Not sure yet if this will be an ongoing, day long journal or just a shorter glimse into the day.
First, a little housekeeping, for Pickem Dash pickers, here is the card that will be updated all day:
This is unequivocally the most exciting time of year for NCAA Football. The only thing that might compare is the opening week (after what seems like 275 days of NO football). But that week, we are treated to awesome matchups like Texas Tech vs. North Dakota, Kansas vs. N. Colorado, and Northwestern vs. Towson.
The year end matchups are also a nominee, but it gets really regional. Texas vs. Texas A&M is THE game for me. But watching South Carolina vs. Clemson, USC vs. UCLA, or the Civil War in Oregon is nothing more than a matchup of borderline ranked teams here.
Which brings me to today. Just past the midpoint of the season for most teams. Almost every conference race is far from over, much to debate about who will beat who down the stretch. There are no more Miami vs. Florida A&M, Florida vs. Troy, or Tennesseee vs. W. Kentucky matchups. It's all big conference games and today is going to shake down literally every conference race.
The weather feels like football. There are the typical 6-8 undefeated teams (including my Longhorns) in the BCS Title mix. There are probably 100 out of 120 teams that have not been eliminated from Bowl contention yet (sorry Rice).
And I'm lucky enough to have my schedule cleared. All I need to do is relax, drink some adult beverages, and watch it all unfold.
So how will it unfold? In a few minutes I'll pop ESPN Gameday on. It's a little slow and long to sit and stare for 2 hours, but having it on in the background while I make some breakfast or read the paper is a good start. I can tune in and tune out as the games they talk about catch my fancy.
Then kickoffs at 11 CDT. The early slate looks like:
Ole Miss at Auburn (SEC)
Indiana at Iowa (ESPN)
Purdue at Wisconsin (ESPN2)
Cincinnati at Syracuse (ESPNU)
Nebraska at Baylor 11:30 (Vs)
Ole Miss game the clear front runner. The Iowa and Cincy are must watches if an upset brews. The last one really has regional interest only. But I do live in that region, so I might watch it should the first game get lopsided and it stay close.
Southern Miss at Houston (CSS) at noon then joins in the fun. Exciting for offense and watching Keenum. CSS is a Comcast Sports Channel, FYI, probably not available to those, say, on Dish Network.
At 12:30 CDT we get Missouri and Colorado (FSN). Little interest there, as Texas has defeated both teams I've seen them both and neither are good. Colorado needs some wins to make a Bowl game.
All of the above a nice appetizer. If we're lucky, one or two will be close and come down to the end. Otherwise, it's just what it is, a start.
At 2:30 CDT, the first main course arrives:
Florida vs. Georgia - Jax (CBS)
Kansas at Texas Tech (ABC)
Temple at Navy (CBSCS)
Miami at Wake Forest (ESPN2)
C. Michigan at BC (ESPNU)
UNLV at TCU (3p CBSCS)
W. Kentucky at North Texas (CSS)
An hour later, Penn State at Northwestern (ESPN)
Not sure why my paper lists two games on CBSCS.
If Florida/Georgia isn't close, this gets light in a hurry. C. Michigan is a sleeper game here, evenly matched and the Chippewas are 7-1. Kansas at Tech has some excitement potential but the way these formerly ranked teams have performed, it's more of a battle for the Alamo Bowl vs. the Houston Bowl.
Finally in the evening slots (6p - 7p CDT kickoffs) we have
E. Michigan at Arkansas (ESPNU, hey, who scheduled this one and who decided to put it on TV?)
Sam Houston State at Northwestern State (KTBU Ch 55)
Notre Dame at Washington State - SA (NBC)
New Mexico at San Diego State (CBSCS)
South Carolina at Tennessee (ESPN)
Georgia Tech at Vandy (CSS)
Texas at Oklahoma State (ABC or ESPN2)
USC at Oregon (ESPN2 or ABC)
Clear winner here. Sam Houston State. Will they bounce back from their humiliating defeat to SFA? Can they creep closer to the playoffs. Wait. Playoffs? Oh, I'm in the wrong division.
Obviously the last two games are the main course here. College Gameday will be in Eugene. Texas and OSU always play a wild one. And it really is Texas' last big hurdle, they'll be 2 TD or more favorites the rest of the way.
Well here we go, its 9a CDT and Gameday has kicked off! And it's raining in Eugune. Shocker!
More thoughts to be posted as the situation dictates.
