It’s championship college football all before Labor Day

I must admit that I really, really want a college football team. I want one so badly, that I’d actually promise to rise and shine for my 9:30 a.m. class. I’d make my bed, call my family more, and I’d even get my books for that one class that just bores me to death.

But none of this stuff is going to happen anytime soon. There will be no tailgating, no beverages of choice, and no burgers cooking on my Foreman grille. Maybe I should visit a few friends at Penn State University some weekend. I could drive up in October or November when Ohio State University and then the University of Michigan come into Happy Valley. Wouldn’t that be fun? But again – enough of what isn’t going to happen.

What is happening in this early college football season before Labor Day weekend should not be missed. If you happened to miss Penn State’s pounding of the suddenly not-so-mighty University of Arizona, you might have missed the first Pacific 10 Conference team to exit the national championship race.

This sport is amazing in that it’s pretty much one and done. If you lose, whether it be in August or January, you can pretty much kiss it all goodbye. The University of Miami defeated a perennial championship contender in Ohio State last Sunday. So September arrives and the Buckeye powerhouse is in deep, deep trouble. The University of California at Los Angeles visits Ohio State in two weekends, and could you imagine if the Buckeyes were dealt their second defeat before Big Ten Conference play begins? And if the Bruins fell, that would be at least two teams from out west to find themselves near the point of early season desperation.

It’s like 12 Rose Bowls being played four months too early, but the stakes in these games are still sky-high. And of course let’s not forget Notre Dame University at Michigan Saturday. Two highly-ranked teams – one that will rise in the rankings and one that will fall. Find a schedule of any team and you will see that many of the nation’s best are putting it all on the line right away.

I’m beginning to think these crucial games are being played just so teams can cancel themselves out and the NCAA can potentially avoid having too many undefeated teams come New Year’s Day. The NCAA last year came up with this No. 1 seed vs. No. 2 seed match-up to be played out for the championship. This year, the lucky two teams play Jan. 4 in the Sugar Bowl. Still, there’s no playoff system, almost no margin for error and at least one team, probably more, that will be shunned from its rightful shot at the title.

This process is an improvement from the still unsettling season of 1994-’95 when undefeated Penn State was declared the second-best team in college football behind an undefeated University of Nebraska team. Saying which team was better at this point is a personal opinion. For some, it’s a very deep and passionate one. Three years later there was Nebraska once again, undefeated. And standing beside them, undefeated, were the Michigan Wolverines. This time, the two teams shared the national title – reaping the benefits of a lesson learned the hard way for some fans.

Anyway, do yourself a favor and don’t overlook the early weeks of the college football season as they in fact will set the tone for the Sugar Bowl hopefuls. And I do wish we had a football team here, regardless of how good or bad it would be. But I’m quite glad I don’t go to Ohio State or Arizona these days – and either Notre Dame or Michigan come this weekend – because an 0-1 record means trouble, big trouble, in the wonderful world of college football.

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