It’s been the offseason of offseasons for college football. Utterly plagued by scandals while producing virtually no positive press for the sport. I’m pretty sure Tim Tebow is still the most popular college football player if you ask the average jorts-wearing fan at a tailgate this Saturday morning.
But we can forget all the Miami/Oregon/LSU/Ohio State/Auburn stuff because there’s college football (the greatest American sport, if you ask me) starting Thursday night and lasting, well, not long enough if you’re a proponent of a playoff for a real NCAA national championship.
So I’m going to be all fired up Thursday night, computer in hand, ready to write so much for this site that my wife will consider divorcing me for the third fall in a row, and the first game I’ll get to take in like fresh air after an achingly long offseason will be…UNLV at Wisconsin. And that’s the best game of the night. What the f**k?
The damn NFL is kicking off the season with Saints-Packers next Thursday, and the best college football fans get – in the only week they have where they aren’t up against the NFL for ticket money – is UNLV at Wisconsin on national television. Hell I’m an Indiana alum who still inexplicably loves college football and yet Russell Wilson starting for the Badgers and whether Wisky will sledgehammer their way through the conference in the Sisyphean way they do or not is utterly, completely uninteresting.
So with that positivity in mind, let’s preview what might be the perfect, underwhelming opener to end this disaster of an offseason.
First, if I were an N.C. State fan, I would have a blood enemy in Russell Wilson for the rest of my life. All I know is that the guy who was N.C. State’s starting quarterback last year and threw for 3,563 yards when State mysteriously decided to run Texas Tech’s offense with a dual-threat quarterback, is now in Wisconsin. And he’s there after hemming and hawing enough about playing baseball full time or one more season of football that it prompted State head coach Tom O’Brien to nudge him out the door after a season in which he almost won ACC Offensive Player of the Year.
To just show up in Madison a couple weeks later all ready to play football and excited to make the conference title game would be enough to get me to root for an accidentally unblocked backup linebacker to go low and reverse the direction of one of Wilson’s knees just for that momentary YEAH F**K YOU WILSON. Then the guilt would set in and I’d realize he’s really hurt and this is an actual human being we’re talking about.
But that’s the kind of insane blood lust that only college football (or Raiders football) inspires and is what makes it greater than the NFL. It’s also the competitive origin of the scandals that are quickly destroying the sport too, but whatever man, that’s offseason talk.
To listen to the announcers, you’d think Wilson is going to make or break the Badgers, but they’re really going to make their *ahem* money with running backs Montee Ball and James White. The Badgers have even less of a reason to throw the ball than usual with a stable that talented. If they don’t have at least a few plays to get both guys on the field at the same time, then Wisky’s coaching staff isn’t as good as your average dorm-rat freshman playing NCAA Football 2012 in Madison at 4 a.m., running the option-run playbook in year 22 of his dynasty with North Texas.
Wisconsin’s defense is never BAD bad, but they’re definitely not as dominant as the offense is expected to be. And if history means anything, the Badgers’ defense will be very effective despite lacking the speed to keep up with some of the spread-y teams. The bad news there is that Wisconsin plays both Nebraska (with Taylor Martinez) and Michigan (with Denard Robinson), who burned them for 358 total yards and four touchdowns in a 48-28 Wisconsin win.
Does any of that matter against UNLV? Probably not. Head coach Bobby Hauck is decidedly not a spread-heavy guy, but even if he were, the Rebels don’t have the horses to get anywhere near an upset Thursday night.
If Wisconsin scores under 77 points, that would be the upset.