Let the databases reflect that the first college football touchdown registered in The Cockamamie Year of Our Lord 2020 came on the first play from scrimmage of the season, a nifty 75 yard scamper by a true freshman running back, one C.J. Evans Jr..
Which early pay dirt tally inured to the benefit of Austin Peay State University, which august academic institution shall ever and always be best known as the home of the greatest cheer in the history of any sport, “Fly’s open/ Let’s go Peay.”
In a harbinger of circumstances to come, should this season carry on, Peay’s three deep phalanx of long snappers DNP, one must assume because of, you understand, positive tests for You Know What. Sooooo, after a couple of botched punt situations due to errant snaps, they took to having their QB sorta quick kick Aussie footie style.
Unfortunately, the Governors from the Volunteer state fell 24-17 in the last minute to the University of Central Arkansas Bears from the Land o’ Woo Pig Sooey, in a battle waged in the Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Alabama.
To which Yellowhammer State, UCA shall be returning Thursday evening in the season’s second pigskin tussle. Meaning that university will have played twice before Labor Day, while the schools of the Big Ten are still trying to figure it out, while ignoring You Know Who’s phone calls, and hiring barristers at the bar to fend off lawsuits from disgruntled student athletes who wish to compete on the gridiron now.
The first official referee’s call of the season came during that opening TD celebration, when a zebra, unaware that his mic was on, was heard to utter, “God Damn Mask!”
It’s only the beginning.
Zaniness shall ensue.
Fasten your chinstraps, ye football fanatics, this season most of us figured would never come about is destined to be the wackiest since 1984, a campaign so off the charts that the pigskin progeny of religious zealot Joseph Smith claimed the national title, after a stirring a campaign with nary a victory over a ranked team, and a one TD escape over 6-6 Michigan in the Holiday Bowl.
At this juncture, I would love to boast as I deceptively have done for years, that future winners of games of significance shall be revealed with dead certainty on a weekly basis in this very space.
I. Haven’t. A. Clue . . . what the next days, weeks or months will bring.
As a matter of fact, in the interest of transparency and accuracy, I’m starting the season, with one already on the right hand side. I didn’t think there would be any games contested at all, so I’m 0-1.
But, I forge ahead. Here goes with the gridiron classics, coming up this opening holiday weekend:
South Alabama @ Southern Mississippi. Nothing heralds the opening night of college football like a battle on CBS Sports Network — look it up on your service, it’s somewhere in the upper numbers — between Southern MIss of the CUSA West and South Alabama of the Sun Belt West. Does it tell you anything about the Jaguars that they’re the 3d from last team at the back of Phil Steele? Yes, yes, it does. Last year’s highlight was they outgained Nebraska in the opener of a 2-10 season, but still lost hugely. It went downhill from there. They will neither outgain nor outscore the Golden Eagles on the home turf of M. M. Roberts Stadium in Hattiesburg.
Southern Methodist @ Texas State. Meanwhile, the Bobcats from the Lone Star State — San Marcos to be exact — are the very last team before the back cover diagnosed by guru Steele. Do you think I’m relying a lot on Phil this opening week? Guilty. Now you know why I was so out of sorts when I learned, after about fifteen calls and emails, that my yearbook really hadn’t been sent, when their records showed it had. Besides Texas State sounds like some fictitious school in a B movie, starring Burt Reynolds as the QB. SMU is among the AAC upper echelon of schools. They are looking for props and break out seasons in this time of more TV exposure. Will Texas State’s five spring practices before shutdown help them? Uh no, Mustangs gallop away to victory, with
Texas QB transfer Shane Buechele on the whip.
Arkansas State @ Memphis State. Trivia: Almost new Memphis State coach Ryan Silverfield holds the distinction of being the first mentor ever to debut in a New Year’s Day bowl game. Which was a two TD L to Penn State. Mike Norvell obviously couldn’t wait to get to Tallahassee. Along with Cincy and Central Florida, the Tigers make their league among the most intriguing this season. Arkansas State is not among the contenders in the nation’s worst FBS league, though Logan Bonner’s not a bad signal caller. There’s a buzz, of sorts, that the Red Wolves might be poised to surprise on Beale Street. But, it says here, they gonna get crushed in the eery confines of the Liberty Bowl, even if the Tigers are without the services of their ace RB.
Yes, I know what you’re thinking. All the previous games are essentially walkovers. And, you are right. But, ya know what, there aren’t but five games of even minimal consequence this opening weekend, and five’s the number I predict each week. Besides, remember, I’m starting out already 0-1.
The next two should actually be worth watching. Which is not to say that some obsessed chinstrappers won’t be tuned in to all.
Middle Tennessee @ Army. Jeff Monken’s Long Gray Line fell back to the norm last year at 5-8, after 10-3 and 11-2 campaigns and three consecutive Ws over their arch rivals. But hopes are high in West Point, even though there’s a lack of experience. But hosting the CUSA contender Blue Raiders in a last minute COVID-caused made-for-TV tussle is probably more daunting than the original now canceled opener with Bucknell. Middle also had some slippage last campaign, yet will be tough. Tough enough for the upset over the Black Knights on the banks of the Hudson.
Brigham Young @ Navy. You remember Catholics vs. Convicts, right? What we have here as the Labor Day holiday evening capper is Mormons vs. Middies. Brigham Young was the guy next in line when Mormon founder Smith and his brother were murdered by a mob while awaiting trial for treason in Illinois. Which has nothing to do with the game, but merely included to fill space. Not only will the Cougars carry any lingering bad karma into Annapolis from the founding days of the church, but they’ll be facing a rising Navy D, coached by Brian Newberry, who eschewed joining Mike Leach in Starkville to stay on Ken Niumatalolo’s staff. (Yes, I had to look up the spelling.) Navy’s another one of those AAC contenders, and will continue its Top 25 form from last year in this one.
— c d kaplan