It’s the return of the series no one’s been asking for!
There are, like, 4 college football games happening this week. That’s exciting enough, and manageable at that! But next week there will be, like, 100 games. And how should you navigate that complex landscape? Should you just trust ESPN, ABC, and FOX to bring you the very best in college football?
No. You should not.
The conversations surrounding Pat Fitzgerald and cell phones, non-conference neutral site games played from Lambeau Field to JerryWorld, the College Football Playoff and games not mattering unless they are play-in games with a soundtrack of Maroon 5 or Kenny Chesney—they come down to money. And, in the process, they cheapen what is the greatest running spectacle in college sports—the pageantry of bands making dick shapes on the field, the joy of MAC teams upsetting Big XII teams on incorrectly-given untimed downs, the absurdity of 100-point shootouts played on a tertiary streaming channel which your cable subscription gets you but you’re too lazy or uniformed to scroll and find.
Don’t Watch This; Watch That rejects the former and embraces the latter. And we have a little fun* along the way.
In the past, we’ve accidentally predicted the CFP field, toasted the Great Alaska Shootout, analogized ESPNews to Fox News, composed a paean to MACtion, questioned the gender of Maryland’s Testudo, discussed the joys of homeownership and setting mousetraps, accidentally blended those last two when my wife made assumptions about a mouse’s sex, and ranked all the Culvers on I-94 in wisconsin.
*That is to say, this might not actually be that fun.
But you’re going to learn about what games are happening, and why there’s more fun out there in the world of college football than just settling for Alabama roasting Duke by 50 in the sterile atmosphere of Megatron’s Butthole.
That’s Week 1, though. And this—this is Week 0.
Why Week 0?
That’s a complicated question.
We tried to deal with it a little bit yesterday—spoiler: It’s mostly because of the money.
You shouldn’t feel bad for watching these early games, of course, but should know that this year’s Miami (FL)-Florida (putting Miami-Florida isn’t OK because this is DWT;WT and Miami-FL just serves to distinguish from Miami-Ohio, an Equally Important Team) is a money grab.
It’s piggybacking on multiple years of Colorado State playing weirdly-fun games on CBSSN, Pac-12 teams playing mid-majors in Australia, and a host of teams from UMass to BYU squaring off with FCS programs...with mixed results. But the ratings are there, we have proven hungry enough, and before long there will be a college football exhibition game slate. Our demand has been monetized—whether for personal seat licenses, streaming subscriptions, or in ensign associations—and eventually the Almighty Dollar will getcha.
I’m so sorry.
Let’s watch some FCS football, huh?
Defining Our Terms
Looking back on 2018 and this weird weekly piece I started doing despite there being no functional demand for it, I thought those games deserving of “Watch That” were relatively obvious. By and large, they:
- Did not feature Top 25 teams
- Had an O/U of at least 60 points
- Took place on networks that were not ABC, CBS, FOX, ESPN, or ESPN2
That latter point proved a little challenging. Early on, I would just drop in things like “South Florida Bulls at UMass Minutemen on Eleven Sports Network—watch it!” and not bother to consider whether people had explored all the channels on their sporting dials.
- CBS Sports Network (CBSSN): You can find this easily—221 on DirecTV, 158 on Dish, available on most cable systems and streaming services like Playstation Vue, Hulu Live, YouTubeTV, and FuboTV. Features some Mountain West, MAC, and AAC games, Army Black Knights and Navy Midshipmen home games, the Cure Bowl, and the Arizona Bowl. This is not a particularly “exotic” sports channel, but it’s one some still struggle with.
- ESPN+: You pay ESPN $4.99 a month on top of your existing ESPN-providing service for this. It is worth it. Do it. Remember what I said about the monetization of college football? Shut up and take it. You also get to watch MLS and USL soccer, English Championship soccer (that’s the second tier), and a lot of other tertiary sporting events. Just do it.
Stadium: Bad people own this one. Try not to think too hard about it, OK? Brett McMurphy is still OK* for sports reporting, and he’s here. You pay extra for this one on DirecTV, I think, but it’s channel 623, so give it a look! They also stream on Twitch, FuboTV, Sling, Vue, and Facebook sometimes, too. It’s more accessible than you think! Mostly Mountain West content with some C-USA sprinkled in.
[*offer does not apply to Ohio State fans]
- beIN: Mostly this is where you watch the US Men’s National Team when they have to play CONCACAF qualifiers away at Jamaica. But there’s football, too! C-USA plays the occasional game on beIN. It’s Dish 392 and on Fubo and Sling and maybe some others.
- Eleven Sports Network (Eleven): This is a weird place. It shows Kontinental Hockey League games, the occasional Montana junior college basketball game (seriously—I’ve watched it), and Major Arena Soccer. But! It also showed UMass football for the last two years. UMass have moved on (see the next), but Big Sky, Ivy League, Southland, and other football lives here! You’ll roll your eyes, then watch Montana-Idaho for the Little Brown Stein. Enjoy.
- FloSports.tv (flosports): An online streaming service. You have to pay for this. It’s less fun. But there’s Colonial and—most importantly—Massachusetts Minutemen and New Mexico State Aggies football. We’ll find streams, don’t worry.
