College Football 2012: The Ultimate Week 1 TV Viewing Guide

Dan VastaSenior Writer IIIJuly 19, 2012

College Football 2012: The Ultimate Week 1 TV Viewing Guide

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    The 2012 college football season will get underway in 41 days (47 for NFL) and everybody will then get back to what they love the most!

    College football is arguably the best time of the year for the millions of fans, and it all starts with the season opening weekend from August 30th to September 3rd.

    We often look at the opening weekend as one of the best of the entire season because of the non-conference heavyweight match-ups that we usually do not see until the end of the season (rivalry week).

    Oregon and LSU gave us quite the tussle last season (helped to have BCS title contenders), and Michigan against Alabama may take it up a few notches since they are two of the greatest programs in the history of college football.

    Those are not the only electric match-ups as we now take a look at the ultimate week one television viewing guide for the start of the 2012 college football season! 

    Note: Not every game has determined network or even time yet, but I still mentioned them together as many of these games will not be determined until the final days of kickoff. The favorites that are listed are from Beyond The Bets, as they also mention every single of the 2012 season.

South Carolina at Vanderbilt

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    Date: 8/30 (Thu)

    Time: 7 p.m. Eastern 

    Network: ESPN (HD) espn3.com 

    Way Too Early Line: SC by 10

    The Commodores host what will likely be a top 15 ranked squad in the Gamecocks and we all know that James Franklin will not back down from Steve Spurrier and his talented squad.

    Many are expecting South Carolina to compete and perhaps win the SEC East over Georgia thanks to a relentless pass rush.

    Jadeveon Clowney and Devin Taylor are premier rushers off the edge, and superstar running back Marcus Lattimore should give the underrated Commodores all they can handle.

    Danny V’s Pick: SC by 8

Massachusetts at Connecticut

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    Date: 8/30 (Thu)

    Time 7:30 p.m. Eastern

    Network: SNY/ERTV (cable, espn3.com) 

    Way Too Early Line: UC by 26

    The Huskies will be welcoming the Minutemen to their first official game as members of the FBS, and college football should be pumped about adding on Massachusetts since they are one of four new teams (124 teams now).

    However, Lyle McCombs is the guy to take a second look at in this one, as he is coming off a fabulous 1,151 yards and 7 TD season (275 carries).

    Danny V’s Pick: UC by 28  

Texas A&M at Louisiana Tech (Shreveport, LA)

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    Date: 8/30 (Thu)

    Time: 7:30 p.m. Eastern 

    Network: ESPNU (HD) 

    Way Too Early Line: Aggies by 2.5

    Expect a shootout in which the team with the final full possession will likely come away with the victory. Both offenses will be explosive, but the Bulldogs may have an edge thanks to wide receiver Quinton Patton and quarterback Colby Cameron.

    Patton’s production increased last season as soon as Cameron had the starting gig. In the last six games, Patton hauled in 6 TDs in the final six games and we should expect the two to become one of the more productive duos in the country.

    Jake Matthews and Luke Joeckel should own the line of scrimmage, but A&M will have to pray they can play some keep away and win the turnover battle to ensure themselves of victory.

    Danny V’s Pick: Aggies 2

UCLA at Rice

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    Date: 8/30 (Thu)

    Time: 7:30p.m. Eastern 

    Network: CBSSN (HD)

    Way Too Early Line: UCLA by 17

    The Rice Owls could be a solid story if they were to find a way to go bowling for the third time since 1961!

    Coming off a 4-8 season, some are expecting that bowl bid, but they still do not have the horses to compete with the cream of the crop.

    Jim Mora Jr. and the Bruins will be looking for another postseason trip, but the offensive woes still seem to be lingering (72nd in YPG) to expect major improvements.  

    Danny V’s Pick: UCLA by 14

Washington State at Brigham Young

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    Date: 8/30 (Thu)

    Time: 10:15 p.m. Eastern

    Network: ESPN (HD, espn3.com)

    Way Too Early Line: BYU by 13.5

    The BYU Cougars would love nothing more to prove that their 10-3 season last year was all skill and had nothing to do with their competition.

    Cody Hoffman and Riley Nelson on offense will put up a boatload of points against a Cougars defense that was 95th in points allowed per game last season.

