Mike Hlas is an award-winning columnist with the Cedar Rapids Gazette and force behind The Hlog. Each week he will break down the biggest mismatch in college football. Considering the increasing number of Bowl Championship Series teams scheduling games against cupcake opponents, Mike's task is more challenging than trying to organize a family picnic involving members of the Oregon and Boise State teams.
There's so much Weakness in the opening week of the 2009 college season that you'd think swine flu set in long ago, at least in the offices of athletic directors across the nation.
With almost everyone in I-A playing nonconference games in Week 1, rare is the region spared by a hideous mismatch. For instance:
Louisiana Monroe (which now apparently goes by the snappy handle of ULM) is at Texas.
North Dakota is at Texas Tech.
Towson visits Northwestern.
Jacksonville State is at Georgia Tech.
Northern Colorado meets Kansas.
Ugh, times five. But our initial Game of the Weak in 2009 is one our dear Wiz wrote about earlier this month, Charleston Southern at Florida.
The Wiz noted USA Today "oddsmaker" Danny Sheridan put a line on that game. Sheridan said the Gators were 73-point favorites.
In the history of Nevada sportsbooks, it's fair to say no football team has ever really been a 73-point favorite, not even last year's Detroit Lions.
This clash of the defending national champions and one of the three or four best football teams from the city of Charleston won’t be actually posted in respectable establishments like the Bellagio or Caesars Palace because the Vegas books don’t place lines on games matching I-A and I-AA squads.
There's a reason for that. Those games aren't sporting contests, by and large. Instead, they're usually shooting galleries.
Charleston Southern is Florida’s prey. The Gators have won their last 19 openers by an average of 37 points. This thing should be 37-0 by, oh, the time pregame tailgating starts to wrap up.
Reportedly, ESPN tried to put Utah, last year's No. 2 team, and Florida together for a marquee opener. Florida Coach Urban Meyer, who came to Gainesville from Utah, said he wasn't a part of the negotiation, but was "excited" at the possibility.
It didn't come off, perhaps because Utah asked for too much cash. Or because there's no way Florida would have agreed to a return trip to Salt Lake City.
So America — or at least the segment of America that receives Sun Sports/Fox Sports South — can enjoy the majesty of the Charleston Southern-Florida epic.
Charleston Southern, for the few football fans who didn’t know the Buccaneers intimately, was a stout 7-5 last year. It opened last season with a game at Miami, and, well, let’s say the result didn't bode well for a competitive battle this year against the nation's No. 1 team. The Hurricanes dusted off the Bucs, 52-7.
On a happier note, the Charleston men did close last season with four straight wins, including conquests of Edward Waters and Presbyterian.
If Florida loses to the Bucs, get your personal houses in order. For the Apocalypse will be upon us.