clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Weekly Primer writes a love letter to Nick Saban

Here is your Weekly Primer on the college football week ahead, with a particular focus on Mizzou, SEC, and the games that must command the eyeballs of discerning fans of our dumb sport.

NCAA Football: Alabama-White House Visit Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Mizzou Talking Points

There a few cliche talking points that resonate around the country with each program. Quarterback unknowns (e.g. Alabama, Oregon). Coaching staff changes. (South Carolina, Maryland, Miami, and a host of others). How far can a superstar take you? (Houston, LSU, Georgia). Coaches on the hot seat (West Virginia, Texas A&M). Overhauled units. (Ohio State, Ole Miss). Is Butch Jones gross or totally gross? (Oh wait, that’s just Tennessee.)

Mizzou? Mizzou is a one-stop shop for college football talking points. Other than the coach being on the hot seat -- and I swear, y’all, don’t make this a thing yet -- you can pick your poison. Do you like yelling about quarterbacks? Do you put everything on the shoulders of a few upperclassmen leaders? Are you analyzing the performance of new players to find potential impact? Whatever your hot take of choice is, it’s in play this season.

For Week 1, I’m mostly looking for a promising performance from the offensive line against a legitimate opponent. Last year’s senior-laden line under performed so drastically that it became an obvious scapegoat for the historically unproductive offense.

While other units will have some room to stretch and grow, the offensive line will need to make immediate strides. A quality showing from the agile beef up front, and Mizzou’s ceiling could be eight or nine wins in 2016. Spend more time going backwards then forwards, and, well, hoo boy, I guess we’re watching this movie again.

A Few Words of Affection, Carefully Chosen

Nick Saban, I love your dynasty.

I realize this puts me in a very small pool of people outside of your partisans -- I might be on an island, in fact -- but I truly enjoy your watching your teams kick everyone else’s butts. I'm not here to spill e-ink trying to persuade others as to why they should love your teams; people either love watching dynasties or they love watching them fall. I'm just here to tell you the god’s honest truth about how fun it is to watch you make this sport so hard for everyone else, and to offer you some encouragement as you embark on another campaign.

Nick, I just love your dang teams.

I know you probably do, too. (Although, between you and me: I know there's totally a part of you that hates how many points you have to score these days, and all those dang passes. It was so much more fun when you could just lean on teams. For you, I mean. Not for them.)

I loved watching Amari Cooper run past guys and watching Eddie Lacy run over them and watching A’Shawn Robinson run through them. I love when y’all get a lead of, say, six points, or ten points, and it’s early in the fourth quarter, and then, you can feel it: Death Star mode. Total wipeout. The yards don’t come methodically, nor are they ripped off in huge, explosive chunks; it’s more of an assumed devastation, like watching videos of deforestation.

You take a beautiful sport full of strategy and balletic plays and geometric design and turn it elegantly inelegant. The ensuing destruction is breathtakingly complete, and enacted by athletes that seem to possess superhuman size and skill; but, it’s still destruction. You lay waste to the sport.

The problem as I see it -- and you might totally disagree to be diplomatic, but my hunch is you are with me on this -- is that around the sport, copycats are cropping up. For some of these little saplings, you planted the seeds, watered them, put them in direct sunlight, and then sent them off to another school so you could beat the crap out of them annually.

It’s fun when your team with a 5-star depth chart and a whole backfield of Heisman candidates chokes the life out of a football game. It’s not as fun when some other nerd in pleated khakis and New Balances tries it with three stars and future position coaches.

No one is gonna beat you at your game, Nick. Les Miles tried in 2011, but then you embarrassed him in front of company. All of these copycats may be for fun for you, but it’s not as fun for us.

I don’t want to put too much of this on you; it’s not your fault so many schools are trying to use a resistible force to defeat an immovable object when they should be trying to blow the dang thing up. Sooner or later they might figure out how, other than just sending Hugh Freeze on a kamikaze mission once a year. In the meantime, you keep trampling people and I’ll keep enjoying it. Sometimes, it’s fun to root for Goliath.

