DAVID BIANCULLI

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College Football Kicks Off the Labor Day Weekend
September 3, 2016  | By Gerald Jordan
 

Cue the pom-poms shot and loosen your neck for a head-swiveling holiday weekend of college football. Yes, the world is right again. Instead of over-paid professionals underperforming, the resumption of the college football season brings a return of the earnest, over-performing amateurs who earn millions for their schools in return for tuition, books, room and board. Oh yeah, and the occasional lab fees for those who really take their education seriously

The Tennessee Volunteers, seen by many as back from the football grave, begin the season ranked 10th in the coaches’ poll. They also begin the season against Appalachian State Thursday night (remember when Michigan came a cropper against App State about nine years ago?). Beware the season-wrecking upsets that drop teams in the rankings and push them away from playoff and top-tier bowl consideration. Appalachian State goes to the 100,000-plus seating of Neyland Stadium in Knoxville for a 7:30 EDT kickoff on the SEC Network. Just remember that Michigan had a big house too.

Opening weekend is chock-full of what die-hard fans might consider dangerous matchups that feature ranked teams opposing notable and unpredictable teams. One, maybe more than most, should be considered a spotlight game: No. 9 Notre Dame will play unranked Texas (Sunday, 7:30 EDT on ABC) on a Sunday night. Just guess who might have Divine backing on the Christian Sabbath?

No. 12 Mississippi with play No. 4 Florida State at 8 o’clock Labor Day evening (Monday) on ESPN. The Mississippi quarterback Chad Kelly enters the season already in the Heisman Trophy conversation and could derail Florida State’s dreams of sweeping the competition on the way to an ACC rematch against Clemson. By the by, listen to how often broadcasters insert a “p” in Clemson. It’s a hoot!

Remember the glory days when Southern Cal went to Alabama and taught the Crimson Tide the virtues of integration? The No. 1 Crimson Tide will open the season against the No. 17 Trojans at 8 p.m. EDT Saturday in Jerry World, AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, home of the Dallas Cowboys. Despite the snarky nickname, the stadium really is a sight to behold.

For those who want to scout No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Clemson, you’ll have to toggle between the ABC game and the 9 p.m. EDT Clemson at Auburn game on ESPN.

Some good games Friday night will give fans an idea of how Michigan State is constituted without graduated QB Conner Cook when the Spartans take the field against Furman at 7 p.m. EDT on the Big Ten Network.

Saturday games include a meeting of ranked teams when No. 3 Oklahoma plays at No. 13 Houston at noon on ABC. Players, coaches and fans no doubt are grateful that a high noon match up in the oppressive heat and humidity of Houston will take place inside the climate-controlled comfort of NRG Stadium, home of the NFL Texans.

On display this weekend across national TV networks and regional sports networks are the Power 5 conferences and spunky upstarts who remind their teams that Michigan once looked down the schedule, past Appalachian State.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Good news, TVWW readers: David’s new book from Doubleday, The Platinum Age of Television: From I Love Lucy to The Walking Dead, How TV Became Terrific is available on Amazon for $20.

Doubleday says: “Darwin had his theory of evolution, and David Bianculli has his. Bianculli's theory has to do with the concept of quality television: what it is and, crucially, how it got that way."

"The Platinum Age of Television is an effusive guidebook that plots the path from the 1950s’ Golden Age to today’s era of quality TV. For instance, animation evolved from Rocky and His Friends to South Park; variety shows moved from The Ed Sullivan Show to Saturday Night Live; and family sitcoms grew from I Love Lucy to Modern Family. A high point is the author’s interviews with Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, Norman Lear, Bob Newhart, Matt Groening, Larry David, Amy Schumer and many others...Bianculli has written a highly readable history." —The Washington Post

 

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