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Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated
Dan Gartland

SI:AM | Five College Football Games Not to Miss in Week 1

Good morning, I’m Dan Gartland. Of course, the first full weekend of college football is starting with some major realignment news.

In today’s SI:AM:

📺 The ACC’s coast-to-coast stretch

🏈 Week 1’s best games

😬 Florida’s dud against Utah

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College football starts for real

College football has the most consistently underwhelming start to the season of all major sports. While professional leagues can front-load the schedule with tantalizing matchups, evenly matched games can be hard to come by in the early weeks of the college season as teams warm up by facing nonconference foes. That’s how you end up with such thrilling matchups as Michigan vs. East Carolina and Georgia vs. UT-Martin.

But there are a handful of games that have the potential to be entertaining, including …

No. 5 LSU vs. No. 8 Florida State (7:30 p.m. ET Sunday on ABC)

If you’re going to watch only one game this weekend, make it this one. A matchup of top-10 teams speaks for itself, but this is also a rematch of last year’s thrilling season opener played at the Superdome in New Orleans, which FSU won 24–23. While both teams entered last year’s game unranked, this year they have playoff aspirations. A win over a quality opponent on a neutral field will look mighty good on a résumé come December.

No. 17 TCU vs. Colorado (12 p.m. ET Saturday on Fox)

Don’t expect this one to be close. While TCU lost several key contributors from last year’s team that lost to Georgia in the national title game, the Horned Frogs are still leaps and bounds ahead of a Colorado team that was rebuilt on the fly upon the arrival of coach Deion Sanders. Coach Prime has talked a big game from the moment he arrived on campus in Boulder, and now it’s time to back up that talk.

No. 21 North Carolina vs. South Carolina (7:30 p.m. ET Saturday on ABC)

This is the renewal of an old rivalry. It’s only the fifth regular-season matchup between the two teams since 1991. On top of that, it features two of the most exciting quarterbacks in the country. The Tar Heels are led by Drake Maye, who could very well be the No. 1 pick in next year’s NFL draft, while the Gamecocks are led by Spencer Rattler, who you may remember for throwing for 438 yards and six touchdowns in last year’s shocking blowout of Tennessee.

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Houston vs. UTSA (7 p.m. ET Saturday on FS1)

This one might be flying under the radar because neither team is ranked, but it’s a rematch of last year’s season-opening triple-overtime thriller won by the Cougars, 37–35. “There may not be much better potential on the list for a legitimate game of the weekend,” Richard Johnson wrote in his Week 1 watchability rankings.

The Roadrunners have been one of the best nonpower teams in the country over the past two years, going 12–2 in 2021 and 11–3 last year, and are actually the betting favorites on the road in this one. Losing at home to a smaller program isn’t how Houston would like to start its first season in the Big 12. UTSA, meanwhile, would love to get a signature victory to begin its first season in the AAC. At the very least, tune in to see Houston’s cool Oilers-themed uniforms.

No. 25 Iowa vs. Utah State (12 p.m. ET Saturday on FS1)

The Hawkeyes boast a stout defense, but will they finally put up some points to win enough games to make noise in the Big Ten? Brian Ferentz sure hopes so. Ferentz, the son of head coach Kirk Ferentz, has been the offensive coordinator for Iowa since 2017. During which time the program has earned a reputation as a place where offense goes to die. (The Hawkeyes ranked 123rd in the nation last year with 17.7 points per game.) But the elder Ferentz has refused to show his son the door, and so the school revised the OC’s contract this offseason, cutting his pay by $50,000 and adding a clause that says he’ll be let go if Iowa doesn’t average at least 25 points per game this season. (Luckily for Ferentz, defensive and special teams scores count toward that number.)

On paper, a nonpower team like Utah State should seem like an opportunity for Ferentz to run up the score and boost his season average. But then again, the Hawkeyes managed only seven points in last year’s season opener against FCS South Dakota State.

The best of Sports Illustrated

Jeffery A. Salter/Sports Illustrated

The top five...

… things I saw last night:

5. Nebraska’s nearly busted trick play, leading to an easy touchdown.

4. Utah’s 70-yard touchdown on the first play against Florida.

3. Daniel Jackson’s toe-drag touchdown catch on fourth-and-10 to bring Minnesota level with Nebraska late in the fourth quarter. Here’s a closer look at how he got his foot in bounds.

2. ​​Dragan Kesich’s 47-yard field goal as time expired to win the game for the Gophers.

1. Ronald Acuña Jr.’s grand slam for his 30th homer of the season. He’s now the first player in MLB history to hit 30 homers and steal 60 bases in a season. (I wrote earlier this week about where his season stands in the context of baseball history.)


On this day 25 years ago, en route to breaking Roger Maris’s single-season MLB home run record, Mark McGwire hit his 56th and 57th home runs of the season, breaking the decades-old National League record held by which player?

  • Ralph Kiner
  • Willie Mays
  • Johnny Mize
  • Hack Wilson

Yesterday’s SIQ: On Aug. 31, 1987, minor league catcher Dave Bresnahan pulled an on-field prank involving which object, quickly leading to his being released by his team?

  • A whoopee cushion
  • A potato
  • An exploding ball
  • A pocketful of flour

Answer: A potato. Bresnahan, a catcher for the Williamsport Bills, Cleveland’s Double A affiliate at the time, carved a potato to look like a baseball and then used it to dupe a runner into running home, where he was waiting with the real ball to tag him out.

Bresnahan’s baseball career wasn’t going anywhere. He was 25 and had to fight for playing time as Williamsport’s backup catcher. He couldn’t hit his way out of a wet paper bag, with a batting average of .150 in 52 games that season. On top of that, the Bills were mired in a lousy season, en route to a 60–79 finish. With the end of the season—and perhaps Bresnahan’s time as a pro ballplayer—approaching, Bresnahan decided it was time to have a little fun.

It was the final weekend of the season, and the Bills were playing a doubleheader. Most of Bresnahan’s teammates were in on the prank, as well as the team’s pitching coach. But, crucially, Bresnahan didn’t tell his manager Orlando Gómez.

Bresnahan had decided that the right time to pull the stunt was with a runner on third and two outs. In the fifth inning the opportunity presented itself, and Bresnahan put his plan in motion.

“There was this larger catcher’s glove that I kept in my bag in the dugout,” he recalled in an interview last year with “I told [the umpire] that my glove broke and I needed to get another glove. He said, ‘Oh yeah, sure.’ ... I go to the dugout and, of course, all my teammates know what’s going on, and they’ve got me almost bursting out laughing.”

As the pitcher delivered the pitch, Bresnahan took the potato out of his glove and held it in his bare hand. He caught the pitch and then threw the potato to third, where the third baseman purposefully let it sail into the outfield. The opposing third base coach yelled at the runner to go home, and, when he got there, Bresnahan was waiting to tag him out with the ball.

Bresnahan had been told by an umpire friend that his stunt shouldn’t result in a run being awarded, but the umps calling the game did allow the run to score, much to Bresnahan’s disappointment.

Gómez pulled Bresnahan from the game after the stunt. The next day, he was released. But the prank earned Bresnahan his 15 minutes of fame, including a trip to Yankee Stadium to appear on NBC’s Game of the Week. Even today, the stunt lives in infamy.

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