The Hybrid is a weekly preview of every Big Ten game, plus relevant or whimsy games from the national slate.
Every year, something new and horrible happens.
I've been following college football for decades, and it just seems like each season ends with a new and frightening twist on old misery. Sure, there are highs, at times -- Ricky Stanzi, I'm looking at you -- ...but how long before they're all negated?
When I try to describe this dreadful sport to an outsider, I usually talk about Oregon.
If you had to objectively root for a college football team, you'd want to pick Oregon. They're flashy, cool, recruit well, have piles of Nike money, great facilities... they're the best case scenario if you're starting from scratch.
"Has Oregon ever won the championship before?"
And that's kind of where it starts and stops. Even the best thing can't be the best in CFB.
And so we enter the 2015 season, with Urban "The Pizza Boy" Meyer reigning supreme over the college football landscape. They even have a stupid commercial with his stupid face and stupid head. Ohio State's schedule? Fluff. The Buckeye QBs? God lords. Weaknesses? Not many. This could really end up being a death march's death march.
What happened to the good times? The great times? I do not know, but they seem far away. Marcus is gone, Iowa can't sell tickets, and Nick Saban is still 5'6''. It's a real pit-in-the-stomach feeling.
And what makes it all even more disturbing? I'm at least halfway excited as you guys all are to run this damn thing back. Yet again.
But seriously, I have to ask: why do we do this to ourselves? If there was only some way to stay on this side of the door. Thursday afternoon. Before it all begins. The side where hope is. The side where Greg Davis isn't.
What I'm saying is, what if we're excited for high school when we shouldn't be?
Well, like it or not, it's time to make that leap (I don't like it).
North Carolina at South Carolina: One time, I went to an amusement park on the North Carolina-South Carolina border called Carowinds. They actually have the state line running through the park. This was me, almost the entire time (except in English):
Alcorn State at Georgia Tech (16): G-Tech is still doing the triple option and it's kind of funny, right?
Michigan at Utah: As a Michigan fan, I am in the minority when I say I am truly not excited for Jim Harbaugh. While I do think he will turn the team around at least in some capacity, I really wonder what the cost will be (hint: dignity). If you've followed college football even an ounce, you've probably been beaten to death with Harbaugh stories this summer. It sucks when coaches -- who have done nothing at their current program -- get deified and idol worshiped like this. I mean, have we learned anything from the JoePa experience? I remember taking in Penn State-Iowa at Happy Valley in 2007 and wondering what the hell this cult around me was all about. It felt more like "Weekend at Bernie's" than football.
Whenever I think I've started to even slightly soften on Jimmy, I pretend it's Urban Meyer doing the things Harbaugh is doing, and it leaves me re-disgusted. I mean, read this fucking story. If it's true, that's horrible and he's insane. If it's not, he's just a fraud. Either way, bad bad bad bad bad bad.
What's even better about this week is the emerging storyline about the Utah players being irked that the Harbaugh hype going into this game has taken attention away from their team:
"For me, really, it's getting annoying," Booker told AP. "They can have all the hype. We love being underdogs and proving teams wrong. Honestly, I feel like it's overhyped. I don't care if it was Michael Jackson or somebody. We're just going to go out there and play hard and not worry about any celebrity stuff."
First of all, Vegas has you as the favorites. Second of all, Michael Jackson?! We call him The Weeknd now.
In conclusion, only in my weird world of loving Michigan and Iowa could I have Jake Rudock and CJB in my life as simultaneous starters. Here we fucking go. Honestly, I kind of hope Michigan loses this week. The Harbaugh hype could careen off a cliff for a while, and they could maybe, eventually have a lukewarm 8-4 season where they lose to all their rivals... and all of this crap starts back up again next summer. The only way I will change course on any of this is if Harbaugh does something amazing to Urban Meyer. I'm talking, like, a dropkick to the face.
TCU (2) at Minnesota: Wait, TCU is No. 2 in the country? Over Alabama?
TCU is No. 2 in the country over Alabama!
Well... have fun, Minnesota.
