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2013 NCAA Football Week 1 – MUST SEE GAMES

WEEK 1 GAMES ALREADY IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL! I’m taking a different track this year in that I’m listing the game in order of start time. This helps me a little bit in keeping them in order and also it doesn’t force me to try & rank the games which can get difficult at times. I sometimes think the football seasons get here pretty fast but for some reason this year, it seems like we’ve been waiting an awfully long time for football season. I’m finally glad it’s upon us! Let’s talk about some of the best 1st week matchups!

There are enormous expectations in Columbia this year, and while this game isn’t getting the publicity that Georgia/Clemson, Alabama/Virginia Tech or TCU/LSU, don’t discount the Tar Heels from making this a very good game. There is never a lack of talent in Chapel Hill and UNC could be a bit underrated. UNC’s defense should be a bit better which will make it difficult for SC to get into a rhythm, but the real story here will be UNC LT James Hurst up against potential ALL-WORLD DE Jadeveon Clowney! Hurst was a 1st Team All-ACC LT last year, is 6’7/305lbs, and arguable one of the 5 best LT in college. Clowney of course is a freak of nature at 6’6/272lbs & is the odds on favorite to go #1 in the 2014 NFL Draft. If UNC can keep QB Bryn Renner upright then the Tar Heels have some excellent receivers to utilize. Conversely, UNC can attack Conner Shaw on the edge & have a secondary that can cover. To me the stars of this game might be SC DE Chaz Sutton & SC RB Mike Davis. With Clowney in the mix, Sutton should have a huge impact on the edge & he’s no slouch at 6’5/260lbs. Davis averaged 5.3ypc last season & is a load at 5’9/215lbs! The line is South Carolina (-12.5) which seems ridiculously high. UNC keeps it closer.
There are gigantic expectations in Oxford after 1st year coach Hugh Freeze did the unthinkable and took the Rebels to a 7-6 record last year including a bowl win over Pittsburgh. Ole Miss returns 19 starters with a recruiting class among the very best in the nation. The SEC isn’t an easy place to play and James Franklin has the Vanderbilt football program competing with the upper tier of the SEC. Vanderbilt lost quite a bit on offense last season in QB Jordan Rodgers & RB Zac Story, but the Commodores return their 6 of their top-7 tacklers from a defense that allowed only 18.7PPG a year ago. Keep in mind also that Vandy went 9-4 last year with a bowl win over NC State and went to back-to-back bowl games for the first time ever. The line is Mississippi (-3.5) which should tell you something in that this game is going to be close. Ole Miss is extremely talented & need this win. They play road games against Texas in week 3 and Alabama in week 5. If they can somehow go 2-2 in their first 4, they can get to 10-2, but a loss here could mean opening up 1-3 which could derail the season. Vanderbilt is an extremely tough out and Ole Miss will have their hands full opening up with an SEC game.
Shouldn’t be too difficult of a game for Oklahoma State, but Dan Mullen is a tremendous coach & you can never count out the Bulldogs. Currently the line is Oklahoma State (-12.5) and this actually makes some sense. Oklahoma St. has their two QBs back & we all know what kind of offense HC Mike Gundy wants to run. Mississippi St. only returns 5 starters on defense and lose 3 of their 4 secondary starters from a year ago including both cornerbacks. With the game in Stillwater, this could get ugly early if OSU starts lighting it up. On the other hand, MSU is intriguing. They bring back 7 starters from a group that averaged 30PPG last year. MSU’s front-7 defensively could be incredible especially if DT Nick James (6’5/345lbs) & DE Denico Autry (6’6/265lbs) live up to their potential. Oklahoma St. has the ability to win the Big XII which means a BCS Bowl and a potential shot at the national championship should they run the table, but MSU is an SEC team with some serious talent. They won’t make it easy and this is why this game will be must see TV. Oklahoma St. allowed 28+PPG last season. If MSU can ground & pound keeping OSU’s offense off the field, they’ll make it into a ballgame.
I’m a Notre Dame homer so the Irish are always going to show up as MUST SEE if they are playing. The line is Notre Dame (-29.5) so obviously the experts don’t expect much of a fight for the Owls, but for Notre Dame fans, this will be an interesting game if only because there is obviously concern surrounding the QB. Irish fans are all very familiar with the trials & tribulations of QB Tommy Rees. With Everett Golson gone because of academic issues, Rees takes over as the undisputed starter. A couple of things to watch here. Can Tommy avoid turnovers? If Notre Dame gets out to a big lead, will HC Brian Kelly allow QB Andrew Hendrix to get some time in as QB? The Irish certainly don’t want to burn QB Malik Zaire’s redshirt season so getting Hendrix game time would seem to be crucial should something happen to Rees down the road. I’m also looking forward to seeing how the ND TE situation unfolds now that Tyler Eifert is gone. The Irish have had an incredible run with TEs lately with Kyle Rudolph & Eifert. It’ll be interesting to see who steps up for ND. TE Troy Niklas (6’7/260lbs) would be a matchup nightmare. I wonder how he will perform.
Even with the opponent being Virginia Tech, it’s hard to think Alabama won’t rip the Hokies to shreds to open up the season. Virginia Tech typically has a good defensive gameplan under DC Bud Foster, but there are simply no holes in the Alabama offense. QB AJ McCarron doesn’t make mistakes & now he has arguably the best WR corps in the nation! TJ Yeldon might be the best RB in college football and Alabama has arguably the best HS running back coming in Derrick Harvey. Sure the offensive line only has 2 returning starters, but does it really matter? Defensively the Tide have average 9PPG allowed over the LAST TWO SEASONS which were both national championship runs! Virginia Tech QB Logan Thomas is a QB who likes to make mistakes and you simply can’t have that against a ridiculous Alabama squad. The line is currently an insane Alabama (-20) which goes to show you how much respect the Tide are getting. Most every pundit in the nation has Virginia Tech playing in the ACC Championship game. Alabama should do away with them like they are a MAC team which goes to underline that there is SEC football and then everyone else!
