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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Iceland volcano could stop Central Florida-Penn State football opener

Joe Marchilena

In less than 10 days, the march toward the first playoff in major college football history begins, and perhaps, with a bang.

That bang could be taking place in the hot bed of collegiate pigskin that is ... Iceland? ...

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In less than 10 days, the march toward the first playoff in major college football history begins, and perhaps, with a bang.

That bang could be taking place in the hot bed of collegiate pigskin that is ... Iceland?

Yeah, Iceland, or the highlands of the Vatnajokull glacier, to be specific. See, after a series of small earthquakes have hit the region over the last few days, Iceland’s Civil Protection Department has been evacuating people that are near Bardarbunga, a sub-glacial stratovolcano under the Vatnajokull glacier.

Why could this potential volcanic eruption have any affect on the start of the college football season? Well, because one of the first games of the season is scheduled to take place in Ireland, which is separated from Iceland by 900 miles of water.

But remember the 2010 eruption of the Eyjafjallajokul volcano? Of course you do – it produced so much volcanic ash, around 100,000 flights around Europe were canceled. If another eruption happens before Aug. 26, then Central Florida and Penn State – the two teams scheduled to play in Ireland – won’t be able to make it to their first game of the season, at least, not through the air.

I’m not expert when it comes to travel on the high seas, but the teams probably wouldn’t consider traveling by boat.

For the first, and perhaps only, time in college football history, you could see the following on the schedule – game ppd., volcano.

So what are you going to do without what I’m sure will be a classic UCF-PSU matchup to watch on the first Saturday of college football season?

You could head down to Foxborough and take in what’s being dubbed the “Battle of the Bay State,” between UMass-Amherst and Boston College. It’s the first time the teams have played since the 2011 season, which means its the first time they’ve played since UMass moved up to the Football Bowl Subdivision. Perhaps that will help the Minutemen improve on their 5-19 record against the Eagles.

If you’re looking for another local team to watch, UNH opens its season on the road Toledo. I once spent a week in Toledo one night, watching then-Rockets quarterback Bruce Gradkowski carve up then-No. 9 Pitt’s defense in a 34-31 win for the home team. The Rockets were picked to win the Mid-American Conference’s West Division by Athlon Sports, while UNH is ranked No. 4 in the country in the Football Championship Subdivision.

The two best games of the opening weekend will likely be the two games between ranked opponents, and one of them isn’t even on that Saturday. No. 21 Texas A&M goes to No. 6 South Carolina on Aug. 28 in the rarest of occasions – an season-opener against a conference opponent. So if you want to watch that one, you better figure out how to get the SEC Network in the next week.

Then on Aug. 30, No. 16 Clemson takes on No. 12 Georgia. Last year, they played one of the best games of the season – a 38-35 win for the Tigers – and there’s no reason to think they won’t do it again.

Well, unless all of a sudden a volcano happens to erupt near Athens, Ga.

Joe Marchilena can be reached at 594-6478 or jmarchilena@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Marchilena on Twitter (@Telegraph_JoeM).