We’ve been anticipating this week for awhile – September is here. It’s time to finally run a college football preview. Then, after a quick briefing on a worrisome issue for baseball and a wave goodbye to Jordan Spieth’s #1 ranking, our Nugget spans the ages.
Note – the next Primer will come Thursday morning ahead of the official kickoff of football season.
College Football Preview Primer: The 5 topics that conversational fans needs in their arsenal
Here we run through the topics to have on your college football radar as a fan in the Southeast. During the season, we plan to do a quick-read weekly column on our website that Primes you on the latest for each of these five questions.
1) What teams are heading toward a College Football Playoff appearance?
Now in its second year, the College Football Playoff looks to build on an exceptional inaugural season as a replacement for the much-maligned BCS system that utilized computers when ranking teams.
National powers will again vie to be chosen by the 13-person CFP selection committee as one of the four teams battling it out for supremacy. The Bowl games serving as semifinal games rotate annually; this year the Orange Bowl and Cotton Bowl will host semifinal match-ups on December 31. The title will ultimately be decided in Arizona on January 11, 2016.
Here is a look at the early favorites for this year’s championship based on their expected odds to win (for example, a 10 bet on Auburn would pay you 140 if they win it all):
2) What teams could win the Southeastern Conference?
The SEC is largely regarded as the best conference in football, and seems like a shoe-in to get at least one team into the CFP. The only worry is cannibalization – can the conference produce one clear champion, or will all the talent lead to teams beating one another throughout the season?
This graph shows the Vegas betting lines for number of wins each SEC team will have this season:
Note – not all of these are even-money bets, meaning some teams are more likely to go ‘over’ their expected win total. This is still a helpful way to gauge relative power within the conference.
3) What teams could win the Atlantic Coast Conference?
Admittedly, the best thing the ACC gives the sporting world is basketball; its football programs are not held in the same regard as SEC powerhouses. Unless the conference champ goes undefeated, expect the ACC to find itself without an invite to the New Year’s Eve CFP party.
Nevertheless, the battle for ACC football bragging rights is wide open this season and the ball could bounce in any team’s direction. Here’s what Vegas predicts:
4) Who is leading the Heisman Trophy Race?
The Heisman is awarded annually to the most outstanding player in college football, though it may as well be awarded to the most outstanding quarterback: since 2000, 13 of 15 winners have been QBs. Will a player from another position break the streak this season? Some favorites to watch:
5) Did you see ______ this weekend?
During the season we’ll keep you posted on the most conversational stories and games that pop up week to week. Here are two we’ll be watching closely:
The Ohio State Quarterback situation
Due to injuries, Ohio State used three quarterbacks last season en route to winning the national championship. Each has the talent to start for almost any school.
So now what?
Last year’s initial starter, Braxton Miller, has switched positions to wide receiver, his most likely role in the NFL. Head coach Urban Meyer has yet to name a starter between J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones, but intends to pick one guy and stick with him full-time.
Who will he choose?
Sophomore J.T. Barrett was sensational last season (finished top-5 in Heisman voting) before breaking his ankle during the last game of the regular season.
Junior Cardale Jones led the team to the Big Ten and national titles in spectacular fashion, and almost left for the NFL Draft despite only starting 3 career games.
No official decision has been made, though yesterday J.T. Barrett was named team captain. We’ll keep you posted.
Baylor vs. TCU vs. the CFP selection committee
Last year Baylor beat TCU 61-58 in a shootout thriller, and each team only lost one game all season. However, neither squad was selected for the CFP, in part due to the perception that neither team was a clear-cut Big 12 Champion. (Note: the Big 12 doesn’t have an additional deciding championship game like other major conferences)
The Baylor-TCU re-match this season on November 27 is sure to produce fireworks. Will the winner make it to the sport’s biggest stage?
Lastly, we leave you with this. The only other tough opponent for Baylor and TCU in the Big 12 is Oklahoma. This is their quarterback:
Major League Baseball has fan safety issues
This offseason could bring changes for Major League Baseball parks after repeated fan safety incidents.
Foul balls hit hard into the stands and striking fans have become an increasingly-alarming reality. The problem is exacerbated by fan cell phone usage at games that leaves them unaware and unprotected. Extended netting down the first- and third-base lines appears the likely fix, though many are worried this will take away from the viewing experience.
Fans plummeting from upper levels to perilous injuries is another grave issue. On Saturday, a Braves season-ticket holder fell to his death while heckling Alex Rodriguez, landing in the section that included Yankees and Braves players’ families.
He becomes the 5th fan to fall and die at an MLB game since 2008. No official changes are currently under consideration, though higher railings and barriers may be inevitable.
‘Hole in One’-hit wonders (or is it ‘no-hit wonders’?)
Fun at golf’s Barclays tournament doesn’t include Spieth
Jordan Spieth made the wrong kind of history, becoming the first player to miss the cut in his first event ranked #1 in the world (and losing his ranking in the process). Meanwhile, lucky lefty Brian Harman dropped not one, but two holes in one. Oh, and the winner? Jason Day, who stayed hot after his PGA Championship victory and won for the fourth time this season.
Cubs no-hit Dodgers
Chicago Cubs ace Jake Arrieta threw his first no-hitter in a dominating performance on Sunday against the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the team celebrated in one-piece pajamas. It was the 6th no-hitter of the MLB season. The Dodgers became the first team to be no-hit twice in nine days after Houston Astros pitcher Mike Fiers got them last Friday.
Serena’s dominance confined to court
Despite beating her 17 straight times, Serena Williams trailed Maria Sharapova in endorsements by $10m last year. Unfortunately for the sponsors, Sharapova just withdrew from the U.S. Open with a leg injury.
MGM calls out Daily Fantasy Sports
Are Daily Fantasy Sports, led by DraftKings and FanDuel, gambling? The CEO of MGM certainly thinks so.
‘Hat trick’ on the diamond
Toronto Blue Jays’ slugger Edwin Encarnacion had himself a day on Saturday, hitting three home runs with nine runs batted in. A hat trick in Canada is usually when a hockey player scores three goals, but that didn’t stop Jays fans from showering Encarnacion with a whole hefty bag’s worth of caps.
Tune Squad auction
The uniform that Michael Jordan wore in Space Jam is going up for auction, expected to fetch >$15k. Let’s all throw in…
You’d get by without it, but where’s the fun in that?
Via @SNstats: Legendary Los Angeles Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully just announced he will likely continue his career for one more season, which will be his 67th in the booth. Games he’s announced during his career have included these players:
Cubs shortstop Addison Russell, born 1994
Athletics manager Connie Mack, born 1862