I love this time of year. The leaves are changing and the real college football games are finally on. I had the opportunity to see my Texas Longhorns open Big XII play against Iowa State. My kids and my money go to Iowa State, but my heart is still in Texas, at least for college sports. My daughter and I sat on the 10 year line row 4 on the Texas side of the field. We both wore burnt orange. I have to say that the Iowa State fans were (for the most part) very nice and polite. Sure there were a couple of annoying drunks complaining about every play, but all in all, nice.

The game was good, from my point of view. Texas was up 34-0 at half time and the game was never really in doubt (don’t forget you owe me a lunch, Kosmo). It was kind of sad when the crowd got excited about a 5 yard penalty against Texas. Nothing went right for Iowa State until late in the fourth quarter. They had a lot of penalties and several hurt players. One young man left on the golf cart after a helmet hit. Both teams and the entire crowd prayed for him as he left.

This is college football at its best. Enjoying the game, respecting both teams, and games that matter. What I mean by this is a perspective on College football. Only a few teams are “playing for the national championship” from the start of the season. The first few games are warm ups, sometimes matching two high level teams, but usually matching small against large. The real contest for most teams is to try to win their conference. With that under your belt you can consider the national championship, that is once you get your bowl game sorted out. Some teams look forward to just one specific game against a specific rival (for Texas, that is beating Oklahoma), and that can sometimes be more important than even having a winning season.

As long as I have followed College ball, opponents have worn tee-shirts emblazoned with “Beat Texas”. I have also seen “Beat OU”, “Beat State” (pretty generic actually) and “Beat N”. I guess it gets expensive to write out Oklahoma or Nebraska. This year, the Iowa State fan had shirts with “Beat Texas Again”. I liked that. It didn’t happen, but I still liked the sentiment. Since they beat Texas last year, (and really started the Texas collapse by showing the world where Texas was weak) those shirts can be worn every year from now on.

There were several great games (sorry about Nebraska Johnny) this week. There were still some tune up games (notably Oklahoma beating up on Ball State), but mostly we saw conference battles and relatively evenly matched schools. It just gets better next week. With the realignment of conferences, there will be some games that will not occur (OU or Texas vs Nebraska for the big XII championship is one), but that just provides more opportunities for really good bowl games in December and January.

I still do not understand how the rankings work. I do not see how not playing can cause you to drop in the polls or how there can be 2 loss teams still in the top 25. But that is OK. I am not a sports writer and I do not have a vote. That lets me complain about every team’s position in every poll.

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Martin writes about writing in his weekly column Ramblings from Martin.

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