College football is finally back
Deshaun Watson #4 of the Clemson Tigers celebrates after throwing a 2-yard game-winning touchdown pass during the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game on January 9, 2017. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Leaves are starting to hit the ground, there’s a nip in the night air, and kids are getting ready to return to school.
It can only mean one thing: college football is back.
And while, yes, there are actual games this week – 5 NCAA FBS games on Saturday – they’re of no interest to anyone outside fans of those schools except the hardest of hardcores, and degenerate gamblers.
The real action gets underway next week with a full slate of Thursday and Friday night games, followed by the true opening Saturday on Labour Day Weekend.
That day (September 2) features a couple of marquee games that will draw international interest: Michigan versus Florida at 12:30 p.m. Pacific Time, and Florida State at Alabama at 5:00 p.m.
Most surveying the national scene have some combination of Bama, Ohio State, Florida State or USC projected into the playoffs, with about another half-dozen teams knocking on the door.
The Crimson Tide and Buckeyes have really set themselves apart from the recruiting pack the last couple years, establishing an elite-level talent pipeline unmatched by other power programs.
Whether that translates to an on-field championship is all part of the fun that makes up the wild ride of the next several months.
The three leading Heisman Trophy candidates (all quarterbacks) appear to be Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, USC’s Sam Darnold and Louisville’s Lamar Jackson.
From a preseason standpoint, the game of the year on the regular season schedule could be Florida State at Clemson on November 11.
Of particular note for Vancouver-area fans: Washington and Washington State are both currently in up cycles and each are primed for strong seasons.
The Huskies return Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year Jake Browning at quarterback, and the Cougars have senior QB Luke Falk piloting Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense.
The two schools meet November 25 in Seattle for the Apple Cup.
And don’t forget Canada’s U Sports football.
Entertaining and affordable, UBC opens at Regina Friday, September 1, and the home opener is Saturday, September 9, hosting Manitoba on the West Point Grey campus at 1:00 p.m.