And so it begins. This is the first chapter of my season-long foray into the college football blogosphere, hoping to prove my worthiness to stand in the same room with my old buddy Bruce Feldman and talk a little campus pigskin with you each week.
Every Monday this autumn I'll bring you Three Downs & Punt. It'll be three quick looks back (this week forward) at stuff you might have missed during the weekend that just ended, and it will look ahead to the week that's on the way. As for the punt, well, we'll see.
Without any further ado, adieu, ahem please jingle your keys in the air as I kick this off.
You can have Tech versus Boise, my eye's on
The season's first two weekends are packed with more East-West grudge matches than the 1995 Source Awards. Cincinnati travels to Fresno State, Oregon State visits TCU and Oregon goes to Tennessee. (No, I'm not counting San Jose State's trip to Alabama.)
The game that's receiving the most hype, and rightly so, is the Sept. 6 matchup between preseason top-10ers Boise State and Virginia Tech (live on ESPN and ESPN3). But the game that I believe has the potential to tell us more about the 2010 landscape will be played two days earlier, when Pitt hits the road to take on Utah.
The Utes are better than people think even though they lost five offensive starters and seven on D. They return three very nice runners. Jereme Brooks, their only wideout with more than a dozen career catches, is the real deal. The man tossing it to him will be QB Jordan Wynn. Yes, he's a sophomore, but he did start five games last season. And Sealver Siliga (pronounced Silver See-linga) is the best defensive lineman you've never heard of.
Plus, they're pissed.
They're sick of hearing whispers from longtime Pac-10 members that the Utes aren't worthy of their '12 membership and shouts from Mountain West schools that they're destroying the conference. If Utah wins, it will have the chance to cruise toward its Nov. 6 home matchup with TCU that will likely decide the conference title and a possible BCS bowl berth.
We'll also know immediately what we have in the Big East this year. Pitt is practically everyone's favorite. But if the Panthers lose to Utah, they'll stumble into a giant home game with Miami three weeks later. That means they could possibly hit the conference schedule with two losses and guarantee that the Big East will bog down whatever BCS bowl they land in.
The zebra report: rule changes to know
For some key rule changes, the biggest suspension in college football and the five worst teams in the FBS, you must be an ESPN Insider.