By Josh Kramer
Are you ready for some football? College Football is back and ready to take over your Saturdays until New Years. The NFL can have your Sundays. NCAA Football fanatics are fine with that. Saturdays are GameDay. They are made for College Football. And of course the occasional, Thursday, Friday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday night games. Do not even get me started on the shenanigans of non Saturday college football though.
As has become the tradition, I will provide you with my picks for the marquee matchups of each week.
Appalachian State at Virginia Tech: Hokies by 14
Headline: Hokies overcome past Week 1 woes via two-headed monster Thomas and Wilson.
-Could lightning strike twice for the Mountaineers? I am sure you all remember what they did in the Big House back in September of 2007. The Hokies have a history of choking early in the year. Sure they have won 10 or more games for seven straight years. But they also have lost the season opener three straight years. In addition, they lost to a 1-AA (FCS) opponent in James Madison in Week 2 at home last year. This was arguably the biggest shocker of the 2010 season. Well in large part due to events of the past few years, I do not see a shocker happening this time. Plus Frank Beamer has both Logan Thomas and David Wilson at his disposal on the offensive side of the ball. The Hokies are going to be very solid as usual and I am sure Appalachian State will have another successful year. But there is a noticeable difference between elite 1-A (FBS) College Football and elite 1-AA (FCS) College Football. Another upset would be great for entertainment, but I have a feeling that Beamer is preparing his boys for this game as if it is the National Championship game.
South Florida at Notre Dame: Fighting Irish by 7
Headline: Kelly begins Year 2 in South Bend with an offensive explosion.
-Year two of the Brian Kelly era in South Bend begins with a bang. Many are overlooking this game in that South Florida comes from the lowly Big East. Plus Notre Dame heads to the Big House to take on the Wolverines in Week 2. Well not so fast people. Skip Holtz and the Bulls only have two ranked opponents on their schedule this year; Notre Dame in Week 1 and West Virginia in their final game on December 1st. Both the Fighting Irish and the Bulls had very similar outputs defensively last year ranking 22nd and 23rd in points against last year. There is a big problem for the Bulls though. Brian Kelly owned them while at the helm in Cincinnati. And you better believe with a very talented Irish team, that will not change. I expect the Irish to come out slow, but to really get it going in the second half in front of a raucous crowd in South Bend.
Oregon vs LSU: Tigers by 3
Headline: Beware of Spencer Ware: Tigers ride their sophomore running back to a huge win in Dallas.
-This is without question the biggest matchup of the first week, and probably the first month of the season. Two top five teams going to battle in primetime at a neutral site facility. It does not get any better. Talk about two schools that have guts. Both of these teams play in tough conferences. To schedule an elite non-conference opponent to open the year at a neutral site sounds suicidal. But as the fans, we love it. These are both teams that will be major contenders not only for their respective conference titles, but also to participate in the National Championship game at the Superdome come January.
-Oregon relied on a lethal rushing attack last year led by their dual-threat QB Darron Thomas and their outstanding RB LaMichael James. This year, they will rely even more on these two stars, but they will do so with an inexperienced offensive line. LSU on the other hand has dealt with a plethora of their own problems this off-season. Within the past week, they have learned that both their starting QB and top returning receiver will be unable to participate in this Week 1 battle. Luckily for LSU, not only do they possess a very adequate backup in Jarrett Lee, but they also have better overall team speed and noticeable superiority in the trenches. That is where the Tigers will win this game. In the trenches. Expect sophomore running back Spencer Ware, who had a huge Cotton Bowl in Dallas last January to pick up right where he left off.
Boise State at Georgia: Bulldogs by 1
Headline: Boise State’s National Championship hopes end in Week 1.
-This is my upset pick for the Week. Typically, Boise State thrives under the bright lights dating back to their thrilling victory over Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl. This year, Boise is a major favorite with senior QB Kellen Moore. Georgia is feeling no pressure, but have a pretty strong team in their own right. In addition, Mark Richt is looking to gain back the love of the Bulldog Nation. There would be no better way to do that then by defeating a top five opponent in the opener. Expect Aaron Murray to have a career defining game while Kellen Moore struggles to deal with life in the post Titus Young/Austin Pettis era. Tyler Shoemaker and Doug Martin will really have to step up to give the Broncos a chance against the Bulldogs.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.