The Hybrid is a weekly preview of every Big Ten game, as well as relevant or whimsy games from the national slate.
Thank you to Patrick, Adam, Ross, and the rest of the fine folks at BHGP for helping me bring back The Hybrid for another year. This column has previously run at ChicagoSide (HE GONE), SB Nation Chicago (HE...kinda gone), and Tremendous Upside Potential. If you like cool QBs, Big Ten skepticism, hating Jim Delany and Urban Meyer, begrudging and bitter respect for the SEC, that one Mike Gundy presser, Jay-Z, and/or bottoming out on a weekly or bi-monthly basis, then this column is probably for you. In the past, we've run through the Top 25 before getting to the week's upcoming games, but we're gonna try to keep it leaner this year and simply stick to the game previews.
Without further intro, let's do this. Say it with me: COLLEGE FOOTBALL BACK.
Texas A&M (21) at South Carolina (9): Johnny Football! Clowney! Neither of them! Damn it! South Carolina seems to have this weird monopoly on the Week 1 Thursday night kickoff. It's always a conference game, and it's almost always never memorable. How entrenched in this slot are they? Is this like the Cowboys and Lions on Thanksgiving? A&M is breaking in new QB Kenny Hill, and as long as he's exactly as exciting as JFF, I'll be pretty happy.
Eastern Illinois at Minnesota: Minnesota played Western Illinois in Week 3 last season... and they were losing after the first quarter. They were able to build off a one point halftime lead to coast to a 29-12 win. So, uh, good job.
Boise State at Ole Miss (18): Boise State losing national relevance really was one of the worst things to ever happen to us. Imagine if this game had cachet? The little Broncos that could vs. the big, bad SEC! As it stands, Ole Miss is a double digit favorite.
Rutgers at Washington State: Traditional Big Ten power Rutgers heads west to take on the Cougs. Mike Leach seems to be turning a corner at Wazzu after getting them back into a bowl game last year. Starting QB Connor Halliday, what say you?
"The biggest deal is limiting (interceptions) to one or two times a game."
And here I was, naively thinking zero was the target.
Friday Night Lights
Jacksonville State at Michigan State (8): Sparty eases into the season before hopefully finding a Eugene funeral waiting for them in Week 2.
Penn State vs. UCF: Why is Penn State playing UCF in Ireland? I don't know, but the good news is "some" locals are upset. Random woman, your thoughts?
"I don't know if Irish people understand the game," said Joan Martin, a local woman who attended UCF's practice Wednesday. "But Gaelic people love to see them walking around the street. We know how much the game means to the people in the states."
"I don't know if Americans understand Gaelic Football, but god damn it, we love watching those athletes walking around on the street."
Random woman's 80-year-old husband, your thoughts?
"You can't forget about the cheerleaders," [Richard Martin] joked.
Appalachian State at Michigan: Though I'm an Iowa graduate, I grew up a Michigan fan, so 2007's The Horror will always hold a special place in my heart as probably thee worst sporting day of my life. I was at Soldier Field, about to take in a real boring Iowa-NIU afternoon game. When the final score came in, so many friends txt'd and called me to talk shit, my phone ran out of batteries. I don't remember much after that, outside of drinking and wandering around Chicago as the highlights played and played for hours and hours and hours. In conclusion, I hate Michigan AD Dave Brandon for scheduling this game again. Calling him tone deaf is an insult to every other tone deaf person in the world (who isn't Jim Delany). One thing that did make me happy is Michigan fans are calling it The Horror II, which is pretty funny.
Ohio State (5) at Navy: Why is Braxton Miller dead? Why is tOSU playing at Navy? Also, if they roll in this game, do they still drop in the polls solely because Miller got hurt in the preseason? Unfair, but I hope so!
UCLA (7) at Virginia: Ehhhhhhhh. When it comes to hyping up a game, included Virginia is like an anti-inspirational ingredient. Also, is this the most buzz we've seen for UCLA football in over a decade? Wellllll, besides that one time.
North Dakota State at Iowa State: North Dakota State went 15-0 last year and won the FCS national championship, 35-7. I'm less impressed by that final score than I am by the 15-0 itself. I mean, that could have been against a schedule of *children*, and it still looks incredible as a college team's overall record.
Indiana State at Indiana: Tre Roberson is gone, so this is now fully QB Nate Sudfeld's team. As someone who plays in a Big Ten-only fantasy league (/shudder), this guy was beyond disruptive in 2013. With all the snaps coming his way, there's no telling what kind of ceiling the Hoosiers fast-paced offense can hit. Enter: the Hoosier defense.
Northern Iowa at Iowa: I'm not sure I've ever seen such a mixture of "Iowa just might be my playoffs darkhorse!" with "Iowa really could lose to UNI!" Like, pick one, dudes. I'm choosing not to be overly worried for this game and also not being remotely opposed to doing a "LALALALALA"/hands covering the ears thing once compelling UNI arguments are presented.
