In any season, the first week of college football is an opportunity to get duped. Last year, that might have been thinking Texas A&M was destined to challenge for the SEC West based on its dismantling of South Carolina. The year before, maybe you thought Virginia was going to improve on a down 2012 when they opened with a win over BYU. And there's this from 2009.
What did it mean? Absolutely nothing!
These overreactions are perfectly normal, the product of months and months without access to any meaningful football input for your brain to process. Like a starving man, it overindulges, shoveling fistfuls of football into its mouth and shouting "THIS IS THE MOST DELICIOUS FOOD IN HUMAN HISTORY!" And we can quantify the degree to which your brain will have that reaction, using a measure called M.O.P., or Maximum Overreaction Potential. (This acronym also reflects that Week 1 gives you the same neurological reaction as "Ante Up.") Let's take a look at the M.O.P. ratings for some of this season's early games.
UNC-South Carolina (9/3, 6:00)
If UNC wins: This game gets a M.O.P. of 8.1 (out of a maximum 10), as we immediately take this as a sign that the ACC is going to be exceptionally strong, and the Steve Spurrier Needs To Retire columns start getting churned out as fast as possible.
If South Carolina wins: 4.7. Larry Fedora's hot seat warms up a bit more, and a handful of columnists will use this to argue that SEC East isn't garbage.
Michigan-Utah (9/3, 8:30)
If Michigan wins: 9.8. People will be ripping their hair out and jockeying to be the first to write "UNFLINCHING VICTORY HUNGER: The Story of Jim Harbaugh's First Michigan Season."
If Utah wins: 6.0. There will be some level of Harbaugh panic, to be sure, but there will also be plenty of imagining the Pac-12 South getting three teams into the playoff.
TCU-Minnesota (9/3, 9:00)
If TCU wins: 2.2. Beating Minnesota on the road will help the Horned Frogs make an early case, but the win last year was lopsided enough that this won't move many needles. Slight bump here if Trevone Boykin goes nuts and gets off to a good Heisman campaign start.
If Minnesota wins: 8.4. We'll proclaim the Big 12's playoff chances as Baylor-or-nothing, look WAY ahead to Minnesota-Ohio State as having massive implications, and start up the Is The 2015 Big Ten The Best Conference Ever? pieces.
Washington-Boise State (9/4, 10:15)
If Washington wins: 9.4. The Pac-12 North magically becomes completely up for grabs, and Steve Sarkisian simultaneously gets credit for leaving behind a solid foundation and trashed for never doing anything at Washington. Bonus - we'll collectively beat the hell out of every column that claimed Boise could grab a playoff spot like it's a piñata that pantsed you at a middle school dance.
If Boise State wins: 1.7. It's Washington's rebuilding year, and you only stayed up to watch the first half once the outcome seemed clear.
Stanford-Northwestern (9/5, 12:00)
If Stanford wins: 0.2. Even that feels like an overreaction.
If Northwestern wins: 3.8. Did we decide if Stanford is still good? I honestly can't remember and there's no way I'm going to go back through my email to check.
BYU-Nebraska (9/5, 3:30)
If BYU wins: 7.0, though admittedly that is largely my own desire to see BYU go undefeated and ruin so many things for other people talking. This will definitely make things super uncomfortable for Huskers fans, though.
If Nebraska wins: 3.5. It'll be nice to get the Mike Riley era started with a win, but until you prove you don't drop a dumb game to Iowa, ain't gonna mean a whole lot.
Louisville-Auburn (9/5, 3:30)
If Louisville wins: 9.8. You will literally be suffocated in glowing reviews insisting that Bobby Petrino has finally figured out how to be a good coach and a good man. Oh, and the smug schadenfreude coming from Florida fans will trigger an EPA warning. This would be Superfund level hate.
If Auburn wins: 7.4. The last time Auburn opened the season with a win against an ACC team was 1997, and you're damn right they beat Alabama that year IRON BOWL'S LOCKED UP WAR EAGLE.
Arizona State-Texas A&M (9/5, 7:00)
If Arizona State wins: 5.5. This is where Mike Bercovici begins to claim his September Heisman.
If Texas A&M wins: 6.8. John Chavis has the defense totally fixed, the quarterback position is completely resolved, everything's fine and the Aggies are absolutely going 11-1. 10-2 at WORST.
Texas-Notre Dame (9/5, 7:30)
If Texas wins: 8.6, and there will be a minimum of ten posts on ND Nation arguing that if Brian Kelly isn't fired by Week 2, you should send the athletic department an angry telegram every hour on the hour. Texas will jump from unranked to number 13.
If Notre Dame wins: 1.7. The Irish are supposed to win these games and frankly if Brian Kelly was worth what he's getting paid the score wouldn't have been that close.
Wisconsin-Alabama (9/5, 8:00)
If Wisconsin wins: 12. I know I said the scale only goes to 10, but the answer is 12. This would be the catastrophe that descends Alabama into thirty years of militant/pagan agrarian socialism.
If Alabama wins: 0.1. Basically, this game determines whether our timeline continues or is subsumed by an alternate reality in which Barry Alvarez has become a sex god.
Ohio State-Virginia Tech (9/7, 8:00)
If Ohio State wins: 2.2, as they're now retroactively undefeated in 2014 and undefeated in 2015 and, if we're being technical, undefeated in 2016 and beyond. AND the Buckeyes didn't even need Joey Bosa.
If Virginia Tech wins: 7.1. Yes, this loss happened last year, but it wasn't accompanied by the same expectations at the time, and we'll start hearing vague rumblings that the Hokies just have Ohio State figured out. Is this how Bud Foster gets the Indiana job? Yes. Yes, it is.