Column: You’re missing out on college football

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LSU coach Ed Orgeron celebrates with his team following a 33-17 win over Miami in an NCAA college football game Sunday, Sept. 2, 2018, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

LSU coach Ed Orgeron celebrates with his team following a 33-17 win over Miami in an NCAA college football game Sunday, Sept. 2, 2018, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

There are no words for how much I wish Connecticut had a real, honest to goodness college football culture.

I’m talking an on-campus stadium, tailgating with canvasses strung between trees and food enough to feed a large army, shutting down the entire town on Saturdays just like what happens across the nation every fall.

If UConn had made a couple different decisions in the past, Connecticut could very well be a college football state, but since they didn’t, most only have a passing interest in the sport.
That’s why it’s up to people (idiots?) like me to watch way more football than is recommended by the medical community on Saturdays and report back to the rest of y’all with my findings. This way you can get back to worrying about Bill Belichick’s feud with Robert Kraft and Tom Brady and his doctor, who’s not a doctor, over how much longer the quarterback can play.

Here are three things that happened this past weekend in college football, and three games I’ll try and sell you on for the upcoming week:

Texas 29, Maryland 34
Don’t ever let anyone tell you that college football is better off as a sport when blue bloods like Miami, Florida State, Texas, Notre Dame, etc. are good. It’s a lie told by people nostalgic for a specific time in college football history and in reality the sport is much more entertaining when it’s all-out havoc wreaked by schools that don’t have a crack at success as often.

We got our fix of traditional powerhouses embarrassing themselves this weekend during two games in particular: Texas vs. Maryland and Miami vs. LSU.

After hosting Maryland last year and handing them one of their four wins on the season, Texas was gracious enough to return the favor on the road, losing to the Terps 34 to 29 on Saturday. This was a game where Texas took out a Colt .22 and fired it repeatedly at their own foot. The Longhorns had over 100 total penalty yards and three turnovers in the contest, making Maryland look like world-beaters in the process. All that happened, and head coach Tom Herman continued to insist that everything’s fine, and he just has more perspective than all of us. Good luck, Texas fans.

LSU 33, Miami 17
LSU vs. Miami was a case of narrative shaping how a game was discussed. Miami looked like the best team in the country for 10 games last year and brought the turnover chain phenomenon into our lives. It was like The U was back and dominant again, making everyone who grew up on 90’s football feel warm and fuzzy.

Meanwhile, LSU’s head coach Ed Orgeron has never been particularly kind to the media and got in a public spat with his offensive coordinator last year, not earning him any favors with people covering the games.

Combine that with pretty large question marks at the running back and quarterback positions, and it set up for very low expectations for the Tigers’ 2018 campaign.

This all set up for a game where No. 8 Miami was expected to roll. Most had Miami coming out of the ACC Coastal to challenge Clemson and Orgeron had the best odds in the SEC to be without a job by the end of the season.

Fast forward to Sunday, and the opposite happened. LSU looked terrifying on defense as usual in their 33-17 win, picking off Miami quarterback Malik Rosier thrice and sacked him four times, putting his face in the turf a few more times than that.

These week one games never mean much in the grand scheme of things, but it still was an important confidence-booster for an LSU team still looking for their place in the toughest division in college football.
 

Hawaii 59, Navy 41
Six hundred words into this column and I’ve already lied to you. College football is absolutely better when a handful of teams are good, and the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors are one of them without a doubt.

Hawaii was another school predicted to have a down year. They lost their leading passer, leading rusher, leading receiver and a large chunk of their defensive production to graduation or transfer, but head coach Nick Rolovich had the Rainbow Warriors rolling the first two weeks.

Rolovich brought back the run-and-shoot – an offense employing various route options and receiver motions – that Hawaii was famous for in their 2000s heyday, as well as new quarterback Cole McDonald, who has had a dynamite start to the 2018 season. McDonald has completed 72 percent of his passes on the season, throwing for 418 yards in a 43-34 win against Colorado State and 428 yards against Navy. He’s a white guy with dreads, he plays like his hair is on fire and he easily appointment viewing the rest of the season (or at least the highlights).

Now for the games worth watching next weekend:
 

Arizona at Houston, 12 p.m. on ABC
Despite his inauspicious start to the 2018 season against BYU, lightning rod Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate gets another chance to show off his talents against Ed Oliver and Houston. I’m also always a fan of non-conference games that actually take place on campus, as opposed to a neutral site.

Colorado at Nebraska, 3:30 p.m. on ABC
C’mon. One of the greatest rivalries in college football history broken up on account of realignment, and we get it on a Saturday afternoon with almost no competition. This matchup gave us my favorite play in college football history – Darian Hagan’s pitch to J.J. Flanigan – as well as one of the best uniform matchups in the sport.

This will also be our first look at new Nebraska head coach Scott Frost’s offense as he faces off against veteran Colorado quarterback Steven Montez, who was hyper-efficient last week against Colorado State, completing 22 of 25 passes for 338 yards and 4 TDs.

Clemson at Texas A&M, 7:00 p.m. on ESPN
This game was an intriguing matchup of ACC and SEC programs even before the Aggies gave Jimbo Fisher more money than God to come coach football at College Station, with high expectations soon following.

Clemson is the heavy road favorite here, but we will get to see the Tigers tested early on in their season against the most legit opponent they’ll face until Florida State in late October.


Luke Swanson is a staff writer for The Daily Campus.  He can be reached via email at luke.swanson@uconn.edu.

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