By: David Folz
As we kick off the college football campaign we focus on what to watch for this weekend, as well as the top five games to keep an eye on this weekend. Since it will be the opening week, we will see a lot of new things in the world of college football: new uniforms, players on teams, and freshmen looking to make an impact right away. With that here are things to look for in the opening week:
South Carolina in Nashville: The Gamecocks open up vs. Vanderbilt, who has not been the easy opponent that they used to be. The WR position for South Carolina will need to be figured out during this game, so if Vanderbilt can contain Marcus Lattimore then they pose a really good upset threat. Vanderbilt also will have potential all-conference RB Zac Stacy leading the way but will need quarterback Jordan Rodgers to progress and this is a prime opportunity.
Boise State: This will be the best test for the Broncos, who start Friday against Michigan State. Boise will look to prove they reload like the best teams in the nation. The Spartans are also breaking in an entirely new host of offensive players like the Broncos, so defense could be a premium in this game.
Urban Meyer takes over OSU: It may be Miami-Ohio as an opening opponent, but this is Urban Meyer’s first test in his tenure with the Buckeyes. They will not be playing for any post-season accolades this year, so it will be just winning and nothing more for Ohio State.
Penn State takes the field: The Nittany Lions take on Ohio in the first game following the tumultuous end of last season and the off-season sanctions that followed from the Jerry Sandusky scandal. The matter is only made worse when it is a completely new coaching staff, an offense with no proven talent outside of the quarterback position and a secondary that is suspect. Things will not look good for the Nittany Lions this year, but at least they are not out of football completely.
Five Games to Watch:
5. Notre Dame vs. Navy in Dublin, Ireland: Yes, you read that right, Navy and Notre Dame are playing in Dublin for this game. This is a big game for both teams as they open the season and both for many various reasons. For Navy, they had a down season by their standards of late, not having a winning season and failing to get a bowl berth for the first time since 2002. For Notre Dame, they are looking to get to the BCS for the first time since Charlie Weis led them to the Sugar Bowl back in 2006. The Irish also have backup quarterback Everett Golson starting in place of the suspended Tommy Rees. Also the Irish will be without running back Cierre Wood, who was suspended on Monday for the first two games.
4. Clemson vs. Auburn: Last year the high-powered Clemson Tigers offense was too much for Auburn’s shaky defense. This year however, the Auburn defense will be better and Clemson will be without Sophomore superstar receiver Sammy Watkins. A primetime game, this will have a good sense where the SEC could stand as far as the middle of the SEC standings from last year improving or regressing.
3. Georgia Tech vs. Virginia Tech on Labor Day: College football’s two hardest working teams appropriately do battle on the holiday of workers. These two along with Virginia factor to be the top three teams in the Coastal division in the ACC so it will come to no one’s surprise if defense rules the day in this game, as the key will be Virginia Tech’s passing attack being the difference. A thing to look for is how well the Yellow Jackets triple option, wishbone offense works as the Hokies have had a summer of scouting it.
2. Boise State vs. Michigan State on Friday: For some reason Boise State always seems to play these opening games on a weekday night, though this would gain huge national attention during the afternoon on Saturday due to the lack of any real great games. Both teams are going to have many tools to replace on offense, all at the skill set positions. Do not be surprised if this game is the first to score 17 points wins, because defense is going to dominate the game with the new players on offense for both sides.
1. Michigan vs. Alabama in Arlington, Texas: This is by far the most important game of the opening weekend as it pits two national contenders in Texas Stadium. There are many twists to this game, from Denard Robinson opening his Heisman hopeful season against the #2 team in the nation, how Michigan’s defense will fare against an SEC team, the Alabama defense reloading and its offense needing to find its footing early, and finally to how these two teams will stack up in the national title picture. Michigan comes in with their highest ranking since 2007, while Alabama is the defending national champion. The offense of Michigan will be high-powered while Alabama’s defense will be stout, so it will come down to whose weakness is more shored up from a year ago to win the game for each team. The Michigan defense has started to bring in talent, and Alabama’s offense could be a suspect factor in this game, but the offensive line will be very good in getting A.J. McCarron time to throw and Eddie Lacy room to run. This could be a preview of things to come at the top of both the Big Ten and SEC.Please join us on our Facebook Page and follow us on Twitter @DailyShootout