College football in 2017 decided to wake up like you do most days: Half-awake, with several false starts, and on one memorable occasion, disoriented in Australia with no memory of how you got there, or will get home. There were a smattering of games to start in what ended up being called week zero, but nothing of serious importance unless you were sweating a 33.5 point cover by Stanford.
Note: If you were sweating a 33.5 point cover by Stanford over Rice in week zero, you have problems much larger than any involving a football game. Yes, we know they covered, because when you talk about gambling addictions, we feel seen, too.
There are a smattering of games on Thursday. That’s not unusual: For at least fifteen years or so, and with ESPN’s gentle encouragement, teams have jumped the gun on the first Saturday of the season and played on Thursday night. No one really good, mind you, but usually teams sort of stranded between kind of good and mediocre, and never really turning the corner into full-on excellence, but always sort of living at the edge of it before reaching for it, falling into a black pit, and then beginning the process of clawing out of the hole all over again before repeating the endless cycle.
So: North Carolina State and South Carolina, really, if we’re going to be honest about who we’re getting to. The good news: The Cock-Wolf Classic has been renewed for some reason as the opener for both teams, even though the last time these two played a 7-3 game where no one scored a touchdown after the first quarter, Russell Wilson was sacked six times, and the enthusiasm of an entire offseason’s anticipation for the return of football was destroyed in a matter of a few hours.
That doesn’t apply to just this game—as people who pay closer attention to these things than we do point out, NC State and South Carolina have a gift for combining to play unwatchable, craptastic football.
The bad news: The two teams won’t be blessing us with a reality check on Thursday. They’re playing on Saturday afternoon like normal teams, and we suppose they have a right to do that and hide whatever happens among the rest of college football’s other odd week one pairings.
It’s a shame, though. South Carolina in particular, and not just with NC State, was so very good at producing misleading results in week one, and playing mismanaged, knuckledragging, expectation-deflating football in front of a national audience. (Remember “Texas A&M, national title contender? Even if we don’t want to, we do.) Who, if not the members of the Wolf-Cock alliance, will take up the burden of reintroducing the general public to football properly, and in a confusing, semi-disappointing fashion?
Oh, okay, cool, we’re set. An Ohio State team retooling their offense facing an Indiana team with a pretty good defense and no ambitions offensively, playing on a weeknight in week one, in a game Ohio State should win even if they punt on third down, but will still probably disappoint in because it’s week one, and they’re probably still working on stuff they didn’t quite get wired in training camp? Because this is college, and there’s no way anyone’s close to ready in week one? We’re like beyond good. Y’all will take care of this splendidly.