The Spread, Week One: Into The Unknown

College football is back. Or rather, something that looks kind of like college football is here. 2014 brings us a new Big Ten–now with 14 teams, reshuffled and renamed divisions, and an air of unpredictability the conference hasn’t seen in a while, thanks in part to an abrupt change that has Buckeye fans on the edges of our seats: Braxton Miller’s season-ending injury and the as-yet-unseen impact it will have on the offense.

But things are just as uncertain on the national landscape. For the first time since 2006, the returning national champion does not hail from the SEC. The conference will have to console itself with its shiny new TV network, bolstered by ESPN’s Inception-level layers of conflict of interest.

The ACC welcomes Louisville to replace Maryland (now in the Big Ten) and hopes last year’s Seminole crystal football will be the start of a long streak of their own. Of course, there will be no more actual crystal footballs as the championship will now be decided by a four-team playoff with its own more understated trophy.

How to get into that playoff may be the biggest unknown of the upcoming season. Teams will be selected by a 13-member committee from diverse backgrounds applying vague guidelines. No one really knows what factors will end up being the most important, but suffice it to say that winning will always the best bet. And don’t think it will get any easier going forward. If we learned anything from the BCS, it’s that every season is a unique universe that produces its own unanswerable questions. What works this year might not work next year.

Buckeye fans are hoping the inverse is true: that what doesn’t work this year will work next year. Namely, Braxton Miller’s ailing shoulder. The dynamic QB has stated he’d like to return to the team in 2015–a decision that makes sense whether or not he’s able to make the jump to the NFL.

But first we have to see what this season brings. One-handed grabs, Hail Marys, crazy tip-drill interceptions–those are guaranteed. There’s sure to be a massive controversial officiating blunder or two, like the insulting end of last year’s Wisconsin/Arizona State game. Maybe we’ll get lucky and witness another did-you-see-that moment like Auburn’s “Kick Six” in the Iron Bowl.

One thing is for certain: you just never know.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: