Mike Hlas is an award-winning columnist with the Cedar Rapids Gazette and force behind The Hlog. Each week, he will break down the worst matchups in college football. Considering the increasing number of uncompetitive and uninteresting games, Mike's task is harder than getting Levi Johnston, Jon and Kate Gosselin, and anyone named Kardashian to just go away.
Here's how it is done in most major football conferences:
You play your nonconference games against designated victims in September, then you play your conference games after that. It's only logical. You wouldn't open a rock festival with U2, then bring out a bar band three-fourths of the way through the event.
The Southeastern Conference does things a little differently. Sure, the league has the marquee game of the week in Louisiana State at Alabama. But look at what else the conference is trotting out on the 10th Saturday of the season:
Tennessee Tech at Georgia
Furman at Auburn
Eastern Kentucky at Kentucky
Northern Arizona at Mississippi
That's right. Four — count 'em, four — games between SEC teams and Division I-AA teams. In November. That's just wrong. So each gets one quarter of this week’s Game of the Weak.
Oh, the excitement, the pageantry, the importance of the games this week. At other conferences' stadiums, that is.
Northern Arizona at Mississippi? Really? You've got to go two time zones away to find a I-AA opponent, Ole Miss? What, was Montana State or Maine unavailable that week?
Now, this is no putdown of I-AA squads. To the contrary. We respect the competitive and often-excellent I-AA programs that dot the American landscape despite having 22 fewer scholarships than their I-A big brothers. Ray Ratto of the San Francisco Chronicle gave I-AA Richmond a vote in this week’s Associated Press poll, and the 8-0 Spiders may be every bit as worthy as AP’s No. 25 team, 6-2 South Florida.
Richmond beat Duke, something the Blue Devils; last three Atlantic Coast Conference opponents couldn't do. Way to lock yourself out of your permanent Game of the Weak dwelling, Dookies.
Anyhow, none of the four I-AA teams venturing into SEC country this week have losing records. But they're designated victims all the same. They will surely help these four SEC clubs either get bowl-eligible or spruce up their records for glamorous postseason games with SEC tie-ins. Like the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl, the Papajohns.com Bowl, or the ever-popular AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl.
Auburn supporters may shiver in Shreveport at that V100 thingy on Dec. 28, but they'll say to themselves, "Good thing we had Furman on our schedule so we could play a mediocre Big 12 team in this magnificent event."
Thanks to Losers With Socks.