Thursday August 29th Preview!
IT IS GAME WEEK!!! For the first time in 8 months we started this week with college football games to look forward to. Now we are just about 48 hours away from the opening kickoff and there are some outstanding games to watch. I have compiled a list of games to watch and what to watch for Thursday night.
Here now in chronological order is what you should be watching and what to look for on Thursday August 29:
6:00pm on ESPN:
North Carolina @ #6 South Carolina: On paper we really are not going to learn anything new here, or at least we shouldn’t. South Carolina should have an easy time dispatching UNC, but let’s be honest here, we are really only watching this game for 2 reasons. The first is that it is the first game of the season, and after 8 months some of us will watch just about anything right now. The second, and far more important reason is Jadeveon Clowney. There are few players that have been more hyped going into a season. ESPN, sadly has him at the top of their expert (we’re using that word loosely here) Preseason Heisman Watch List. And I say sadly, because usually a kid this hyped, no matter their on-field performance, will be a let-down because no one can deliver on this kind of hype. This is especially true if the entirety of this kid’s hype is based off of one play, because his stats for the season last year where just not that great.
And before you shout at your computer screen as though I can hear you, I know you will counter something with: “Lackluster stats are hardly the only measure of a defensive player’s impact!! Because he has to be blocked by 2 or even 3 guys and because he shuts down one side of the field which puts the offense at a disadvantage by having to alter their game plan to adjust for him” Ok, so I polished the language a bit because what you actually said was probably “F%*K YOU!! GO COCKS!! SPURRIER NUMBER 1 WOOOO, BALL COACH!!”
Here’s the deal, yes, he is good, but he is, in fact. NOT the Jesus H. Christ of Defensive Ends as ESPN and the people who cannot have an original or critical thought on the subject would have you believe. Barring a truly remarkable chain of events he will not win the Heisman. What will likely happen is that over the course of a few weeks he will likely have solid production against double teams, and will help his team win a lot of football games. But the hype surrounding him has left people believing that he will be averaging 17 sacks, 9 forced fumbles, 3 interceptions, and 2 touchdowns per game. After his first few games when he is actually only average 1-2 sacks and 3-5 tackles per game the hype train will disappear, and people will sadly forget all about Clowney. Having said that I like the guy, he handles himself well, and I wish nothing but the best for him. I hope he proves me wrong.
I would expect a heavy dose of Clowney discussions during this game from the Announcers, even when The Gamecocks Offense is on the field. Unless UNC does something to surprise us, or Clowney is as dominant in this game as his hype suggestions then I would expect to be bored with this game by halftime.
7:00pm ET on ESPNU
Tulsa @ Bowling Green: Say what?! Look, if you are not into teams outside the big 5 and a half conferences then I’m not going to pretend like this game is for you. But if you are interested in a couple of exiting teams fighting it out with potential, though as of now unlikely, BCS busting implications then this is the game for you. Even if you are entirely unconcerned about the outcome of this game it will probably be far more entertaining to watch than the Clowney Circus that starts an hour earlier. Flip over to this game once you are tired of the commentators filling time by talking about every intimate detail of Jadeveon Clowney’s life while the Gamecocks nurse a 2-3 score lead.
8:00pm ET on Fox Sports 1
Utah State @ Utah: Ok, there really is no credible reason to watch this game, unless you A: Need to be reminded just how truly awful the Fox Network is at covering football. (I could write a book about the awfulness of Fox but I think it would be too painful to even read, much less write), or B: Need to remind yourself that Utah is in fact still a member of the Union. That’s about it.
9:15pm ET on ESPN
Ole Miss @ Vanderbilt: This is a competition between 2 solid teams on the rise that could probably compete for conference championships in other conferences but are second tier teams in the SEC. Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze, in addition to being a comic book villain in his spare time, took a 2-10 team and went 7-6 in the SEC in his first year and had an absurdly great recruiting class. There is nothing but potential for this Ole Miss team. Ole Miss also has to play Texas, Alabama, Texas A&M, and LSU so there are not a lot of easy wins on this schedule. Ole Miss is going to need to win this game if they hope to improve on their 7-6 record from a year ago.
Vanderbilt has a lot of promise as well coming off a 9 win season. There were some off the field issues that could be a distraction. Vanderbilt also has a difficult schedule with games against Georgia at home and Texas A&M, South Carolina and Florida all on the road. Though in fairness, Vanderbilt’s schedule is only ranked as the 11th toughest schedule in the SEC. If Vanderbilt is going to improve their record from last season they are going to need to beat Ole Miss.
11:00pm ET on CBS Sports Network
USC @ Hawaii: Not a lot of people are going to stay up and watch this game unless you are a Trojan fan, live on the West Coast, like me, or don’t have a real job to report to on Friday, sadly also like me. As far as the game itself, this probably is not going to be much of a competition. Still there are several things to keep an eye on while USC likely cruises to victory. I say likely because USC football is a bit of a mess right now. For starters the Trojans are coming off of an epic collapse last season by losing 5 of their last 6 games including an embarrassing pre New Year’s Day bowl game loss to Georgia Tech. Right now, USC just needs to win a game. Their last win on the road was on Oct 13th 2012 against the Washington Huskies. I know it is only Hawaii, but right now USC needs a win.
Also, despite what Pat Haden may say, Lane Kiffin is on the hot seat. USC not only needs to beat teams on their schedule like Hawaii, struggling or winning ugly may be almost as bad. Kiffin needs to take this opportunity to not only beat Hawaii, but to have his team look impressive while doing it to show the world that the Trojans are back on track and everyone can put down the pitchforks.
This game may start off ugly given that USC has not 1 but 2 new quarterbacks this year with both Max Wittek and Cody Kessler seeing playing time in this game. Using 2 quarterbacks may make it difficult for the offense to get into rhythm and adjust. It also may be the case that the USC offense will just have vastly superior offensive talent that it will not matter. This is a much needed tune-up game for USC, but it is still just the first game, and likely will not answer many questions for us. Unless of course they lose, which in addition to being hilarious, would also tell us that this could be an awful season for the Trojans and that more than a few coaches should make sure their agent has Pat Haden’s number on speed dial.
As for Friday, yes there are games, but none really worth watching, unless you are a fan of one of the teams competing that night. It would be better rest up (or in some cases sleep off your hangover), and get ready for a ton of great games on Saturday.