The Original College Football Czar

2022 Season Preview

a sports publication from The Shinbone

by Daniel Clark 

Description: The College Football Czar

Welcome to the 2022 season preview issue of The College Football Czar, a seasonal sports publication by the author and editor of The Shinbone. In the coming months, you will find weekly analyses of upcoming college football action posted at this site. To find out more, please see the Ground Rules.

This issue contains the Czar's rankings for all 131 teams in Division I-A football, as well as conference preview capsules, potential upsets to watch for, bowl projections, and a guide to help you locate head coaches on the move. Most importantly, it includes early nominees for the Lardhead of the Year Award, which the Czar never gets around to actually awarding, but for which he dispenses nominations promiscuously.

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COACHING MOVES

New coach ..... arriving at ..... previous position ..... former coach

Joe Moorhead ..... Arkron ..... off. coord. Oregon ..... Tom Arth

Jay Norvell ..... Colorado State ..... head coach Nevada ..... Steve Addazio

Mike Elko ..... Duke ..... def. coord. Texas A&M ..... David Cutcliffe

Billy Napier ..... Florida ..... head coach La.-Lafayette ..... Dan Mullen

Mike McIntyre ..... Florida International ..... def. coord. Memphis ..... Butch Davis

Jeff Tedford ..... Fresno State ..... head coach Fresno State ('19) ..... Kalen DeBoer

Timmy Chang ..... Hawaii ..... WR coach Colorado St. ..... Todd Graham

Michael Desormeaux ..... La.-Lafayette ..... of. Coord. La.-Lafayette ..... Billy Napier

Brian Kelly ..... LSU ..... head coach Notre Dame ..... Ed Orgeron

Mario Cristobal ..... Miami ..... head coach Oregon ..... Manny Diaz

Ken Wilson ..... Nevada ..... LB coach Oregon ..... Jay Norvell

Jerry Kill ..... New Mexico St. ..... off. coord. TCU ..... Doug Martin

Marcus Freeman ..... Notre Dame ..... def. coord. Notre Dame ..... Brian Kelly

Brent Venables ..... Oklahoma ..... def. coord. Clemson ..... Lincoln Riley

Dan Lanning ..... Oregon ..... def. coord. Georgia ..... Mario Cristobal

Rhett Lashlee ..... SMU ..... off. coord. Miami ..... Sonny Dykes

Sonny Dykes ..... TCU ..... head coach SMU ..... Gary Patterson

Stan Drayton ..... Temple ..... RB coach Texas ..... Rod Carey

Jon Sumrall ..... Troy ..... LB coach Kentucky ..... Chip Lindsey

Bryant Vincent ..... UAB ..... off. coord. UAB ..... Bill Clark

Jim Mora, Jr. ..... Uconn ..... head coach UCLA ('17) ..... Randy Edsall

Don Brown ..... Umass ..... def. coord. Arizona ..... Walt Bell

Lincoln Riley ..... USC ..... head coach Oklahoma ..... Clay Helton

Tony Elliott ..... Virginia ..... off. coord. Clemson ..... Bronco Mendenhall

Brent Pry ..... Virginia Tech ..... def. coord. Penn St. ..... Justin Fuente

Kalen DeBoer ..... Washington ..... head coach Fresno St. ..... Jimmy Lake

 

ROLLING HEAD WATCH

The following coaches will have a difficult time hanging onto their noggins through the 2022 season:

Geoff Collins, Georgia Tech -- Nobody expected Tech to beat either Notre Dame or Georgia at the end of last year, but Collins' club lost to them by a combined score of 100-0, to finish a season-ending six-game losing streak. The Yellowjackets' transition away from the triple-option was bound to take time, but by year four under the former Temple head coach, they should have made more progress than to be ranked #100 or worse in every offensive category. One would expect that Collins would have molded his talent to fit his scheme by this point, but instead, his roster is in a shambles, as transfers have helped cause a hive collapse, leaving only two starters on each side of the ball. While they were still running the wishbone, GT hadn't suffered consecutive losing seasons since 1992-94. Since abandoning it, they've had three consecutive three-win seasons, and could easily do worse in 2022. At what point do they consider collin' the whole experiment off?

Scott Frost, Nebraska -- It can only be the Cornhuskers' fond memories of Frost quarterbacking their team to a 13-0 season in 1997 that have kept him on their sideline through four losing seasons. The Czar doesn't mean this to sound cruel, but it can't help but be good news for the former UCF skipper that this will be his first season in Lincoln without Adrian Martinez at quarterback. The scrappy but erratic four-year starter, who has transferred to Kansas State for his final year, actually blames the N-men for holding him back. It sure seemed to the Czar like the other way around. Frost's offense will have a chance to shift into fast forward, however, with the arrival of Casey Thompson from Texas. That infusion of excitement makes this a must-win season for the coach. If it doesn't work out, oh well. He'll always have that official 2017 Interplanetary All-Sports For All-Time Championship at Central Florida on which to rest his laurels.

Dino Babers, Syracuse -- The College Football Czar is a bit surprised that the Orange have brought Babers back for a seventh year, after a season-ending three-game skid clinched his fifth losing campaign out of six. Then again, they've also remained loyal to their ridiculous dome since 1980, even after it proved unable to stand up on its own. With the exception of a remarkable 10-win season in 2018, which included a conference record of 6-2, Babers has not fared better than 2-6 in ACC play. His offense led the league in rushing yards a year ago, but finished dead last in passing. This has been by design, in an offensive system based on rapid play calling and swift execution, which does not allow for time to attack downfield. Another year of such ineptitude from the native Hawaiian coach, and it will be time for SU to lei down the law.

Willie Fritz, Tulane -- You might think your TV is on the fritz when you see that his Green Wave went 2-10 last year, after entering the season with expectations of contending in the American Athletic Conference, and going toe-to-toe with national contender Oklahoma in their opener. That terrible record is tempered somewhat by their having arguably played the nation's toughest road schedule (OU, Ole Miss, East Carolina, SMU, Central Florida and Memphis). With more ordinary opposition in 2022, and steady third-year slinger Michael Pratt behind center, the seventh-year coach has a chance for a belated breakout season. Otherwise, he could find himself on the Tulane highway out of town.

 

WHAT'S NEW IN 2022

* The Auda Abu Tayi era has begun -- The College Football Czar has named this phenomenon after Anthony Quinn's character in Lawrence of Arabia. After a successful raid of a Turkish train, the mercenary Auda declares his intention to take his loot and go home, to the objection of British colonel Harry Brighton. "When Lawrence finds what he.s looking for," Auda explains, "he will go home. When you find what you are looking for, you will go home." Col. Brighton tries to explain that he and Lawrence are obligated to stay and fight regardless of what they want, and the message simply doesn't register.

The same is true of today's star college football players. As everyone continues to excuse their abandonment of their teams in "meaningless" bowl games, it is occurring to them that other games may be considered meaningless as well. After all, which game is truly less meaningful, the Peach Bowl, or a regular-season finale at Syracuse? Once players are content with their prospective draft status, they will feel free to abandon their final college seasons earlier and earlier. We've already gotten a glimpse of this from all of the phony COVID opt-outs late in the 2020 season, when players simply decided not to play regular season games when they did not find it advantageous. Pretty soon, pro prospects won't wait until bowl season to betray their teammates and fans. They'll do it as soon as they decide that the possibility of injury outweighs their commitments. If a presumptive first-rounder plays well through six weeks, what more has he to prove in college?

