Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Let the Games Begin: Week 1

By Jean Neuberger

Finally, the two words everyone's been waiting for have arrived.

Game. Time.

This year's college football season (aka the last dying gasp of the BCS) is already shaping up to be an epic one. Right from the start, the first week has some solid contests. Hitting the big conferences, let's set things up for the kickoff of the 2013 season.

American

Best Game: Rutgers travels to Fresno State, a team who might just end Boise's run of dominance in the Mountain West. The Scarlet Knights, led by veteran QB Gary Nova, are no pushover and this game could start a momentous season for the victors. Honorable mention goes to Purdue's visit to Cincinnati. Darrell Hazell vs. Tommy Tuberville, both in their first game at their respective schools. That's intriguing.

Bloodbath: Most would say Teddy Bridgewater and Louisville are going to dismantle Ohio. While I think the Cards win easy, I think Frank Solich's bunch will make it respectable. Therefore, I'll say Houston will have the rout of the week as Southern comes to town.

Upset Watch: None this week really catch the attention of upset meters. Cincy over Purdue would be a slight upset, but not enough to sound the real shock alarms.

ACC

Best Game: Georgia vs. Clemson might be the best game of the year. Seriously. The Bulldogs might have the most solid offense in college football with Aaron Murray at the helm. However, Tajh Boyd gets to unleash his attach on a very, very green UGA defensive unit. Both teams believe they can win a national title. This one is a must-watch. MUST.

Bloodbath: Georgia Tech QB Vad Lee is going to become a household name by December. Racking up huge numbers against Elon will be a nice start.

Upset Watch: Florida State needs to be a bit cautious about starting the season at Pitt, whose sole goal is to reach a bowl game outside of Birmingham. I also think NC State has a tricky opening act against Louisiana Tech as Sonny Dykes didn't leave an empty cupboard in Ruston.

Big 10

Best Game: I like Pat Fitzgerald taking Northwestern west to face Cal. Fitzgerald's well-oiled Wildcat machine taking on Sonny Dykes and his newly revamped Bears. For Northwestern, this is a good test to prepare for the Big 10 slate. For Cal, this is a good test to see if their offense can out-offense the other Pac-12 offenses.

Bloodbath: Urban Meyer will ask for a fifth quarter if possible to try and let Braxton Miller score as many points as he can against Buffalo. No doubts.

Upset Watch: Northern Illinois is fresh off of an Orange Bowl appearance and will not be afraid of the pink lockers at Iowa's Kinnick Stadium. As the seat has grown pretty warm for Kirk Ferentz in Iowa City, the Hawkeyes can't afford to let the Huskies walk out with a road win.

Big 12

Best Game: LSU/TCU at AT&T's Jerry World. Give props to Jerry Jones, who has been able to land some fantastic opening week matchups in his stadium. TCU, who will likely start Casey Pachall, but won't make things official until the last second, should be a good test for Les Miles and company. Whether Tiger RB Jeremy Hill plays is questionable. It shouldn't be (the guy shouldn't be playing at all this season), but with or without him, this should be a good game.

Bloodbath: Dana Holgorsen, meet William and Mary. Just think, Dana, Lou Holtz coached there once. You could be his center of attention on College GameDay Final with what you will likely do to the Tribe. We, the viewing public, will have to suffer slightly for this.

Upset Watch: Mike Gundy has to be cautious of Mississippi State, especially as Dan Mullen's teams seem to be strongest overall at the beginning of the season. However, I've got one more. It's probably the biggest surprise for an upset watch this weekend, but Kansas State needs to be careful. With a QB not named Klein, Bill Snyder's crew takes on two-time defending FCS champion North Dakota State. The Wildcats aren't the fastest out of the gate at times and the Bison will not be intimated in the least.

Pac-12

Best Game: Washington shows off their newly renovated stadium by welcoming Boise State into town. Boise survived in their last meeting; this year's contest should be just as close as both teams feel as though they have a lot to prove. The Broncos want one last BCS farewell bust, while Sark's crew wants desperately to get over the seven-win hump.

Bloodbath: Nicholls State, Oregon didn't pay you enough. Seriously. I'd be asking for $200,000 per Duck touchdown, meaning you get at least $2 million when Oregon aims for 70.

Upset Watch: I don't think anyone is sold on USC since their Sun Bowl humiliation. After Lane Kiffin oddly suggested that his depth chart took "five minutes" and still had two QBs in the mix, I don't think anyone would be overly surprised if Hawaii pulled off the upset and sealed the inevitable for Kiffin.

SEC

Best Game: While LSU/TCU is one of the best games, Georgia/Clemson is the best one of the weekend. It's one game whose outcome is just too tough to predict. Half the time I see Georgia wining, then I'll see Clemson winning. As of this minute, slight edge to the Tigers. Expect that to change 8-9 times by Saturday.

Bloodbath: Johnny Manziel will start for Texas A&M. He will then put on a show/clinic against Rice as showers of Sharpies will be thrown by admiring fans in College Station. The Aggies will have to clean up fast; Alabama is looming in a couple of weeks.

Upset Watch: Quite a few as the SEC has some intriguing games. While Arkansas and Auburn, fresh off long seasons, will be wary of Louisiana-Lafayette and Washington State, respectively, I say the formers take out the latters in very close fashion. The real upset watch? Kentucky's in-state matchup that takes place out-of-state. Western Kentucky beat the Wildcats last year and now, with Bobby Petrino at the helm, is a scary first week matchup for first year coach Mark Stoops.

We're less than 48 hours away from all of this unfolding before our eyes. Enjoy yourselves this weekend; we've all waited long enough!

Contents copyright © Sports Central 1998-2009