3-point stance: Fall's best weekend

1.My buddy Mark Schlabach picked the best game of each weekend in a column published Monday and went chronologically. If you go by quality, then Nov. 7-9 has the two best games of the year. On Thursday night, Oregon is at Stanford. On Saturday, LSU is at Alabama. Granted, it's still only the preseason. But you’ve got four top-10 teams playing in rivalries that have heated up over the last five years. What more can we ask for? Just that the four teams get to November with their reputations intact.

2.Author John U. Bacon is that rare combination of bulldog reporter and sympathetic ear. He wrote the penetrating “Three and Out” about Rich Rodriguez at Michigan. Bacon spent last season as a fly on the wall of four Big Ten teams that had big stories: Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan and Northwestern. His new book, “Fourth and Long: The Fight for the Soul of College Football,” will be out soon. Buy it. His description of the NCAA’s handling of Penn State in the opening pages is priceless.

3.All the major college football awards -- and most of the minor ones, too -- unveiled their “watch lists.” I don’t believe in watch lists. The lists serve only as public relations tools for the awards and for the programs whose players are named. But the standards to make the list are virtually non-existent. Besides, in this day and age, performance on the field is the most important element. Johnny Manziel, unknown before last September, proved that once and for all.