2. Cal at Tennessee
September, Saturday 2 - 4:30 p.m.
I have conflicting emotions about this game. On one hand you want to see your conference do well against teams from other BCS conferences, but Tennessee is Alabama's bitter rival and I must admit I experienced some sweet sweet schadenfreude over their 5-6 season last year. On the other hand, there's Cal, a team I've disliked ever since Aaron Rodgers mouthed off to reporters and had a pity party over Cal not getting a BCS bid in 2004.
Verdict: I don't really care what happens in the end, but it should be a heck of a fight from two programs that want to prove they're among the elite in '06.
1. Florida State at Miami
Monday, September 4 - 7:00 p.m.
I love Monday night football.
These two teams shifting this game to week one of the season is a brilliant move. By Week Ten of 2005, a 7-1 Miami team jumped a 9-0 Alabama team in the AP poll. Miami's one loss came to FSU on opening weekend. The one loss Miami also placed five spots higher in the BCS rankings than Alabama after the Crimson Tide's first loss.
Year in and year out, this is one of the toughest games for both teams. It's a rivalry game, it's a conference game and most of the time both teams are just really good.
After getting humiliated in a 40-3 loss to LSU in the Peach Bowl, Miami head coach Larry Coker fired four assistant coaches. FSU (even though they won the ACC title) finished the year a lackluster 8-5. I think both coaches feel they need to win this game more than they usually do and that should translate into entertaining viewing for the fans.
Some might accuse me of anti-Auburn bias for not including their game against Washington State, which is ridiculous because I have a Tennessee game at #2 on the list. Sure, it's great that it's an intersectional game and all that good stuff, but is it really going to be much of a contest? Washington State finished 4-7 last year (1-7 in conference) and one of their wins was against a I-AA team. I know they lost several close games, but hey, they still lost `em. They finished 2005 ranked #92 by CBS (for whatever that's worth)...one step ahead of Indiana and a few steps behind Kentucky.
("What to Watch: Week Two" will begin on Monday)