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Chris Dufresne / ON COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Up for kickoff

With the season beginning next week, there are plenty of items for the checklist, from the toughest conference (SEC, duh) to the most overrated teams (sorry, Hokies and Bulls)

August 21, 2008|Chris Dufresne

Everyone is itching to get started, especially over at USC, so let's adjust our under armor and dig into the 2008 season survival kit:

Calamine lotion for the Trojans' locker room?

Check.

Pacific 10 Conference pocket schedule?

Check.

Conference opener, Oregon State at Stanford, slated for Aug. 28?

Aug. 28!?

Lee Corso bull . . . dog detector?

Ruff!

Frommer's Travel Guide: "Tuscaloosa on $10 . . . a month."

Check.

Notre Dame Coach Charlie Weis' play-decoder ring?

Toss it, he's not calling plays this year.

South Carolina Coach Steve Spurrier's play-decoder ring?

Chuck it, he's not calling plays either.

GPS device for UCLA quarterbacks?

Set to locate end zone, but there have been glitches in training camp.

Rose Bowl contingency plans for possible Arizona State-Rutgers matchup?

Remember the Boy Scout motto: Be prepared.

There are some new rules this year, some new coaches, but it's basically the same old schools and the same old BCS.

* Eight things you need to know:

8: Georgia, 11-2 last year, enters the season ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press and USA Today coaches' polls but, at last month's Southeastern Conference media day, was picked to finish second behind Florida in the SEC East.

Wow, tough conference.

7: Instead of the play clock being set to 25 seconds on the official's signal this year, college football will adopt the pro-style, 40-second clock that starts when the ball is dead. The game clock will continue to stop on out-of-bounds plays but will now be restarted on the official's signal, except in the last two minutes of each half, when it will restart on the snap.

6: The SEC, without question, is the toughest league without a commissioner named Goodell. The SEC has won three Bowl Championship Series titles since 2003 and starts this season with four schools ranked in the top 10 of the first AP poll.

5: The Atlantic Coast Conference needs to get off its ACC. Five years ago, after it raided the Big East of Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College, the ACC was supposed to become the next great conference. Let the record reflect the league is 1-9 in BCS bowl games since 1998 and winless in the 21st century.

4: The Pac-10 is not the best quarterback conference. That honor belongs to the Big 12, which boasts Chase Daniel (Missouri), Sam Bradford (Oklahoma), Todd Reesing (Kansas), Graham Harrell (Texas Tech), Zac Robinson (Oklahoma State) and Colt McCoy (Texas).

All six finished in the top 24 of last year's NCAA pass efficiency statistics, with Bradford at No. 1.

3: SEC Commissioner Mike Slive's "plus-one" playoff proposal was shot down at spring meetings in Hollywood, Fla., meaning the BCS will be with us, for better or worse, until at least 2014.

2: The Orange Bowl isn't at the Orange Bowl and neither is the Jan. 8 BCS title game. They are both at Dolphin Stadium, in the Fort Lauderdale area. The original Orange Bowl, in Miami, has been demolished.

1: Ohio State has a terrific chance to record its third consecutive BCS title-game loss to a team from the SEC.

* Seven things you might not know:

7: Notre Dame, 3-9 last year, enters the season with a longer winning streak (two) than Florida, Wisconsin, Clemson, Illinois, Florida State and Virginia Tech.

6: Florida State Coach Bobby Bowden leads Penn State Coach Joe Paterno in career victories, 373 to 372, but the record for college football victories belongs to John Gagliardi of Division III St. John's (Minnesota), who has 453 career wins as he enters his 56th season as Johnnies' coach.

5: Alabama has never had a player win the Heisman Trophy and won't have one this year. But watch out in 2010, when receiver Julio Jones is a junior.

4: New Mexico State hasn't played in a bowl game since 1960.

3: Missouri, favored to repeat as Big 12 North champions, hasn't won a conference title in football since 1969.

2: Arizona is the only Pac-10 school that has never played in the Jan. 1 Rose Bowl. The Wildcats would have received an invite in 1998 had UCLA defeated Miami and advanced to the national title game in the Fiesta Bowl. Anyone remember what happened?

1: Ian Johnson, hero of Boise State's miracle overtime win against Oklahoma all those years ago, is still the starting tailback at Boise State.

* Six games you don't want to miss:

6: Missouri vs. Kansas in Kansas City on Nov. 29. Missouri handed Kansas its only defeat in 2007, yet Kansas earned a BCS bowl bid while Missouri was dispatched to the Cotton.

5: Michigan at Ohio State on Nov. 22. Wolverines fans hope first-year Coach Rich Rodriguez won't spit out his first taste of college football's top rivalry.

4: USC at UCLA on Dec. 6. Karl Dorrell went 1-4 against USC. UCLA hired Rick Neuheisel to do a different number on USC.

3: Florida vs. Georgia in Jacksonville on Nov. 1. Last year, in Georgia's win, the entire Bulldogs bench stormed the field after scoring the first touchdown. Wonder if that rubbed Florida the wrong way?

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