It's only a matter of time (and not much of it) before rivalry games like the Iron Bowl get bumped from November to the middle of the season, just to ensure that both teams' star players will still be available. When it comes to analyzing the later games, the Czar and other pundits will have to first determine how many opening-day starters remain on each team. Not only bowl games, but also conference championships and CFP games will be cheapened, because even contending teams by then will be without their best players. Auda will have gotten what he came for, and gone home.

* The Big Ten embiggens, bigly -- with the surprising addition of USC and UCLA beginning in the 2024 season, the league that was once confined to the heartland now stretches from Piscataway to Pasadena. The Pac 12, worried that Washington and Oregon might soon bolt as well, is looking to shore itself up by pillaging the Big XII, which in turn seeks to pick off the Pac 12's easternmost members, as the conferences continue to devour each other like Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

We're rapidly reaching the point where conferences are simply too big to be cohesive. USC could be in the Big Ten for twenty years without ever realizing that Maryland is in the same league. There is virtually no chance of them ever developing a rivalry, and even if they did, it would hardly matter, without any traveling fans. What the College Football Czar suspects will ultimately happen is that one superconference will prevail (Let's call it the Big Lard Conference), and break itself up into separate divisions that hardly interact with each other. USC and UCLA will go back to playing the Washington, Oregon, Arizona and Bay Area schools, but in the Big Lard Conference's Pacific division. The BLC will operate like a professional league, in which it assigns every team's schedule, and nobody plays anybody outside the league.

Unfortunately, such an entity would probably only include about 40-50 schools, which means that roughly two-thirds of the current Division I programs would be demoted, and would never have an opportunity to play against the BLC schools. Never mind arguing over whether Boise State or Coastal Carolina could ever play for the national championship; they would have trouble even getting national TV exposure anymore.

*NCAA does nothing about NIL -- Whereas The Powers That Be Stupid are usually overly-involved in everything, by constantly conducting investigations into alleged violations of trifling and ambiguous regulations, they have taken a total pass while watching the new Name, Image and Likeness rules (or lack thereof) become the latest sinister force to threaten the existence of college football. You may recall that the College Football Czar was all in favor of NIL the way it was presented to us beforehand, which was that college athletes, like Olympians in decades past, would be free to profit from endorsements while preserving their amateur status. The premise was that the athletes themselves would negotiate their own deals with the sponsors. To allow the universities to play any role in it is corrupt on its face, but that's just what has been allowed to happen. Some sponsors are even making their agreements directly with the programs, without yet knowing the identities of the players who will benefit. How long can this system of pay-for-play with laundered money go on, before the players are found to be employees of the schools, and their scholarships are converted to taxable income? And how will that affect the vast majority of players, who are not NFL prospects, and who will not have been rolling in hundreds of thousands of NIL dollars?

* Division I-A adds one -- For the first time since Liberty made the jump in 2018, major college football has increased its membership, with the addition of the James Madison Dukes, formerly of the Division I-AA Colonial Athletic Association. JMU, which resides in Harrisonburg, Virginia, joins the Sun Belt Conference, where it hopes to ignite a rivalry with intrastate foe Old Dominion, formerly of Conference USA. The Dukes, who last won the Division I-AA championship in 2016, are expected to become immediately competitive, much like Appalachian State and Liberty before them.

* To the turnover chain, there is no season -- One of the most obnoxious sports gimmicks in recent memory has now been banished from its birthplace, with the arrival of former Oregon coach Mario Cristobal at his alma mater in Coral Gables. Without criticizing his predecessors, the incoming Hurricane coach has simply stated that the turnover chain, which has spawned copycats throughout college football and other sports, will not be a part of this year's team. So, from now on, the big reward that a Canes' player gets for a takeaway will be that his team gets the ball. Remember when that was enough, without the additional opportunity for self-adulation? Much to the Czar's surprise, this idea actually seems to be spreading. After a couple players posed with a mock turnover chain during the Florida spring game, new Gator coach Billy Napier said, "Nobody ran that by me. That ain't gonna happen." Hopefully, this trend catches on much like the chain originally did. If so, team players could become the plain-bellied Sneetches of college football.

* ESPN looks beyond bowls -- For the past several years, proponents of an expanded playoff have argued that it could be made compatible with the bowl season, which the College Football Czar has always regarded as a prima facie case of balderdash. Now, ESPN has backhandedly admitted as much, by proposing that the bowl games be moved to the beginning of the season! But of course, if the games are not ostensibly a reward for a successful campaign, then they are just neutral-site regular-season games, with no logic to dictate which teams get invited and which ones don't. Moreover, they no longer serve the purpose of providing entertainment and promoting tourism during the Christmas season. One of the great things about the bowl season is that it's a three-week procession of good, evenly-matched football games. Turn on the TV on Tuesday, and watch a great game between San Diego State and UTSA. On Wednesday, see a great game between Army and Missouri. On Thursday, it's UCF against Florida. There simply isn't time before the current season opener to spread the games out that way. What we would have instead would simply be a large slate of Saturday games for Week Zero, most of them in empty stadiums.

 

WHAT'S NOT NEW

* Mindless playoff expansion-mongering -- This media-fueled movement is not about to be slowed down, regardless of the amount of evidence that contradicts its desired conclusion. Nobody who watched last year's CFP could possibly think it could have been improved by including eight teams that were not as good as Cincinnati. Even as everything else indicates that parity in college football is about to be further diminished, the playoff-mongers continue to demand an expanded field that would have allowed Georgia to eviscerate Louisiana-Lafayette in the first round. In last year's New Orleans Bowl, ULL rallied its way to victory against Marshall, in an infinitely more competitive matchup. What every officially smart person believes is that an expanded playoff is better, because it gives the Ragin Cajuns a chance to win the national championship, even though it is entirely unrealistic that they would win even one playoff game, let alone four. Real football fans would rather see the Cajuns play Marshall, and Georgia play Michigan, but what do we know? We're not officially smart.

* Weak Zero -- The Emerald Isle Classic returns with an interesting Big Ten matchup between Nebraska and Northwestern, whose games are often very close and exciting (except for last year's 56-7 Husker romp). Other than that, the Week Zero slate consists of Uconn at Utah State, Wyoming at Illinois, Charlotte at Florida Atlantic, North Texas at UTEP, Nevada at New Mexico State, and Vanderbilt at Hawaii. If the College Football Czar tried real hard, he could probably think of a better way to depress the fans' enthusiasm for the new season, but it wouldn't be easy. Perhaps making them all neutral-site games in domes would do the trick, along with the obligatory pregame concert by Aerosmith.

* The anti-sports sports media -- One of the more recent examples of sports journalists' distaste for the sports they cover was a Sports Illustrated article, written by Noah Strackbein, suggesting that the stadium formerly known as Heinz Field use its increased naming rights revenue to add a retractable roof. Like much of what SI publishes, this is a lazy-minded assertion to start out with, because one look at the open-ended edifice would tell the author that turning it into a dome would be structurally problematic.

