The Fan's Guide To Watching CFB This Kickoff Weekend

The Fan's Guide To Watching CFB This Kickoff Weekend

How to efficiently spend your time and how to get the most enjoyment out of kickoff weekend.

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Labor day weekend is quickly coming upon us and that means it's college football season. No need to get stressed about coming up with an excuse to fake an illness on Monday, because Uncle Sam is looking out for us. But that doesn't mean your work is done.

The most important job this weekend isn't going to the store to get chips, spend quality time with your significant other, or to do that assignment that's due Monday at midnight. No, it's working on how to efficiently spend your time watching each game. If you're a fan of a certain team and want to just spend all of your time on that game fine. Everyone else will just have more fun than you.

Thursday: UConn vs. 21. UCF - ESPNU 

In my eyes, it's always tradition to watch the first game of the year. And man what a "GREAT" game it's going to be. It's the civil conflict, the defending champion the University of Central Florida starting off their season looking to get the respect they deserve! They will kick off on Thursday against a school with rich tradition and competitive fire and that school is... UConn? Wow. In case you couldn't tell this game isn't going to be one for the ages. I meant what I said about always tuning into the first game of the weekend, but this could be a glance and dance kind of game. There are some interesting story lines laced throughout this "contest."

How will UCF start off after claiming a title? Will UConn's young core overachieve and be able to stay in the game? How many times will the announcers bring up the claimed championship? How many times will the announcers bring up UConn basketball? I could go on.

But if (when) this game gets out of hand I suggest that you turn it over to Northwestern and Purdue on ESPN. It starts about an hour after this one and that's about all the time it should deserve. The two schools also have a history of being at around the same level of talent so it should be a decent watch.

Prediction: UCF by all of the points — UConn's empty stadium.

That's right no score for this one.

Friday: 13. Stanford vs. SDSU - Fox

It's the first Friday "trap" game of the year... sort of. The Aztecs are coming off one of their best seasons in the history of the program. They won 10 games last year and had one of the best running backs in the country in Rashaad Penny. Although Penny has moved onto the NFL, junior running-back Juwan Washington is ready to take on the load. Their defense which was a working progress last year has more experience and they also have some stability at quarterback. But the big draw with this game is Bryce Love. The Heisman trophy favorite is returning for his senior season in pursuit of a championship ( I wouldn't hold my breath). He had a great year last year, but usually, when a high profile player returns for their senior season it turns out to be a little underwhelming. So will Love fall in line with the rest of the disappointing seniors? Or will he break the chain and have a repeat of his junior year? That's how you sell somebody on a Pac-12 game.

Speaking of the Pac-12 the game is going to be a late one. Sorry but if you haven't noticed football gets played on the west coast too, so you'll need to preoccupy yourself until then. I suggest tuning into Army at Duke on ESPNU because everyone should support the troops as they face America's greatest villain.

Predictions: Bryce Love has a good game.

Stanford 24 - SDSU 13

Early Saturday: 7. Oklahoma vs FAU - FS1

Easily the most intriguing game of the morning in terms of matchup. Lane Kiffin lead FAU to it's first bowl birth and win in 9 years. Now they are in the national spotlight and are cashing in that fame as they travel to Oklahoma to take on the Sooners. Another popular story to follow is the transition at quarterback for Oklahoma. It's Kyle Murray's team now and the big question will be how well he can fill Baker Mayfield's shoes. I expect a whole lot of offense in this one. There are two offensive guru's at work in Kiffin and head coach Lincoln Riley. Oklahoma doesn't get a whole lot better on defense from last year, so FAU should be able to hang around.

If you get bored of this one, or for some reason you don't have access to FS1 then I'd probably say watch Ohio St. vs Oregon State. Lead by Urb... Ryan Day, the Buckeyes have a new starting quarterback for the millionth time in a row (I know JT Barrett started the last two years, but you know what I mean). I'm not going to sugar coat it, I don't give the Beavers much of a shot. But the country would love to see them put up a fight.

