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Couch Potato: Week 1 TV offerings break long football drought with alacrity

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Here is Todd Gurley running off and leaving Clemson last year. He's all better after a knee injury, so expect him to do this a lot Saturday. (Source: Chris Collins/UGA Athletics) Here is Todd Gurley running off and leaving Clemson last year. He's all better after a knee injury, so expect him to do this a lot Saturday. (Source: Chris Collins/UGA Athletics)
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(RNN) - The first week of coma-inducing all-day football on TV at last arrives with the promise of breaking the long string of Saturdays where we had time to cut grass, participate in hobbies and productive pursuits and socially interact with other humans.

Thank goodness that foolishness is over at last.

SATURDAY:

No. 2 Alabama vs. West Virginia

2 p.m. ET

ABC

Alabama is the favorite to win the SEC, but, well...

The quarterback situation is sketchy. The beaten-out-by-Jameis-Winston Florida State transfer Jacob Coker has not taken the starting job from fifth-year senior Blake Sims, who was so bad in the spring game everybody thought he was injured, but he wasn't. The offensive line is a little wonky, as it remained throughout last season.

Alabama lost seven starters off last year's defense, but none were cornerbacks, who suffered several noteworthy collapses last season – most memorably a 39-yard Auburn scoring pass with 32 seconds left in the 2013 Iron Bowl, setting up the most spectacular disaster in the Crimson Tide collective memory. A couple of freshmen sensations have not managed to displace the returnees.

None of this matters right now. West Virginia won four games last year and nothing much has happened to incite increased expectations. They have their own cornerback issues – starter Ishmael Banks has been suspended for three games because of some sort of academic malfeasance. This will create the opportunity for Amari Cooper to catch 1 billion passes for infinity yards, provided Coker and Sims can get it to him.

Mountaineer QB Clint Trickett is another Jameis Winston casualty. He played two years at Florida State, where his dad, Rick, is an assistant coach. Winston showed up in Tallahassee and Clint Trickett headed for the hills. He started seven games last year and did OK before he got hurt.

Earlier this week, the humorous Clint Trickett admitted that he kissed Nick Saban's daughter when they were both 6 years old and his dad was on Saban's staff at LSU. Earlier this summer he became Deadspin-famous when he tweeted a sexist thing about watching football with women, referring to the entire gender by a pejorative that rhymes with "nose."

After a bombardment of a thousand tweets of outrage, he apologized through the West Virginia sports information office and @ClintTrickett9 went dark.

Those who wanted to see him suffer for his indiscretion might want to tune in early.

Arkansas at No. 6 Auburn

4 p.m. ET

ESPN

Arkansas coach Bret Bielema is a confident guy. When you don't have an offense, a defense or a kicking game, what's left but self-confidence?

He talks a good game, but his Arkansas team has yet to put one together. Things aren't looking so good on paper this year, either.

The history is cruel and undeniable:

Last season, the Hogs lost all eight SEC games in a row; they have been clobbered in season-opening SEC games the past three years by an accumulative score of 141-57.

Bielema has said his second Arkansas team has a chip on its shoulder and exhibits great exuberance and esprit de corps. So did the Texans at the Alamo.

Auburn has a lot of talent back off last year's No. 2 team, but we'll need to see what the deal is with the running game after losing Tre Mason, the most underrated back in the nation last year. I'm not sold on that kid with the double-barrel name and the transfer from Alabama.

The OL needs some re-tooling, as well. Oh, and Jeremy Johnson is going to start at quarterback because Nick Marshall got popped with a sack of weed in his car last month. Johnson wasn't much good against Texas A&M when Marshall was hurt, but mopping up against the lesser lights, he did fine. Expect to see Marshall at the first sign of trouble.

Auburn's early uncertainty probably won't make a lot of difference because Arkansas' defense was just dreadful last year, allowing 413 yards and 31 points per game. This program is at least two recruiting seasons away from being able to tackle me and my bowling team consistently.

Auburn's defense was no prize last year, but was just good enough 12 out of 14 times last year. It should be more than good enough against Arkansas, whose quarterback's pickup truck got burned down earlier this week by a suspected arsonist. That's not a good omen, if you believe in omens.

If you were the kind of kid who liked to catch a praying mantis, put it in a Mason jar and feed beetles to it, this is the game for you.

No. 16 Clemson at No. 12 Georgia

5:30 p.m. ET

ESPN

Both teams have new quarterbacks after an era of great stability. Georgia's Hutson Mason took over when Aaron Murray went down last year, and the people in the know say he's going to be the new It Guy in the SEC.

The people in the know are usually wrong, but there's a time for everything: he displayed excellent accuracy last year, and he's got two amazing running backs to help out.

Georgia has a new defensive coordinator, a fellow called Jeremy Pruitt, who keeps in shape by toting around the giant national championship ring he won being the defensive boss for Florida State last year. It's hard to imagine any scenario in which the UGA defense does not improve, since it was astonishingly awful last year.

Pruitt and his defender Dogs will attempt to rattle Clemson's senior starter Cole Stadt, who hurt his leg after flinging a scoring pass in a scrimmage last week. The Clemson propaganda machine insists he'll be full go.

If not, there's freshman Deshaun Watson, who's highly touted. Highly touted freshmen have a tendency to break into the lineup promptly when fifth-year seniors who finally get their chance don't light it up.

Clemson has a flock of highly touted freshman wide receivers – Artavis Scott, Kyrin Priester and Demarre Kitt – who will get thrown to early and often.

It looks like Clemson is a year or two away, and Georgia is a 9.5-point favorite. Don't touch it with a 10,000-foot pole.

No. 13 LSU vs. Wisconsin

9 p.m. ET

ESPN

LSU lost all its offensive studs and Wisconsin lost all its defensive studs. Both teams are in rebuild mode, and might be bad dogs in a year or two. Or maybe this year. Kids grow up fast these days.

LSU's got a whole bunch of highly touted freshmen. There's that running back Leonard Fournette and that wide receiver Malachi Dupre and that freshman QB Brandon Harris, who will probably play sooner or later.

LSU's defense is also very young because most of the guys who often failed to tackle very well last year are gone.

Wisconsin's Gary Andersen took over last year when Bret Bielema went to Arkansas. Offensively, they do pretty much the same thing, which is pack in tight, block real well and run a big back right at you, gain 3 or 4 yards, repeat.

Andersen has signed more speed, and last year they did more sprint out and option stuff than Bielema did, but they're still not SEC fast. They have more experience on offense than LSU does on defense. After this, their Badger schedule is cake, so if they win, they may be a shoo-in for the playoff.

LSU is faster, Wisconsin is bigger. So it'll be one of those.

The other ones: UT-Martin visits Kentucky, which is just sad. The Missouri-South Dakota State game is on TV, believe it or not. It's ESPNU, which technically counts as TV. Southern Miss at Mississippi State, a standing-room only crowd at Davis Wade Stadium wants to see if the Bulldogs can score 1,000. Idaho comes to Florida; Utah State visits Tennessee and that's that.

Copyright 2014 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

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