08/06/08 — OPINION - August means football for fans

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OPINION - August means football for fans

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on August 6, 2008 1:33 PM

August is finally here and that can only mean one thing -- college football season is just weeks away.

If you're anything like me, you'll spend the next few weeks with a glimmer in your eye and the same glazed over look most six-year-olds develop in late November as sugar cookies and pecan pie mix with sleepless nights in unbearable anticipation of Christmas.

I love baseball and NASCAR makes for nice Sunday afternoon entertainment but nothing, and I do mean nothing, quite stands up to Saturdays in the fall.

With that being said, here's a look at few games worth planning your yard work and those trips to see your in-laws around this season:

August 30

* Virginia Tech vs. East Carolina (at Charlotte) -- The Pirates' 17-7 loss in Blacksburg a year ago showed that Skip Holtz's crew can hang with the big boys. The momentum and confidence ECU developed in its bowl win over Boise State should pay dividends against a young Hokies' squad with plenty of question marks.

Frank Beamer and company have nine freshman and just two seniors in their 14-man receiving corp. A season-opening upset here and the Pirates could be headed for big things.

° Appalachian State at LSU -- A marquee program playing in front of thousands of its rowdy fans, a national television audience and tiny Appalachian State on the road with virtually no chance of doing the unthinkable. I think we've been here before, right Michigan?

The Tigers' defense will need to find a way to contain Mountaineers quarterback Armanti Edwards. Edwards torched Michigan for 289 total yards and four touchdowns (three passing, one rushing) in a season-opening 34-32 stunner at the Big House a year ago.

LSU is still searching for its own answer at quarterback as projected starter Ryan Perrilloux was dismissed from the team in early May. Silencing one of the nation's loudest crowds and keeping things close until the fourth quarter will be key for Appalachian.

September 13

° Ohio State at USC -- Losers of two straight national title games, the Buckeyes should have a relatively clear path to a third consecutive BCS title game if they can escape Los Angeles with a victory.

Speed should play a major role in this clash of the titans. Ohio State struggled to adjust to LSU's quickness in the title game last season, while USC manhandled the Buckeyes' Big Ten counterpart Illinois in the Rose Bowl.

October 9

° Clemson at Wake Forest -- The expectations to win couldn't be higher in Death Valley this season and anything short of an ACC title could have Tommy Bowden in search of a new job by spring.

The Tigers hauled in one of the nation's best recruiting classes while returning plenty of talent including signal-caller Cullen Harper and running backs C.J. Spiller and James Davis.

Don't expect to see the same Wake Forest team that got humiliated 44-10 at Clemson a year ago. The Atlantic Division along with a spot in the ACC title game could be decided in this Thursday night showdown.

October 11

° LSU at Florida -- Anytime Tim Tebow is on the field, it's must-see TV. The Gators saw a 24-14 lead in Baton Rouge evaporate into a 28-24 loss last season. Don't think Mr. Heisman and the fans in The Swamp won't be ready when the national champions come calling.

November 1

° Georgia vs. Florida, in Jacksonville -- The Dawgs' 42-30 triumph over the Gators last season was highlighted by the entire Georgia team running into the end zone to celebrate its first touchdown of the ballgame.

That gesture turned up the heat on this already intense rivalry.

The Bulldogs are atop many preseason polls while returning phenom running back Knowshon Moreno and quarterback Matthew Stafford.

Both squads could easily head to Jacksonville unbeaten. In the words of America's role model Terrell Owens, "getcha popcorn ready."