Prediction: I'm not saying Oklahoma's on upset alert but... no, I can't do that

Oklahoma 34 - FAU 21

Mid Saturday: 6. Washington vs 9. Auburn - ABC

This is probably the most important game in the history of Washington football. Because the Pac-12 is so weak they need to win against Auburn and also run win the conference. The committee has already shown in its past selections that they do not respect the conference champion, they need to play big boy football outside of it. And that leads us to Auburn. They have much less pressure on them by default. The pressures of this game can be summed up by looking at this as if the two teams were working together on a school project. Washington is the kid who is always on edge and worried about staying on task because they don't want to disappoint their parents (the committee). Auburn is the kid who's just cool with getting a B and moving on with their life.

This game, just like most football games will ultimately come down to quarterback play but it will also be the running backs that will make the biggest difference. Jake Browning is returning for his senior season along with running back Myles Gaskin in the backfield. Auburn brings back Jarret Stidham but lost Kerryon Johnson to the NFL draft this past year. The game will come down to which team can slug it out in the trenches because both squads also have extremely talented defenses. If you can run the football that will take more pressure off of the quarterback.

Now, if Washington rolls over like they typically do in these games, the next best game is probably no 17. West Virginia vs. Tennessee. Jeremy Pruit is the man calling the shots for the volunteers, so maybe they have a new life (again don't hold your breath)? But if not, then you can just watch Will Grier sling it all over the field. That's always fun.

Prediction: I hate Auburn, but I'm also an educated man.

Auburn 31 - Washington 17

Saturday night: 1. Alabama vs Louisville - ABC

It isn't a question of if this might get out of hand, it's when will it get out of hand. The big draw for this game is obviously who will start at quarterback for the crimson tide. But a recent report from everyone's grumpy southern grandpa Paul Finebaum and he heard from a collection of the boosters that Tua is far and away the best option. You can take that with a grain of salt, but in my professional opinion he can run just as good as Jalen and he's obviously a better passer so I'd say it's a safe bet to make Tua the starter. Now if you just read that and are thinking "oh well I guess I've got no reason to watch" then your A not an Alabama fan or B an Auburn fan. If none of those fit your description then you should tune into the game, unless your one of those kids who likes to leave after the first quarter because it's "too hot in the upper bowl". Grow up we've all been there. You don't have to watch the whole thing, just until you feel sad for Louisville.

I feel as if I can go on a rant like this because of the state the Cardinals are in. They just lost Lamar Jackson to the NFL, so there really isn't much of an offensive identity. And they are going to have to defend an Alabama offense where they need to prepare for two quarterbacks and have their entire O-line returning. They just really don't have a shot in this one.

Prediction: Alabama could start the current Freddie Kitchens and win by 21 (use Google kids).

Alabama 31 - Louisville 10

But when this game gets REAL ugly or if you fit the descriptions I laid out, then you should probably go to this.

Saturday night: 12. Notre Dame vs 14. Michigan - NBC

This game probably has the highest stakes of them all. Both coaches badly need this to fend off the media. Both teams need to prove that they can put it all together this year. This will be the best game of the weekend. If you have no allegiance to any team, I'd get real excited for this one. Brian Kelly is coming off a career-saving season with the Fighting Irish and is trying to show the playoff committee that his team is ready to become part of the conversation. The way Kelly has scheduled his opponents this year, would all but guarantee one of the four spots if they were to finish 12-0.

Jim Harbaugh is also in the same boat as Kelly. He too is not only trying to prove to the committee that he can win a big game but also to his critics. Harbaugh gets knocked around a lot by the media because he can't win a big game. Although there have been many factors that contributed to those loses (bad spots by refs, poor officiating, a bad snap) some just can't look past the final score. And in this day in age, that's all it takes for someone to get fired.

To me, neither team has a really high powered offense. Notre Dame was always more of a ball control kind of team, and Michigan's new quarterback Shea Patterson is making his first start in more than a year. But both teams have monstrous defenses, the Wolverines in particular. But the difference in this game is not going to be the head coaches, but the coordinators. Specifically, Michigan's defensive coordinator Don Brown who I think is currently the best at what he does. For that reason alone I'm going to give them the edge.

