Back in the Cold War, CIA spies had a few gut-level sayings to guide them in their Russia-based missions, colloquially called the “Moscow Rules.” The most well-known one: “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is a pattern.”
With all due respect to the Agency, I disagree. Twice is a pattern.
Week 1 is an isolation booth. We all come in with our preconceived biases and estimations, carefully crafted over a long and bleak offseason, about how everything should shake out. And the results, whether slightly or monumentally different, usually send us fans into a tailspin of overreaction. But Week 1 isn’t reliable data for our newly minted wild predictions. Not really. It’s a data point. And extrapolating forward from it is a bit like seeing the Statute of Liberty and proclaiming that all sculptures must likewise be green.
Never fear though! Now Week 2 is here. If a team stinks up the joint in one game, well, they might have just had an off day. Twice in a row? That’s a streak. Start panicking a little. But if your team’s doing unexpectedly well this week after an unheralded victory last week, good for y’all! You might be on the road to a real fun season. Twice is a pattern.
Regardless of your rooting interests, though, college football is in full swing! But with so much still up in the air and undetermined to start the year, and so many games on this Saturday, how can you decide where to spend your precious football watching time?
Enter the schedule below! I’m gonna break down the big games and let you know what should be on your Big Screen, your reliable but smaller Second Screen, and your favorite scoreboard app. This separates the wheat from the chaff and just lets you kick back and enjoy!
Two rules, as always. First, please follow me on Twitter at @WatchingCFB. I regularly post hot takes, awesome articles, and interactive Twitter threads – and soon, a really helpful rankings system! Way better than the AP Poll; trust me. Second, if your team’s on, feel free to put ’em on the Big Screen and ignore me. Third and finally, all game times are in God’s Time Zone (CST).
Big Screen: Going against the grain here, but there probably won’t be much data you can individually draw from Cincinnati vs. Ohio State (11a, ABC). Yes, it’s an early test against a pretty good American squad from Cincy that looked fully in control against UCLA. But here’s the thing: UCLA is not and was not expected to be any good. New Buckeye helmer Ryan Day is currently benefitting from Urban Meyer’s leftover recruits. This game will boil down to just how much trouble the Bearcats can give Ohio State. Give ’em enough, and they just might pull an upset.
Second Screen: On paper, Syracuse vs. Maryland (11a, ESPN) looks like a slopfest waiting to happen. Two offense-forward, mistake prone teams meeting early in the season. But those can be fun, and there might be crazy highlight-reel stuff that happens, and Vegas says the game will be close. So you should watch it. Its closest competitor in terms of watchability (see below) should be a blowout, but be prepared to switch gears if I’m horribly wrong.
Watch The Score: Army vs. Michigan (11a, FOX)
Big Screen: I almost feel like Texas A&M vs. Clemson (2:30p, ABC) should really be considered a part of the hottest dormant rivalry in sports, between the Aggies and their more well-hoofed burnt orange brothers in Texas’s capital city. It’s almost like A&M saw that Texas had scheduled LSU this week and scheduled Clemson out of spite, just to one-up them. (I would not be surprised at all if this were actually true.) Watch this game. It’ll be good.
Second Screen: Nebraska vs. Colorado (2:30p, FOX)? I guess? Look, there’s not much to say here except this: if the Buffs stomp the Huskers out of nowhere, the Scott Frost Experience at Nebraska may not last the season.
Big Screen: The second half of the day’s Texas-sized doubleheader on national TV, LSU vs. Texas (6:30p, ABC) promises an intriguing game on both sides of the ball. If LSU wins, they’ll be crowned the best hope to knock off Bama and Georgia in the regular season. If Texas wins, expect jubilant, tear-filled proclamations of “TEXAS IS BACK FOR REAL THIS TIME” throughout the land – followed swiftly by the Horns’ absolute obliteration in the Red River Rivalry, as is tradition. (I kid. Maybe Texas is actually for real this year. We’ll see.)
Second Screen: Miami vs. North Carolina (7p, ACCN) should be hilarious, if nothing else. A freshman QB for the Canes heading into Mack Brown’s house, the week after the wily old coot just knocked off Muschamp’s Gamecocks? Yes please.
Watch The Score: BYU vs. Tennessee (6p, ESPN)
Big Screen: Stanford vs. USC (9:30p, ESPN) should really be the Fighting Trees’ game to lose. And that’s why the aftereffects of this game, should Stanford win, will be the best thing about it. It will somehow count against Clay Helton that he lost an eminently loseable game to a pretty great PAC12 rival with a backup QB and lackluster skill talent, because USC boosters are completely unreasonable.
And that’s that! Remember to follow @WatchingCFB, where I’ll live tweet all this action and you can tell me that I’m wrong and a very silly man. Until next week!