To be honest nothing really sticks out in this game other than Gus Malzahn returns to Auburn as the HC and this will be his first game while the Cougars are led by Mike Leach who is in his 2nd season with Washington State. Both teams aren’t expected to be factors in their conference, but this is one of those games that could somewhat show the depth of their conference? I believe by the end of the season we’ll be looking at the SEC & PAC 12 as the two best football conferences in the nation and hopefully we’ll get a school from each conference in the BCS Championship game. This game doesn’t fall into that category obviously but it would be great for Leach to get a road win against an SEC team. On the other hand, Malzahn guiding Auburn to an easy win over the Cougars would be a small step towards restoring Auburn to its rightful place in the pantheon of college football. The line is Auburn (-16) so this would seem an easy win for War Eagle and you can be assured that Auburn has a considerable advantage in regards to talent. Then again, Leach didn’t always have the most talented squads at Texas Tech where he routinely won 10 games a season.
To me this is the most important game of the weekend. Alabama/Virginia Tech is nice as is LSU/TCU, but both of these schools have national championship aspirations that can be completely destroyed just one week into the college football season. Even with the game being at Clemson, the line is Georgia (-1.5) which is somewhat telling. If we are looking at the big picture then Clemson has to win in order to keep their national championship hopes alive. A lot of people talk about a 1-loss SEC team being a part of the national championship picture, but I don’t think that is the case here if Georgia loses and it could spell disaster for the SEC should Georgia wind up 12-1 and SEC Champions. If that happens then a 12-1 Clemson team would have an advantage because Clemson beat the Bulldogs in a head-to-head battle. Imagine this scenario. What if Clemson wins here and Georgia wins out to become SEC champions at 12-1. If Florida St. beats Clemson but say loses to a Miami-FL team in the ACC Championship game, what happens there? Clemson would be ahead of Georgia but Florida St. would be ahead of Clemson & by default Georgia. Or what if Georgia loses to Clemson but then beats South Carolina only to see Clemson lose to South Carolina in the season finale? A lot is going on here nationally given the hopes of both schools and both conferences.
I love the prospects of this game. I think people might be sleeping on TCU. We know Gary Patterson is a defensive minded HC and the last two years the Frogs have allowed 20+PPG but they’ve had some very inexperienced units. This year TCU returns 9 starters on defense which could mean TCU might be back to allowing 11-12PPG! Don’t forget either that QB Casey Pachall is back as a starter and he led TCU to an 11-2 mark in 2011! DE Devonte Fields is a manchild for the Frogs and despite their being a ridiculous amount of high profile talent for the Bayou Bengals, Fields might be the biggest star on defense for either team. LSU also might be just a bit down. They lost of ton of talent on the defensive side of the ball to the NFL although offensively, LSU should be a lot better with QB Zach Mettenberger entering his 2nd year as the starter. Right now the line is LSU (-4.5) but that seems high to me. If LSU RB Jeremy Hill can keep TCU off the field then maybe LSU can run away with this one, but I’m guessing TCU is going to surprise a lot of people. Keep in mind that LSU has road games against Georgia, Ole Miss, Alabama & Mississippi State! They have home games against Florida and Texas A&M. A loss here could mean the wheels fall off. Could LSU really finish a season 6-6?
I love that the current line here is Washington (-3.5). I think this is the year that HC Steve Sarkisian and the Huskies break out. This is the best team Sarkisian has had since he’s been in Seattle. The talent level is there while the Huskies bring back 10 starters on offense & 8 on defense. If QB Keith Price can be more like he was in 2011 than in 2012, Washington has a chance to shock a lot of people. A win over Boise St. will mean quite a bit. The Broncos start the year ranked in the top-20. If UW can win, then they’ll be ranked too. A win here should mean a 4-0 start. The next 3 games are at Stanford, home against Oregon, and at Arizona State. Let’s assume they lose to Stanford & Oregon. That would mean a final record of 10-2. Shocking either Oregon or Stanford could put Washington at 11-1 and potentially in the Pac 12 title game. It all starts with Boise State. A win would certainly be a confidence booster. Boise brings back a total of 9 starters, but that hasn’t much mattered to Chris Petersen & the Broncos. QB Joe Southwick is back for his senior season & is a dangerous weapon. A win here would catapult Boise to potentially a 13-0 season. They have road games against Fresno St., Utah St., BYU & San Diego St., but wouldn’t they be favored in all of them? Tons of good football in the Pacific Northwest this year!

August 27, 2013 - Posted by | Alabama, Auburn, Boise St., Clemson, Georgia, LSU, Mississippi, Mississippi St., North Carolina, Notre Dame, Oklahoma St., Previews, South Carolina, TCU, Temple, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech, Washington, Washington St., Week 1

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