College football gets a minor jump on the pros by holding its first weekend of games before Labor Day– meaning some school’s autumns are already in freefall before summer ends. As a kid who grew up rooting for Michigan, nothing took the spark out of a September like losing to Notre Dame in week one (usually by a field goal, kick return or fourth quarter Irish rally)…as one loss often dooms a season (unless you’re in the SEC). Early losers of this year include: Georgia, a team with National Title hopes now 0-1 heading into Saturday’s showdown with #6 South Carolina…Boise State, a BCS outlier needing not to get routed by Washington to keep its hopes alive until their customary upset-that-can’t-be-explained-by-a-conference-foe in November… and the American Athletic Conference (of America) taking lumps with losses by UConn, Rutgers and South Florida to lower-tiered schools. Week two means the start of “Show Me Month” as well as the end of a few preseason expectations (with an eye towards Ann Arbor).

Alma Mater Update– Syracuse tries to avoid an 0-2 start as the Orange visit #19 Northwestern. These are not your father’s wildcats…or even your big brother’s Big Ten pushover. Five straight bowl trips is a far cry from losing 34 straight (which they did from 1979 to 82 to set the Division I record)…and the Orange are still feeling their way under new coach Scott Shafer (he gives a great press conference though) and new quarterback Drew Allen (who threw for more yards and touchdowns in one afternoon for SU than he did in two years with OU). No Sign of the Whale Wing sighting this week…although some of the faithful will be marking everybody’s favorite local alum “McLovin” moving from the Commonwealth into the District.

Maryland entertains Old Dominion– the Monarch football program didn’t even exist ten years ago, but now ODU is on the fast track to the bright lights that is Conference USA. The Terps try to build on last week’s drubbing of Florida International–one almost wishes CJ Brown had bottled himself up during his 5 touchdown first half to be used at later date–and face an offense led by the reigning Walter Payton Award winner (Division I-AA’s Heisman) Taylor Heinicke. The junior threw 44 touchdown passes last year and passed for 338 yards and three scores against East Carolina last weekend. Terrapins prevail, 37-31.

Virginia hosts #2 Oregon– seven days after threats of lightning delayed their game with BYU, the Cavaliers get to experience some real lightning on the field…as the Ducks put 66 points on the board against Nicholls State in their season opener. They also scored under 40 points just once in the regular season last year. Let’s just say the defense will be tested. Kippy and Buffy after sampling the worlds wines the last few seasons announce they’ll be hitting up Virginia Vineyards for every tailgate: this week’s wine is a 2008 Late Harvest Petit Manseng from Linden Vineyards (“pungent fragrances of candied orange, mint, fennel and nutmeg”)…paired with a sharp cheddar on triscuit. Cavaliers get crushed, 44-17.

Virginia Tech plays Western Carolina– quite a downshift from their week one foe #1 Alabama. But let the record show that recently Coach Frank Beamer’s bunch suffers a “September Slumber”… losing games to the likes of James Madison and East Carolina over the years. Last year’s nap involved a double-digit loss to a winless Pitt that some were saying was the “worst team in Division I”. Logan Thomas will likely have fewer passes dropped…and special teams will probably not allow two kicks to be returned for touchdowns. Hokies handle the Catamounts, 31-13.

Navy outscores Indiana, Howard edges Morehouse, Georgetown drills Davidson, James Madison beats Holy Cross, William & Mary tops Hampton, Richmond falls to North Carolina State, Towson tops Holy Cross.

Last week: 5-2.