THE MAIN CHARACTER, Week 2: Ok, NOW it’s college football season

By Jason Kirk

Welcome to the weekly college football wrapup that recognizes this sport is about nothing but feelings, primarily about enjoying the bad ones suffered by people besides you.

It’s nothing but feelings, all the way down. Made-up polls determine which teams get the most attention and best postseason invites. Friendship clubs founded 100 years ago determine which teams get to call themselves “powers.” Recruiting is about the feelings of 17-year-old boys, and even head coaches can vanish because some booster gifted the wrong color BMW.

So the college football internet is a potent stew. One does not watch one’s team win and then log off. No. One must maximize the advantage, storming rivals whose teams did not win, because the actually impactful Feelings Market never stops fluctuating. And if one’s team loses, there’s always punching down on somebody who had a worse weekend. Almost always.

Stream live college football games every week this season from conferences across the country on ESPN+.

Let’s see which of this week’s cast members earned MAIN CHARACTER honors.

Florida State

 

FSU coach Mike Norvell is now 3-8, now responsible for FSU’s first FCS loss and biggest upset loss ever, and now more than halfway to the 21 games Willie Taggart got. Anyway, Clemson, Miami, UNC and Florida are up soon.

Texas

It’s actually awesome that we rank the Longhorns so highly every preseason. How else could we gain this much joy from them losing by 19 against a team they’re signing up to play more often?

 

Notre Dame football on some app or whatever

For the second week in a row, the Irish won, but at what cost? (The cost this time: $4.99 a month.)

Entering the day, it was clear putting one of the country’s most-watched teams on a second-tier streaming thing was going to provide afternoon comedy.

Comedy ensued. The Watch Grid tried to warn you, Irish fans. To dip a toe into Notre Dame internet after this game’s kickoff was to encounter confusion, outrage, boycott threats and young people speaking like old people. That’s the same as Notre Dame internet any other time of week, sure. And to be fair, it did sound like a bad time.

But with benefits for the locals! Those of us who’ve come to think of NBC broadcasts as Notre Dame state media can only imagine how much Rudy/Gipper/Te’o hagiography was going on once fans were actually paying for a broadcast.

Everyone eventually made their peace with the whole thing, especially those of us who were just rubbernecking.

What made this moment truly special, however, was how hard Notre Dame tried to lose to 17-point underdog Toledo. We even got callbacks to Brian Kelly’s standup routine, the Main Character of Week 1.

 

Iowa State

The Cyclones losing to Iowa is really normal, even if Vegas was too high on the home team. I want to show you only four things.

 

Miami

The Canes had an up-and-down weekend. They delivered the weekend’s most dramatic heroism

… but also struggled with Appalachian State. And:

 

Tennessee

It’s kinda wild that Ohio State, Texas, Tennessee, USC and FSU lost upsets, while Miami and Notre Dame almost lost upsets, and only one or two of those register as really big deals. Imagine how much that list of results would shock a time-traveler from 1995-2005.

The American Athletic Conference

For the second week in a row, the AAC appears in this space largely due to off-field events.

Cutting even more deeply, this happened after a summer of conspiracy theories about the AAC angling, with powerful friends, to eat the Big 12. My my my, how the table doesn’t turn at all because it was always in this exact position.

The AAC will rebuild, adding some teams from the Sun Belt or Conference USA or FCS or whatever. But of course the AAC will rebuild. The AAC has been rebuilding since it was called the Big East.

The Big 12

The conference was the MAIN CHARACTER of the entire offseason and most other realignment discourse for the last decade. But it finally had a good day on Friday, adding four competent programs, making itself more entertaining, and likely staving off its own breakup.

And then what was the revived Big 12’s very first football showcase? Why, that’d be the Kansas Jayhawks losing for the second year in a row to Coastal Carolina, who started playing football in 2003. And KU didn’t just lose, KU failed to cover a 27-point spread. ARE YOU SURE YOU CAN HANDLE POWER-CONFERENCE FOOTBALL, CINCINNATI?

It’s also clear the past decade of Big 12 Discourse is only being swapped out for a new Big 12 Discourse. (Judas fell to No. 4 because falling is Judas’ whole deal.)

Otherwise, college football internet cruised into Realignment Is Official mode, featuring satisfying spins on the things we all say every time teams change leagues.

And now we’re all in the process of updating our lifelong-fan conference boasts.

But no matter what, there’s one thing we can all find joy in.

USC

What follows is the Trojans’ entire highlight reel from their 42-28 home loss to Stanford.

This was followed by hours of calls for USC to fire Clay Helton, as if those calls have ever done anything before.

THE MAIN CHARACTER, Week 2: Ohio State

If you work in sports media for a while, you develop a sense of a typical season’s phases. You know, without even looking at a forecast or a schedule, how Week 9 usually feels and works unlike Week 13. You give personal nicknames to different times of day, from the Big Ten’s Bob Evans punts breakfast to the SEC’s six-hour bro-country concerts interrupted by football to Pac-12 after dark, all based on biorhythms.

Well, here’s a little mantra some of us have thrown around over the years: “The season don’t start until Ohio State loses.”

Nothing changes the universal mood more than a Buckeye stumble, not even a Bama loss, because we all know Bama’s always making the playoff anyway. So many people care about Ohio State winning, and therefore so many people care about Ohio State losing.

Well, the season has now started.

And finally, I’ve seen exactly one post so far this season that made me gasp out loud. It’s this one, in which internet user KillerNut has fallen so low, they declare Michigan could beat Ohio State.

Yeah. The season started early this year.


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