The NCAA and the conferences obviously give preference to domed stadiums for big college football games, but this is clearly not driven by consumer demand. There's a reason that only three Division I-A teams (Syracuse, UTSA and UNLV) play indoors, out of 131. In the pros, there are more domes because the cities view them as multipurpose stadiums, in hopes of attracting events like the NCAA basketball Final Four. The Minnesota Vikings wanted Minneapolis to construct an outdoor stadium to replace the Metrodome. It was the city's decision instead to spend twice as much money to build the stinkbug-shaped mausoleum that sits there today.

The College Football Czar freely admits to being a curmudgeon. However, he can't help but observe that most complaints about Millennials, though overly generalized, are still generally true. So Noah does not like football in the cold. He'd rather have football with no atmosphere, and no challenges from having to play in the elements. This is what he calls "keeping up with the times." Spoken like someone who probably welcomes the demise of kickoff returns, loves the extra inning ghost-runner rule, and would like to see the Stanley Cup decided by way of a shootout. Few concepts have done greater damage to society than the conceit that change must necessarily equal progress.

Pardon the Czar's bitterness, but Millennials are already ruining pizza, beer, money, and even the distinction between opposite sexes. We must not let them have football, too. If Noah doesn't like going to football games in the cold and the rain and the snow, then let him stay in the cozy confines of his living room, have DoorDash bring him a vat of ranch sauce, and watch "eSports."

 

LARDHEAD OF THE YEAR AWARD NOMINEES

* UCLA and USC -- Their explanations for jumping to the Big Ten in 2024 are basically that the college football landscape is changing, and they didn't want to be left behind. Unlike future SEC members Texas and Oklahoma, however, these schools do not belong to a currently crumbling conference, nor do they have any future conference opponents in neighboring states. Each of these schools currently has five Pac12 opponents within driving range. Their nearest Big Ten foe, aside from each other, is Nebraska, about 1,500 miles away. When one of them reaches the conference championship, it will have to go all the way to Indianapolis, instead of right next door to Las Vegas. Keep in mind that these schools will have to arrange for all these long road trips for each of their non-revenue sports, too.

Statements from both schools hail the increased visibility that comes with the coveted earlier time slots, which the College Football Czar has always perceived as a red herring. All Pac 12 games are already televised, usually including multiple 3:30 ET kickoffs, and at least one in prime time. Late at night, the audience might not be as big, but the Pac 12 and Mountain West have pretty much got it to themselves, whereas there might be a dozen games competing for those viewers at 3:30. Of course, Big Ten road games will provide plenty of Noon ET starts, but is that a good thing, to have the games on at 9AM back home? Whatever they think the short-term financial gain may be, it can only work out in the long run if they retain the loyalty of their hometown fans, whom they have just told to stuff it.

*The "it's all about da munny" lardheads -- Yes, the Czar already knows that the L.A. schools' jump to the Big Ten is all about da munny. Saying so does not make any kind of a point at all. Moreover, there are many other things that are not all about da munny in any way, but lardheads never realize that, because they think it's always brilliant to say it's all about da munny. Especially in the world of sports, in which professional leagues and cable networks have become little more than left-wing political action committees, financial considerations have taken a back seat. Injecting sports broadcasts with divisive political advocacy is not all about da munny. Raining out a football game out of phony, self-congratulatory concern for public safety is not all about da munny. Promoting anti-Americanism and glorifying arsonists and looters is not all about da munny. For a sports network to constantly celebrate the destructive and technically illegal Title IX enforcement regulations, which have eliminated hundreds of men's college sports programs and prevented countless others from getting off the ground, is not all about da munny. Compelling athletes to wear rainbow-themed uniforms is not all about da munny. Encouraging would-be traveling football fans to perceive bowl games as meaningless or illegitimate is not all about da munny. The NFL, the NBA and ESPN have been doing tremendous damage to their financial standing for about a decade now, and none of them gives any indication of changing its ways. The things they're doing are clearly not all about da munny. Money is only one among an infinite number of things in the world. Those whose all-purpose answer is, "it's all about da munny" thus reveal their ignorance of absolutely everything else.

* ESPN, for employing Howard Bryant -- On the Fourth of July, ESPN.com published a disjointed, illiterate, scramble-brained harangue, in which Bryant argued that Americans should not be proud of their country because a handful of Supreme Court cases did not go the way he wanted, among other extremely poor reasons. He moped about patriotic displays at sporting events after 9/11, championed Colin Kaepernick and the other kneelers without being able to articulate their point any better than they do, complained that some private citizens contribute to political causes other than those he prefers, and basically dismissed everyone who disagrees with him about anything as a bigot of some sort or other. He even crammed in a non sequitur editorializing on behalf of Hamas and against the state of Israel. The excruciatingly long, incoherent essay basically read like every stridently ignorant left-wing opinion you've ever heard in your life, being poured out of a blender and onto your computer screen. To the degree that it had any discernible general theme, it was simply that Howard Bryant hates America, and so by extension does ESPN, and because you don't hate it, they hate you, too.

* Howard Bryant -- The "ESPN Senior Writer" complains as if the entire universe were conspiring against him, even though he's making a very comfortable living by doing something that he doesn't do very well.. He's not very good at constructing sentences and paragraphs. He loses focus easily, and then tries to make up for it by repeating himself every time he meanders back from a digression. In his Fourth of July piece, he rambled on for six paragraphs before arriving at anything resembling a topic sentence. In spite of all that, he's pulling down a very good salary, and has the closest thing to job security that could possibly exist. He has even published nine books, for which his editors should probably receive hazard pay. By all rights, he ought to be declaring himself to be the luckiest man on the face of the earth, not being the hateful, unjustifiably bitter, ungrateful buffoon that he so obviously is.

* Georgia defensive tackle Warren Brinson -- who was arrested on battery charges for shooting people with Orbeez, using a toy gun. What are Orbeez, you ask? They're little colored balls made of a super-absorbent polymer that causes them to expand dramatically when immersed in water. Why did Brinson shoot them at people? Because he was following the instructions from a TikTok challenge, of course. In addition, he mistook his targets for acquaintances of his, instead pelting a gaggle of strangers who then called the police. If the two possible outcomes of the challenge are that youbeez smart orbeez a lardhead, we know which one he chose.

* Cale Gundy -- The Oklahoma wide receivers coach was forced to resign over his repeated use of a racial slur in front of his players. The longtime Sooner assistant had gotten mad at a player who was looking at his iPad instead of paying attention in film study. Wanting to make an example of him, he picked up the iPad and read from it out load, and repeated it multiple times, even though it contained an unidentified, racially offensive word.

The College Football Czar knows what many of you are thinking. Gundy was obviously not endorsing the message on his player's iPad. Taking the slur out of context in order to accuse him of racism is illogical and unfair. Shouldn't the Czar be defending a victim of the self-appointed feelings police, instead of piling on? Well, the Czar's point here is that he is not calling Gundy a racist; he's calling him a lardhead, a case for which the evidence is abundant. For starters, the coach first claimed that the word caught him by surprise, and that he didn't even realize that he'd said it out loud until it was too late. Head coach Brent Venables contradicted this, insisting that Gundy had in fact read the passage multiple times. If Gundy wants people to believe him when he says he's not a racist, lying immediately beforehand has got to be considered rather poor form.

