Thursday marked an important date for those who can’t wait for fall Saturdays: 100 days until the WVU football team kicks off its season in Charlotte, N.C., against Tennessee.
All that’s left are three long and hot months, though after last winter, I’m far from wanting to wish them away, but the offseason is about to hit the homestretch and we wind toward Sept. 1.
The NCAA and schedule makers have done a stellar job of getting big-time out of conference match ups to start the season every year. While the new hot trend is to play these games on neutral sites — similar to what the Mountaineers and Volunteers will do at Bank of America Stadium — is something I’m not a fan of, it doesn’t give a competitive edge to anyone.
If you don’t plan on making the trip to North Carolina and plan on sitting in your recliner all day, or you’ll be in the parking lot tailgating with a satellite dish rigged on top of whatever vehicle you have, there are many fun games to look forward to to get your college football fix right off the bat.
It’s not a game, but as cliche as it sounds, ESPN’s College GameDay is still a must to start the day, if not the first two hours and 55 minutes, then for the last five minutes. I’m not sure how much longer we’ll get to see Lee Corso don the headgear, so enjoy it while it lasts.
Now, for the actual games. Notre Dame and Michigan, which played every year from 1978-2014, will play again for the first time since the Fighting Irish dismantled the Wolverines, in 2014. This year’s edition will be in South Bend and will be a battle between two of the most historic programs in the country.
While neither head coach, Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh and Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly, are on the hot seat, patience will begin to wear thin with an early-season loss to a rival.
One of the best games between quarterbacks all season will happen Week 1, in Atlanta. Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham and Washington’s Jake Browning could both be first round picks in the 2019 NFL draft, but both will battle it out on potential top 10 teams.
The Tigers lost their last game in the same building to UCF, in the Peach Bowl, so they will be out to prove that was a fluke, while the Huskies also lost in a New Year’s Six bowl game — the Fiesta Bowl to Penn State.
Another neutral site game will showcase one of the most dominant programs we’ve ever seen pairing up with one on the rise — Alabama vs. Louisville, in Orlando. There’s no Lamar Jackson for the Cardinals, but on the opposite side, Tua Tagovailoa will have to follow-up his performance in the second half of the national championship game: Is he the real deal?
The Crimson Tide will be heavily favored, but Bobby Petrino knows how to put a game plan in place, although Nick Saban knows a thing or two about this whole coaching thing, as well.
Don’t laugh, but Lane Kiffin bringing Florida Atlantic into Norman to take on Oklahoma could be interesting. The Sooners need to replace Baker Mayfield and a ton of production on offense, and this will be far from a cakewalk to ease everyone into place.
Kiffin took the Owls from a 3-9 team, in 2016, to an 11-3 finish, in 2017. He’s proven he can turn a program around, and many former Power-5 transfers will now be eligible after sitting out last year, including former WVU receiver Jovon Durante.