Best time of the year: college football is upon us

The great singer Andy Williams wrote the song “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” and while he probably meant that for the Christmas season, for college football fans across the country waking up today, that applies to today.

After nearly eight months without college football, it returns today with vengeance and a number of good game.

Of course, today is technically not the first night of college football. North Carolina and South Carolina had the honor of starting it all Thursday night in an interesting game that featured a lightning delay and the less-than-spectacular debut for South Carolina defensive linemen Jadeveon Clowney. Also on Thursday night, the Utah Utes came back late against in-state rival Utah State to get their home-opener win.

Friday night saw the big upset of the 2013 season. Kansas State, who won the Big 12 championship last season but lost in the Fiesta Bowl to Oregon, didn’t get the start they wanted to against North Dakota State. North Dakota State is the back-to-back reigning champions from the FCS. The Wildcats were up 21-7 in the third quarter at home, but the Bison didn’t give up and outscored the Wildcats 17-0 the rest of the way, including a touchdown with under a minute left in the game, to pull off the big upset.

Today, however, is the big day. Nearly every other collegiate program opens up their season today and tonight. And unlike seasons prior, this opening weekend of games seems to have a lot of really potentially good games.

Among the biggest is LSU versus TCU at AT&T Stadium up in Arlington. LSU is coming off losing eight players on defense to the NFL, but quarterback Zack Mettenberger comes in a year wiser and more confident and now has Cam Cameron as his offensive coordinator. In contrast to LSU, TCU returns a number of their defensive starters and quarterback Casey Pachall returns to the field. This might be the Big 12’s best chance to beat an SEC team.

The big one tonight, however, comes in South Carolina with Georgia and Clemson squaring off tonight. College Gameday was there this morning for the big game and this will have big implications for the BCS and the national title game. Both squads have very legitimate shots at making it to and winning the national title this season. Will Tajh Boyd and the Clemson Tigers finally be able to string together a consistent season? Will Aaron Murray and the Georgia Bulldogs be able to avenge their loss to Alabama last year in the SEC title game? Should be the one to watch tonight.

And of course I have to look at Texas’ season opener tonight against New Mexico State. There are a lot of returning players with a lot of talent for this Longhorn team. Quarterback David Ash is a year wiser and knew the entire offseason that he would be the starter going into this season. Will this experience combined with the talent finally pay off this year? Is Mack Brown’s job on the line? I’m limiting my expectations, to be honest, but this might be the year it finally all clicks.

This is certainly the most exciting point of the year. Everyone starts off with a clean sheet–a new beginning. Everyone thinks this could be their year.

The tailgating.

The bands.

The atmosphere.

The game.

It’s like nothing else and that’s why this is the most wonderful time of the year.