How to salvage your team's bye week

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By EVAN BUDROVICH
College Contributor Network

For someone who enjoys the simple pleasure of waking up every Saturday morning to the delight of ESPN College GameDay, the grim realization that my USC Trojans would be left entirely out of the discussion during a rare bye week in the regular season was quite maddening.

Waking up to the sound of utter silence on an otherwise loud, up-beat campus environment typically popping with pre-game entertainment from sunrise to sunset leaves quite a sour taste in the mouth.

Despite those lasting sentiments, many can find solace in the great assortment of college football games popping up and down the screen. It starts with the 9 a.m. ESPN time slot and games dominated by proverbial Big-10 schools, the Ohio State's and Nebraska's of the world, mixed in with some mid-level ACC action.

Games that may not be the most interesting to watch, but aggressively catch my attention anyway, are the upset bids attempted by MAAC, MVFC and Sun Belt teams that are just gosh darn fun to watch -- in spite of their foolish attempts to throw us all off by fainting right in the middle of the field.

An absolute die-hard for the underdog story, I love watching teams like Eastern Michigan, Northern Illinois and Navy march up and down the field with relative success, only for about two quarters until seemingly all hell breaks loose, making for compelling early-morning television. Those, along with the constant stream of entertaining tweets come across the timeline are overwhelming.

As the day shifts towards high noon, Chris Cotter takes the stage for constant in-game updates spanning across the nation with highlights of late touchdowns, game-saving interceptions and even the occasional blocked kick from the likes of Pitt, Louisville and a mixed bag of Big-12 programs.

Just around the time my friends and I salivate over the great five-dollar pizza deal we cashed in on, the afternoon slate of games via Fox Sports 1, ESPN's family of networks and, of course, SEC on CBS make for highly entertaining television.

Biting down on my third or fourth slice of Hawaiian pizza, wishing to enjoy this delight on the actual island itself, the Fox Sports 1 game slices up the dessert of an audible treasure that is the play-by-play call from Gus Johnson.

While the action of Baylor, Texas Tech or Georgia (Power Five teams that generally play during this peak time slot) have value for a whole bunch of reasons, one of the best mid-day forms of entertainment is the life Gus Johnson brings to any broadcast. Instead of heading outside to enjoy the weather or a nice football BBQ, fans succumb to his larger than life presence.

No longer enjoying the long-tenured voice of Tim Brando in the SEC, who now focuses on his Thursday night gig with Fox Sports 1, the mid-afternoon broadcast is still filled with the religious-like euphoria that captivates the SEC's brand of football.

ESPN dominates with the best mid-day games, typically clashing two Power Five non-conference opponents. Don't get me wrong, these generally make for good games and all, but the die-hard has a delicate fancy for the downright dramatic, mind-blowing, eye-popping action that will arrive in short order.

Let's not forget the Joe Tessitore effect that has both plagued and heightened the late-afternoon, 4 p.m. coverage of the SEC. Any fanatic of college football can appreciate the frenzy that unfolds in the second half when Tessitore mans the play-by-play duties.

Combine that with an enormous assortment of ESPN3 games featuring interesting storylines across the country, that arguably produce closer contests (mostly due to lesser talent) than the big-market games, and the college football fan has found the perfect first course.

The madness continues into the night for primetime coverage, typically providing the first glimpse of ranked-on-ranked action in an intense environment.

But to be brutally honest, the best part of the college off-week starts around 7 p.m., when most of the East Coast viewership is fast asleep. For folks on the West Coast, CBS Sports, Fox Sports 1, ESPN and Pac-12 Networks make for must-see television from start to finish.

What's even better is that as the game stretches on, strange events become the norm. Almost as if the game is being played in front of the eyes of no one, the late-night spectrum provides a unique blend of fireworks that makes you laugh and cry -- exactly at the same time.

Rich Rodriguez, epitomizing the American Dream of capitalizing on second chances, has become the face of late-night television. Along with the Chris Peterson's of the world up in Washington and the assortment of MWC squads that typically have student sections on the verge of fanatical riots, the late-night slate assures your position in the "Cult of College Football Fanatics."

There's still no USC football to rally the troops, but imagine how great the night will become if your Pac-12 conference foe happened to have lost in upset fashion.

One can only hope, right?


Evan Budrovich is a senior at the University of Southern California. He has a passion for the 49ers, Dodgers baseball and all things USC athletics. Follow him on Twitter: @evanbud
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