We’re two weeks from kicking off the 2015 college football season. Each conference’s media days are over, practices are coming to an end and the two-deeps are being tightened up around the country. It’s finally time to kick this thing off.
There are a handful of games on the opening weekend of this season that I will have my eye on. I’m not here to tell you who I think will win, rather I am here to tell you what interests me about these games.
Villonava at Connecticut; Thursday, September 3
Jay Wright going head-to-head with Kevin Ollie is a great way to start the year off. Oh, this isn’t an early heavy weight tilt in basketball? Because if it were, I’d be all in.
Connecticut had a decent program. From 1999-2010, Randy Edsall went 74-70 at UConn. Coach Edsall guided the Huskies to five bowl games including a 2010 appearance in the Fiesta Bowl. Edsall is now at Maryland where he’s becoming the Butch Jones of the Big Ten…you know, high profile recruits with low level win totals. As for this year’s UConn head coach, Bob Diaco went 2-10 last season and that 2010 Fiesta Bowl was the last post season action the Huskies have sniffed.
Coach Diaco will need this win because his next two games are against Army and Missouri.
TCU at Minnesota; Thursday, September 3
Both of these teams have the opportunity to prove something in this opening game between the Big 12 and Big Ten.
First of all, congratulations are in order for each of these teams. In this day and age of cream puff non-conference schedules and neutral site games, these teams rose above the fray. TCU plays Minnesota in Minnesota. Second, each of these teams has the chance to make statements and set the tone for 2015.
TCU probably feels a bit slighted for being left out of the playoff last year. If so, this is their opportunity to run over a quality team from a quality conference. Nothing would set the tone better for the Horned Frogs and their 2015 season.
As for Minnesota, they can lose and still set the tone for their season. The Gophers replace some key members of last year’s team. Coach Jerry Kill is as respected a coach as there is in the country and he has the opportunity to prove not only his coaching prowess but his recruiting prowess as well. If he has recruited well, replacing last season’s players should not be an issue.
If the Gophers win, the Big Ten as a whole just became much more interesting. And if they lose in competitive fashion then Wisconsin and Nebraska will have been put on alert in regards to the Big Ten West.
Texas at Notre Dame; Saturday, September 5
This is like Grandpa Simpson taking on Izzy Mandelbaum. Two well respected grandpas whose better days are arguably behind them yet they still think they can kick everyone’s ass.
Texas and Notre Dame have individually had some great seasons recently, but do you remember the last season that both Texas and Notre Dame were kings in the same season? You have to go all the way back to 1995. That was the year John Mackovic led the Longhorns to the Sugar Bowl and Lou Holtz led the Fighting Irish to the Orange Bowl.
This season, Brian Kelly’s Notre Dame team is considered to be a contender for the playoff. After all, they did finish 8-5 last year. As for Charlie Strong’s Texas team, they finished 6-7 last season, but expectations are still high in Austin. But then again, lots of things are high in Austin.
And to both Texas and Notre Dame, I have this to say: In the immortal words of Izzy Mandelbaum; It’s go time, butterbean.