Well here it is College football fans. The moment we have been waiting for since 10 January (the day after the night before). The new season is with us.
Simply. It. Is. Gameday, Get UP!
So what to expect from this weekend?
Typically we get a mixed bag of gargantuan match ups and cupcake, blowouts in waiting. Fortune favours the brave, or cautious kitten?
I mean with the Play Off Committee hovering over your every move who wants to slip up on week one!?
Well clearly not Clemson that’s for sure. Has anyone even heard of Furman? I will admit I haven’t heard of Clemson’s week one opponents so I employed the services of Google. From South Carolina (so at least the Tigers don’t have to cross the state line) they play in FCS. Yes folks that ain’t a typo, they don’t even play Division 1 football. So yes Tigers, way to make the football world sit up and take notice. But more from Clemson in weeks to come.
But I digress. There are some great games on show today and I thought I would take a look at the stand outs. For those bold enough to have a classic match up on day one, a win sets your season. A loss? Well you have to recover pretty quickly to make sure the Committee forgets all about that come December.
So here we go, my pick of the bunch. And for what its worth a stab at the winners and losers on week one.
Michigan at Notre Dame
I mentioned this in a previous article. This is THE match up this week, A gargantuan battle of College behemoths. It’s also a fascinating match up. Jim Harbaugh found himself under a lot of pressure in Ann Arbor last year. He wasn’t helped by injuries and loss of form by his QB’s but it turned out to be a poor season for the Wolverines. But momentum is turning for Big Blue. QB transfer from Ole Miss, Shea Patterson has got hearts a fluttering in Michigan. People are talking about this being Blue’s year. Certainly, Notre Dame are missing Quenton Nelson and Mike McGlinchey which might be too much for them to recover from. But Michigan winning in South Bend, I’m not sure. Notre Dame to take this in a tight one.
Oregon State at Ohio State
Under normal circumstances we wouldn’t be talking about this match up, such is the strength of Ohio State. But this has been no normal summer in Columbus and the distraction over the investigation into Head Coach Urban Meyer has been huge. Listen, I think a win for Ohio is on the cards here. We will know soon enough how much the adverse publicity has affected the team, but a defeat in Columbus would be disastrous for a programme already in crisis. So much so that I cant imagine it. Ohio to beat Oregon convincingly but not until the 3rd quarter.
West Virginia at Tennessee
There has been a lot of chat about what’s happening in Morgantown this year. A lot. Many people have the Mountaineers as their dark horses for this years play offs. Returners Will Grier and David Sills are considered to be one of, if not the most dynamic pairing in college ball and great things are predicted from them this year. By stark contrast Tennessee are coming off their worst season in history (0-8) which saw Head Coach Butch Jones relieved of his duties mid way through the season. But, Vols new Head Coach, Jeremy Pruitt comes with pedigree. And he has never lost a season opener. This game is being played at Bank of America stadium (home of the Carolina Panthers), so really a neutral ground. If the Vols were at home I would have them as winners. But against all Vegas odds I still think an upset is on the cards. A narrow Vols win.
Washington at Auburn, Mercedes Benz Stadium, Atlanta
Another neutral game to pack in as many fans as possible. Auburn are always a real difficult side to beat. But Washington are on a different planet. I see the Huskies appearing as many experts picks for the final four. They are a magnificent team under HC Chris Petersen. QB Jake Browning is a star in Seattle and with a good year will be in the running for Heisman. But Auburn’s defence is real good. I mean finger lickin’ good. This has the potential to be a great game under the roof of the new Falcons stadium. A classic but I still cant see beyond a convincing Huskies win.
Miami Hurricanes at LSU, AT&T Stadium, Dallas, Tx
I love this match up. This is a straight up punch them in the mouth, square off. Like most week one games its a money maker and is being played at Jerry’s world. This is a big year for Coach O in Baton Rouge as his LSU Tigers came under muchos, muchos pressure last year. Odds are tight on this with LSU ranked #15 just behind the Canes who are ranked at #12. I love what Mark Richt is doing at his Alma Mater, Miami. Richt did a wonderful job at Georgia and his only crime was staying there too long. A new lease of life will see the glory days returning to Coral Gables, Miami. This will be a slug fest but the turnover chain will be out in full force tonight. A resounding Miami win for me.
Louisville at Alabama, Camping World Stadium, Orlando, Fl
Alabama need to play ranked opponents. Ranked opponents don’t want to go to Tuscaloosa. Alabama plays its opener on neutral ground. Alabama wins first game. And so the circle of life goes on. Aside from Louisville head coach, Bobby Petrino’s impassioned speech about taking the Tide down at a recent pep rally, few including his own team expect a victory here.
So why is this anything other than a blow out? Well, all eyes will be set on who opens up under centre for Alabama on that first snap. After Tua Tagovailoa’s heroic’s in the season finale when he wrestled the national championship from Kirby Smart’s hands, there has been much debate about who the starting QB would be this weekend. For me Saban is loyal and would probably have started with Jalen Hurts (who played QB the whole of last season, except for the final half). But Hurts broke rank during the off season and broke the golden rule. What happens at Bryant-Denny, stays at Bryant-Denny. For that reason I think the Tua man starts. Alabama wins big.
Interesting fact : Alabama earns between $4-6m dollars for their season openers. How d’ya like them apples Man Utd!
These are my stand outs. I’m sure you could pick others. But the season is young. Much will happen. Twists and turns. Ups and downs. I for one, cannot wait. Bring. It. On.
Phtoto credit : Sportingnews.com