Um, not exactly.
The 14-weekend roller-coaster ride known as college football’s regular season hits full speed Saturday. There are bound to be chills, spills, predictable bumps and unexpected bruises. Hang on tight as we examine five subplots that you’ll be following.
Yes, there are actually games.
The offseason, mercifully, has ended.
College football kickoff
When it's all said and done, look for Nick Saban and Alabama to finish on top.
There was Jim Tressel’s misdirection play at Ohio State, but looking the other way cost him his job. The Buckeyes were tattooed with four suspended players, a star-crossed quarterback now in the NFL and long-term uncertainty.
North Carolina, dealing with an NCAA investigation into improper benefits and academic misconduct, fired coach Butch Davis.
LSU and Oregon were linked to NCAA investigation involving use of a recruiting service, which might have been steering players to hand-picked programs. LSU is facing an indefinite suspension for quarterback Jordan Jefferson, who was allegedly involved in a bar fight, and the loss of starting receiver Russell Shepherd, out due to an unrelated NCAA violation.
“This is not how I intended to spend my preseason,’’ LSU coach Les Miles said amid the distractions. “I wanted to spend it much more on football.’’
And let’s not forget that as the confetti rained down upon the Auburn Tigers, last season’s national champion, there were (and still are) lingering NCAA questions about the recruitment of its star quarterback, Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton.
Now there are games.
They won’t make the troubles go away.
But on-field action will be a welcome respite from the most troubled offseason in memory.
2. For openers, the main course
Let’s see, there’s Akron-Ohio State, Indiana State-Penn State, Tennessee Tech-Iowa, Kent State-Alabama, Chattanooga-Nebraska, San Jose State-Stanford, Missouri State-Arkansas and Florida Atlantic-Florida.
Sort through that menu if you like.
Also, there’s LSU-Oregon at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Pick out the one that doesn’t belong.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
LSU-Oregon gives us the main course … no waiting!
It’s sounds like a BCS bowl, doesn’t it? It’s two programs with designs on the national championship. It’s SEC vs. Pac-12. It’s a prime-time delight. There’s off-field drama (LSU's Jefferson is indefinitely suspended; Oregon superstar cornerback Cliff Harris won’t play after failing to adhere to the speed limit — just slightly) and on-field suspense (can Oregon coach Chip Kelly fare better against this SEC defense?).
Both teams can move on and capture their conference titles, but a loss will muddy national-championship aspirations a bit.
Hopefully, this game lives up to its billing. Going in, the matchup seems delicious.
3. Georgia on our mind
So how will the Georgia Bulldogs (6-7 last season) respond in their opener against Boise State at Atlanta’s Georgia Dome?
The Mark Richt-on-the-hot-seat talk has had an entire offseason to percolate. The Bulldogs played into everyone’s hands by rolling out a dreadful Liberty Bowl effort against Central Florida, losing 10-6 and finishing with Georgia’s first losing record since Jim Donnan’s initial season in 1996.
Georgia has won 21 of its past 22 openers against non-conference opponents (the only loss was in 2009 at No. 9 Oklahoma State), and that includes a 48-13 victory against Boise State to kick off the 2005 season.
It’s easy to give the quarterback nod in this one to Boise State’s Kellen Moore, a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate.
But Georgia sophomore Aaron Murray should not be overlooked. In his freshman season, Murray impressed everyone with his savvy and toughness. Now the Bulldogs are praising his leadership skills. It’s Murray’s team, and the Bulldogs will go as far as he takes them.
It says here that Murray will outgun Moore — and Georgia will finally be able to exhale. Not for long, though. On Sept. 10, the Bulldogs entertain South Carolina, practically everyone’s pick to capture the SEC East. By defeating the Broncos, Georgia can set a proper tone for the season, which might get its true direction after the second week.
CFT: Syracuse confirmed that former quarterbacks Donovan McNabb and Don McPherson will have their respective jerseys raised to the Carrier Dome roof this year.
CFT: Senior receiver Wilson Van Hooser is transferring from Tulane to help care for his ailing mother.
Video: Football from NBC Sports
Saban hurt by colleagues' comments?
DPS: Alabama head coach Nick Saban was recently trash-talked by colleagues, and he tells Dan Patrick what he think of these comments.
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