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Fill out the calendar and dust off the couch for college football

The first major matchup of the season has Ohio State facing the NCAA to explain why it should should escape further punishment in the tattoo parlor/cover-up scandal. The big games begin Sept. 3.

August 03, 2011|Chris Dufresne
  • Kellen Moore and Boise State will look to get their season off to a flying start when they play Georgia on Sept. 3.
Kellen Moore and Boise State will look to get their season off to a flying… (Matt Cilley / Associated…)

Grab a pompom and pen and circle these important dates for the upcoming season.

— Aug. 12: Ohio State appears before the NCAA to explain why it should not be punished further for the tattoo parlor/cover-up violations that led to the resignation of Jim Tressel. The NCAA has already tipped its hand by stating the school will not face the most serious "failure to monitor" charge. Ohio State voluntarily vacated all of its victories last season, including a Sugar Bowl win over Arkansas, but USC fans will be fuming furious if the Buckeyes aren't hit with a bowl ban and scholarship losses.

— Sept. 3: Boise State vs. Georgia (in Atlanta); Oregon vs. Louisiana State (in Dallas). Most sports start their playoffs at the end of the season, but college football is more like drag racing — pedal to the metal. Boise State-Georgia offers "little guy" versus "big guy" with a twist. Boise State, almost hilariously, enters as the top-10 national title contender while Georgia, of the sacred Southeastern Conference, needs this kind of win to earn back respect from a restless fan base. Oregon-LSU is the bonus track to last year's Oregon-Auburn title game. The Sept. 3 winner becomes the early "team to beat." The loser isn't necessarily eliminated so long as the score is close.

Also on Sept. 3: Brigham Young makes its debut as a football independent in Oxford against Mississippi.

— Sept. 10: Utah at USC. Welcome to the Pac-12. Utah makes its conference debut, on the road, against the league's signature program. Good luck. Norm Chow, the play-calling guru on Pete Carroll's glory-days Trojans staff, returns as Utah's offensive coordinator.

— Sept. 17: Oklahoma at Florida State; Ohio State at Miami; Texas at UCLA; Washington at Nebraska; Utah at BYU. This weekend should be dubbed "Five reasons not to leave the couch."

— Sept. 24: USC at Arizona State. This will probably decide the Pac-12 South, with one important caveat. Because of NCAA sanctions, USC can't play in the title game, meaning Arizona State can still advance to the Pac-12 title game if it finishes alone in second behind the Trojans.

— Oct. 1: Alabama at Florida; Nevada at Boise State. You think Boise wants revenge for last year's heartbreaking loss at Reno?

— Oct. 8: Iowa at Penn State; Florida at LSU; Ohio State at Nebraska. The great part about Ohio State-Nebraska is it's now a Big Ten Conference game.

— Oct. 13: USC at California. There's nothing like a Saturday game at historic Memorial Stadium, except this game will be played Thursday night in the San Francisco Giants' stadium.

— Nov. 4: USC at Colorado. Friday night? USC is playing football on a Friday night? We live in strange times.

— Nov. 5: Oregon at Washington; LSU at Alabama. Say hello to two bitter rivalries not involving schools from the same state.

— Nov. 12: Oregon at Stanford: Plot point: One bad half in Eugene last year cost Stanford a shot at the national championship.

— Nov. 26: Rivalry weekend: Alabama-Auburn; Florida State-Florida; Ohio State-Michigan; Oregon State-Oregon; USC-UCLA.

— Dec. 2: Friday Night Lights stages inaugural Pac-12 title game.

— Dec. 3: First Big Ten title game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

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