Prediction: The Fighting Irish go down with a fight.

Michigan 17 - Notre Dame 14

Sunday 8. Miami vs 25 LSU

Sunday, fortunately, doesn't give you much of a choice in terms of what to watch (saves me some research too). So when the Tigers take on the hurricanes you better be content. And for the most part, you should be. It's a classic matchup of two programs who are trying to reach the heights of previous seasons. Although Miami is much closer to that LSU is still prone to putting up a decent fight (unless it's against Troy). That being said, with the U's ball hawks on defense, I see them giving new quarterback Joe Burrow a lot of trouble. He's barely played any college games and this isn't exactly an ease in a new player kind of game.

Prediction: The names of the programs will ultimately be more intriguing than the actual game

Miami 24: LSU 10 (I'm calling at least two interceptions)

Monday: 19. Florida State vs 20. Virginia Tech

Welp, we're finally here. The end of the weekend and we're all dreading the Tuesday that brings our normal miserable lives back. But hey, at least the week is one day shorter. Anyway, Florida State and Virginia Tech... can't say I'm super excited for this one. To me, FSU is criminally overrated this year. They just lost their head coach Jimbo Fisher to Texas A&M and replaced him with Willie Taggart who really didn't deserve the job. You also lose important pieces on defense like a guy named Derwin James (he's good). Then you add in the fact that Deondre Francois is coming off a major injury and also had to compete for his job. This all really isn't looking good for the Seminoles.

That being said Virginia Tech isn't really going to be the team that will exploit all of this. VT is super young on defense and has kicked two of their starting corners off of the team. They two have questions at quarterback with the young Josh Jackson who is looking to improve upon the rather average year he had in 2017. But the difference in this game is coaching. I really like Justin Fuentes and think that he is pretty underrated when people talk about the second tier of coaches.

Prediction: It should be a pretty close game, but expect an ugly one.

Virginia Tech 24 - Florida State 21

Happy college football watching and Labor Day!

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10 Things I Learned From Growing Up In A Town Smaller Than A College Campus

A town straight out of a country song.

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With a population of just over 1,000, my hometown has given me so much in my 19 years of life. It's taught me things I would've never learned anywhere else (whether that be good or bad).

1. You know everyone and everyone knows you

This is so true, especially if you're a part of a big family. You're not only somehow related to everyone, but everyone knows which family you belong to. I can't go anywhere in town without at least one person recognizing me (which isn't a bad thing). If you were in the newspaper, there's a slight chance that multiple people will tell you as soon as they see you.

2. High school sports (especially football) are no joke 

As someone who cheered for four years, there's truly nothing like home football games. The sound of the crowd roaring behind you, the tunnel at the beginning of the games, and the sunsets gleaming onto the field. My senior year the football team almost went to state for the first time in 22 years. It was a HUGE deal for the community. The football players were like local celebrities and it was such an exciting time for everyone. There truly isn't anything better the spirit that surrounds small-town sports.

3. High school homecoming is a big deal for everyone

Unlike larger schools, basketball and football homecomings in my small town were like one big reunion for everyone. We have an elaborate theme for each homecoming and the Stu-co spent all day decorating it. The gym and sidelines were usually packed with people coming home to see old friends, to find out which candidate gets crowned queen, and to cheer on the athletes.

4. You live about an hour from just about everything

When I tell my college friends that I live an hour from the nearest Target, they think I'm joking. I'm being completely serious. If you needed some new clothes and shoes for school you had to make a whole day out of it. You also tried to schedule all of your doctors' appointments around the same time so you didn't have to make so many trips. An idea of a family outing meant going to a nice restaurant in "the big city" and seeing the newest movie. Something fun to do with my friends meant driving 30 minutes to get coffee, Sonic, or even just fooling around in Walmart. If we were really desperate, we even cruised the backroads listening to our favorite music.