Western Michigan at Purdue: Ahh, our first Lana game of the year.
Youngstown State at Illinois: I have a weird affection for this game solely because Illinois is starting true freshman Mikey Dudek at WR. He helped propel my high school (Neuqua Valley, Ill.) to deep state playoff runs in 2012 and 2013, and the young man has got game. I can only describe it as Calvin Johnson trapped in Wes Welker's body. Yes, I am beyond biased.
West Virginia at Alabama (2): Sabes loses a three-year starter at QB and a million other blue chippers, and he still starts the year ranked No. 2. That's about as much respect as one can get.
Rice at Notre Dame (17): I almost accidentally said this sentence with a fully straight face: "Notre Dame seems like their preseason ranking is way too high!" Yes, welcome to college football, Bob.
Florida Atlantic at Nebraska (22): RIP, T-Magic.
California at Northwestern: I find I always have to look up Cal spreads more than almost any other team, because I never seem to know anything about them. If you cared at all, jNW is favored by 10.5; so this is probably a deceptively bad game.
James Madison at Maryland: Maryland's first game in the Big Ten, and I'm already Zzz's with their schedule. It does kind of have a classy, East coast feel to it, though. I'm almost kind of used to Rutgers in the conference since they're so dull and boring, but Maryland has such an East coast feel to them. Really jarring, at least right now.
Arkansas at Auburn (6): In 2014, Arkansas plays at Auburn, vs. Alabama (2), vs. Georgia (11), vs. LSU (13), vs. Ole Miss (18), and at Mizzou (24). Have fun!
Clemson (16) at Georgia (12): Game of the Week. Longtime readers of The Hybrid already know him, but to the unintroduced... just like the last few years, we'll be having Clemson super fan, Clemson Tom, writing our Tigers previews in the 2014 season. Week 1 finds him hyped for the Georgia game
I know what you're saying, Clemson always schedules a weak opponent for Week 1. What can I say? We need to get some more practice in before we take on real teams like Florida State.
Historically, the Georgia-Clemson rivalry was one of the most exciting rivalries until Georgia decided to completely give up on football in 1983.
Either way, this weekend will definitely produce another win for my Tigers. We will have a new quarterback, Cole Stoudt -- ask your girlfriend, I guarantee you she knows who he is. Receiving corps-wise, we return a few familiar names, as well as lot of new faces which you will know by the end of the season. We basically just keep turning out top-rated wide receivers.
Only going to say about our defense: the '85 Bears are scared of them. True story. Our defense is so mean, it makes medicine sick. I won't go off on a tangent on their names and statistics...I don't have enough time in the year.
Georgia, on the other hand, has a quarterback named Hutson Mason. I cannot make up that name if I wanted to. It sounds like a high-end shoe store. "Hey sweetheart, the dog chewed up your new Hutson Mason flats." See what I mean?
Just prepare to watch the Clemson Tigers once again beat the Georgia Bulldogs. I even helped the maintenance team cleanup their stadium a little bit...
He then attached this video:
Football is definitely back.
Fresno State at USC (15): It's funny, post-Manti Te'o, I remember a lot of people -- myself included -- swearing they'd never believe another too-good-to-be-true human interest story again. But when USC CB Josh Shaw told everyone he sprained his ankles jumping out a building to save his drowning cousin, I took the story hook, line, and sinker. I have no idea why. We're supposed to be jaded now! Not believe in, you know, anything. I guess optimism reigns supreme; at least in the summer. Though we still don't know exactly what happened to cause Shaw's ankle injuries, Drew Magary has a theory:
I'll tell you how Josh Shaw broke both ankles: THE BIEBER CROSSOVER— Drew Magary (@drewmagary) August 28, 2014
That's gotta be it.
Florida State (1) vs. Oklahoma State (at Jerry World): Bronze medalist for Game of the Week. How good is Okie State this year? Because Vegas has them as 17.5 'dogs. Also, where are we at with Jameis Winston? We... hate him, right?
Wisconsin (13) vs. LSU (14): Look at you, Sconnie. Scheduling a real Week 1 game and everything. Hashtag proud. This is our silver medalist for Game of the Week. The game's being played in Houston and LSU is a five point favorite. I'm most interested in seeing how Wisco RB Melvin Gordon can run against what's probably going to be another great LSU defense. Also, LSU true freshman RB Leonard Fournette has been compared to Adrian Peterson, and my Tigers friend Zach hyped the hell out of him already, so, for one time in my life, I'm actually excited to watch running games instead of QBs.
South Dakota at Oregon (3): Hi, Ducks. Love u. Miss u.
Washington (25) at Hawaii: Meh.
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Wrapping It Up...
If anyone needs me, I'll be sending bad grammar tweets at Dave Brandon.
Bobby Loesch is a weekly contributor to Black Heart Gold Pants. He is a University of Iowa graduate who also has Michigan fandom (sorry!) and Washington State ties (you don't care). Follow him on Twitter @bobbystompy.