Furthermore, he must have been the most oblivious man on earth not to see the trouble he was getting himself into. It was only two years ago that TCU head coach Gary Patterson created an outrage by doing almost the exact same thing. Accusing college football coaches of racism has become a national pastime, and often for reasons that only a professor from the offended studies department could possibly explain with a straight face. Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz, for example, came under fire because he doesn't like his players to wear earrings. Next to that, for a coach to say something that is actually racist, even if disapprovingly quoting somebody else, is a hyper-stupid thing to do. If the Czar may draw a parallel to something that actually has to do with football, a player who spikes the ball is usually not doing it to be unsportsmanlike, but he knows it's against the rules, so the resulting 15-yard penalty is all his fault, and he has no valid excuses. Likewise, any sensible person knows that, regardless of intention, using a racial slur in the workplace is the surest path to the unemployment line. How much discipline does it really take not to do it?

At the very least, Gundy should have been more considerate of his brother, Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy, who himself was smeared as a racist and even fined a million dollars, all because he gets his cable news from a source that was disapproved by megalomaniacal running back Chuba Hubbard. Now, big brother Mike will have to face critics who will assume they've been vindicated by the appearance that racism is a Gundy family trait. The poor guy will probably even have to get an unfunny haircut, just so he can walk through the OSU campus without being recognized.

 

THE CZAR DECREES ...

If the College Football Czar could issue proclamations changing college football, these are some examples of what those would entail:

* Recalibrate the calendar -- Something badly needs to be done to clarify the boundaries of the college football season, and put an end to the upheaval that now takes place when there are still games left to play. It's easy, not to mention simple-minded, to slam coaches for abandoning their teams prior to the postseason, and to use that as a flimsy excuse for the players to do the same. The unfortunate fact of the matter is that coaches today have no choice, because almost all of the hiring and firing takes place between the end of the regular season and the bowl games. Henceforth, it should be illegal for one school to contact a coach at another school until after the CFP championship has been played. Doing so should be viewed as tampering, and punishable by a severe reduction in scholarships.

Part of the motivation for naming new coaches so soon is the pressure to start signing players for the following season before the current one is even over. This needs to be alleviated by eliminating the early signing period, and by amending the transfer rules so that no player may enter the portal until after the CFP championship. In short, there needs to be a clearly defined offseason, in which for personnel changes to take place.

* Forget the five-yarder -- The five-yard running into the kicker penalty has become the weakest cop-out in football officiating. If the kicker has been roughed, then call roughing the kicker. If he hasn't, then there shouldn't be a penalty at all. Giving the refs a middle-ground safe space is just begging for a majority of the calls to be wrong. The same was true of the thankfully discontinued five-yard facemasking penalty, which nobody seems to miss. Under the guise of not having the officials decide the game, they're routinely letting the wrong team take possession of the ball, by refusing to call the real penalty.

* Cancel the Carolina Commies -- The College Football Czar doesn't know if the four North Carolina ACC schools are going to persist in displaying Commiefisty on their uniforms, but the two years they've done it already have been two years too long. If you find it strange that these demonstrations would be most conspicuous in a state so far removed from the George Floyd incident, then you don't understand the workings of the liberal mind. Remember that the ACC pulled its 2016 championship game out of their state in protest of the so-called "bathroom bill," which prohibited men from entering women's rest rooms and locker rooms. The Commiefisty patches and stickers are how UNC, Nc State, Duke and Wake Forest are now signaling that they are good, obedient, liberal banana-brains, who are not responsible for a bunch of bumpkins who still believe that the truth should count for something.

* Keep the Christmas football coming -- As of this writing, there is no bowl game scheduled for Christmas Day. This is inexcusable. It's not as if the players would be deprived of their Christmas, because many of them are already away from their families and preparing for games over the several following days. There's simply no reason for not playing on Christmas, when most people are at home with little to do, and nothing else is on TV. Granted, last year's Camellia Bowl was hardly riveting stuff, with Georgia State blowing out Ball State 51-20, but at least it was football. If there isn't a bowl game moved into that same time slot this year, then the only sports on all day long will be the NBA. Jesus deserves better than that. So do college football fans.

* Cut the "Wires" -- There is no "I" in "Jaguars." Could everybody please stop pronouncing it that way?

* Put "Pre-SPN" on the air -- Many's the time over the past few years that the College Football Czar has wished he could hop in a DeLorean and travel back to the 1980s. Part of the motivation for that is to return sports programming to the way it was before ESPN became a part of the Disney Family of Creeps. If there were any way of doing this without Mickey Molester profiting from it, the Czar would like to put a channel called "Pre-SPN" on the air, and have it run the original ESPN programming head-to-head against the trash that network is showing today. SportsCenter would be all about sports again, anchored by holograms of Tom Mees and Gayle Gardner, and perhaps even with "Hungry Like the Wolf" accompanying all the day's highlights. The rest of the programming would consist of live sporting events without invasive political commentary, updated but still sports-oriented versions of old ESPN programs like The Men Who Played the Game, Scholastic Sports America and The Lighter Side of Sports, and enjoyable morning exercise shows like BodyShaping and Co-Ed Training. Let's see how the current ESPN uber-liberal boogery fares against that.

 

TEAM RANKINGS, 1-130

1. Alabama (SEC)

41. Wash. St. (P12)

81. Liberty (Ind.)

121. Ga. Tech (ACC)

2. Ohio St. (B10)

42. Louisville (ACC)

82. Memphis (AAC)

122. Arkansas St. (SB)

3. Georgia (SEC)

43. No. Illinois (MAC)

83. Rutgers (B10)

123. Uconn (Ind.)

4. Miami (ACC)

44. E. Carolina (AAC)

84. UTEP (CUSA)

124. Rice (CUSA)

5. Baylor (XII)

45. Virginia (ACC)

85. San Jose St. (MW)

125. Bowl. Grn. (MAC)

6. Michigan (B10)

46. Iowa (B10)

86. Tulsa (AAC)

126. UNLV (MW)

7. Arkansas (SEC)

47. Washington (P12)

87. Arizona (P12)

127. FL Int'l (CUSA)

8. Oklahoma (XII)

48. Miss. St. (SEC)

88. Georgia St. (SB)

128. J. Madison (SB)

9. Utah (P12)

49. Air Force (MW)

89. Ball St. (MAC)

129. Umass (Ind.)

10. Nc State (ACC)

50. UAB (CUSA)

90. FL Atl. (CUSA)

130. Buffalo (MAC)

11. Okla. St. (XII)

51. Maryland (B10)

91. Hawaii (MW)

131. N. Mex. St. (Ind.)

12. Oregon (P12)

52. ULL (SB)

92. Kent St. (MAC)

 

13. Tennessee (SEC)

53. Cincinnati (AAC)

93. S. Alabama (SB)

 

14. Houston (AAC)

54. Fresno St. (MW)

94. W. Mich (MAC)

 

15. Pitt (ACC)

55. Va. Tech (ACC)

95. Navy (AAC)

 

16. Texas A&M (SEC)

56. C. Florida (AAC)

96. Indiana (B10)

 

