Forgive me for being a little sentimental, but this is always my favorite time of the year.

College football (my first love) kicks off this week; high school football gets going in full on Thursday; and the NFL is one preseason game and a round of cuts from beginning its season.

My plan is to cover the Vikings game Thursday night, check out a high school game Friday and hunker down and watch college football on Saturday. Can't beat that.

I lived for Friday nights and Saturday afternoons during football season growing up in my small town in Tennessee. It's what everybody did. It just became part of your life.

The best day of the year was always the third Saturday in October. That's the day the Vols played Alabama every year. Everyone always joked that no wedding or important event should ever be scheduled for the third Saturday in October. That was a major no-no.

Anyway, I'm curious to see how the Vikings and Gophers perform under new coaches and new quarterbacks. I walked away from the Vikings preseason game Saturday against Dallas with a better feeling about Donovan McNabb. Granted, it was only one half of a preseason game, but McNabb looks pretty comfortable in Bill Musgrave's offense.

As for the Gophers' MarQueis Gray, there is no preseason to work out the kinks and get comfortable. Everything counts starting Saturday at USC. Gray struggled with his accuracy at times throughout camp, but that's to be expected as he learns a new offense and how to be a starting quarterback. Everyone knows he's a gifted athlete. It will be interesting to watch his progression as a quarterback.

Speaking of the Gophers, my friend Pat Forde of is predicting a Gophers upset over USC this week. The Trojans are 21-point favorites at home. I'll share my thoughts on USC coach Lane Kiffin and the state of the Gophers program in columns this week.

Let the games begin.



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