, and Saban will retire before the the Tide get back on top. I couldn’t believe how many people counted Saban out before the season, but I grew up watching the Alabama dynasty, and they never lacked the ability to make plays like they did against Texas. Dabo Swinney is too young to rule out for his whole career, but it will take a rebuild, and if the Tigers leave the ACC where they’ve made a living off of cannabilizing the weak, it will only get harder.
Now after I downplayed this week’s slate I have to convince you that there are some worthwhile games.
#3- South Carolina @ #1 Georgia
Georgia’s schedule is so easy, so outrageously, frustratingly easy that this is arguably their most loseable game until November. It’s our first glimpse into who this 2023 Bulldogs team really is. I don’t think it will be close, Vegas clearly agrees with me as the oddsmakers have Georgia as four score favorites, but it’s worth watching to see how Georgia may stack up later in the season. South Carolina isn’t a worthy opponent for the defending national champs, but Spencer Rattler has shown streaks of brilliance, and if he can string together a whole game of it, anything could happen.
#2- West Virginia @ Pitt
Back in 2011, before the seismic shifts in conference alignment the Big East dissolved and we lost the Backyard Battle. Over a decade later the college football gods smiled on us and gave it back to us, now as a non-conference event. Last year Pitt won the first installment of the Backyard Battle since 2011. This year they’ll travel to Mountaineer Field as one-point favorites. The game won’t affect the college football playoff, not directly anyway, but it’s inherently good football. If you don’t take advantage of a lousy college football weekend to take that camping trip you never got to in the summer, this game should command your primetime attention. And if you are camping…wait until everyone else falls asleep then start streaming. Football stops for nothing.
#1- #14 LSU @ Mississippi State
I heard a lot of talk about LSU over the offseason, but so far that’s all it’s been. Talk. Sure, they clobbered Grambling State last week (yawn) but Florida State humiliated Brian Kelly’s Tigers, the darling SEC West pick to knock off Georgia in the SEC championship game. It’s put up or shut up time. LSU doesn’t just need to beat Mississippi State, they need to prove that they can beat out a weakened Alabama to win the west. Alternatively, Mississippi State could make a run in the underperforming West and maybe, just maybe, earn themselves a December trip to Atlanta.
This Saturday won’t be the thriller of a lifetime, but it’s football, and that’s good enough. So hang in there, and go ahead and buckle your seat belt because this ride will get wild in week 4.
Alan Brads is a senior journalism student and sports editor for Cedars. He enjoys playing the drums, speaking Spanish and watching Buckeye football like his life depends on it.