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Del Olaleye: The fun is about to begin - it's college football season

Dana Holgorsen is not above a little pettiness. Tom Pennington/Getty Images

My favorite time of the year begins in earnest Thursday. Week 1 of the college football season is here. Yes there were games over the weekend but unless your team played or you happen to be a degenerate gambler you didn’t really care about the Week 0 matchups. If you happen to be a degenerate, my guy Jerry Bo has you covered. You can find his stuff right here on Sportmap.

Major programs get going this weekend and we have multiple Top 25 matchups to get the season started. Coaches around the country finally have to stop with all the roster games. At least most them do. I say most, because coaches like to overthink things sometimes. We’ll get to that later.

You know the season is here because announcements about starting QBs are being posted on twitter and suspensions for conduct unbecoming are being publicized. The most notable name suspended is Mississippi State starting quarterback Nick Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald, a potential Heisman candidate, will miss the start of the Joe Moorhead era as the Bulldogs host Stephen F. Austin. Starting in his place will be Sophomore Keytaon Thompson. Thompson has started for Fitzgerald before. It happened to be the last time Mississippi State took the field. He helped lead the Bulldogs to a bowl win over Louisville. Fitzgerald missed that game because of a gruesome leg injury he sustained in the Egg Bowl against Ole Miss.

The pettiness

Tennessee and West Virginia have never played against each other but that doesn’t mean they can’t act like old conference rivals. New Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt released his Week 1 depth chart and included plenty of “or” between the names of players. That usually signifies that the starter at a certain position hasn’t truly emerged. West Virginia responded by putting an “or” multiple times on the depth chart as well. Dana Holgorsen by way of 247sports’ Chris Anderson said, "we 'OR'd them because Tennessee 'OR'd us first." See, petty. The Vols and Mountaineers face each other in Charlotte on Saturday.

Starting QBs named

Clemson: Kelly Bryant holds off Trevor Lawrence as the 5-star true freshmen who impressed in the spring gets beat out. Bryant led Clemson to a third consecutive playoff appearance last season and gets his chance to make it four in a row for the Tigers.

USC: JT Daniels won the job and will be the second true freshman in program history to start the season opener at QB for the Trojans. The first was Matt Barkley in 2009.

Nebraska: A true freshman wins the job there as well. Adrian Martinez, who committed to Nebraska after Scott Frost accepted the job will begin the Frost era as the man. That announcement led to Nebraska’s only other scholarship quarterback transferring. That leaves the Huskers with two walk-on backups if something happens to Martinez.

Alabama: Ol’ tricky Nick Saban won’t name his starter for Week 1. He listed Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts co-starters. The Tide are preparing to play Louisville as life after Lamar Jackson begins for the Cardinals. Barring some special package of plays for Hurts to start the game, it would surprise plenty of people if Tagovailoa doesn’t take the opening snap for Alabama.

Hate watch Game of the Week: 20 Virginia Tech at 19 Florida State

The Seminoles begin the season on Labor Day night hosting the Hokies. It is the first game of Willie Taggart’s tenure at FSU after eight seasons of Jimbo Fisher leading the way. Nothing would be better than to watch all that excitement and anticipation of new beginnings drain away. I can’t stand Virginia Tech either but they’re the lesser of two evils. A depleted Hokies team beating the Noles in Tallahassee would be a great end to the true opening weekend of the college football season.







 

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Up next: The Aggies face Mississippi State. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

Two weeks after the season seemed like it had come to an ugly end only in week two for the Aggies, they are right back in the thick of things. Now I already know what you’re thinking as you read that last sentence. As much as A&M fans would like to forget the Appalachian State loss, myself included, it's not going anywhere. Even though Texas A&M has defeated back-to-back top 15 nationally ranked opponents, the easy and well-deserved knock on this squad is, “they lost to App State”. An App State team that is a Hail Mary away from being only 2-2 might I add. However, these past two weeks for the Ags have shown that positive things can come from your biggest disappointments.

Jimbo Fisher and the Aggies had two options after that App State loss. One, admit that they just didn't have it this year in week two, settle for another 8-4 or worse year and try again next season. Or, take a long look in the mirror, realize some uncomfortable decisions had to be made and try to make a statement moving forward. I believe they chose option two because the Aggies have rattled off wins against #13 Miami and #10 Arkansas in back-to-back weeks. Now I’m willing to admit Miami probably didn’t deserve that ranking after falling to Middle Tennessee State. But the weight of that game was felt by all Aggies, especially Head Coach Jimbo Fisher.

This past week the Maroon and White were able to knock out a really good and really experienced Arkansas Razorback team. After starting slow and sloppy, which has unfortunately become a trend for this Texas A&M team, the Aggies found some rhythm on offense after an explosive Devon Achane 63-yard run. The defense was solid once again showing the bend don't break mentality, best exemplified when Chris Russell Jr. knocked the ball out of KJ Jefferson’s hands at the goal line. Tyreek Chappell and Demani Richardson then turned that fumble recovery into six points on a wacky scoop and score. The Hogs didn't go away quietly though, as they found themselves lining up for a game-winning field goal with 90 seconds left on the clock. What followed is what will forever be known by the Aggies as the “Oink Doink” as Texas A&M got their season back on track.

The next 2 games will make or break A&M’s season, however, as they will travel to Starkville for the first true road game of the year against Mississippi State. Then to Tuscaloosa to face off against Alabama for possibly the most anticipated SEC matchup of the season. If the Ags can somehow manage to go 2-0 in this stretch they will without a doubt find themselves back in the top 10 and in the playoff conversation once again. This Saturday's afternoon matchup with the Bulldogs will be the toughest test yet for Jimbo and his Aggies. Quarterback Will Rogers can sling it and the defense is very experienced throughout. Max Johnson has been solid for the Ags but hasn't lit up the stat sheet by any means, so it will be interesting to see if Mississippi State turns this into a shootout, or if A&M keep this a defensive battle like most of their games have been so far. My feeling is the Aggies have a breakout offensive performance and win this one 30-24, to set up a huge showdown with Alabama and Nick Saban in week six.

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