That's how long it's been since we watched LSU manhandle Ohio State 38-24 (it wasn't as close as the score indicated) in the BCS Championship game, concluding the 2007 college football season. Sure, the NFL playoffs lasted until early February and the 2008 NFL preseason has been underway since early August, but it's been 234 days since we've had college football.
The long drought ends on this holiday weekend, with a schedule beginning on Thursday and continuing through Monday evening. There aren’t any blockbuster games on the schedule, but there are some interesting matchups.
Both of Arkansas’ Division I teams begin new eras on Saturday.
After decades as “Indians,” Arkansas State will take the field as the Red Wolves for the first time. “The Wolves” will be in College Station, Texas, to take on the Texas A & M Aggies. I expect Steve Roberts’ crew to put up a good fight, but I can’t see them pulling off the upset. It’s going to be hard getting used to calling them the Red Wolves. Can I at least call them the WolfTribe?
In Fayetteville, the Bobby Petrino era begins at the University of Arkansas when the Razorbacks take on Western Illinois. After a decade of Houston Nutt’s conservative run-oriented offense, Petrino brings a more balanced offensive attack to the Hogs. It will be interesting to see how the players, most of whom were recruited for Nutt’s system, will adjust to the new offense. As for Western Illinois, the Leathernecks are ranked 13th in a Football Championship Subdivision (formerly known as Division I-AA) preseason poll by The Sporting News, so this may not be the cakewalk many fans are expecting. (By the way, Central Arkansas was ranked 25th in the same poll.)
Elsewhere around the nation:
Perhaps the most interesting matchup of the weekend will take place when Appalachian State visits No. 7 LSU. Appy State pulled of one of the biggest upsets in college football history when they knocked off Michigan on last year's opening weekend. The Mountaineers won’t sneak up on the Tigers, like they did Michigan, so it’ll be interesting to see if they can keep it close.
Vanderbilt visits Miami (OH) tonight and Mississippi State travels to Louisiana Tech on Saturday, which means that the SEC could open with a couple of embarrassing non-conference losses.
In Oxford, Miss., Houston Nutt’s Mississippi Rebels host the Memphis Tigers. This rivalry usually produces close games and this year should be no different. Ole Miss fans are excited to have Nutt as their coach. Most Arkansas fans are also glad that Nutt is the Ole Miss coach.
Missouri versus Illinois is another rivalry that usually produces a good game. Mizzou brings a #6 preseason ranking into the game, while the Illini are ranked 20th.
Sunday brings a couple of good intra-state matchups, when Louisville hosts Kentucky and Colorado hosts Colorado State.
No. 18 Tennessee plays at UCLA in prime time on Monday.
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