17. USC (P12)

57. Auburn (SEC)

97. Colorado (P12)

 

18. Purdue (B10)

58. California (P12)

98. Texas Tech (XII)

 

19. Kentucky (SEC)

59. Iowa St. (XII)

99. Mid. Tenn. (CUSA)

 

20. BYU (Ind.)

60. Florida St. (ACC)

100. C. Mich. (MAC)

 

21. Arizona St. (P12)

61. Utah St. (MW)

101. Arizona (P12)

 

22. Wisconsin (B10)

62. App. St. (SB)

102. N. Texas (CUSA)

 

23. Notre Dame (Ind.)

63. Toledo (MAC)

103. N. Mexico (MW)

 

24. W. Forest (ACC)

64. W. Kent. (CUSA)

104. Old Dom. (SB)

 

25. Michigan St. (B10)

65. Marshall (SB)

105. Charlotte (CUSA)

 

26. Clemson (ACC)

66. C. Carolina (SB)

106. Texas St. (SB)

 

27. Texas (XII)

67. Ole Miss (SEC)

107. S. Florida (AAC)

 

28. UCLA (P12)

68. Boston Coll (ACC)

108. Syracuse (ACC)

 

29. San Diego St. (MW)

69. Stanford (P12)

109. La. Tech (CUSA)

 

30. Penn St. (B10)

70. Nebraska (B10)

110. Illinois (B10)

 

31. LSU (SEC)

71. W. Virginia (XII)

111. Miami OH (MAC)

 

32. UTSA (CUSA)

72. Nevada (MW)

112. Temple (AAC)

 

33. Boise St. (MW)

73. Tulane (AAC)

113. ULM (SB)

 

34. N. Carolina (ACC)

74. Ohio (MAC)

114. Colo. St. (MW)

 

35. Oregon St. (P12)

75. Wyoming (MW)

115. N'western (B10)

 

36. S. Carolina (SEC)

76. Troy (SB)

116. So. Miss (SB)

 

37. Army (Ind.)

77. Kansas St. (XII)

117. Duke (ACC)

 

38. Minnesota (B10)

78. Missouri (SEC)

118. Kansas (XII)

 

39. TCU (XII)

79. SMU (AAC)

119. E. Mich. (MAC)

 

40. Florida (SEC)

80. Colorado (P12)

120. Vanderbilt (SEC)

 

 

CONFERENCE CAPSULES

American Athletic Conference

  1. Houston Cougars* -- "uh" is more than an afterthought in the AAC this season
  2. East Carolina Pirates -- peglegs will find some holes with their power running game
  3. Cincinnati Bearcats -- Like Herb Tarlek, they should be worried about their limitations
  4. Central Florida Knights -- still some strength left in the last vestige of manhood in Orlando
  5. Tulane Green Wave -- foes found the D in the Big Easy easier than Toni Basil at Mardi Gras
  6. SMU Mustangs -- That 1-4 finish must have stang, after a 7-0 start
  7. Memphis Tigers -- trying to turn loose RBs who have been raised in captivity
  8. Tulsa Golden Hurricane -- nation's INT leader needs to Brin it to his own WRs for a change
  9. Navy Midshipmen -- rebuilding team refused to fade aweigh in second half of 2021
  10. South Florida Bulls -- Their fall from contention does not appear to be Tampa-rary
  11. Temple Owls -- the biggest punching bag in Philly sports since Rocky's side of beef

Outlook: The Bearcats can't sustain their high level of success with the departure of QB Desmond Ridder and RB Jerome Ford. UH has a scheduling advantage, in that it does not have to face either Cincy or UCF in the regular season, and its nonconference opponents include Kansas and Rice. ECU seeks its first conference title since 2009, the team's last season under coach Skip Holtz.

Atlantic Coast Conference (atlantic division)

  1. Nc State Wolfpack -- Are they Raleigh ready to overtake the Tigers? Just compare QBs
  2. Clemson Tigers -- Things could get Uiagaly if their big QB doesn't rebound this year
  3. Wake Forest Demon Deacons -- Wake them when they get around to playing somebody
  4. Louisville Cardinals -- Luuvuul needs to raise its level of play this year
  5. Florida State Seminoles -- still stuck in the dadgum of the post-Bowden era
  6. Boston College Eagles -- starting to think that BC stands for "bowl canceled"
  7. Syracuse Orange -- It turns out orange is the new last, and the old one, too

Atlantic Coast Conference (coastal division)

  1. Miami Hurricanes* -- Only the ottoman can trip up sophomore QB Van Dyke
  2. Pitt Panthers -- New QB Kedon Slovis has got big shoes to fill, if not gloves
  3. North Carolina Tar Heels -- need a faith heeler to cure what ails them on the road
  4. Virginia Cavaliers -- continuing to stretch Armstrong as far as he�ll take them
  5. Virginia Tech Hokies/Gobblers -- hope the football world is the oyster of new coach Pry
  6. Duke Blue Devils -- demonstrating the consistency of their namesake, the mayonnaise
  7. Georgia Tech Yellowjackets -- Depth, where is thy sting?

Outlook: The College Football Czar can't share the almost unanimous optimism about Clemson this year. Yes, they still managed to go 10-3 last season, but that includes five wins by seven points or fewer. All they need in order to tumble to .500 is for their defense to be, say, the nation's tenth best, instead of second. The one thing the Tigers have going for them is a favorable, pre-November schedule, which gives them time to find a solution at quarterback. The big question in the Coastal is whether Coach Cristobal can succeed in taking the "'me, me, me" out of The U. Pitt's loss of WR Jordan Addison to USC opens opportunities for WR Jared Wayne, TE Gavin Bartholomew.

Big Ten Conference (east division)

  1. Ohio State Buckeyes* -- stadium centennial home schedule (ND, WI, IA, MI) is a rarity
  2. Michigan Wolverines -- votes should be in their favor, as long as RB Corum is present
  3. Michigan State Spartans -- Wisconsin transfer RB Burger needn't do the impossible
  4. Penn State Nittany Lions -- Can Coach Franklin avoid becoming a lightning rod?
  5. Maryland Terrapins -- Don't sleep on Taulia Tagovailoa, the Irish lullaby
  6. Rutgers Scarlet Knights -- At least these Jersey Boys charge less than Comrade Bruce
  7. Indiana Hoosiers -- another 10-loss season, and here come the bulldo-siers!

Big Ten Conference (west division)

  1. Purdue Boilermakers -- TE Durham's a bull, and that's not a bunch of Susan Sontag
  2. Wisconsin Badgers -- Madison Reds must redo defense, with eight starters gone
  3. Minnesota Golden Gophers -- RB Ibrahim's Achilles makes one last stand
  4. Iowa Hawkeyes -- offense runs like the rest of their logo's body, without the head
  5. Nebraska Cornhuskers -- hoping new OC Whipple will be their Prince Charmin
  6. Illinois Fighting Illini -- RB Chase Brown needs some blockheads to lead the way
  7. Northwestern Wildcats -- need a sense of direction, after sauntering to six straight losses

* projected conference champion

Outlook: OSU's advantage is less apparent than usual, the way their defensive front was manhandled in both losses last year, as well as in their Rose Bowl win over Utah. The lack of a marquee nonconference game for the Wolverines puts the pressure on them to go undefeated if they want to reach the CFP. Watch for PSU to play plenty of freshmen, while building toward next season. The potency of Purdue's passing game makes it the favorite in a parity-riddled West division, which is otherwise offensively deficient.

