Posted: Wednesday August 24, 2005 12:37PM; Updated: Wednesday August 24, 2005 1:31PM
Jared Zabransky and the Broncos leave the smurf turf to storm Athens on Sept. 3.
David E. Klutho/SI
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You'll have to excuse me, but with the first Saturday of the college football season a mere 10 days away, I no longer can contain my excitement. It's getting to the point where I feel the need to break into song.
When the moooooooon is in the seventh house ...
It's a little strange no longer having a Kickoff Classic or BCA Bowl to serve as an appetizer, like last season's Virginia Tech-USC game. How many hours did the NCAA waste on that decision, and did it somehow determine those events to be "hostile" or "demeaning?"
And Jupiter aligns with Mars ...
And don't give me this South Carolina-UCF-on-Thursday-night b.s., either. I'm supposed to be so excited about Steve Spurrier's return that I should want to watch his Gamecocks play a team that went 0-11 last year?
The peace will guide the planets ...
Arizona-Utah on Friday night is slightly more compelling, but then again, you're going to need a program to recognize anyone on this year's Utes. I think even the trainers followed Urban Meyer to Florida.
And love will steer the stars.
But then there's Saturday! A full-blown, honest-to-goodness, noon-to-midnight slate of gridiron madness. With 10 days to go, here are the 10 things I'm most looking forward to about Sept. 3:
10. Omar Jacobs. I must admit, for all his gaudy numbers, I didn't see the Bowling Green QB in action very much last year. High noon, on ESPN, at Camp Randall. Prediction: Jacobs lights up Wisconsin's rebuilding defense for 380 yards.
9. The Charlie Weis show. Although it's a little ridiculous that a 5-7 and 6-6 team the past two years merits an ABC primetime kickoff and a GameDay visit, I admit to being curious to see whether Brady Quinn suddenly goes Tom Brady on Pittsburgh.
8. Frank Solich visits Northwestern. The ex-Nebraska coach won't really know what he's getting into until his Ohio team plays at Central Michigan or Buffalo, but a season opener at half-empty Ryan Field should provide a nice preview. Curiosity factor No. 2: Whether a Wildcats team that's already lost five projected starters for the season will be able to field 22 by kickoff.
7. Derrick Williams and Justin King. All right, JoePa. You've been building these guys up for eight months. If I'm going to make the effort to find someone who gets ESPNU just to watch your boys take on South Florida, I want to see nothing less than reverses, crazy motion plays, 100-yard kick returns and five-receiver sets.
6. How quickly will USC score 50? I say early in the third quarter. One of the most talented college offenses ever assembled opens its three-peat campaign against Hawaii, one of the nation's worst defensive teams the past several seasons. New coordinator Jerry Glanville should leave his extra tickets not for Elvis, but former player Deion Sanders. The Warriors could use the help defending USC's receivers.
5. My girlfriend's birthday. Yes, believe it or not, it's that day. But in a sign of her considerable coolness, she's agreed to do the actual, reservations-and-champagne birthday dinner a night earlier and join me for dinner on the couch in front of the television Saturday night. Not bad for a girl who just six months ago thought first and 10 were New York City cross streets.
4. Ted Ginn Jr. vs. Ryne Robinson. Ohio State fans are foaming at the mouth waiting for the first time Ginn breaks an 80-yard punt return or turns a short underneath route into a 60-yard touchdown. Who wouldn't want to see that? But you know, the Buckeyes' opening opponent, Miami of Ohio, has a speedster of its own in Robinson, who's returned five punts for scores.
3. Chris Leak running the option. I covered Florida's spring game yet never got to see it happen. I did get to see the junior throw some nifty long passes, but he did that under Ron Zook, too. Something tells me that sometime fairly early against Wyoming, Meyer will dust off his first shotgun triple-option play. Of course, the Cowboys saw it the past two years against Utah.
2. The new Auburn. A prominent Atlanta columnist predicted this week that Georgia Tech not only would win at Jordan-Hare on opening night but that the two teams would finish with the same record: 7-5. Apparently no one's bothered to tell him how good Auburn's defense is. The Tigers might not score much, but there's a distinct possibility stadium workers will need to scrape Jackets QB Reggie Ball off the turf afterward.
1. Boise invades Athens. In one of the most interesting intersectional matchups in recent memory, the WAC's Broncos visit SEC power Georgia, which, according to both the rankings (the Dawgs are No. 13, Boise No. 18) and the oddsmakers (Georgia by 6.5), isn't considered all that much of a favorite. Will Jared Zabransky run wild against the Dawgs' NFL-depleted defense?
Survey says ... not likely, but it will still be a lot more fun to watch than ESPN's 5:30 p.m. ET programming this Saturday: horse racing. Yes, it must be college football season.
By the way, for those of you who got the lyrical reference at the top of the Mailbag ... you're welcome. For those of you who didn't ... please, I beg of you, hurry up and go see The 40 Year-Old Virgin. You'll thank me later.