Was this an elaborate way of padding an article to get to 1000 words? Maybe. But hopefully this encourages you to explore your range of college football options and try new channels.
Shut up and talk about the games, MNW
You skipped to the comments anyways, Bold Heading Douchebag.
All times CT.
Don’t Watch This
Arizona Cardinals at Minnesota Vikings (12pm, NFLN)
Real Madrid vs. Real Valladolid (12pm, beIN)
Schalke 04 vs. Bayern Munich (11:30am, FS1)
Villanova Wildcats at [FCS #14] Colgate Raiders
11am | CBSSN | Col -3 | O/U -34.5
Holy moly. That is a line of just 37.5 points with a -3 favorite (you’re basically betting on a 20-17 finish!), and no, it’s not Northwestern-Rutgers or a service academy game. Instead, it’s a matchup that belongs as a 16-vs-1 matchup in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. But surprise! It’s football in upstate New York. You lucky dog.
You remember Villanova from doing a Fun Thing and upsetting Temple Owls in Lincoln Financial Stadium last year, but they collapsed when the rubber met the road in 2018, losing four straight in Colonial Athletic play.
Colgate, though, lost only to Army in the 2018 regular season, running up a perfect record and shutting out four Patriot League foes before getting BTFO’d by North Dakota State Bison in the FCS Playoff quarterfinals, 35-0. They’re the overwhelming favorite to win the Patriot League again—and they boast a road-grading offense and stifling D once again. This is good, hard-nosed football to drink a macro lager, scratch yourself, and spit to.
11:30am | NBC
Hear me out. You do not watch to watch the walking hangnail that is Manchester United hosting Crystal Palace at 9am. But if you’re looking to see some of the better teams in English Premier League soccer (and certainly not my West Ham United), you could do worse than Liverpool-Arsenal.
Plus, there’s a fair chance, somehow, that there will be as much scoring as there is in Villanova-Colgate?
Don’t Watch This
New York Yankees at Los Angeles Dodgers (3:05pm, FS1)
Cramton Bowl, Montgomery, AL
2pm | ESPN | YSU -3 | O/U 54.5
This is something called the FCS Kickoff. Why that game is played between two unranked (and un-voted-for) teams in the home of the Camellia Bowl, I cannot say and do not care enough to find out the answer.
All I know is that there should be lots of Bo Pelini yelling. That’s why you’re watching, too.
Don’t Watch This
Colorado Rockies at St. Louis Cardinals (6:15pm, FS1)
Houston Texans at Dallas Cowboys (6pm, NFLN)
Camping World Stadium, Orlando, FL
6pm | ESPN | FL -7 | O/U 46.5
No players were on the roster of either team the last time these two
bitter rivals mild enemies teams from Florida played. It will be contested in the sterile atmosphere of Camping World Stadium following College Gameday in the sterile atmosphere of Disney World (go get ‘em, Wazzu Flag!), and I could not give a shit.
Why will I watch this? Because it is college football, and it is on. Let that be enough, if just for this week only.
The ‘Canes are the effective 29th-ranked team in the AP Poll, coming in above my beloved Northwestern, and odds are they come out hot for first-year coach Manny Diaz. We’ll see if that gives them any kind of actual bump against a supposedly elite good SEC and thus definitely never overrated Gators squad that starts QB Feleipe Franks, who I refuse to consider for fantasy football because I don’t trust people with extra E’s in their name (but I do love QBs who shush their own fans after those fans are dicks).
6pm | ESPN2 | (This, too, is soccer.)
But I will be honest, friends—I am not optimistic for the “Florida Cup”, if that is its real name. I don’t buy that this is a real rivalry that anyone gives a shit about—they have played once in the last decade!
Instead, for teams that actually don’t like each other and will push and swear and do stupid things in foreign languages (which, let’s be honest, is basically what is spoken by most Floridians attempting English), might I recommend a couple New York teams playing what should be some decently-fun soccer? Give it a try. Just to see if you like it.
It’s Late and I’m Drunk, What Should I Watch?
Don’t Watch This
Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Chargers (9pm, NFLN)
9:30pm | CBSSN | AZ -11 | O/U 73.5
Friends, this is everything you want in an ILIDWSIW? matchup. P5 team on the road to open the year? Check. DWT;WT Team of Choice Hawaii at home? Check. O/U of 70+? Check. You cannot ask for any better drunk viewing than this.
If Khalil Tate can’t find running room against a Rainbow Warriors defense that was one of the worst in the country in 2018, then just give Kevin Sumlin one of those fruity coconut drinks and let him stay in Honolulu; he’s not coming back.
He’s not even the most exciting quarterback in this game, though! That would be Hawaii QB Cole McDonald, who revealed this summer that he played most of 2018 with internal bleeding...
...in his scrotum.
Now, I’m not a doctor (yet), but that seems ridiculous and just...wow.
But Hawaii is fun. If you don’t know it yet, watch this game and learn. McDonald will hurl it around to WR targets like Cedric Byrd and JoJo Ward, the Warriors have an LB-turned-RB running it up the middle occasionally, and scored at least 42 points in five of their first six games. They will come out of the gate fast and throwing, and we are all the richer for it.
Dead Read will be along with your open thread for the weekend shortly.
Happy football, everyone.