Overrated games upstage Saturday’s contest

Column by Jonathan Smith

When they learned the news, the Louisville and Kentucky fans across the Commonwealth cringed the same way they did when they watched Miss South Carolina crash and burn in this year’s Miss Teen USA pageant.

The news: the battle for The Governor’s Cup was going to be played in front of a live, national television audience on … ESPN Classic.

ESPN Classic?!?! Why ESPN Classic?

The game, as we all know by now, was pushed back to the third week of the season this year. That meant it was competing with other heavyweight battles like Notre Dame-Michigan and Florida-Tennessee.

No major television network wanted the UK-U of L game in favor of those other contests. ESPN Classic was virtually the last option.

But how good do those match-ups look now?

Notre Dame and Michigan appeared to be a pretty sexy matchup before the season started. Now it’s about as sexy as Britney Spears was at Sunday’s MTV Video Music Awards.

The two schools have won a combined 20 national championships. So far this year they’ve combined to win a staggering zero games.

Maybe that game should be on ESPN Classic. Or ESPN the Ocho.

No. 5 Florida and No. 22 Tennessee is always the game to watch during the third week of the season. Except when the Volunteers fall flat in the first week of the season, and when Florida head coach Urban Meyer is on the opposite sideline to Tennessee coach Phil Fulmer.

Maybe that game should be played on ESPN Classic. Or how about FSN (Fulmer Slips Notoriously).

The best matchup according to the Associated Press rankings is No. 1 Southern California’s showdown with No. 14 Nebraska. It’s so appealing, in fact, that the ESPN College Gameday crew will shoot live from Lincoln, Neb.

And why shouldn’t they? They’ll probably be at three or more of the Trojans’ games, and USC will most likely beat the Cornhuskers by four touchdowns.

Maybe that game should be on ESPN Classic. Or TVG (Trojan Victory Guaranteed).

Aside from those meetings, a few other games of national interest will be played on Saturday.

No. 16 Arkansas at Alabama. As long as Alabama coach Nick Saban hasn’t left for Michigan.

No. 10 Ohio State against Washington. As long as Washington coach Tyrone Willingham hasn’t been hired back at Notre Dame.

No. 21 Boston College versus No. 15 Georgia Tech. Quick, name one player on either team.

The point is UK and U of L have both held up their ends by getting a 2-0 start, albeit, against far inferior competition, and both offenses have put up outrageous numbers so far. The game could also feature the top two quarterbacks taken in next spring’s NFL Draft.

And apart from the Florida-Tennessee game, it’s the best — and only intra-state — rivalry game of the day.

If all falls into place, the UK-U of L game could wind up being the best game of the weekend. Who would have said that in July?

So perhaps this game does belong on ESPN Classic after all. Just not on Saturday.

Maybe in a few years.

Jonathan Smith is a journalism senior. E-mail  [email protected].