This year’s Week 1 provides the single greatest opening week of games in the history of the sport. From showdowns like USC-Alabama and Florida State-Ole Miss to the glorified scrimmages between Michigan State-Furman and SE Louisiana-Oklahoma State, it is best to follow our advice: “don’t lose.”
Because of the quality of the slate of games, it highlights the most flavorful aspect of this grand ol’ game. The regular season is a time for men, not for the faint of heart.
Am I overstating? No. It’s the only sport on the planet where what you do in Week 1 is important in determining who qualifies for the championship round. This has been true since the inception of the BCS and the intensity has been ratcheted up with the College Football Playoff.
Here’s the deal. The playoff committee’s job starts Labor Day weekend. For the perceived contenders with expectations of the CFP, they’d better bring it right away. To the teams starting the season with modest expectations but want to shock the world? Their road to Tampa kicks off in Week 1. There is little room for error in college football and that is a great thing.
If Oklahoma falls to Houston on Sept. 3, they’re on the brink. Can’t lose again. If Houston wants consideration for a playoff spot, the Coogs must beat OU and Louisville and everyone else on their slate.
If Wisconsin beats LSU at Lambeau Field, the expectations and possibilities open up. If Tennessee wants this to be a special season, it can’t lose to Appalachian State.
We may disagree on many points. For instance, I believe that college football produces the best regular season of any organized sport in the world. I also believe that staying at four teams is critical for the sport’s long-term, year-round health.
The people that disagree with me on those issues have a right to their opinion, even if they’re wrong. Those folks are the guy who attends the Rose Parade but spends his whole time checking Twitter so people at home can tell him how beautiful it is. They’d see it, too, if they’d just bother to look up.
The nature of the sport is very clear. If a team plays a good schedule from top to bottom and wins them all, they’ll be there. If they lose one, they’re taking their chances. Lose two and the stars will need to align. And, if you go out of your way to take the path of least resistance to earn a spot in the playoff, do it at your own risk (we’re all looking at you, Baylor 2014).
Most fans will enjoy the games this weekend because football is back. But, it’s more than that, much more. Stuff gets real this week, people.
For college football to be enjoyed to its fullest, it’s a must to recognize the significance of each week. Because what happens Labor Day Weekend will impact who the selection committee chooses in December.