Texas San Antonio at Arizona (22): /realizes my anti-idol worship coaching rant comes from a total place of hypocrisy when reflecting on nearly every word I've written about Rich Rodriguez over the years
Friday Night Lights
Michigan State (5) at Western Michigan: I really just want to use this game to figure out which Sparty wide receivers don't suck anymore.
Baylor (4) at SMU: It's very early in the season, so now is probably as safe a time as ever to sleep on the Baylor Bears.
Kent State at Illinois: So Mikey Dudek's ACL died in the off-season*, so we can't be as enthused as we could potentially be. Not at least until he comes back in October. Meanwhile, guess who's back from a broken leg? World Wide Wes!
(* - it's cool, I drank a 40)
Washington at Boise State (23): Can't tell if this game is cool or average.
Stanford (21) at Northwestern:
Norfolk State at Rutgers: Puke.
UPDATE: Oh boy.
Illinois State at Iowa: I play in a Big Ten only college fantasy football league (as bad as it sounds), and a few years ago, my buddy Tony drafted then Indiana QB Tre Roberson and named his team "Forgot About Tre". Always thought that was pretty great.
As for Iowa, I've outsourced my preview to my buddy/college roommate/Iowa season ticket holder, Ryan L.: "There will be lots of Bud Light Platinum, sweat, off tackle, groans, punts, more groans, and a close uninspiring win. (That's) Football is back, baby!"
I also got CJB in the fantasy league this year, so the pain will be two-fold.
Richmond at Maryland: Despite being a smaller school, are Richmond's games almost always more interesting (on paper) because they're named the Spiders and they have that cool spider logo?
I say yes.
Louisiana Monroe at Georgia (9): How many more years are we gonna do this? How many years can Georgia look like a legitimate contender on paper but still not come out of the conference? How many years can they trot out Mark Richt, only we can't totally tell if he's a talent wasting lame duck or possibly a Top 3 coach in the conference? I don't know, but Nick Chubb is a beast and I'd be perpetually confused if I were a Georgia fan.
Tennessee-Martin at Ole Miss (17): My lasting 2014 memory of Ole Miss -- outside of the glorious 'Bama upset -- was the heartbreaking injury to Laquon Treadwell in the Auburn game. He's, uh, OK now, right?
Just helped a frog cross Jackson— Laquon Treadwell (@SuccessfulQuon) August 31, 2015
Played a little Frogger.. on my walk home.. Lol— Laquon Treadwell (@SuccessfulQuon) August 31, 2015
Wofford at Clemson (12): Every year, we have our own personal Mouth of the South, Clemson Tom, preview the Climpson games.
Basically, this is going to be a sacrificial lamb to the football gods as Clemson tries to compete and win the national championship. Don't watch this game unless you like watching a great team defeat a horrible team. Plus Wofford runs the wing-t offense or something equivalent to its boredom.
Drink bourbon and raise hell.
This is gettin' me in the mood.
Virginia at UCLA (13): So let me get this straight: UCLA underachieved last year with NFL bound Brett Hundley at QB (seriously, they lost five game), but now they're supposed to be better without him? I don't know about this, man.
BYU at Nebraska: Husker hatin' Iowa fans, do you like "Touchdown" Tommy Armstrong as much as Nebraska fans don't like him?
Penn State at Temple:
Portland State at Washington State: In 2014, then Wazzu QB Connor Halliday said he wanted to limit his interceptions to "one or two" per game. We got a lot of mileage out of that, as we nicknamed him The Limiter, he set the single game NCAA passing yards record (in a heartbreaking loss), got hurt for the year, went undrafted, and then retired from football somewhat unexpectedly. This all happened in span of about nine months. In a way, Halliday is the perfect microcosm of Washington State itself. Sideshow sadness.
UTEP at Arkansas (18): Nuh uh.
Louisville at Auburn (6): Auburn at No. 6?! Who is even their quarterback?
Whoaaaaa, his name's Jeremy Johnson and he's 6'5'' and 229 pounds. This could be exciting. I'm gonna blindly assume he was a 5-star recruit.
Rivals has him as a 4-star, lists his height at 6'6'', and says he's pro style.