5. You have so much respect for farmers and agriculture

I come from a family of farmers and my good friends in high school were daughters of cattle and dairy farmers. The farmers in my town are some of the kindest, smartest and most hardworking people I will probably ever meet. Seeing agriculture work in and out of my town has caused me to have so much respect for farmers and the industry. I've been caught behind a tractor and learned the hard way to not stop close to a stop-sign if a semi is turning my way. Yet I truly wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

6. High school relationships can get a little tricky

Dating in a high school of 100-something people was pretty hard. They were either related to you, taken, or like a brother to you. If you did find someone to talk to, there's a 90% chance that they've also talked to one of your friends. Most of the drama in my high school was an effect of someone dating someone else's ex.

7. You know everyone you graduated with

You don't just know them, you really know them. You know their full names, what their families do for a living, and who showed up at their kids' sporting events and who didn't. When you graduate with only 30-something other kids, it's hard not to know everyone on a super personal level.

8. When times get tough, people are always there for you

When a family of the community suddenly lost a loved one, the community immediately wrapped their arms around them and comforted them. Whether it was bringing meals to the grieving family, selling memorial T-shirts and bracelets, housing benefit dinners, or just being there for the family. If you were going through something heavy, someone always had your back.

9. You feel so loved coming home from college

I remember sitting in a lecture hall half the size of my hometown on the first day of classes and feeling overwhelmed. I thought, "How is anybody supposed to make friends at a college of 35,000 people?"

The first night home from college, I was welcomed home with open arms by everyone. I was reunited with former teachers, coaches, classmates, old friends and adults of the community. As much as I love college, it was so nice coming home to a place where everyone knows me.

10.  You couldn't of asked for a better upbringing

As much as I was ready to move to a bigger place after high school, growing up in a small town was the best thing I could ask for. It gave me a sense of community, support, and love that I wouldn't have been able to get elsewhere. My town sent me to college with enough support and encouragement to last a lifetime.

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We All Need Self-Reflection

"Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom." -Aristotle

Cailin
Cailin
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What even is self-reflection? This is a good place to start, seeing how there are many misunderstandings about what self-reflection really is and the purpose it serves us.

First, think about the word reflection, often you immediately imagine a mirror. When you look into a mirror, you see a true, realistic image of yourself. Self-reflection is when we take a step back to think (as unbiased as possible) about our actions, beliefs, motives, position, and goals. We think deeply and introspectively. We analyze ourselves in detail and reflect on how we feel that we're doing.

Living a fast pace, busy life means that you likely haven't put much thought into self-awareness. The reality is that you also may be nervous or unaware of how to get started. Without self-reflection, we eventually become overtired, overwhelmed, and very stressed. We push our stress to the side to deal with later. We keep pushing forward when we experience failure, instead of stopping to think about why we failed, and how we can succeed next time.

How can you begin to self-reflect? There are countless possibilities. A good way to start is by thinking of specific subjects you would like to reflect on. Then, set aside some time during your day to think deeply and honestly about these topics. Write down your goals, thoughts, and questions that you want to explore. Consider both, the things you are successful at and the things you need to work on.

Ask yourself questions like: What am I thankful for? What is bringing me happiness? What is/isn't working? What are my passions? What are my goals/what am I doing now to work towards them? What have I been avoiding to think about? Do I support my friends/do my friends support me? What can I improve? What should I step back from? How do I generally feel today/why? Keeping a journal of your goals/attitudes/ideas can enhance your ability to self-reflect.

Why is self-reflection important? It allows us to break our daily cycles. We often get caught up in our busy lifestyles and leave absolutely no time for ourselves. Self-reflection gives us a chance to assess how we're doing, set goals, develop stronger confidence, and learn more about ourselves. It can improve our critical thinking skills, strengthen relationships, enhance our emotional intelligence, and allow us to better manage those rising stress levels.

There is no "correct" way to self-reflect, but the fact is that it is important. Start small.

Cailin
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