In case you missed it—and, in certain ways, you were meant to—the college football season staged its fabled Week Zero games a week ago in a soft launch for the upcoming season. Week Zero featured Nebraska, for the second straight year, throwing up into their own cleats, which will always be satisfying so long as the people in charge of Nebraska are in charge of Nebraska. But THIS weekend is when college football busts out the ranked teams in primetime and begins its season for real, which means we can talk about things other than Scott Frost getting his Blarney stones crushed by Northwestern in the heart of Dublin. Namely:
- Is there any reason to believe that this season will end any different from every other season, where Bama either wins the title game or loses it to a program that isn’t much more likable than they are?
- Can Georgia restock what was arguably the greatest defense in college football history?
- Will the Pac-12 get a team into the playoff before it dies? (No.)
- Where is college football GOING right now? What’s this sport gonna look like in five years, when every conference has eaten the other? And is an NFL-ized college football better than what came before it, or [Mitch Albom voice] do we lose something when that happens?
- Exactly how shitty are teams 5-25 in the rankings compared to the Top Four?
- Will NIL change the competitive landscape of this sport, or merely fortify it? (Take a guess.)
- It’s 6:00 p.m. on a Saturday and you’re already drunk/stoned/loadin’ up on krokodil. Which midlevel team should you be happy to see playing in that time slot, and will it be Coastal Carolina again?
- That’s right: it’s time for a comprehensive Hater’s Guide to the 2022 college football season, and THAT is the subject of this week’s Distraction.
Oh, but there’s so much more to break down in this episode. Roth was out this week (my wife left me for him; we haven’t spoken since), so I enlisted the appropriately named Eric Eager of Pro Football Focus, which often focuses on college football as well, to look at the contenders both analytically and, because it’s more fun, aesthetically. Eric also made me realize that the best schools now not only need NFL-caliber starting quarterbacks, but that these QBs are no longer in the Weinke/Dorsey/Toretta mold, where they get carried to prominence thanks to being surrounded by a coterie of five-star monsters from Texida. These QBs make their teams now, and not the other way around. Can’t believe I have to give a football player credit for his own achievements, but it is what it is.
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