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Season at a Glance
No false hype needed here to draw in fans
By Stewart Mandel, CNNSI.com
CNNSI.com's loyal readers out there surely remember how last year's college football preview featured a Hollywood box office theme. Many a long night was spent dreaming up movie titles that fit the season previews for Central Michigan or Arkansas State.
Such was out of the question for this year's section, largely because this summer's blasť Hollywood offerings couldn't possibly capture our enthusiasm for the coming season.
Let's face it, how many people who saw the preview for Coyote Ugly in June said to themselves, "I've GOT to see that?" And we're guessing the trailer for the holiday release The Little Vampire has yet to bring out the words "Please, God, let tomorrow be November."
Yet all summer long, such vociferations could be heard coming from the mouths of people wishing Alabama-UCLA or Nebraska-Notre Dame would hurry up and get here.
Even though Florida State and Nebraska are preseason 1-2 in every poll this side of Gallup, something tells us not too many fans are thinking about taking the season off. Unpredictable things always happen in college football and will again this season. How 'bout Purdue in the Rose Bowl? How 'bout FSU losing an ACC game? Just a couple blank predictions, sure. Could turn out to be duds. But, hey, no one's going home from this show disappointed.
| What we learned, what we liked |
|Say what you want about the BCS, Florida State and Virginia Tech put on a Sugar Bowl show worthy of any kooky formula that would have set it up. While college football still produced its usual abundance of stirring games and moments over the year, the upper-echelon conferences were perceived have a down year. Headlined by the Pac-10 champ finishing outside of the Top 25 (Stanford), such was further evidenced by MAC-school Marshall's deserving Top 10 status. That said, there was plenty of reason to be excited about the future. Virginia Tech ultra-athlete Michael Vick ushered in what will likely be a new prototype for the college football quarterback, and more traditional dust-cloud programs like Clemson and Oklahoma found success playing the spread-style offense. |
| ON: Michael Vick. Or should we say, ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON. |
| ON: Drew Henson. Unless Michigan hits the Rose Bowl stretch run in need of a veteran lineman and trades the QB to Northwestern.
| OFF: Sebastian Janikowski. In college, the party-guy mystique was cute. In the NFL, it's called criminal. |
| OFF: Gerry DiNardo. The Ex-LSU coach finally found gainful employment: coaching in the XFL. DiNardo against Butkus? We'll take the guy with no coaching experience.
| ON: LaDainian Tomlinson. One small-school, close-but-not-quite Heisman candidate emerges every year. But it's been a while since he was a Horned Frog. |
| OFF: Joe Hamilton. Not that Georgia Tech has fully come to grips. The Yellow Jackets' media guide arrived with a "Hamilton for Heisman" address stamp.
| King JoePa prepares to ascend to highest throne |
| Happy Valley's finest father figure stands seven wins from breaking Bear Bryant's all-time wins record (323). Most think it's a given to happen sometime this year. But this writer sees a severely trying year in the cards for soon-to-be-73 Paterno. His offense has underperformed for years, and now the defense must completely reload, even at coordinator. Seven wins? Hardly a given. |
| All abuzz in Dixie |
| It's a critical year for two of the SEC's perennial pretender-contenders, Georgia and Ole Miss. In the 20th anniversary year of Herschel Walker's national title team, Bulldogs fans have a tangible reminder of how long they've been living in second-tier denial. But with Quincy Carter and a slew of talent back, even the cautious Jim Donnan is hinting this is the year they unseat Florida and Tennessee. And the Rebels, who haven't shown anything nationally since Archie Manning's days, are pinning monumental hopes on the shoulders of a man named Deuce.
| Even more eyes on Irish
| The prevailing feeling is, barring a dramatic turnaround, Bob Davie will be done after this year (Jaguars coach Tom Coughlin to South Bend?). This is actually the most talented team Davie has had, but chances are slim they'll survive the season-opening barrage of A&M, Nebraska, Purdue and Michigan State. Plus, will any successor fare any better until the Irish accept reality and start playing by the same rules as everyone else? |
| Sept. 16, Washington at Colorado. |
| It's the date Buffs fans have been savoring for two years. But Rick Neuheisel makes it through the day unscathed by posing as a bass player in the band as versatile QB Marques Tuiasosopo handles the coaching, too. |
| Nov. 18, USC at UCLA |
| Knowing the game likely decides who gets to keep his job, Bob Toledo and Paul Hackett make a pact that whoever wins hires the other on staff the following season. Somehow, they manage to both lose the game.
| Jan. 3, Orange Bowl, Nebraska vs. Florida State
| Frank Solich thinks he's got everything under control, secretly slipping an aging pill into Chris Weinke's Gatorade. Unfortunately, he finds that even at 107 (midway through the third quarter), the geriatric QB still completes a 50-yard bomb on the fly to "another one of their fast dudes."
Once again this season, the Glance each week will offer its projected BCS lineup, based partially on current standings, largely on gut instinct.
| Orange: Nebraska vs. Florida State || Fiesta: Texas vs. Wisconsin |
| Rose: Michigan vs. Washington || Sugar: Alabama vs. Miami |
Continuing last year's tradition, college sports producer Stewart Mandel will field reader questions beginning with the Aug. 20 Glance. He also promises to try not to poke fun at said readers this year. To submit a question, click here.
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