Big Twelve Conference

  1. Baylor Bears* -- sophomore quarterback is Shapen up into a good one
  2. Oklahoma Sooners -- revived defense of the crimson and cream will berries you!
  3. Oklahoma State Cowboys -- new DC Mason must reinforce their defensive foundation
  4. Texas Longhorns -- If Ewers a betting man, ewed bet they were improved this year
  5. TCU Horned Frogs -- Dykes jumps into the frying pan, switches sides in Iron Skillet series
  6. Iowa State Cyclones -- They Ames to please, but they aren't ready to fire
  7. West Virginia Mountaineers -- Can QB transfer Shemp add some "eeb-eeb-eeb" to their offense?
  8. Kansas State Wildcats -- little doubt what the Deuce they'll do on offense now
  9. Texas Tech Red Raiders -- new coaching staff must repair a defense in T-T-tatters
  10. Kansas Jayhawks -- last November's improvement won't give the Sunflower Staters big heads

Outlook: Relative stability makes Baylor the favorite, as OU has a lot of rebuilding to do on offense, and OSU on defense. Cowboy coach Mike Gundy goes for career victory #150 in a bitter, opening revenge game against Central Michigan. Every week is Sark Week in the Big XII, as Texas coach Steve Sarkisian will be the focus of attention throughout a very challenging second season in Austin.

Conference USA

  1. UTSA Roadrunners* -- defying the laws of gravity in standings (but they never studied law)
  2. UAB Blazers -- must drag on through a difficult season after Bill Clark's sudden retirement
  3. Western Kentucky Hilltoppers -- look to mash opponents, with Doege Red in the bully pulpit
  4. UTEP Miners -- need fewer El Pasos to land in enemy hands
  5. Florida Atlantic Owls -- Inside the 20, ex-Miami QB N�Kosi is out of his comfort zone
  6. Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders -- reliance on JUCO transfers makes their title chances a joke
  7. North Texas Mean Green -- RB Ikaika pushes defenders around like cheap Swedish furniture
  8. Charlotte 49ers -- The Pick-C defense got dusted for 465 yards per game last season
  9. Louisiana Tech Bulldogs -- Firing Skip Holtz was a Bulld move, to put it kindly
  10. Rice Owls -- "Who?" is the response to the mention of Luke McCaffrey, now an Owl WR
  11. Florida International Golden Panthers -- another weak sequel for the International Men of Mystery

Outlook: In late June, Blazer coach Bill Clark bowed out because of chronic back injuries, which is bound to adversely affect the program that had rallied behind him since its reinstatement in 2017. The veteran Texas-San Antonio offense will get along fine without departed RB Sincere McCormick, who insincerely pledged loyalty to his teammates while skipping their bowl game in order to protect his draft status, and then went undrafted. LTU fired Holtz after his first losing season in eight years, just two years removed from a 10-win season and an Independence Bowl shutout of Miami. What must Bulldog fans have thought while watching him guide the Birmingham Stallions to a USFL championship with an 11-1 record?

Independents

  1. Brigham Young Cougars -- final year of Independence makes it like a year-long bachelor party
  2. Notre Dame Fighting Irish -- Jesus is open in the end zone, but who'll get him the ball?
  3. Army Black Knights -- 260-lb fullback Jakobi Buchanan makes fodder of would-be tacklers
  4. Liberty Flames -- must learn what it's lik without Malik to lead the way
  5. Uconn Huskies -- Can Conn Men sell Storrs on second-hand merchandise?
  6. Umass Minutemen -- look as if they'll never reach the point of critical mass
  7. New Mexico State Aggies -- play like they've all got torn Las Cruces ligaments

Outlook: BYU is bound for another 10-win season, before they beef up their schedule by joining the Big XII. First-year Fighting Irish coach Marcus Freeman will have a hard time living up to the hype, with question marks at key offensive positions. If the Cadets can settle on a capable QB, they will lay waste to a weak schedule.

Mid-American Conference (east division)

  1. Ohio Bobcats -- QB continuum consists of every Rourke except, thankfully, for Mickey
  2. Kent State Golden Flashes -- nonconference schedule's a lot scarier than Nixon coming
  3. Akron Zips -- too many soph spots on offense to contend for the division
  4. Miami OH RedHawks -- Brett Gabbert, Blaine's brother, could also take Kaep's job, if he had one
  5. Bowling Green Falcons -- couldn't pick up the spare after knocking over Minnesota
  6. Buffalo Bulls -- too much shuffling of transfers in and out of the roster

Mid-American Conference (west division)

  1. Northern Illinois Huskies* -- will mush opponents with a sled-load of experienced defenders
  2. Toledo Rockets -- QB Dequan Finn's gers don't give up the ball; only 2 INTs in 2021
  3. Ball State Cardinals -- must have left door a-jar, because most starting defenders have gone
  4. Western Michigan Broncos -- should be Waldo-wall excitement for home game vs. Pitt
  5. Central Michigan Chippewas -- kicked some Chippewazzu in Sun Bowl stunner over WSU
  6. Eastern Michigan Eagles -- Block E needs to learn how to Tackle E, also

* projected conference champion

Outlook: The Huskies, displaying their traditional toughness, should stay well ahead of the pack all season long. Expect the Zips to zoom up the standings from their usual spot in the basement, thanks to new coach Joe Moorhead, formerly head coach at Mississippi State, and OC at both Penn State and Oregon. OU keeps bobbing along atop the East, thanks mainly to steady play at quarterback.

Mountain West Conference (mountain division)

  1. Boise State Broncos -- second-year coach Avalos wins in a landslide
  2. Air Force Falcons -- record-setting QB Haaziq Daniels is no haaz-been
  3. Utah State Aggies -- D blew Oregon State to bits in Kimmel bowl
  4. Wyoming Cowboys -- Xazavian Valladay's transfer costs them big scores, not just in Scrabble
  5. New Mexico Lobos -- DC Rocky is no rookie, in his fourth stint on the UNM coaching staff
  6. Colorado State Rams -- ex-Nevada coach packed Wolf QB Clay Millen for the trip

Mountain West Conference (west division)

  1. San Diego State Aztecs* -- setting a trap at new Snapdragon Stadium
  2. Fresno State Bulldogs -- Tedford returns where he was first hired V years ago
  3. Nevada Wolf Pack -- roster UNR-aveled on new head coach Ken Wilson
  4. San Jose State Spartans -- hard to accentuate the positive after last year's fall to 5-7
  5. Hawaii Rainbow Warriors -- sure glad alumnus Chang didn't pass on this opportunity
  6. UNLV Rebels -- so ineffective and wimpy, no wonder they start with UN

* projected conference champion

Outlook: SDSU finally opens its new stadium, whereas UH continues to play in a refurbished practice facility, with plans to break ground on the new Aloha Stadium next offseason. The Broncs regained their position as the league's top scoring defense last season, and appear determined to keep it. Beware any military academy that has lots of experience on both sides of the ball, especially if that includes a wishbone quarterback who can throw.

