By Josh Kramer
Lights. Camera. Action. After a 234 day hiatus, the 2012 college football season kicks off tonight. We are coming to the end of the BCS era as the first college football playoff creeps closer. Week 1 generates a major buzz every year, despite featuring very few “buzz-worthy” matchups.
Here are the marquee matchups:
Boise State at Michigan State: Spartans by 7
Headline: The post-Kellen Moore era begins poorly with a Spartan smackdown.
The date was December 23, 2007. Taylor Tharp was the quarterback for Boise State as they took on East Carolina in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl. Current Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson was the star player for the Pirates, leading them to a 41 to 38 upset victory over Boise State. This night in Hawaii over four years ago happens to be the last game that Kellen Moore was not under center for the Boise State Broncos. Tomorrow night, the Joe Southwick era officially takes flight, as Southwick takes over the quarterback reigns for the great Kellen Moore. Also, Andrew Maxwell looks to fill the void left by the departure of Kirk Cousins. Two inexperienced quarterbacks on the big stage in the opener. Defense should be the name of the game.
Eight defensive starters are back for the Spartans this year as they look to improve upon their 45 sacks last season, which was tied for third in the nation. Not exactly music to Joe Southwick’s ears. Boise State only returns two defensive starters from a year ago, which won’t send chills down Andrew Maxwell’s spine. Chris Peterson has built a program in Idaho. Mark Dantonio has done the same in East Lansing. Expect the defensive pressure and a very loud Spartans Stadium to prove too much for Southwick in the opener.
Notre Dame vs Navy: Fighting Irish by 10
Headline: BK and the Fighting Irish have their way in Ireland.
Year three of the Brian Kelly era in South Bend begins in Ireland. Could this be a good omen for the Fighting Irish? Unfortunately for Kelly, he will be without his projected starting quarterback (Tommy Rees) and his starting running back (Cierre Wood). Have no fear Irish fans, Brian Kelly is here. No coach gets his players believing in the “Next man in” approach better than Kelly.
Besides, Notre Dame crucified Navy 56 to 14 last season. The absence of some key personnel for the Fighting Irish will not mean much in the opener. It will mean something throughout the rest of the season, considering the Fighting Irish play five teams that are currently ranked in the top 25 and three teams ranked in the top ten.
Clemson vs Auburn: Clemson Tigers by 3
Headline: Clemson wins the “Battle of The Tigers in a nail-biter.
Fresh off of a vicious 70 to 33 beating at the hands of West Virginia in the Orange Bowl, Clemson is chomping at the bit for a victory to help erase the memory of Miami. Auburn on the other hand had their fair share of ups and downs in 2011 following the magical Cam Newton season. One of the downs was on September 17, 2011 at Memorial Stadium, when Clemson overcame a 14-point deficit and ended Auburn’s 17-game winning streak.
It is a new year, but Clemson appears to have a heck of a team. Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins have the potential to be one of the elite deep threats in the nation. Sadly for Clemson, Watkins won’t be playing on Saturday. Clemson is definitely the stronger team on paper, but Auburn returns eight starters on offense and 10 starters on defense. The loss of Michael Dyer will hurt in a big way. Dyer’s amazing playmaking ability will be sorely missed not only in this game, but throughout the entire season. Look for Clemson to win the battle of the Tigers in a nail-biter.
Michigan vs Alabama: Crimson Tide by 14
Headline: Defending champs all business from start to finish against the Big Blue.
234 days ago Alabama manhandled an outstanding LSU team at the Superdome. Saturday, they look to put on the same type of performance against the reigning Sugar Bowl champs at Cowboys Stadium. No coach in the country does a better job at preparing his team to play than Nick Saban. With an extended amount of time to prepare for Saturday’s game, expect the Crimson Tide to put on a show.
Denard Robinson appears to be in for a very special season. The guy is a human-highlight reel with a shot at the Heisman. Year in and year out Alabama has an NFL-caliber defense. If I were in Denard’s shoes, I would slide and run out-of-bounds whenever afforded the opportunity. Ask Jordan Jefferson about the Bama defense. Michigan is a very good team that appears to be the cream of the crop in the Big Ten. Alabama is a great team that is one of the elite teams in the SEC. The difference between big-time Big Ten football and major SEC football will be on full display at Jerry Jones playground on Saturday night.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.