Oh Yezz….Oh Yezz….Oh Yezzz…Time for some College Football!!

I LOVE college football. Next to pro-baseball, it’s probably my favorite sport. And, given my disdain for the Rangers these days, I could easily argue that I even love it more than baseball these days.There is just something about the pageantry, the emotion, the excess of it. Pro football feels too, well,

professional for me. It’s like the difference between a passionate street performer, juggling knives down in the West End, and clown with the Ringling Brothers Circus….the performers of the latter are all really talented people, but it always feels a little too…dare I say….scripted?I mean, be honest, in most years the day the pro season starts, you can name the five to ten teams that will compete at the end of the year. And, sure enough, you’ll be right on three to seven of your picks by years end. But in college ball? Most years

anything can happen. Most years, anything does. Most years there’s a big game way before the playoffs start.In fact, Dale Hansen argues (and I can’t believe I’m quoting Hansen here…) that in college ball every week is a playoff week. That’s really true. Every week, for the true fan, there’s a make-or-break game on somewhere. Every week, there’s a bitter rival playing a bitter rival. Every week, a team everyone thinks is incredibly and should go all the way may get knocked off and have it all come crashing down around them.

It doesn’t hurt that I’ve always been a

UT fan, and it doesn’t hurt that they are one of the marque programs in the country and defending national champions. Yes, my usual yearly excitement is a little higher than usual. But, even if they weren’t contending this year, there’s just something about college ball and how emotional, passionate, and unpredictable it is. It feels more honest and real than pro ball.Having said that, I am looking forward to tonight’s game between Ohio State and Texas. As I just mentioned, every week there’s a big game. And this week, there’s no game bigger than this. Tragically, one of these two great teams will find its run for the national championship seriously wounded at the end of the night. That’s really a shame this early in the year.

On the other hand, it’s often easier to get back in hunt later in the year, if you lose early…so, we’ll see.

Lot’s of folks are picking Ohio State for this one. They’re pointing to the fact that last year, time after time, it was Vince Young who bailed out the Longhorns. Can’t argue with that.

I’ve waxed about Young so often that you all know I believed that was true last year. I think the reason a UT National Championship surprised so many folks was that they underestimated the incredible talent of Vince Young.But, we should realize that Texas is an incredibly talented team even without him. I think Colt McCoy should do OK this year. We’ll know a lot more after tonight on that. But the rest of the team is so quick, so strong, and so talented. And Vince’s superhero talents sometimes overshadowed that fact.

So, with trepidation, here are my keys to the game:

Home Field: Advantage UT…and in college ball, this is a huge advantage… 

Quarterback: Advantage OSU…and one of the things folks are predicting about this game is that Troy Smith shows us what a big star he is…we’ll see. 

Offense: Tie: they are both explosive. 

Defense: Advantage UT….look at last week…a weak opponent didn’t score much against OSU, but they ran up lots of yards. UT’s defense crushed North Texas. People keep talking about how Young’s loss hurts Texas, but they fail to admit how many losses OSU has had on defense. They could step up tonight, so I don’t want to overstate this…but it would not surprise me for them to be weaker than folks think. 

Overall depth: Advantage UT…do not underestimate this… 

Secret Weapons: Advantage UT….OSU has one great reciever in Ginn. UT has four outstanding ones. But, I’m going to keep saying this name, as I did just after the last national championship game: watch out for Jamaal Charles. The dude slices through defenders just like VY did. If he has a break out game tonight, folks may forget all about VY. (assuming he has a break out game and doesn’t drop the ball…)The point of all this is that I can’t say for certain Texas will win. But I don’t expect Texas to get crushed, and will not be as surprised as others if we pull of the win, for all the reasons I’ve listed above.

One thing’s for certain: I am still so pumped about last year that I really don’t think I’ll be crushed if UT loses. If we lose to OU…well, that’s another story. But nobody can take last year away from us. And writers are still talking about how great it was.Even if we lose tonight, we’re still the national champs…

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Eric Folkerth is a minister, musician, author and blogger. He has been Senior Pastor of Northaven United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas since 2001. During his tenure, church membership has grown almost 30 percent, and a completely new church facility (sanctuary and education building) has been constructed. Northaven is a leading progressive Christian congregation in the Southwest. Northaven is an eclectic collection of gay and straight families, artists, musicians, theater folks, academic theologians, lawyers and judges (go figure), socially conscious community activists, people who don't "check their brain at the door," and a wide array of others who either see it as their "last chance" inside the "institutional church," or their first trip back in decades. Eric is an avid blogger and published author.  Eric is also an award-winning singer-songwriter, who performs throughout Texas and the Southwest. He's an engaging live performer whose first CD was released in 2000. His songs have won honorable mention in both the Billboard and Great American song contests; and he's been a finalist in the 5th Street Festival and South Florida Folk Festival songwriter competitions. Eric is also a leader of Connections, a unique band comprised of United Methodist clergy and layfolk from throughout North Texas. Connections performs "cover shows" of artists like Dan Fogelberg, Chicago, Eagles, Doobie Brothers, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor and others. Their shows draw crowds of between 300 and 1,000 fans, and they have raised more than $240,000 dollars for worthy charities. Eric has led or co-led hundreds of persons on mission trips around the globe, to places such as Mexico, Haiti, Russia, and Nepal. He has worked with lay persons to build ten homes, and one Community Center, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Dallas. He's a popular preacher, and often tackles challenging issues of social justice in his writings and sermons. His wife, Judge Dennise Garcia, is a State District Judge for Dallas, County. As judge of the 303rd Family District Court, she consistently gets high ratings from area lawyers, and was named "best judge" by The Dallas Observer. First elected in 2004, she was the first Latina ever elected to a county-wide bench in Dallas County. She was re-elected for a third term in 2010. They have the world's best daughter, Maria, and an incredible dog, Daisy. (As always, if you like this post, then "like" this on Facebook by clicking the box below, so others can see too...)

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