After months of speculation and concern about whether the 2020 college football season would be played or not, we finally have our answer… and the answer is YES! College football is back!!! (Photo courtesy of Rogelio V. Solis)
This year has been one of the hardest and worst years in recent history. With everything from a global pandemic to racial unrest and chaos in the streets. For months we have wondered whether or not we would have college football or even sports in general. We received some relief when professional sports leagues started back up this summer, but for many around the country, especially here in the south, we were still concerned about the possibility of college football being played.
The entire month of August just continued to add to the suspense. Conferences all around the country, from the FBS to the FCS, wrestled with the idea of playing and how to play safely. We saw Power 5 conferences like the Pac-12 and the Big 10 decided to postpone, while the SEC, ACC and Big-12 (among others) decided to try and play with limited scheduling. Nothing was set in stone, not until someone actually decided to play a game. We finally got that taste of live college football last weekend.
The FCS kickoff game between Central Arkansas and Austin Peay got us started this past Saturday night. We finally found out whether or not we would be able to play football, and play it safely, during the Covid pandemic. With new mandates in place, such as players, coaches and officials having to wear face masks to limited fan attendance, the first college football game got underway, and it started with a bang. A 75 yard touchdown run by CJ Evans Jr on the first play from scrimmage. An otherwise sloppy game ended with a 24-17 win for Central Arkansas.
Now this weekend, we finally get FBS football. Last night, UAB opened the season with a win against Central Arkansas, and the first FBS vs FBS game featured South Alabama traveling to Hattiesburg, MS to take on Southern Miss. On the preview show last night, John and I both figured Southern Miss end up winning, but South Alabama had different ideas. A Jaguar team that a year ago was near the bottom of the FBS in total offense and total defense, jumped out to a 13-0 lead early. Southern Miss was able to draw within three at the end of the first half, but that was as close the Golden Eagles would get in this one as the go on to lose 32-21.
While the future is still rather uncertain, college football fans can breathe a little easier knowing that we actually have a couple of games under our belt and that, as of today, it doesn’t appear that there are any health concerns among players and coaches. Hopefully this is a sign to the rest of the NCAA that college football can be played and can be played safely.
With all of that being said, let’s preview some of this weekend’s biggest games!
This year, Week One is not as appetizing as we would normally have on any given season. There’s big time Power 5 non-conference match-ups, but there are still some interesting games to keep an eye on, especially on Monday night. Let’s take a look at a few of these games.
Middle Tennessee State @ Army (-3.5) – 1:30 PM – CBSSN
Our Saturday gets started with a game between two teams that both managed to miss out on bowl games in 2019. Army took a massive nose dive last year from where they were back in 2018. The loss in Ann Arbor last season seemed to knock the wind out of the Black Knights who never really recovered after that. We know that Army can run the ball and MTSU was one of the worst teams a year ago in stopping the run. Head coach Jeff Monken has done an incredible job in revitalizing this Army program. I suspect that the Black Knights will have a better season than they did last year. Both John and I agree that Army wins this one at home.
John – Army
Cameron – Army
Arkansas State @ Memphis (-19) – 8:00 PM – ESPN
Memphis was one of the most explosive teams a year ago. They get senior quarterback Brady White back this season and a host of talent on offense. The Tigers will have to work on the defensive side of the ball as they gave up an average of 383 yards a season ago and finished right in the middle of the FBS in total defense. Luckily for Memphis, they get to start 2020 against an Arkansas State team that finished near the bottom in total defense and was just about as bad on offense. Maybe the Red Wolves can keep it close for a quarter or a half, but I don’t foresee this one being close once the final whistle blows. John and I again agree on this one. Memphis wins handily.
John – Memphis
Cameron – Memphis
BYU (-1.5) @ Navy – 8:00 PM – ESPN – Monday
On one hand, I’m a little surprised that BYU is opening up as the slight favorite. BYU is coming off a lack luster 7-6 season a year ago in which their biggest win was on the road in Knoxville, while Navy blew through their schedule beating a really good SMU team in an upset and whose only losses were against Memphis and Notre Dame. On the other hand, BYU is traditionally very good as a road team. We’ve seen it before. Last year against Tennessee and a few years ago at Nebraska. Navy is going to be without QB Malcolm Perry, a senior last year, who set all sorts of records and put up crazy stats for the Midshipmen. However, the Midshipmen do return a number of starters on both the offense and defense which ranked in the top 20 in both categories in 2019. However, Navy shouldn’t overlook this Cougar team. John and I are going to disagree on this one. I’m rolling with the Midshipmen at home. This will be a great game to close out Week One and wrap up our Labor Day Weekend.
John – BYU
Cameron – Navy
I don’t know about you, but I’m so glad that college football is back. While 2020 is definitely going to be out of the ordinary, I will gladly take this over no football at all! There’s nothing like college football!
Check out the preview show on thespreadpodcast.podbean.com. We will be going live on the Podbean app on Labor Day to recap the weekend! Make sure to also follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Enjoy this first weekend of college football!