Now I'm just confused.
Southeast Missouri State at Missouri (24):
Southern Illinois at Indiana: Indiana QB Nate Sudfeld is back for another year of throwin' darts and breakin' hearts. He's the best.
Bowling Green at Tennessee (25): Hey, ranked! Good for you, Tennessee. The Vols remind me of Michigan in that they both won national titles in the late 90s and have basically been a parade of "RETURN TO GLORY" failure since then. Their new coach seems good though, and while you could argue No. 25 is 'barely ranked', ya gotta start somewhere.
Akron at Oklahoma (19): Nahhhhh.
Arizona State (15) at Texas A&M: Lots of quick hit Aggies talk to get through...
- Kevin Sumlin... not the life of the party?!
- We will probably be calling USC "Sark After Dark' for the rest of the season
McNeese State at LSU (14): Nope, not even a little.
Texas at Notre Dame (11): Sneaky Game of the Week candidate, but the Irish are 10 points favorites, so no. I blame you, Charlie Strong.
Related: after Notre Dame's 31-0 drubbing vs. Michigan in 2014, I had to pay up a bet to my ND Nation friend Z.W. Martin and take the ACT drunk with music blasting the entire time. I, uh, got an 18.
The good news is Michigan QB Devin Gardner had the same score. This year, though the M-ND game is no longer happening, we're going to come up with some other bet using margin of victory against each team's three toughest opponents. The loser will be wearing pleated khakis for 31 straight days.
Wisconsin (20) at Alabama (3): Game of the Week.
On the Alabama end...
On the Wisconsin end... as an emo ass musician who flinches way too easily, shies away from contact in football, treats the paint like it's quarantine in basketball, and is afraid of the ball in baseball, I of all people do not have the platform to call Sconnie QB1 Joel Stave soft. Shit, I even felt bad for him last year when he had the yips...
But then he has to go and be a bongo playing backup singer in some sort of band with his brother where they cover Taylor Swift.
What do you want me to do with this information and video documentation, Joel?!
If I don't have anything nice to say but want to say something anyway, how can I say it, Joel?!
Yeah, that's right, keep staring into the abyss...
...it will probably be a less frightening proposition than the Alabama defense.
Texas State at Florida State (10): I know that dearly departed Jameis Winston was a total lightening rod and his exit from FSU removes a lot of star power from the program, but am I wrong in thinking former Notre Dame QB Everett Golson recently being named their starter should be a much bigger story?
Eastern Washington at Oregon (7): Speaking of transferred-QB-turned-starters... say hello to Vernon Adams, world.
Andrew Sharp at Grantland covered all the ways this can go, and I am so hoping it's Scenario No. 4. A secret great part to all of this is Adams simply being on Oregon's campus at all was the result of one of the most anticipated math tests of all-time. You forget they're students first, people.
Northern Iowa at Iowa State: Why doesn't this game have a line?
Arkansas State at USC (8): SARKINSAS AFTER DARKINSAS.
Man, that was easy.
Purdue at Marshall:
Ohio State (1) at Virginia Tech: On one hand...
On the other hand...
Sure, Urban Meyer now makes $6.5 mil a year in real money, but can you even put a price on his 2012 family contract? pic.twitter.com/BGEBmJpnTy— Bobby L (@bobbystompy) April 13, 2015
I can always count on The Contract to pull me up when we bottom out.
A few tOSU predictions before the season begins:
- I say J.T. Barrett is the starter
- But Cardale plays
- But not in an "every other series" kind of way
- But probably more than a Chris Leak/Tim Tebow kind of way
- An even-healthier-than-last-year Ezekiel Elliott is the Big Ten's leading rusher
- Urban teabags Harbaugh
- The Buckeyes repeat as Big Ten Champs
- And.............. repeat as national champs
* * *
Wrapping It Up...
I'm going to take a shower a million times.
Bobby Loesch is a weekly contributor to Black Heart Gold Pants and a University of Iowa graduate who also roots for Michigan (I'm sorry) and Washington State (you don't care). Follow him on Twitter @bobbystompy or e-mail at bobbyloesch [at] gmail.com.