The nation rejoiced this past weekend as college football began again. There were a lot of touchdowns as is to be expected.
Ohio State ramrodded their cross-state neighbors from Akron 42-0; while Florida beat up on Florida Atlantic 41-3 and Arkansas pounded Missouri State 51-7.
Elsewhere, #2 Alabama took no mercy on Kent State, a mediocre cast from the Mid-American Conference, in a 47-7 rout. And on the coasts, #13 Virginia Tech went up 66-13 against Appalachian State while Florida State whipped Louisiana-Monroe’s Warhawks 34 to Zip.
Nebraska broke in its first Big Ten season by running all over Chattanooga 40-7, as Tennessee returned to the big bowl hunt with a 26-point spanking of Montana, a school that lost its last bowl game to Villanova, a basketball school.
In short, nobody good had any decent competition this weekend. But the rest of NCAA Football didn’t fail to un-impress.
In Indiana, Notre Dame got beat at home by another smaller Sunshine State school, South Florida, whose terrific fans were turning up in the Midwest as early as Wednesday. I saw a family of eight put down a few pizzas at Piece in Chicago, clad entirely in their mossy green USF Bulls gear and golf shirts. But less endearing was Purdue, who barely held off Middle Tennessee State in front of a couple of dozen fans (at most) on their home ground in West Lafayette.
As a consolation, at least the University of Georgia kept things interesting, coupling a fashion statement with an edgy competitive streak. Going up against Boise State, Georgia lost the game but outdid their rivals’ ridiculous blue field and gaudy “stallion wear” by fielding a team with robotic two-tone silver and red helmets that looked like something out of Brian Bosworth’s post-NFL 1980s sci-fi movies.
Georgia's new two-tone humdinger
This weekend's matchup scenario suggests that College Football, as an institution, doesn’t take its first two weeks on the job seriously. It’s as if the first 14 days of the NCAA Football schedule are spring training, Spring Break, or maybe just an additional two weeks of summer vacation.
Big football institutions have changed places in recent years, with USC and Texas not contending last season while the “other USC”, South Carolina, kills it in the SEC and in the polls, alongside Virginia Tech, Texas Christian and the aforementioned blue bunch from Idaho. Still, both Week 1 and Week 2 see the big programs ease in, playing teams nowhere near their level.
Small Division I schools -- like Miami of Ohio, Troy, James Madison and Murray State -- get to have a two-weekend fling with the national TV audience so long as they're willing to experience humiliation by at least four or five touchdowns. It reminds me in a way of all the beach-based reality TV shows we’re forced to watch in the earlier part of summer. Big men flex their muscles for adoring women in their big moment on MTV. Meanwhile, the dweebs get humbled and sent home with bad memories.
OK, so maybe I’m being a curmudgeon. I’ll admit that when Stanford grabbed its first touchdown, Saturday, by barely entering the end zone during its 54 point win over San Jose State, it bugged me. I do long for the days when players actually needed both feet to traverse the end zone rather than score a touchdown by just flying over it.
Maybe this makes my football outlook simply old. But I’m not the only one who thinks college football has often chosen easy street.
In contrast, the NFL 2011 starts this week with the Green Bay Packers against the New Orleans Saints, the last two Super Bowl winners matched at Lambeau Field. If the NFL chose to mimic college football’s path we’d instead see the Packers play the second string of Canadian Football’s Calgary Stampede.
Call me a hater, but I’d love to see the troika that runs the BCS give us -- for once-- a real matchup on Opening Day.
Andy Frye writes about sports and life here on Chicago Now, and scores outside the end zone all day on Twitter at @MySportsComplex .
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