Forty names, games, teams and minutiae making news in college football (tickets on the Youngstown State FCS bandwagon sold separately):
EARLY FREAKOUT GAMES
The Dash examines 10 August/September games that come with high emotional stakes. They would be great to win — but also really bad to lose, no matter who loses. What overreacting fans will say if their team drops this one, extinguishing a lot of offseason optimism in the process:
Oregon-Auburn (21). When: Saturday. Where: Arlington, Texas.
If Auburn loses: “That’s it, get rid of him. I don’t care how big the buyout is. I’ll donate from my Toomer’s Corner toilet paper fund. Gus Malzahn has got to go, and has got to go now. We can’t be losing to a team from the pitiful Pac-12. Tell ol’ Tuberville to stop this crazy political campaign and come back as the interim coach.”
If Oregon loses: “Doesn’t matter what we do in Pac-12 play now, this torpedoed our credibility. Our conference is useless and affiliation with it is dragging us down. Fire Larry Scott. And while you’re at it, fire Mario Cristobal, too. He can’t do. He’s just a recruiter, not a game-planner or game manager. Phil Knight needs to get us Pete Carroll.”
Holy War (22). When: Thursday. Where: Provo, Utah.
If Utah loses: “This was supposed to be our year! How can it be our year if we can’t even beat those insufferable Mormons who haven’t been any good in forever? We had beaten them eight times in a row. It’s gotten stale with Whitt. Time for a change. Bench Tyler Huntley, too. And fire Larry Scott. He’s ruined the league.”
If BYU loses: “Thank Joseph Smith that LaVell Edwards isn’t around to see this. It’s the low ebb, the nadir, driving me to drink a soda. Nine straight losses to the heathen Utes, that hasn’t happened since the Great Depression. Kalani Sitake was a mistake, time to admit it and send him packing. Hire Steve Young. Get Jimmer as a consultant — he at least knew how to score. And replace the school leadership with someone who can get us in a Power Five conference. This independent thing isn’t working.”
South Carolina-North Carolina (23). When: Saturday. Where: Charlotte, North Carolina.
If South Carolina loses: “Look, we’re used to the Chicken Curse and all that, but this is the last straw. We’ve got a four-year starting quarterback and a bunch of other experienced players, and we can’t be losing to those dandies from Chapel Hill who don’t give a damn about football. We won’t win a game in the SEC. Clemson is going to go undefeated again. The apocalypse is upon us. I saw Spurrier on TV during that Florida game last week — he looks like he can still do it. Bring him back and get Muschamp out of here.”
If North Carolina loses: “It was supposed to be the 1990s all over again with Mack, but here we are losing to those unsophisticates from South Cackalacky. Why did we start a true freshman quarterback? Bench the lad. Ah, well, nothing to get our pressed khakis in a twist over. When does basketball start?”
LSU-Texas (24). When: Sept. 7. Where: Austin.
If Texas loses: “We’re not back. We were supposed to be back. Once and for all. End of mockery. We’re not back, and I can already hear every smart-ass Big 12 fan crowing in our direction. I can see a sea of Horns-Down signs in our immediate future. Lord have mercy, Oklahoma is going to kill us. Fire Tom Herman. Saban will say yes this time.”
If LSU loses: “Joe Burrow plus Joe Brady was supposed to make us a passing team. What happened? Bench everyone. Coach O can’t do it. He’s never going to beat Saban. Jimbo, those cowboy boots are made for walking out of College Station and on back to Baton Rouge. C’mon, boy.”
Mississippi-Arkansas (25). When: Sept. 7. Where: Oxford, Mississippi.
If Ole Miss loses: “My god, we’re going to be last in the SEC West.”
If Arkansas loses: “ My god, we’re going to be last in the SEC West.”
Nebraska-Colorado (26). When: Sept. 7. Where: Boulder, Colorado.
If Nebraska loses: “Wait a minute. This is year two with Scott Frost and it’s supposed to go like year two with Scott Frost at UCF, where we go undefeated and we keep winning forever and Nebraska Is Back. Now people are going to say we’re overrated, which is such a hurtful thing for fans as classy as we are. We should never have agreed to resume playing these disrespectful punks, and we certainly shouldn’t have agreed to a home-and-home deal. We’re Nebraska, the greatest fans on Earth, and it should be their honor to come to our stadium and be trampled like the good-old days.”
If Colorado loses: “New coach, same stuff. Pass the edibles and check the weather forecast for snow. We need the ski resorts open ASAP.”
Pittsburgh-Penn State (27). When: Sept. 14. Where: State College, Pennsylvania.
If Penn State loses: “Why are we scheduling them? We should never play that glorified commuter college that is obsessed with us but will never be us. Fire Sandy Barbour for agreeing to play this game. This also proves that Trace McSorley and Saquon Barkley made James Franklin, not the other way around, and now we’re cooked without them. We’ll be fourth in the Big Ten East. Start the coaching search.”
If Pitt loses: “You thought home attendance was embarrassing before? Wait until you see it after this loss. Might as well play the rest of the home schedule at Central Catholic High. Pat Narduzzi hasn’t had a good offense since Matt Canada left; time to get rid of him and bench Kenny Pickett. Joe Moorhead is a Yinzer; bring him home.”
Iowa-Iowa State (28). When: Sept. 14. Where: Ames, Iowa.
If Iowa loses: “It’s our birthright to beat those bums, and this is intolerable. Well, not so intolerable as to call for a coaching change, because Kirk Ferentz is Monarch For Life. But things were so much better in the old days when we refused to go to Ames, that dump of a college town, and made them come to our idyllic home. It’s going to be harder to ignore them now.”
If Iowa State loses: “It’s going to take a lot of Natty Light to get over a fifth straight loss to those jerks. I knew Brock Purdy was overrated — David Montgomery and Hakeem Butler made him look better than he is. The good news is that nobody will want Matt Campbell anymore and we can keep him as coach, right? Maybe?”
Michigan State-Northwestern (29). When: Sept. 21. Where: Evanston, Illinois.
If Michigan State loses: “Trust me, he said. Trust me and my terrible offensive staff that I juggled instead of firing anyone who so richly deserved to be fired. And now look, another loss to those pinhead private schoolers who think they’re smarter than everyone else. How do we lose to Northwestern four years in a row? Bench every offensive starter and can two assistants and install the Air Raid by next week.”
If Northwestern loses: “Tough loss, hate to see it. Well, better get back to the library.”
Notre Dame-Georgia (30). When: Sept. 21. Where: Athens, Georgia.
If Notre Dame loses: “I remember the 1988/1977/1973/1966 team, and they never would have let this happen. Losing to Herschel in the 1980 Sugar Bowl was one thing, but losing to D’Andre Swift? Come on. People say we live in the past too much, but if Brian Kelly and Ian Book would just watch film of the way Tom Clements threw on the run, we would be so much more dangerous. I also think we should consider getting Great Lakes Navy Training Station back on the schedule.”
If Georgia loses: “We are doomed. We’ll always find at least one extremely important game to screw up. There is no escaping it, no matter how many five-stars Kirby Smart signs. So we might as well fire him now and move on. His new coordinators are terrible. I don’t even want to think about playing Alabama in the SEC championship game.”
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