2016-09-01 07:08

Believe it or not, but the season has already started. But it was only one game so far.

Last Friday did Hawai'i play Cal in Sydney, Australia as season opener, which is not the usual way to kick off the season.
Cal did win the game in a high scoring way 51-31 (which brings up major question marks regarding their defense) and it was for the PAc12 also a quite successful event, so we might see more of that stuff in the future.
The PAC12 and FOX Australia did already announce a partnership for television and the PAC12 Men Basketball All-Star-Game will also be played in Australia.

The reason behind this is quite easy, money.

It gets clearer and clearer that top sport does sell and to stay on top you need to maximize your income. The PAC12 did look for extra money from outside the US, which is for sure a smart move.

I quite confident that in the next decade or maybe two decades, college sport, especially football, will change dramatically.
The rich will get richer and the rest will have to survive with the money left on the table.

There are at the moment 3 teams which do get significant boost from major companies.

Oregon is known for their NIKE connections.
Phil Knight, founder of NIKE and Chairman, is an alumnus of Oregon and both organizations do have a long going partnership going.
The Ducks did become a major player in the national picture around mid 90s and stayed on top for most of the seasons.
Nike help them with money and their unique uniform concept.
Oregon is now a cool brand in college football.

Maryland is called to become the Oregon of the East with their connections to Under Armour.
The Founder Kevin Plank is a former Terrapin and now, as Under Armour became a major player in sports, the company starts a similar partnership as Nike has with Oregon.
Whether this will elevate Maryland from the pit of the Big10 to the top in the future is not clear, but for they will get better.

And as third College does Memphis at the moment start to evolve into a major school.
Their connection is FEDEX, the logistic company.
Very openly does the company support new facilities and calls out the Big12 to add Memphis to the conference, then they would sponsor the Big12-Championship game.
It's quite clear that Memphis and FEDEX having their headquarter in Memphis wants to have Memphis inside a power5 conference fast.
They might fear the same development as I foresee, that in the next few seasons the last few major spots in the big conferences are filled and then basically no team will have the chance to get into that elite club again, since the step from non-power5 to power5 regarding money spend in facilities, coaches, recruiting and so on will be so steep that it's no longer possible.

Whether those 3 teams will be the future standard or still the exception (most other colleges do have many smaller sponsors, instead of ONE big sponsor), is still open.
But I'm convinced that in 10 to 20 years only a university with such money behind them will have a chance to advance to that power5 club standard if ever.
All others will become the next FBS 2. level between the now existing FBS and FCS.

But there are some uncertainties which might change the current track.
Maybe the NCAA will make a move and will try to equalize the field again.
Maybe the players will get the right to unionize and will get payed at some point.
Maybe the schools will have to pay taxes at some point.
Maybe the involvements of external boosters and sponsors will be limit by law.
Maybe the whole football-fever implodes and the next TV contracts will be less than the last few.
Maybe the health issues regarding head injuries and eventually also the knee problems will lead to a massive change in football.

At the moment this list does not look as something out of it will happen.

The Big12 did so far only announce a short list of schools still in race for a Big12 spot but whether this is really the final list is unclear. According ESPN those schools are
Air Force, BYU, UCF, Cincinnati, Colorado State, UConn, Houston, Rice, South Florida, SMU, Temple and Tulane.

Out are according to ESPN
Arkansas State, Boise State, East Carolina, New Mexico, Northern Illinois, San Diego State and UNLV.

Memphis seems to be in a limbo, it’s not confirmed they made the cut and are still in the race and they are also not on the list of rejected schools.

I will keep you informed.

This week does feature some great games, which is a bit unusual, since normally the first few gamedays do feature non-conference games against FCS teams or pushovers.
Those games are not dead, but we have surprisingly a lot of games between competitive teams.

I did decide to do two sections of games, the TOP games, usually I will pick 4 to 5 for each gameday, and a bunch of other interesting games I will present only with a few word. Each game will get my personal pick. I will sometime judge the Vegas spread, but I will only pick win or lose.

Let's have a look at the BLOCK OF GRANITE TOP GAMES FOR WEEK 1

Sat. Sept. 3 - 12:00 pm ET
#3 Oklahoma vs #15 Houston
Here it is and I'm still not 100% convinced this will be a great game.
Houston is at the moment the most hyped team of all college football.
I even saw an article which did basically state 'How Houston will win the National Championship'.
I'm not saying it's impossible for them to do so, it's just highly unlikely.
They would need to win all their games to get a deep consideration for a playoff spot.
At least 2 if not 3 high profile teams, power 5 conference champs and Notre Dame if you like to, would have to have a bad season (and still win the conference) with 2 losses or more to get a perfect Houston team into the TOP4.
Then they would need to win the Semifinal against a very good power5 conference champ and they would need to win the final against another very good conference champ.
It's hard for me to see that.
I made Houston my favorite to win the AAC, which is plausible I think, but their National Title campaign will get a big crash with reality exactly with this week’s upcoming game.
Oklahoma is believed to be ready for a big one and I made them by Big12 favorite.
Vegas does see Houston 11.5 points behind Oklahoma on that opener.
That's a quite big margin.
You know what?
I think Oklahoma will even beat that.
I'm not expecting a close game here, based on the fact that Oklahoma will play with a great QB and a great offense. I expect the Sooners to dominate on the line and to keep the Cougars in check.
My pick is on Oklahoma to win this.
My guess is, Houston will THEN start winning in the coming weeks and will get it done.

Sat. Sept. 3 - 3:30 pm ET
#5 LSU vs Wisconsin
This is a great matchup and I like the idea that the SEC team with a great RB will have to play against this Big10 team, which is known for smash mouth football.
The spread does see LSU with 10 points ahead, I do see them winning with a much bigger margin.
Running games do tend to have not so many points, but when LSU starts playing, I'm not sure Wisconsin will be able to stop them.
For the LSU coach Les Miles this is the chance to show all critics that he is the HC of LSU and that any change would be a big mistake and I think the team will make it happen.
If Wisconsin wins this, their season does look a lot brighter and they might play seriously for the division or conference title.
I pick here LSU.

Sat. Sept. 3 - 5:30 pm ET
#18 Georgia vs #22 North Carolina
A close game is expected and honestly, I'm not sure what to expect at all.
I don't get how Vegas did make up their mind on this (+2.5), but they did and the Bulldogs are with a small margin the favorite in this.
I think they can win this and we might see a close game, but on the other hand we have a new coach, with his first HC gig, with a first game of the season, against a well-established HC and his team.
UNC has just one thing Georgia does not have and that's the reputation as an SEC team.
Georgia was a good SEC team the past 15 seasons, with great players and Kirby Smart just has to lead the way.
Larry Fedora had to build a winning attitude up from scratch over seasons inside the ACC.
So what will count more? SEC talent or ACC progress?
I pick UNC in this game (with some remaining doubts), because a dream start for the new Georgia Bulldogs just sounds wrongs.

Sat. Sept. 3 - 8:00 pm ET
#20 USC vs #1 Alabama
Oh this will be fun.
In best case we will see a competitive USC team battle it out against a competitive Alabama team.
In worst case we will see a Crimson Tide will swallow the red Spartans fast and without mercy.
The betting industry do see Alabama ahead with 11.5 points.
Quite a lot.
I do see some issues on USC and how they will handle the loaded Alabama team.
The biggest issue is not talent, USC has plenty of that, it's also not the QB question, it's the coordination and preparation question.
Alabama is very well prepared with those games and very often we saw a very unprepared opponent in the last few seasons.
Will Clay Helton be better with his team?
Or let's say, better than Alabama?
Because I think they would need that to win here.
But better than Saban on a season opener?
Not in my book.
So I pick Alabama here.
If USC wins this, the expectations will skyrocket.
Lucky them, it will not happen.

Mon. Sept. 5 - 8:00 pm ET
#11 Ole Miss vs #4 Florida State
Of all the top games this week, THAT game will be my TOP TOP one.
Ole Miss could become a serious SEC contender and Florida State will try to rebound from last season and be FSU again.
Whichever team will lose here, the team will have already 1 coffin nail in their playoff campaign.
I think Ole Miss is better prepared for this, Florida State had some distraction on the last few days and will not bring their A-game.
Ole Miss will have their hands full, no doubt, but overall I don't see a -4.0 points spread on FSU.
I see Ole Miss winning this in a close game with the help of Rebels QB Kelly.

Other interesting games:
Fri. Sept. 2 - 8:05 pm ET
Colorado State vs Colorado
The Rocky Mountain Showdown. Vegas does see Colorado up from with 7.5 points, I pick CSU for a win, thanks to an improved team.

Fri. Sept. 2 - 9:00 pm ET
Kansas State @ #8 Stanford
Not so exciting as it could be, with KSU a bit down. Stanford is a 15.5 point favorite. They are also my favorite.

Sat. Sept. 3 - 3:30 pm ET
#16 UCLA @ Texas A&M
This will show some live of Texas A&M and also how good UCLA might be now. I had no clear pick in the previews, so I have to think about this again. I think UCLA will win this. Vegas does see A&M up front with -3.0.

Sat. Sept. 3 - 9:00 pm ET
#2 Clemson @ Auburn
I can't believe Auburn is only 7.5 points behind Clemson. They shouldn't be a major problem by now. I pick Clemson in a way bigger margin for the win.

Sun. Sept. 4 - 7:30 pm ET
#10 Notre Dame @ Texas
Here is a +3.5 points for Texas a good news for Longhorns fans. Whether they are really back, I'm not sure. I pick Notre Dame to win this in a close one.

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