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MOST SYRACUSE GAMES WILL BE AVAILABLE TO WNY VIEWERS

If you need any more evidence about the absurdity of the National Football League blacking out Bills games in Syracuse, consider what's available to armchair college football fans this fall.

Several Syracuse University games -- home and away -- will be carried in Western New York whether they sell out or not.

As things stand now, it looks like about nine of Syracuse's 11 games this season will be available on some television outlet in Western New York.

As if there isn't enough college football on the air, Western New Yorkers now have another TV option that is bound to please Orange fans.

Channel 67, WNGS, which is carried by Adelphia Buffalo as well as Adelphia's suburban systems, is carrying an eight-week schedule of Big East games. WNGS had the schedule last season, but it was more difficult to get the station then.

The noon package, which is syndicated by ESPN Regional Television, includes Syracuse's Sept. 19 game with Rutgers and possibly a Nov. 14 game in which Syracuse visits Virginia Tech.

While the NFL is blacking out the Syracuse market when home games aren't sold out 72 hours in advance, no such restrictions apply in college football.

Now let's take a look at most of the free and cable TV options for college fans.

ABC: Its extensive schedule starts at 2:30 p.m. Sunday with the Pigskin Classic between USC and Purdue, followed by the Kickoff Classic at 8 p.m. Monday with Texas A&M playing Florida State.

Brent Musburger and Dan Fouts call the Pigskin, Keith Jackson and Bob Griese the Kickoff.

One would expect the Kickoff Classic to kick off the season, but not everything really is logical in college football.

Take the new Bowl Championship Series carried by ABC. It doesn't really guarantee a championship.

The Fiesta, Sugar, Orange and Rose (which wasn't involved last year) bowls are part of the plan, with the Fiesta hosting this year's title game Jan. 4 after the rest of the big bowls are played Jan. 1 and 2.

A computer formula of polls, computer rankings, strength of schedule and team record will determine who will compete in the No. 1 vs. No. 2 game.

But even with the title game, there will be room for debate after the game is played because whoever is No. 3 or No. 4 could roll up the score in a statement game that might sway voters, particularly if the top three or four teams have the same record.

As usual, ABC has an extensive regional schedule of Saturday games, starting Sept. 5.

On Sept. 12, Syracuse visits Michigan at 3:30 p.m. It is one of four Michigan games on the schedule.

Notre Dame's first of two guaranteed appearances is a prime-time game Sept. 12 at Michigan State. The Irish's home schedule is on NBC.

Ohio State, the preseason No. 1, is making at least three appearances.

ESPN, ESPN2: Disney's cable sports channels will be carrying 87 games. The Disney networks and their big brother, ABC, have the rights to carry the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10, SEC and WAC. The three Disney nets will carry 21 of the 26 postseason bowl games.

ESPN's prime time schedule includes a Nov. 7 game with Syracuse at West Virginia and its Thursday night schedule includes an Oct. 1 game between Syracuse and North Carolina State. Syracuse's opener with Tennessee on Sept. 5 also is carried by ESPN.

CBS: Its 25-game Saturday schedule includes three potential Syracuse games (at Boston College Oct. 17, vs. Pitt Oct. 31 and vs. Miami on Nov. 28) and two Notre Dame road games (at Boston College Nov. 7. and at Navy Nov. 14).

The best of its inter-sectional games is Sept. 5 when Ohio State visits West Virginia at 8 p.m. in one of only two prime-time network games.

Sean McDonough and Terry Donahue remain the network's No. 1 team, with Tim Brando serving as host of College Football Today with Lou Holtz and Craig James.

NBC: Once again, it carries Notre Dame's entire home schedule, starting with a 3:30 game Sept. 5 against Michigan that is covered by Dick Enberg, Pat Haden and Jim Gray.

Empire: It is carrying a four-game ECAC package at noon Saturday starting with a Sept. 26 game when Siena visits Canisius. A week later, the University at Buffalo visits Cornell. Adam Lingner offers analysis alongside Roger Neel.

Empire also will be carrying 29 games off of the Fox Sports Net, starting with a Saturday game between Nebraska and Louisiana Tech.

The schedule includes a Sept. 12 game between Penn State and Bowling Green which could be coach Joe Paterno's 300th victory.

FX: The Fox cable channel is carrying six games, starting Sept. 19 with UCLA at Houston.

Fox Sports Net: Those WNY homes with digital cable should be able to get the balance of a package of 30 games not carried by Empire because of scheduling conflicts.

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