Remember the scene from “The Jerk,” where Steve Martin’s character gets giddy when the phone books are delivered. “The new phone books are here! The new phone books are here!” That’s how I feel today. “The new football games are here! The new football games are here!”
This is a great day. Opening day, after a long, hot summer (OK, so only August was hot). Baseball fans, of which I used to be one, celebrate Opening Day with a rare revelry. But the first baseball games are not an oasis. They arrive the first of April; American sports fans don’t need juiced up on April 1, they need a breather after all the excitement of March Madness. Football provides an oasis. Outside of an occasional big golf tournament, the summer provides few sport thrills. Football is much-needed tonic.
And today ends the drought. A few decent games tonight, a full slate Saturday, two games Monday. Hey, why no Sunday games? Since the NFL gave up Labor Day weekend, colleges have spilled over onto Labor Day Sunday. But not this year.
Let’s take a look at the best games:
Tulsa at Louisiana-Monroe (tonight): All summer, I thought this was a TU walkover. Then I realized how competitive Charlie Weatherbie’s team was last season. Despite a 4-8 record, they played Kansas and Kentucky within two points. This will be a dogfight, but let’s go TU 24-20.
LSU at Mississippi State (tonight): Sylvester Croom eventually will have to start winning or start looking for a new job. This is Year No. 4, and while I wish the Bulldogs would give LSU a game, it’s not going to happen. LSU 35-9.
Utah at Oregon State (tonight): This game isn’t on television. Which is a bummer. It’s on Fox Sports Northwest. We get Fox Sports Southwest, which means Rangers-White Sox. Ridiculous. Two last-place teams in a meaningless game, when we could be watching Mike Riley’s two-quarterback system. Oregon State 28-14.
Washington at Syracuse (Friday): Tyrone Willingham, with help from Bob Simmons, is getting it done in Washington. Greg Robinson, hired away from Texas after the 2004 season, is not getting it done in Syracuse. This is a big game for the Orange. Syracuse 19-17.
Colorado State at Colorado: Hard to believe the Buffs could win only two games last season. But they better win this one. Arizona State, Florida State and Oklahoma still awaits CU before October. Colorado State 20-17.
Washington State at Wisconsin: Barry Alvarez is gone, but his building job in Madison remains remarkable. Some are picking Wisconsin to win the Big Ten. Wisconsin 24-8.
UCLA at Stanford: The Jim Harbaugh Era begins at Stanford, with a defeat. UCLA 29-12.
Nevada at Nebraska: The Wolf Pack is not half bad. But I think Nebraska is going to be pretty good. Huskers 38-13.
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