College football is officially back. Now we can begin to look ahead to the weekend and speculate on all the chaos that is sure to unfold as this football season gets underway.
Things seldom go as planned when it comes to college football, and the 2015 season will be no different. The uncertainty is what makes the football season great, but one thing is for certain: There will be plenty of upsets that will shape the landscape of the upcoming college football season.
The key to chasing a national championship is not only to avoid the upset, but to benefit from the heartbreaking upsets of others while stacking up wins and moving up the rankings. If Oregon is to return to the national championship game in 2015, the Ducks are going to need some help along the way. Here is who to root for — and against — for Week 1 of the college football season.
Oregon begins the year as the No. 7 team in the nation, according to the AP Top 25, which is almost a perfect position for the Ducks to make another run at the program’s elusive first national title.
With their game against Michigan State coming in Week 2 (Sept. 12th), every Duck fan should be rooting for the No. 5 Spartans this Friday (Sept. 4th) when they travel to Western Michigan. They should win this game fairly easily, though, setting up the showdown with the Ducks the following weekend.
The Ohio State Buckeyes are the clear favorite to win the national title once again this year, and they open the season as the first unanimous No. 1 team in the history of the AP Poll. However, the last time the preseason No. 1 team finished as national champions was USC in 2004, and the only other team to stay at the top all season was Florida State in 1999.
The Buckeyes begin their title defense on the road at Virginia Tech on Monday (Sept. 7th), which can be seen on ESPN; last year, the Hokies were the only team to beat Ohio State when they went into Columbus and won, 35-21.
Virginia Tech had the confidence following that victory against the Buckeyes last season, but the Hokies are clearly outmatched this year and will need some magic to pull off the upset again. Even though watching Ohio State lose to an unranked team in Week 1 would be amazing for Duck fans, it’s unlikely Virginia Tech has the firepower to compete with the Buckeyes.
In fact, if Ohio State loses a game this year, it’s better if it’s a conference game later in the season — OSU plays Michigan State on Nov. 20 – so there is less time to climb back up in the polls. And who knows, maybe the Buckeyes won’t even play for the B1G title if they drop the MSU game. As hard as it might be, let’s root for Ohio State this weekend; hopefully, the Buckeyes will lose later on.
Another team every Duck fan should want to see lose is the Alabama Crimson Tide. ‘Bama begins the year at No. 3 in the nation and will be the home team against the Wisconsin Badgers for the Cowboy Classic this Saturday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. After finishing the regular season at 12-1 last year, Alabama is once again the favorite to win the SEC.
However, if Wisconsin can pull off the upset this weekend, it will put added pressure on the Crimson Tide to go undefeated in SEC play to make a return to the College Football Playoff much more difficult. An Alabama loss would also move Oregon up in the polls.
With the new playoff format, two losses will likely knock any team out of playoff contention; so Duck fans, let’s root against the Tide this weekend and every other weekend for the rest of the season.
It’s borderline impossible, but wouldn’t it be great if SMU beats No. 4 Baylor to open the season? The Mustangs will host the Bears this Friday, and with the additional attention surrounding the Baylor football team right now, they could be distracted for the season opener. Baylor is a massive favorite — SMU went 1-11 last year — but I think it would be pretty cool to see a team that once received the “death penalty” beat a top-5 team almost 30 years later. We should all cross our fingers for SMU in this one.
Out of the six teams ranked ahead of Oregon in the AP Poll, No. 6 Auburn is by far the most confusing to me. Last year, the Tigers finished 8-5 and struggled with consistency toward the end of the season, losing four of their final five games.
They will begin the 2015 season as the road team this Saturday for the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game against Louisville; and yes, we Duck fans should be rooting for the Cardinals in this one.
Of course, an Auburn loss helps the Ducks move up in the polls, but losing to an unranked ACC team would also put a blemish on the SEC as a whole. Any time the SEC looks bad, I get a little happy inside.
Last, Texas will face No. 11 Notre Dame this Saturday in South Bend. I don’t know about you guys, but I always root against Notre Dame. The more the Irish lose, the less likely they will steal a playoff spot from a more deserving team come decision time. Texas could help the Ducks a lot this season with games against Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Baylor, and TCU. If Texas can upset some of those teams, Oregon could benefit tremendously. Let’s cheer on the Longhorns this season — until we need them to lose, that is.
The 2015 season is here and things are about to get crazy. There will be huge victories, devastating losses, and plenty of storylines to keep us all entertained throughout the year. The Ducks begin the road back to the College Football Playoff in just three days, so be sure to visit FishDuck.com throughout the year for your daily Duck football news. Also, stay tuned every Wednesday for “Who to Root For — and Against” each week of the college football season.
Top Photo by Kevin Cline