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WATCHING COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Weeks 1 and 2 2020

Let's not overreact.

It used to be common knowledge that unpredictability leads to overreaction.

We forgot that truth this past spring when The Virus (yes, future historians, that virus) hit America in earnest. Immediately, top scientists predicted mass death in the millions, based on research backed by assumptions that turned out to be at best repeatedly inaccurate and at worst hopelessly, hilariously false.

This failure of reasoning was almost certainly exacerbated by journalists and pundits (but I repeat myself), a uniquely American professional class whose sole talent seems to be treating outlying data like the norm. And that was so easy to do with so little data available.

No wonder stress and anxiety shot moonward. Everyone assumed the worst, rather than remembering that the limited data on COVID was, in fact, limited.

But we’re all dog tired of talking about COVID. It’s probably the last bipartisan point on which we all agree. So I’ll stop talking about it now.

Point is, in times where we don’t know much, uncertain times, we need to keep our wits about us.

And the first (second?) week of college football is just such a time.

Heck, this year even the name of this week eludes me. Is it Week 1 because it’s the first week with Power 5 teams playing? I think so! Or is it Week 2 because ESPN says so? Maybe! So I’m calling it Week 1 AND 2. At the same time. Deal with it.

I must acknowledge, games were played last week. BYU absolutely thumped Navy, mostly because the Water Troops had not tackled a single time in practice prior to playing.

How can you pick out which games will produce similarly astonishing results this week? And which can you write off?

Well, the slate’s smaller than usual, but there’s always some interest to be had. I’ll let you know what to put on your Big Screen, what to glance at on your Second Screen, and when you should Watch The Score. (Of course, if your team’s playing, just ignore my advice and put ’em on your Big Screen.)

For more updates, follow me on Twitter, where you can tweet along with me all Saturday long and stay up to date throughout the week. (On Saturday morning, I usually drop a few betting picks too, if you’re into that.) In October I’ll release my Tier Rankings, separating the teams playing in the Power 5 based on who’s hot and who’s not.

On to the games of the week! (As always, all times are CST, also known as God’s Time Zone.)


THURSDAY

Let’s kick the weekend off early with UAB vs. Miami (7pm, ACCN). UAB looked dangerous last week, but now comes a stronger test. Manny Diaz is hoping this is finally the year the Canes break out of their funk, buoyed by incoming offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee and QB transfer D’Eriq King.

SATURDAY

MORNING

Big Screen: Louisiana Lafayette vs. Iowa State (11a, ESPN) should be excellent. Iowa State is a serious Big 12 title contender by all indications, led by Brock Purdy at QB. But the Ragin’ Cajuns, already boasting one of the best mascot names in college football, have been not-so-secretly great over the last few years. If they live up to their prior billing, they’ll prove an excellent early test for the Cyclones.

Second Screen: Well, this spot would’ve gone to Louisiana Tech vs. Baylor before Tuesday, but instead we get Duke vs. Notre Dame (1:30p, NBC). The Irish should absolutely savage the Blue Devils. If they don’t, well, we all remember a time Notre Dame underperformed expectations. Would it really be so strange if it happened again in 2020, probably the strangest year on record?

Watch The Score: Syracuse vs. North Carolina (11a, ACCN)

AFTERNOON

This is a ridiculously empty time slot. If you have something to do on your Saturday, it’s safe to do it now. Otherwise, we have UTSA vs. Texas State (2:30p, ESPN2), a sure-to-be-scrappy contest between two pretty bad teams. But they might be equally bad, which can make for some fantastic football. Plus, Texas State looked fine against SMU last week, limiting Shane Buechele and handling themselves well on offense.

NIGHT

Big Screen: Clemson vs. Wake Forest (6:30p, ABC) is your first chance to see last year’s Playoff runner up in action. They’re looking to start their ACC campaign with a bang, as Heisman frontrunner Trevor Lawrence leads an absolutely stacked team into Winston-Salem. The Deacs weren’t awful last year by any stretch. They made a bowl, and they retain a dangerous offense. QB Jamie Newman transferred to Georgia then promptly opted out of the season, but thankfully Sam Hartman, who started four games last year, is ready to roll in his place, tossing bombs to returning WR Sage Surratt.

Second Screen: Western Kentucky vs. Louisville (7p, ACCN) might not catch your eye, but it should. The Cardinals are for real, at least on paper. Scott Satterfield has 15 returning starters and should have Micale Cunningham and a powerful rushing attack against an equally impressive Hilltopper D, which boasts tons of returning talent.

Watch the Score: Tulane vs. South Alabama (6:30p, ESPN2)


That’s it! See you next week, don’t forget to follow me, and as always, happy watching!

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