I just want to apologize to all my loyal readers. I really dropped the ball last week, in forgetting to remind everyone that it was, apparently, “Separation Saturday” around college football.
As the guy you rely on to keep his ear to the ground and inform you of the big goings-on in the college football world, I felt terrible while watching the LSU-Georgia game and hearing in-studio host Tim Brando refer to “Separation Saturday” about a half-dozen times during his cutaways for highlights of other games.
But as I was chastising myself – with 40 lashes with the nearest couch cushion – I started thinking about why I didn’t receive the memo about the newest college football gameday nickname.
The reason why is simple: Nobody besides the brass at CBS and Mr. Brando probably knew it was “Separation Saturday.” It’s just the latest in a long line of ploys TV companies use to drum up interest.
First of all, the idea that people sit around thinking up stupid monikers for a specific Saturday on the college football slate is as funny as it is pointless. If there’s one thing on TV that doesn’t need a catchy nickname to get folks interested, it’s sports.
Secondly, I wonder how much these people get paid just to think up lame names. And, if they’re open to suggestions, I’ve got a few of them for free.
• How about “Suck It Up Saturday,” for those early season weekends when all the top-tier conference teams are playing opponents who they’re favored to beat by at least four touchdowns?
• Or maybe “Sing-along Saturday,” when the winning teams should be caught on camera not only directing the marching band after the game, but also singing the lyrics with full throat?
• Then there’s “Irrelevant Saturday,” when all the top teams in the conferences are playing the bottom-feeders in games that really have no bearing on the final outcome of the conference races.
• They could have an “Insert New Sponsor’s Name Here Saturday,” when a sponsor not already shelling out millions of dollars for naming rights for the games/stadiums/inside-the-game minutiae (like those ever-present starting lineups or halftime stats graphics) get to hear their names called for every in-studio highlight package.
• Watch out for “Spooky Saturday,” maybe on Halloween weekend. Instead of showing replays between every down, they just keep those random crowd shots of fans dressed in ridiculous outfits/costumes coming until every section of every stadium gets some face time.
• And, of course, this weekend will be “Shutdown Saturday,” when the politicians have all the games blacked out on their specific TV sets in honor of them not choosing to do the jobs they were elected for. (Weren’t expecting topical political humor here, were you?)
You get the idea, and hopefully the sarcasm (because I’m laying in pretty thick here). I wonder how “Separation Saturday” went down, and which teams gained (or lost) separation; there has to be somebody keeping stats on these things, right?
Michigan State at Iowa
When: 11 a.m. Saturday TV: ESPN2
Where: Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City Line: Pick ’em
What’s up: The Hawkeyes have won 4 in a row, but need to steal a victory or two from equal or favored opponents if they want to go bowling. The Spartans have been inconsistent, but – much like Iowa – love to play a physical brand of football.
My pick: Iowa 24-21
No. 6 Georgia at Tennessee
When: 2:30 p.m. Saturday TV: CBS
Where: Neyland Stadium, Knoxville Line: Georgia by 10½
What’s up: The Bulldogs have beaten two top-10 opponents since that opening loss to Clemson, and look like they’re the team to beat in the SEC East. The Vols are looking for a big win to hang their hats on.
My pick: Georgia 38-17
Georgia Tech at No. 14 Miami
When: 2:30 p.m. Saturday TV: ESPNU
Where: Sun Life Stadium, Miami Gardens Line: Miami by 6
What’s up: This game will decide the early frontrunner in the ACC Coastal Division, and will come down to how well the ’Canes handle the Jackets’ triple-option.
My pick: Miami 31-27
Arkansas at No. 18 Florida
When: 6 p.m. Saturday TV: ESPN2
Where: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville
Line: Florida by 12½
What’s up: The Gators are still an unknown entity with the loss of starting QB Jeff Driskel, but have plenty of talent to make up for that. The Razorbacks have struggled the past 2 weeks, but coach Bret Bielema always has his team fired up for the big games.
My pick: Florida 24-14
No. 4 Ohio State at No. 16 Northwestern
When: 7 p.m. Saturday TV: ABC
Where: Ryan Field, Evanston Line: Ohio State by 7
What’s up: This one should be a shootout, with whichever defense gets a stop here or there giving their team an advantage. The Wildcats are looking for that signature win, while the Buckeyes are hoping for another undefeated run – and possible BCS title-game berth.
My pick: Ohio State 44-38
No. 15 Washington at No. 5 Stanford
When: 9:30 p.m. Saturday TV: ESPN
Where: Stanford Stadium Line: Stanford by 7½
What’s up: The Huskies are hoping for a big win to show everyone on the West Coast that they’re back in the mix for conference titles. The Cardinal just want to grind out another win with their physical ground game.
My pick: Washington 27-21