College football: Week 1 spotlight

Pac 12 tough stakes — Colorado vs. Colorado State. Colorado is coming off a 3-10 season that included a 2-7 mark in the rugged Pacific 12 conference, the Buffs’ first year in the pressure chamber. No easy pickings here, either. Colorado State of the admittedly stature-melting Mountain West Conference always plays Colorado tough and beat the Buffs fairly regularly when Butte native Sonny Lubick was the Rams’ coach. CSU has a new coach this year —  after Sonny’s successor failed — having the good sense to hire another Montanan with Butte ties, Jim McElwain, and so, therefore, will be a mighty test for its in-state rival. McElwain will do so well at Colorado State he’ll have difficulty getting on an SEC schedule, even with his Nick Saban ties.
Of note — Northern Arizona at Arizona State, Northern Colorado at Utah, Nevada at California. Arizona State and Utah are two Pac 12 teams looking to rebound from disappointing 2011 campaigns. Doing it against contenders from the nation’s best FCS conference, the Griz- and Bobcat-led Big Sky Conference, is not a smooth path toward doing so. Nevada joins the Mountain West this year after fleeing the depleted WAC and beat Cal, a perennial major bowl contender, two years ago. The Wolf Pack have gone to five straight bowl games.
SEC sweet tease — Jackson State at Mississippi State. Are you kidding me? This is exactly how the SEC has now connived its way into having five teams packed into the top 10 in the nation’s preseason top 25 polls, thereby guaranteeing the overrated conference at least two berths and probably three in the vaunted four-team playoff it ordered from the BCS for season‘s end. It’s a voting system so corrupt that if it was an election in, say Curacao, Jimmy Carter would be sent to monitor. Mississippi State went 7-6 last year and Jackson State went 9-2 in an FCS Conference, the Southwestern Athletic, that proved uncompetitive in national playoffs and no longer sends teams to the tournament.
Of note — North Texas at LSU, Jacksonville State at Arkansas, Central Arkansas at Mississippi. North Texas is LSU’s favorite patsy, having outscored Mean Joe Greene’s alma mater 149-6 in four years. The Sun Belt Conference school went 5-7 last year. Jax State showed up on Bobby Petrino’s schedule just before he was asked to leave Arkansas. Who could blame him for sitting this opener? To stay with the SEC primos, you need to schedule down a competitive peg or two to draw a holler from those Sugar Bowl daddies. Central Arkansas went 9-4 and reached the second round of the FCS playoffs, so Ole Miss could be taking a chance here, figuring a win over such a noted opponent might impress the voters into vaulting the Rebs into a Top Five slot.