Welcome back to football, everyone!
Woo! College football is officially back. Four ranked teams played Thursday night and if there's one thing we learned, it's that it will be tough to keep that potent USC offense out of a BCS bowl.
Game of the Week
No. 3 Boise State vs. No. 10 Virginia Tech -- Monday, 8 p.m. ET on ESPN
The Broncos are considered title contenders this year, but they probably have to win this game to make it to the BCS title game.
Another Game of the Week
No. 24 Oregon State vs. No. 6 TCU -- 7:45 p.m. ET on ESPN
The Horned Frogs are considered title contenders this year, but they probably have to win this game to make it to the BCS title game.
Wait. Boise State and TCU could both make it to the title game? Ugh. I don't think anyone wants to see a rematch of last season's Fiesta Bowl. It sounded entertaining in theory but it turned out to be the Serena versus Venus of college football, with somehow even worse outfits.
Still One More Game of the Week
No. 21 LSU vs. No. 18 North Carolina -- 8 p.m. ET on ABC
North Carolina enters the game under the distraction of two ongoing NCAA investigations. But time heals all wounds. Unless you're LSU coach Les Miles, then time -- specifically clock management -- creates all wounds and potentially gets you fired.
Cupcake of the Week
Western Kentucky: The Hilltoppers were 0-12 last year and have lost 20 in a row. Let's go out on a limb here and say it's going to be 21 because they're opening their season at No. 8 Nebraska. But before you criticize Nebraska for playing a cupcake, this game was probably scheduled long before Western Kentucky's 20-game streak started. Like, who knows, maybe five years ago when WKU wasn't even an FBS program.
Rivalry Game of the Week
Purdue at Notre Dame -- 3:30 p.m. ET on NBC
It's Brian Kelly's debut at Notre Dame. The last Notre Dame coach to lose his first game was Lou Holtz in 1986. Kelly obviously wants to avoid following in Holtz's footsteps at Notre Dame. I mean, sure, Holtz won a national title there, but his first season didn't produce a book deal like it did for Irish legends Ty Willingham and Charlie Weis. And that's how great coaches are measured.
Heisman Candidate in the Crosshairs
Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State: If Moore can put up some big numbers and lead Boise State to a season-opening win against Virginia Tech, he can stake an early lead in the Heisman race. After that, he could possibly coast to the award on an easy schedule and the power of the Idaho media machine.
Mascot Fact of the Week
Penn State's mascot is a Nittany Lion because mountain lions are native to the area and Mount Nittany is a nearby peak. Mountain lions can take down a deer or eat something as small as a rodent. They drink water from cool mountain streams and bed down amongst thick brush and rocks. Or, if they drink alcohol, they pass out in the open bed of pickup trucks.
Tailgate Tip of the Week
Wear sunscreen: Just because it's September and you still have a tan from the summer doesn't mean you shouldn't protect your skin. Make sure you apply it before you leave for the game so it has time to absorb into the skin. Also, by applying it at home you don't have to take the sunscreen with you to your tailgate and risk some drunken idiot trying to drink it later in the day. "Dude! This Banana Boat rum is disgusting!"
Quote of the Week
"I want [the NCAA] to know what kind of person this young man has been the last month."
-- Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt, speaking about quarterback Jeremiah Masoli.
So there you go, NCAA. A whole month. An entire month without a single burglary! YAY! No wonder Nutt was annoyed the NCAA wasn't going to let Masoli play. He probably had just ordered a big banner for the outside of the team's facility: "Ole Miss football: 31 days burglary-free!"
Stat of the Week
0-21 That's Virginia Tech's record away from home against top-5 teams. Consider the Hokies the townies of college football -- they love their college town so much, they never want to leave. I mean, there's a pizza place that offers large cheese pies for $4.99 on Thursdays! You don't find that in London, New York or Paris, man. This is heaven.
Coach on the Hot Seat
Rich Rodriguez is 8-16 in his first two years at Michigan. He has gotten into hot water (which risks electrocution if also sitting on a hot seat) with the NCAA for having his teams practice too much, even though they play like they practice too little. And many alums don't like him because he's not a "Michigan man." Saturday Michigan opens the season against a solid UConn team (ABC, 3:30 p.m. ET). in front of 109,941. Hopefully Rodriguez was smart enough to fill those 2,000 new seats with personal security.
Lane Kiffin NCAA Violation of the Week
None. So that's good. However, do we know how USC got to Hawaii for their first game Thursday night? I'm hearing several starters arrived aboard their own yachts.
Name of the Week
Duke Ihenacho, S, San Jose State: Having the first name "Duke" merits Name of the Week consideration on its own. But then you throw in a last name that is 62.5-percent "nacho"-based? Easy choice. And Ihenacho is a legit NFL prospect, meaning some NFL city will have a sports bar that offers Duke Ihenachos as a menu item around this time next year. Mmmm ... Duke Ihenachos. I think I will move to that city.
Stone Cold Lock of the Week
Alabama running back Trent Richardson will have a huge game playing in place of Mark Ingram, proving that he is a more-than-capable heir apparent. Or proving that Alabama is playing San Jose State. One of them.
DJ Gallo is the founder of SportsPickle.com. His first book, "The View from the Upper Deck," is available from only the finest bargain book retailers. His next book project will be released soon. You can follow him on Twitter at @DJGalloESPN.