We're presently in one of the roughest, most desolate stretches of time as college football fans. We've followed every off season football-related diversion with fervor: Signing day, the NFL Draft, and the hires and fires in the coaching realm of the game.
Full practices haven't resumed yet, so the only steady stream of news comes in the form of verbal commitments from recruits who still have a year of high school ball to play and from off-the-field shenanigans. I'm firmly convinced that July is the toughest month for a college football fanatic because the season is so very close, but almost nothing is happening.
One bit of good news though is that the TV schedules are beginning to firm up. There is still a little wiggle room on what will be televised the first few weeks of the season, but the majority of the question marks regarding TV deal with kickoff times.
To help fill the void over the next few weeks until practice starts I'm going to offer up my list of the 10 games you should consider watching each week for the first four weeks. I'll be posting one week for each of the next four weeks and will present a small write up of two games each weekday in countdown format. So, for those of you that suck at math, that's 40 games over the next four weeks.
Without further adieu, here's...
The first week of the season is one of the greatest weeks in all of sport because it signals the arrival of being firmly planted in front of your TV or in a stadium seat every Saturday for the next several months. Despite all of the excitement over the start of another season, many of the match-ups are simply dreadful.
Very few teams enter conference play right off the bat and except for a handful of intersectional games and a few rivalry games the majority of week one encounters center around the giants of the sport participating in glorified scrimmages against incredibly inferior competition in order to work out the bugs before getting down to the business of trying to win conference titles and national championships.
Quite a few of these games wouldn't make the list if they were to appear in subsequent weeks. The schedule is what it is though, and here are my picks for week one.
10. South Carolina at Mississippi State
Thursday, August 31 - 7:00 p.m.
Sure, the Bulldogs have been the SEC West doormat over the past several years, but I included this game because it actually counts for something. To some degree, it takes cojones to play a conference game in week one because of all of the unknowns about both teams.
South Carolina won't seriously challenge for the SEC East this year, but they're certainly good enough to rain on someone else's parade (just ask Florida.) I'm actually going to this game and I look forward to seeing how the spoiler of the East looks in year two under Spurrier.
Simply put, this is the best game the first day of the year they're showing college football. How could you skip it?
9. Vanderbilt at Michigan
Saturday, September 2 - 11:00 a.m.
I know this isn't going to be much of a contest, but I want to see what Vanderbilt is willing to subject themselves to in order to get a women's basketball game on TV (and to be fair another football game in `07.)
SEC and Big 10 teams seldom meet outside of bowl games and though this is far from a marquee match-up, it is notable for that fact alone.
(Games 7 & 8 of Week One will be posted tomorrow)