Pac 12 Conference (north division)

  1. Oregon Ducks -- Ixnay on the ypehay, until new QB shows some consistency
  2. Oregon State Beavers -- eager for their first bowl win in nine seasons
  3. Washington State Cougars -- choose I-AA transfer as man to pull the reins in Pullman
  4. Washington Huskies -- look to former Fresno St. coach DeBoer to deliver a Dutch treat
  5. California Golden Bears -- need Jack Plummer to snake the gunk out of their offense
  6. Stanford Cardinal -- Their coach Shaw seemed smarter back when he used to run the ball

Pac 12 Conference (south division)

  1. Utah Utes* -- should pound out another league title, despite losing key LBs
  2. USC Trojans -- transplanted team expects results Sooner, rather than later
  3. Arizona State Sun Devils -- one can only tri to dent their defensive front seven
  4. UCLA Bruins -- return of fifth-year starter DTR should deter the team's detractors
  5. Colorado Buffaloes -- Without a Boulder offense, they�ll be taken for granite
  6. Arizona Wildcats -- Critics of second-year coach Fisch need to give pez a chance

* projected conference champion

Outlook: The Fighting Ducks are sure they've landed a great get in transfer QB Bo Nix from Auburn, but have they really just extended their fans' frustration from watching former BC scrambler Anthony Brown for two seasons? The Utes have a little rebuilding to do on defense, but the maturation of an already potent offense should compensate for that. The Trojans' all-star team of transfers will take time to jell. WR Jordan Addison dominated the offseason by transferring to Southern Cal, but by season's end, will he wish he was back in the Burgh with former SC slinger Kedon Slovis?

Southeastern Conference (east division)

  1. Georgia Bulldogs -- QB Bennett IV returns for season VII of his college career
  2. Tennessee Volunteers -- School of Hard Knox needs to be more rugged on defense
  3. Kentucky Wildcats -- still plenty of formula on the shelves at Kroger Field
  4. South Carolina Gamecocks -- Beamer has foes talking turkey about this chicken outfit
  5. Florida Gators -- Ex-Cajun coach Napier gahrrontees he can add some spice to this offense.
  6. Missouri Tigers -- Show-Me Staters haven't seen much yet from key offensive players
  7. Vanderbilt Commodores -- easy like Sunday morning, but Saturdays come a little tougher

Southeastern Conference (west division)

  1. Alabama Crimson Tide* -- pachyderms pack for rude road schedule (TX, Ark, Tenn, LSU, Miss)
  2. Arkansas Razorbacks -- K.J. Jefferson is movin on up among the nation's top QB prospects
  3. Texas A&M Aggies -- Now we'll see how well the Fisher of men has recruited
  4. LSU Tigers -- no choice but to change their stripes, with no solid parts left on their roster
  5. Mississippi State Bulldogs -- QB Will Rogers never met a pass-obsessive coach he didn't like
  6. Auburn Tigers -- Don't dare ever call Tiger tailback Tank Bigsby a panzer
  7. Ole Miss Rebels -- had real Rebs faced such soft Sept opposition, they'd have won at Antietam

* projected conference champion

Outlook: Alabama and Georgia contend for the national championship yet again, with the Tide having the edge on account of a dropoff in the UGA defense, with the departure of DC Dan Lanning for Oregon. It's getting difficult to follow the way that SEC teams are poaching each other through the transfer portal. Bama didn't like being beaten by Georgia WR Jermaine Burton, so they took him. Former LSU quarterback Max Johnson arrives at A&M to replace Zach Calzada, who had departed for Auburn. Before long, not only will all of Division I-A college football have been absorbed by the SEC, but they'll all just be one gigantic team that does nothing but scrimmage against itself. While other programs are forced to turn to transfers, watch for MSU to pull a big upset somewhere along the way, with their experienced, cohesive lineup giving them an upperhand.

Sun Belt Conference (east division)

  1. Appalachian State Mountaineers* -- offense has more years behind it than mascot Josef
  2. Marshall Thundering Herd -- RB Ali floated like a butterfly for 1,401 yards and 23 TDs
  3. Coastal Carolina Chanticleers -- replacing their three leading receivers is a teal order
  4. Georgia State Panthers -- power running game must make crosstown Tech fans jealous
  5. Old Dominion Monarchs -- loaded Lion Kings offer more than Token opposition
  6. James Madison Dukes -- Have they a hearty enough constitution for Division I-A football?
  7. Georgia Southern Eagles -- another long season singing the blues in Statesboro

Sun Belt Conference (west division)

  1. Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin Cajuns -- schedule offers almost neaux serious impediments
  2. Troy Trojans -- A better offensive effort is needed from the Old College Troy
  3. South Alabama Jaguars -- all uared up for a big season on defense
  4. Texas State Bobcats -- Los Gatos Robertos de San Marcos no son muy buenos
  5. Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks -- Son of Dadgum produces a sequel of his stint in Akron
  6. Southern Miss Golden Eagles -- offense couldn't strike until it adopted the wildcat in 2021
  7. Arkansas State Red Wolves -- It's a wonder they're not going by an alias in Jonesboro

* projected conference champion

Outlook: The battle among the top four teams in the East division should provide some of the best action in college football this season. ULL will stroll to another West division title, with a cross-divisional schedule that does not include App State, CCU or Georgia State. JMU gets its initiation into Division I-A football in a home opener against the MT-heads from Conference USA.

 

BOOBY-TRAP BALLGAMES

The College Football Czar has no idea who he will end up picking to win the following games, but he highlights them now as possible upsets which threaten to ensnare some of the nation's most prominent programs. The favored teams appear in bold face.

Sept. 17

Oklahoma at Nebraska -- The Sooners barely beat their ancient rivals a year ago, 23-16, in what by all rights should have been a total mismatch. This year, they must travel to Lincoln, where they haven't played since a 10-3 defeat in 2009. Former Texas QB Casey Thompson infuses the N-men with an offensive potency they haven't had since 2015. A year ago, in the Longhorns' 55-48 loss to OU, Thompson threw for 388 yards and five TDs, with no interceptions.

UTSA at Texas -- Following his controversial hire and a disappointing 5-7 season, one thing that second-year pointy cows coach Steve Sarkisian definitely does not need is a far better than advertised nonconference opponent. With the Horns having just faced Alabama a week earlier, Texas-San Antonio has a chance to catch them off-guard, as well as in a somewhat demoralized state. While it's natural to focus on the Roadrunners' loss of RB Sincere McCormack, they've still got, senior QB Frank Harris, a trio of senior WRs, and an experienced offensive line.

Sept. 24

Oregon at Washington State -- The webfoots wander into a possible ambush in the Palouse, in between big home games against nonconference foe Brigham Young and perennial nemesis Stanford. The Cougars always come up with a prolific passer from somewhere, and this season is no different, with transfer QB Cameron Ward jumping up from Division I-AA Incarnate Word, where he threw for 4,648 yards and 47 TDs a year ago.

