Penn State players will face an emotional opening game -- and a potential upset -- against Ohio. (AP)
Kind of like preseason awards for the upcoming weekend of football, and just as binding:
• Best hi-lo upset potential: Ohio @ Penn State. From a football perspective it's doable, with a loaded Bobcats squad visiting the depleted Nittany Lions. Both teams will be high-strung: On one sideline, Ohio will be facing its highest-profile game of the year (even if it reaches the MAC title game) and the trickiest obstacle to hurdle en route to a potential undefeated season. The home team will be beating the WE ARE STILL PENN STATE drums after an offseason of scandal. But the stakes are very different for each side. An Ohio win in State College will set the Bobcats on a downhill run to a division title. A Penn State win will mean the Lions have beaten a MAC team, but must still pass Virginia and Temple before settling down to the grind of Big Ten conference play.
• Best place for people-watching: Atlanta. Every once in a while, when the calendar gods smile, we get a magical weekend in the ATL where all of the following things are happening around the same time: The Chick-fil-A Kickoff, DragonCon, Atlanta Black Pride Weekend, NASCAR races and a Braves series. Are you at loose ends? Travel to Georgia this weekend. Head for Atlanta and any large, centrally-located bar or restaurant. Watch a burly Auburn fan try to politely squeeze past a table full of elves wearing glue-on pointy ears. Smile at the intersections of so many American dreams, and toast the nearest person in a BARVES shirt to our great nation. Repeat as necessary.
• Best haterade sweet spot: Alabama vs. Michigan. Given each of these fine programs' ability to draw the ire of conference rivals' fans, it's hard to find another game quite so many otherwise uninterested parties will be watching this weekend, just to see the Tide or Wolverines brought low after lofty 2011 postseason performances. The real winners here are joint SEC-Big Ten households containing bitter haters of both teams. Any LSU-Ohio State couples out there? Show yourselves. We would like to study you.
• Best all-nighter: Navy vs. Notre Dame. West Coast pals, this one kicks off at 6 a.m. your time. Let the dulcet tones of Uncle Verne lull you to sleep until Cal-Nevada kicks off at noon.
• Meanest rivalry: Marshall @ West Virginia. These two already don't like each other, and as we mentioned earlier this morning, ol' Holgo doesn't seem to mind that one bit:
• Saddest grudge match: Richmond @ UVA. Mike London led the Spiders to the school's first national title in 2008 and a conference title in 2009, then left for Charlottesville. This is like that first time Nick Saban played LSU after absconding to the NFL, only depressing because Richmond hasn't won a game since September 2011 and has no realistic chance of making this interesting.
• Most n0000000bs!!1: UTSA @ South Alabama. Bumped to the weekend thanks to Hurricane Isaac, this game pits two of the FBS' most freshly hatched programs.
• Most teams abandoned by Urban Meyer in one place: Bowling Green @ Florida. The Falcons and Gators can sit down and maybe make a nice feelings collage at halftime.
• Most lopsided blowout potential: North Texas @ LSU. The last time the Bayou Bengals played a football game they lost the national championship on what was supposed to be their own hallowed turf. We feel for the Mean Green, who did delight the nation by beating Indiana last season, but LSU's band of mayhem-makers is going to be smarting from last January and has been cooped up inside for way too much of this week in crummy weather. Cover your hearts.
• Best nightcap: Arkansas State @ Oregon.
when we said we wished Boise State and Michigan State had play last year instead of this year? We want Arkansas State to play Oregon in November instead of September, if it's not too much trouble, to let Gus Malzahn get his feet set and take another run at Chip Kelly. Too bad, but we'll be watching anyway.