Keegs’s Poll: Top 5 Games Of The Week

  1. #3 Oklahoma vs #15 Houston (@ Houston). Saturday 12 PM ET, ABC. Two superstar signal-callers leading high octane offenses against talented but rebuilding defenses. Houston QB Greg Ward, Jr. is the best player in the country that casual fans might not know about. If Houston wins, they might coast through the AAC to the College Football Playoff; if they lose, they are out.
  2. #20 USC vs #1 Alabama (@Dallas). Saturday 8 PM ET, ABC. Saban’s quest for back-to-back titles begins with the help of a bunch of juniors who bypassed the NFL draft to kick everyone’s butt again. Must be nice. Watch this game for nothing other than to enjoy explosive wide receivers doing cruel things to innocent defensive backs, with USC’s JuJu Smith-Schuster and Alabama’s Calvin Ridley.
  3. #11 Ole Miss vs #4 Florida State (@Orlando). Monday, 8 PM ET, ESPN. Everyone say it with me now: Dalvin Cook Dalvin Cook Dalvin Cook Dalvin Cook Dalvin Cook. Nah but for real: Dalvin Cook.
  4. #16 UCLA at Texas A&M. Saturday 3:30 PM ET, CBS. Uncle Verne is only calling a few more SEC games, so try to take in as many as you can. It’s an absolute treat to watch Josh Rosen play football, and he riled up 110,000 weirdos this week by saying they aren’t even that loud. Texas A&M has defensive end Myles Garrett, which is unfortunate news for anyone on UCLA tasked with keeping Rosen’s jersey clean.
  5. #10 Notre Dame at Texas. Sunday 7:30 PM ET, ESPN. Extend your college football viewing with a Sunday evening blue-blood matchup. Notre Dame will be trying the two-quarterback system, which is a fool’s errand. Texas will be trying the no-quarterback system. They’ve been very successful at having no quarterbacks for a few seasons now. This one feels like it will get weird.

For The Obsessive: Underrated Game Of The Week

#18 Georgia vs #22 North Carolina (@Atlanta). Saturday 5:30 PM ET, ESPN.

In a week 1 that is is remarkably loaded with quality matchups featuring marquee programs (see like, literally, two inches above here, on this dang website), this is one is flying under the radar.

Maybe one reason for that is the unknown: Georgia has a new coach and a potentially crippling lack of a good quarterback (I’ve heard those are important), while North Carolina is replacing star QB Marquise Williams with experienced clipboard holder Mitch Trubisky.

Maybe another reason is the weird time slot. This game is going to overlap with the end of a loaded 3:30 slate, and the beginning of the marquee night games. So, sure? Try to catch some of this, though. Both teams are possible division winners, and the running back talent here is incredible with Georgia’s Nick Chubb and Carolina’s Elijah Hood. Thanks to some weird circumstances, this is a ranked matchup that seems to be skating under the radar; do not fall into that trap. This one is worth your time.

For The Completist: Awful Game Of The Week

South Carolina at Vanderbilt, Thursday, 8 PM ET, ESPN.

Oh, God. We’re all gonna watch the hell out of this horrifying football game, aren’t we? And do terrible tweets like “football back” and “You guys! Real college football is on TV! Break out the bourbon and pumpkin spice lattes and Patagonia casual attire!” and “oh my god did Will Muschamp just eat a pair of chinos on television oh god.” (Actually that last one would be a good tweet, not a terrible one. Follow me @keegsdotcom.) If this game were in literally any other time slot of the season I would not watch one second of it.

Vanderbilt has Ralph Webb, an interesting little average running back. The Commodores are coached by Derek Mason, who is intent on turning Vanderbilt into Stanford East, but without the weird band and creepy tree and quality quarterbacking.

South Carolina has Will Muschamp, who is intent on turning football back into the sport you had to pay five cents to see narrated highlights of in movie theaters. This game is bad, and we should feel bad.

Full Week 1 College Football Schedule:

Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016
Matchup Time (ET) TV / Streaming
Charlotte at (19) Louisville 7:00 p.m. FSN / WatchESPN
UT Martin at Cincinnati 7:00 p.m. ESPN3
Tulane at Wake Forest 7:00 p.m. WatchESPN
Maine at UConn 7:00 p.m. ASN / ESPN3
Presbyterian at Central Michigan 7:00 p.m. ESPN3
Appalachian State at (9) Tennessee 7:30 p.m. SECN / WatchESPN
Indiana at FIU 7:30 p.m. ESPNU / WatchESPN
William & Mary at NC State 7:30 p.m. WatchESPN
South Carolina at Vanderbilt 8:00 p.m. ESPN / WatchESPN
Southern Utah at Utah 8:00 p.m. Pac-12N /
Jackson State at UNLV 8:00 p.m. MWN
Rice at WKU 8:00 p.m. CBSSN
Oregon State at Minnesota 9:00 p.m. BTN / BTN2Go
South Dakota at New Mexico 9:00 p.m. ROOT Sports
Montana State at Idaho 9:00 p.m. ALT / ESPN3
Weber State at Utah State 10:00 p.m. MWN
Friday, Sept. 2, 2016
Matchup Time (ET) TV / Streaming
MVSU at Eastern Michigan 6:00 p.m. ESPN3
Furman at (12) Michigan State 7:00 p.m. BTN / BTN2Go
Ball State at Georgia State 7:00 p.m. ASN / ESPN3
Colgate at Syracuse 7:00 p.m. WatchESPN
Army at Temple 7:00 p.m. CBSSN
Albany at Buffalo 7:00 p.m. ESPN3
Northwestern State at (23) Baylor 7:30 p.m. FSN / FS Go
Colorado vs. Colorado State (at Denver, CO) 8:00 p.m. ESPN / WatchESPN
Kansas State at (8) Stanford 9:00 p.m. FS1 / FS Go
Toledo at Arkansas State 9:00 p.m. ESPNU / WatchESPN
Cal Poly at Nevada 9:30 p.m. MWN
Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016
Matchup Time (ET) TV / Streaming
Georgia Tech vs. Boston College (in Ireland) 7:30 a.m. ESPN2 / WatchESPN
(3) Oklahoma vs. (15) Houston (at NRG Stadium) Noon ABC / WatchESPN
Bowling Green at (6) Ohio State Noon BTN / BTN2Go
Hawaii at (7) Michigan Noon ESPN / WatchESPN
Boise State at UL Lafayette Noon ASN / ESPN3
EKU at Purdue Noon ESPNNEWS / WatchESPN
Fordham at Navy Noon CBSSN
Howard at Maryland Noon BTN / BTN2Go
Missouri at West Virginia Noon FS1 / FS Go
South Alabama at Mississippi State Noon SECN / WatchESPN
Western Michigan at Northwestern Noon ESPNU / WatchESPN
Liberty at Virginia Tech 12:30 p.m. ACCN / WatchESPN
Villanova at Pittsburgh 1:30 p.m. WatchESPN
Abilene Christian at Air Force 2:00 p.m. MWN
Rutgers at (14) Washington 2:00 p.m. Pac-12N /
(5) LSU vs. Wisconsin (at Green Bay, WI) 3:30 p.m. ABC / WatchESPN
(16) UCLA at Texas A&M 3:30 p.m. CBS /
Miami, OH at (17) Iowa 3:30 p.m. ESPNU / WatchESPN
SE Louisiana at (21) Oklahoma State 3:30 p.m. FSN / FS Go
Kent State at Penn State 3:30 p.m. BTN / BTN2Go
Murray State at Illinois 3:30 p.m. BTN / BTN2Go
Richmond at Virginia 3:30 p.m. WatchESPN
Texas State at Ohio 3:30 p.m. CBSSN
Louisiana Tech at Arkansas 4:00 p.m. SECN / WatchESPN
UC Davis at (24) Oregon 5:00 p.m. Pac-12N /
(18) Georgia vs. (22) North Carolina (at Atlanta, GA) 5:30 p.m. ESPN / WatchESPN
Austin Peay at Troy 6:00 p.m. ESPN3
Florida A&M at Miami (FL) 6:00 p.m. WatchESPN
Hampton at Old Dominion 6:00 p.m. CUSA.TV
NC Central at Duke 6:00 p.m. WatchESPN
Savannah State at Georgia Southern 6:00 p.m. ESPN3
Southern Illinois at Florida Atlantic 6:00 p.m. CUSA.TV ($)
Western Carolina at East Carolina 6:00 p.m. ESPN3
VMI at Akron 6:30 p.m. ESPN3
Alabama A&M at Middle Tennessee 7:00 p.m. CUSA.TV ($)
Alabama State at UTSA 7:00 p.m. KMYS-CW 35
Rhode Island at Kansas 7:00 p.m. ESPN3
San Jose State at Tulsa 7:00 p.m. CBSSN
SE Missouri State at Memphis 7:00 p.m. ESPN3
SMU at North Texas 7:00 p.m. ASN
South Carolina State at UCF 7:00 p.m. ESPN3
Southern at ULM 7:00 p.m. ESPN3
Towson at USF 7:00 p.m. ESPN3
UMass at (25) Florida 7:30 p.m. SECN / WatchESPN
Southern Miss at Kentucky 7:30 p.m. ESPNU / WatchESPN
(20) USC vs. (1) Alabama (at Arlington, TX) 8:00 p.m. ABC / WatchESPN
South Dakota State at (13) TCU 8:00 p.m. FSN / FS Go
EWU at Washington State 8:00 p.m. Pac-12N /
Fresno State at Nebraska 8:00 p.m. BTN / BTN2Go
New Mexico State at UTEP 8:00 p.m. beIN SPORTS
Northern Iowa at Iowa State 8:00 p.m. ($)
Stephen F. Austin at Texas Tech 8:00 p.m. FSN / FS Go
New Hampshire at San Diego State 8:30 p.m. TBA
(2) Clemson at Auburn 9:00 p.m. ESPN / WatchESPN
Arizona vs. BYU (at Glendale, AZ) 10:30 p.m. FS1 / FS Go
Northern Illinois at Wyoming 10:30 p.m. CBSSN
Northern Arizona at Arizona State 10:45 p.m. Pac-12N /
Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016
Matchup Time (ET) TV / Streaming
(10) Notre Dame at Texas 7:30 p.m. ABC / WatchESPN
Monday, Sept. 5, 2016
Matchup Time (ET) TV / Streaming
(11) Ole Miss vs. Florida State (at Orlando, FL) 8:00 p.m. ESPN / WatchESPN