Oct. 1

Alabama at Arkansas -- Perhaps the most dangerous game on the Crimson Tide's schedule, this clash risks being overshadowed by their following week's showdown with Texas A&M, mostly because of the offseason feud that took place between the head coaches of those teams. Last November, the Hogs went to Tuscloosa and threw a 42-35 scare into Nick Saban's team. In a game that Bama otherwise statistically dominated, they allowed the Razorbacks to convert 10 of 19 third and fourth-down attempts, including a fake field goal that went for a touchdown.

Oct. 8

Ohio State at Michigan State -- In this, the centennial season for Ohio Stadium, the lumpy nuts open with five consecutive home games before finally having to travel north to East Lansing. The awkward ease of last year's 56-7 clobbering in Columbus could leave them overconfident, heading into an idle week before battling Iowa and Penn State. A maturing Spartan offensive line should test a Buckeye defensive front that got little if any penetration last year against Oregon, Michigan or Utah.

Oct. 29

East Carolina at Brigham Young -- The improving Pirates are ready to return to the giant-killer status the program earned decades ago. The Cougars could be vulnerable in this low-profile but dangerous home game, sandwiched between treacherous trips to Liberty and Boise State. ECU aims to emphasize its ground game, which could be problematic for a BYU run defense that was gashed in big games a year ago.

Nov. 19

UAB at LSU -- Believe it or not, this would not be unprecedented. In the first incarnation of Blazer football, that team's biggest victory by far was a 16-13 road upset of the Bayou Bengals back in 2000. They're a lot closer to being evenly matched this time around, with a record of 43-20 since the program's rebirth in 2017. The rest of the Tigers' November slate consists of Alabama, Arkansas and Texas A&M. If they think they can slumber through this nonconference home game, they could be in for a Rouge awakening.

Nov. 26

South Carolina at Clemson The College Football Czar expects this to be considered a toss-up by the time it rolls around, between a resurgent SEC program under a promising new coach, and a perennial national contender that has not yet reached the bottom of a down cycle. Considering the opportunities that are afforded to a top-notch program by the transfer portal, it's inexplicable that the Paw Boys remain so totally invested in quarterback D.J. Uagalelei, especially since it's plain for any fan to see that the greatest challenge for the jumbo junior is not confidence or experience, but mechanics.

 

 

BOWL PROJECTIONS

Just for fun, here are the Czar's projections for this season's bowl matchups, which will no doubt prove more accurate than his predictions will be when these games actually happen.

Bowl ..... Date ..... Matchup ..... Projection

Peach ..... Dec. 31 ..... Semifinalist vs. Semifinalist ..... Miami vs. Alabama

Fiesta ..... Dec. 31 ..... Semifinalist vs. Semifinalist ..... Ohio St. vs. Georgia

CFP Championship ..... Jan. 9 ..... Peach winner vs. Fiesta winner ..... Alabama vs. Ohio St.

Bahamas ..... Dec. 16 ..... MAC vs. CUSA ..... Kent St. vs. W. Kentucky

Cure ..... Dec. 16 ..... Group-of-five ..... C. Michigan vs. Nevada

Fenway ..... Dec. 17 ..... ACC/Notre Dame vs. AAC ..... Boston College vs. Cincinnati

New Mexico ..... Dec. 17 ..... CUSA/MWC/AAC ..... Middle Tennessee vs. Air Force

LA ..... Dec. 17 ..... Pac 12 vs. MWC ..... UCLA vs. San Diego St.

Lendingtree ..... Dec. 17 ..... MAC vs. Sun Belt ..... Toledo vs. Marshall

Las Vegas ..... Dec. 17 ..... Pac 12 vs. SEC ..... Washington St. vs. LSU

Frisco ..... Dec. 17 ..... Group-of-five ..... W. Michigan vs. Wyoming

Myrtle Beach ..... Dec. 19 ..... AAC/ MAC/Sun Belt ..... Tulsa vs. C. Carolina

Famous Idaho Potato ..... Dec. 20 ..... MAC vs. MWC ..... Ball St. vs. Boise St.

Boca Raton ..... Dec. 20 ..... Group-of-five vs.BYU** ..... Florida Atlantic vs. Brigham Young

New Orleans..... Dec. 21 ..... Sun Belt vs. CUSA ..... La.-Lafayette vs. UAB

Armed Forces ..... Dec. 22 ..... AAC vs. CUSA ..... Tulane vs. UTSA

Independence ..... Dec.23 ..... CUSA vs. Army** ..... C. Florida* vs. Army

Tampa Bay ..... Dec. 23 ..... AAC/ACC/SEC ..... Memphis vs. Georgia St.

Hawaii ..... Dec. 24 ..... MWC/CUSA/AAC ..... Utah St. vs. UTEP

Quick Lane ..... Dec. 26 ..... Big Ten vs. MAC ..... Minnesota vs. Ohio

First Responder ..... Dec. 27 ..... AAC/ACC/Big XII ..... Iowa* vs. N. Texas*

Birmingham ..... Dec. 27 ..... AAC vs. SEC ..... SMU vs. Mississippi St.

Camellia ..... Dec. 27 ..... MAC vs. Sun Belt ..... No. Illinois vs. Appalachian St.

Guaranteed Rate ..... Dec. 27 ..... Big XII vs. Big Ten ..... Iowa State vs. Maryland

Military ..... Dec. 28 ..... ACC vs. AAC ..... Virginia vs. E. Carolina

Liberty ..... Dec. 28 ..... SEC vs. Big XII ..... Auburn vs. W. Virginia

Holiday ..... Dec.28 ..... ACC vs. Pac 12 ..... Notre Dame vs. Arizona St.

Texas ..... Dec.28 ..... Big XII vs. SEC ..... TCU vs. Texas A&M

Pinstripe ..... Dec. 29 ..... Big Ten vs. ACC ..... Wisconsin vs. Va. Tech

Cheez-It ..... Dec. 29 ..... Big XII vs. ACC ..... Texas vs. Pitt

Alamo ..... Dec. 29 ..... Big XII vs. Pac 12 ..... Oklahoma St. vs. USC

Duke�s Mayo ..... Dec. 30 ..... ACC vs. SEC/Big Ten ..... N. Carolina vs. Penn St.

Sun ..... Dec.30 ..... Pac 12 vs. ACC ..... Oregon St. vs. Louisville

Gator ..... Dec. 30 ..... SEC vs. ACC/Big Ten ..... S. Carolina vs. Florida St.

Arizona ..... Dec. 30 ... MWC vs. MAC ..... Fresno St. vs. Akron

Orange ..... Dec. 30 ..... At-large vs. At-large ..... Nc State vs. Oregon

Music City ..... Dec. 31 ..... SEC vs. ACC/Big Ten ..... Florida vs. Michigan St.

Sugar ..... Dec. 31 .... At-large vs. At-large ..... Arkansas vs. Baylor

ReliaQuest ..... Jan. 2 ..... SEC vs. ACC/Big Ten ..... Tennessee vs. Clemson

Cotton ..... Jan. 2 ..... At-large vs. At-large ..... Oklahoma vs. Houston

Citrus ..... Jan. 2 ..... Big Ten vs. SEC/ACC ..... Purdue vs. Kentucky

Rose ..... Jan. 2 ..... Big Ten vs. Pac 12 ..... Michigan vs. Utah

* At-large bid opens due to lack of eligible team to fulfill commitment

** If eligible

The College Football Czar