BLITZING SEVEN: Opening Weekend
On every Friday during the season Pigskin Stew brings you the feature "BLITZING SEVEN" which is an all-out Blitz committing everyone in the secondary to Man coverage. BLITZING SEVEN will feature Seven things for the upcoming weekend. This Week it is opening weekend (and yes there were 4 games played last weekend).
1. All Eyes on Texas: It’s been a brutal several days for the Texas Gulf Coast and Louisiana with Hurricane Harvey dumping rainfall in proportions that can only be described as Biblical. Even at games in parts of the state spared the flooding and devastation, the disaster will keep many fans from games at Texas, Texas Tech, SMU or Baylor. The thoughts of everyone in the college football world should pause for just a moment before kickoff to think about the people who’ve suffered from this natural disaster and face a rebuilding effort that will take years.
2. Alabama: No one has had a more interesting or challenging run of season openers of late than the Crimson Tide. This year as they face Florida State in Atlanta it marks the 8th time in 10 years they will open in a neutral site game against a quality opponent. They are 7-0 in the previous match-ups after wins over Clemson (2008), Virginia Tech (2009 & 13), Michigan (2012), West Virginia (2014), Wisconsin (2015) and USC (2016). The average margin of victory in those 7 games? 22.9 points. On Saturday night Florida State will have to bring their “A” Game (and by “A” game we mean Alabama-esque).
3. The Mid-American-Conference: Speaking of tough opening games this conference features 3 road games at Top 6 opponents as Western Michigan travels to #4 USC, Kent State goes to #5 Clemson and Akron will visit #6 Penn State. The unofficial MAC-Big Ten series also continues this year with 9 match-ups in the month of September. Big Ten fans beware, the MAC usually gets an upset or two over Big Ten teams.
4. Sunday Night Slate: Texas A&M travels to UCLA and Virginia Tech faces West Virginia at Fed Ex Field near Washington, DC. UCLA is a team to watch because of the return of quarterback Josh Rosen (injured last year) and a new offensive coordinator. If the offense can match the play of the Bruins’ underrated defense they could be a surprise team in the PAC-12. For West Virginia this is an important match-up for them and for their conference the Big 12. The Big 12 needs to win games like these to bolster the perception of their conference’s strength at season’s end.
5. ACC versus SEC: Last year the ACC was the better conference. Annually the measuring stick for everyone has been the SEC. The ACC gets two early tests to state their case. Certainly the aforementioned Alabama-Florida State game is a big one, but on Monday night Tennessee plays Georgia Tech in the same new Mercedes Benz Stadium in another ACC-SEC match-up.
6. A Mercedes-Benz Convertible: With the completion of the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, the German automaker (with substantial manufacturing operations in the US) now sponsors not one but two NFL Stadiums. This one has a retractable roof making this the new drop-top GT Roadster of stadiums. The Mercedes Superdome in New Orleans remains the large classic sedan. The Superdome has seen its share of epic Sugar Bowls, Super Bowls and notably served as an emergency shelter during Katrina in 2005. On Saturday Night it will serve as the emergency back-up site for the BYU/LSU matchup that was originally to be played in Houston.
7. Labor Day Weekend: College football fans can enjoy this weekend all to themselves. The NFL and fantasy football don’t start until next week so the spotlight is all on the college guys.