9:50 a.m. - Making a "Gameday" audible and flipping over to "Talkin' Football - SEC Edition" on CSS here in 10 minutes. A panel of Bob Neal, Tony Barnhart, Brady Ackerman, and Mark Schlebach will give the rundown on SEC games. I usually watch their Sunday night wrap up show, if this is close to that quality it'll be an hour well spent.
10:10 a.m. - Checking down to the third receiver, at 10:30 I plan to switch over to FSN for the Big XII pregame show. Nothing on the previous shows has led me to change, just looking for more of a graze of options rather than one main course of one conference. Schlebach missing from Talkin' Football is a hit (stuck in Albequerque apparently...and that was when the show was taped Thursday I believe).
11:06 a.m. - Pregame shows each deliver in their own way
Strengths: breadth of games covered, production quality, on campus format
Weaknesses: slow moving, predictable human interest stories, lack of depth in analysis
Talkin' Football - SEC edition
Strengths: panel's knowledge, viewer email abundance, panel's chemistry
Weaknesses: little game footage, too much Tebow, slow moving
Big XII showcase
Strengths: Good video footage, panel's analysis, Hooters girls fielding question of the week
Weaknesses: Too many commercials, panel is not in same studio, no big names on panel.
All in all I felt like I got all I needed for pregame setup, with opinions from a dozen analysts. Recommend this surfing approach for the future.
1:00 - Iowa upset brewing is clearly the most interesting development so far today. Auburn/Ole Miss living up to its billing competetive-wise. Sue Ellen (I.e. Mrs. Ewing) is trying to squash the fun, got some text from an old HS friend who wants to meet up for UT game, I vetoed that but the compromise was they might come here to watch. I'm not one to visit guests during Horns games, decent chance the guy won't want to come by.
1:20 - crazy Iowa/Indiana game. Felt that last overturn should have been upheld. Who would have given a chance for this game to have so many big plays? Now another INT!
1:35 - Awesome, we will have visitors during UT game. Lifetime goal of watching ncaa games all day with no event/activity remains unfulfilled. It's always something.
2:15 - Indiana implosion is both disappointing and predictable. Iowa might actually cover the 17.5. Baylor not going away on Vs.
2:30 - Iowa covers. Oddsmakers that put that game at 17.5 are geniuses. Baylor squanders FG opp.
4:00 - a moment to reflect on the Houston Chronicle TV listing inaccuracy. HC listed none of the three CSS games (which includes the hometown Cougars). HC didn't list the ESPN2 game at 11a (Wisconsin vs. Purdue). Mislisted TCU game on CBSCS instead of Vs. Also told me Miami game was on ESPN2 right now but it's Michigan. It's unclear whether OU is on later, FSH has Rockets, sometimes they move a big preempted game to a fallow Comcast channel (like 77) in cases like this. I need a little more from my delivered media, for which I am one of the few who still pay.
4:15 - Tough day picking games. Houston, Iowa, and Ohio State all finishing within a point of Pickem Dash and Yahoo contests. An Ohio State line at 44 and having hit 45, with Iowa coming from 10 behind to win by 18 on a 17.5. Houston scoring in the last minute to win by 7 vs. the 6.5 line. There really is no way bettors can sit at home and make any money on crapshoots like that.
4:45 Florida pouring it on, very impressive. Penn State and Texas Tech games are primary watching at this point. A couple of dings to CBS coverage, mislisted Florida as leading overall series before kickoff and Vern mentioned Tebow as playing for Georgia once. Tech putting in Potts, he's second in the NCAA in YPG in 2009 behind fellow SWC QB Keenum.
5:00 - Illinois leading Michigan in a big comeback "sleeper" game. Georgia not giving up cuts it to 14.
6:00 - Florida dominates. They may clinch the SEC east tonight. In a playoff system it would make sense to rest Tebow until December. Or play him and answer tough questions as to why he got a 2nd concussion against Vandy in a meaningless game.
6:15 - Viewers note, indeed OU is on Comcast channel 76 (I was off by 1). Already up 7-0, I have a strange instinct to cheer FOR OU after we beat them. I do not before the OU game, nor do I ever cheer for A&M.
1:00 am - Had company as previously discussed. It all works out. Horns get past last hurdle besides A&M. Oregon sticking it to USC really put a stamp on their claim to the Pac 10. The OU scare surprised me late.
Great day of fun, can't complain about my lot in life.