O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! Football is upon us! Real live football that actually counts in the standings and everything!
Okay, so it's not big-time football, and only one of today's games is actually televised, like, on the teevee. But it's football, and it's not scrimmages, nor is it a raft of sacrificial lambs being led to the slaughter. It all matters on some level. Well, except for one game, which still matters, but it's bound to be ugly, assuming it gets played at all. We'll get to that in a moment. First: your schedule for the day.
|1:00 pm||Waldorf Warriors||at||Mayville State Comets||none|
|(NAIA-North Star)||(NAIA-North Star)|
|2:00 pm||Eastern Oregon Mountaineers||at||Menlo Oaks||video ($)|
|2:30 pm||(17) Sam Houston State Bearkats||at||(1) Eastern Washington Eagles||ESPN|
|5:00 pm||Montana Tech Orediggers||at||Montana-Western Bulldogs||video|
|6:30 pm||Faith (FL) Eagles||at||Edward Waters Tigers||none|
|9:15 pm||Evangel Crusaders||at||Arizona Christian Firestorm||audio|
|(NAIA-Heart of America)||(NAIA-Independent)|
Obviously, the titanic tussle in Cheyney, Washington is the primary focus today. ESPN will be there, with Mark Jones and Rod Gilmore calling the action and Jessica Mendoza roaming the sideline. For those used to North Dakota State running roughshod over the portion of Division I that actually awards an NCAA championship, here's a small surprise: Eastern Washington is the number one team in the land per the preseason polls. The Bearkats are only ranked 17th, but let's not forget that two years ago they played for the national championship, and missed out on a trip to the quarterfinals last year as a result of a one-point loss on the road to conference rivals Southeastern Louisiana.
In other words, this is the FCS version of something like Virginia Tech taking on LSU to start the season. Plus, it's on the famous (or infamous) red turf of Roos Field. BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD.
The remainder of today's action all takes place in the NAIA, with a pair of season-opening conference games in Montana Tech/Montana-Western and Waldorf-Mayville State. The Montana schools both finished in the middle of the pack in the Frontier Conference last year. Waldorf is making their debut as a member of the North Star conference after having spent many years in the Midwest League of the Mid-States Football Association, which is the home of defending NAIA champions Grand View. After a 1-10 nightmare, Waldorf's decided that league's just too much for them. Mayville, on the other hand, went 7-4 last season, 3-2 in the conference.
Closer to home, Evangel, from Springfield MO, heads to Arizona to take on first-year program Arizona Christian in the first-ever game for the Firestorm. Evangel suffered through a 4-6 campaign last year, and this should be a good way to get off to a good start in 2014.
Eastern Oregon visits Menlo; they have previously shared conference memberships, and are quite familiar with one another. The Mountaineers come off a 6-5 campaign which was up and down, seeing themselves ranked a couple of times before fading; Menlo, 5-5 last year, had a very similar experience.
And then there's that other game. Edward Waters is a long-time HBCU program coming off a 2-9 campaign. Their opponent is the University of Faith, out of Orlando; the Tigers clubbed the Eagles 49-0 to double their win total on the final weekend of the 2013 regular season. Those of you familiar with my previous work blogging about small colleges may be sensing some recognition of that name, though: it's a branch campus of a mostly-online and unaccredited school whose other two campuses go by College of Faith, and I wrote about the absurdity of their very existence as a college football program two years ago. Nothing has really changed. They're still getting clobbered every time they step on the field, and they're still occasionally just not showing up at all.
Lastly, though it's not on the above schedule, be aware that at 5:30 -- or roughly right after the EWU-SHSU game -- the K-State preseason kickoff special airs on FOX Midwest.
So. It's Saturday, August the 23rd, 2014. And it's time for football. It's not important football, but it's football; for us, it's a good day to get ourselves into in-season game thread commenting form, right? Join us, and let's usher in the season.