    Of course linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Brandon Ogletree better bring their top games because the return of Mike Leach will be tough to contain in the opener.

    All-American Marques Wilson will look to showcase his star talents in what should be one of the more entertaining games on the opening weekend. 

    Danny V’s Pick: BYU by 7

Minnesota at UNLV

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    Date: 8/30 (Thu)

    Time: 11 p.m. Eastern

    Network: CBSSN (HD)

    Way Too Early Line: Min by 14

    Bobby Hauck could use an opening weekend upset over a BCS squad since he has been scrutinized to death the past few seasons.

    His Rebels have gone 4-21 over the last two seasons, and this coach went 80-17 after seven seasons with FCS juggernaut Montana.

    Jerry Kill and the Gophers desperately need a victory as well, especially if they are looking to improve upon their own struggles.

    Minnesota has not appeared in a bowl since 2009 (UNLV’s last was 2000), and we should all know by now that the Big Ten is going to only improve upon becoming be one of the elite conference in the country (after the SEC).

    An early loss for the Gophers would be tough to overcome since they are already buried deep in the basement of the BCS squads.

    Danny V’s Pick: Min by 6 

Thursday Night Times Not Yet Scheduled (Or Networks TBA)

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    Eastern Michigan at Ball State, 6 p.m. Eastern (espn3.com)

    Eastern Washington at Idaho, 8 p.m. Eastern (TBA)

    McNeese State at Middle Tennessee, 7:30 p.m. Eastern (TBA)

    Northern Arizona at Arizona State, 10:30 p.m. Eastern (Pac-12 Network, HD)

    Northern Colorado at Utah, 7:15 p.m. Eastern (Pac-12 Network, HD)

    Sacramento State at New Mexico State, 8p.m. Eastern (AggieVision, espn3.com)

    Southeast Missouri State at Central Michigan, 7p.m. Eastern (TBA)

    Southern Utah at Utah State, 8 p.m. Eastern (TBA)

    Towson at Kent State, 7.p.m. Eastern (TBA)

    UCF at Akron, 7 p.m. Eastern (espn3.com)

    UTSA at South Alabama, 7:30 p.m. Eastern (TBA)

Friday Night Times Not Yet Scheduled (Or Networks TBA)

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    Villanova at Temple, 7:30 p.m. Eastern, (TBA, espn3.com)

    Wagner at Florida Atlantic, TBA (TBA)

North Carolina State vs. Tennessee (Atlanta)

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    Date: 8/31 (Fri)

    Time: 7:30 pm. Eastern

    Network: ESPNU (HD) 

    Way Too Early Line: UT by 6.5 

    Tyler Bray and Mike Glennon will be slinging it all over the Atlanta Georgia Dome, in what could be a fairly high scoring affair between two BCS dark horses.

    North Carolina State is coming off a solid campaign in which they went 8-5, but Tennessee ended up going 5-7 as it was just their second non-postseason trip since 1989!

    Derek Dooley could really use a victory in the season opener or else he may be given too much pressure before the SEC season even gets underway.

    Luckily, Bray has a pair of receivers (Da’Rick Roger, Justin Hunter) that are arguably the best in the SEC and beyond.

    One of those star receivers will be matched up on every play with All-American defensive back David Amerson, but the ‘Pack defense better completely bottle up the running game or else this one will go to the SEC.

    Danny V’s Pick: UT by 11

Boise State at Michigan State

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    Date: 8/31 (Fri)

    Time: 8 pm. Eastern

    Network: ESPN (HD) 

    Way Too Early Line: MSU by 7 

    Mark Dantonio and his Spartans will be licking their chops when Chris Petersen’s Broncos arrive in East Lansing for a nationally televised heavyweight battle between two ranked squads.

    Both defenses should be stellar, and we know the Spartans will be packing the punch with four of their Bednarik candidates (Denicos Allen, Max Bullough, William Gholston, Johnny Adams).

    Still, Chris Petersen has gone 9-1 against the BCS in his career, and his staggering 73-6 record through six seasons cannot be matched by anyone. Heading into the postseason or season openers, Petersen is unbeatable.

    However, this MSU squad will be arguably the most talented and athletic team Boise will have ever seen (Pete era), so bank on a defensive slugfest that goes down to the wire.

    Danny V’s Pick: MSU by 3

San Jose State at Stanford

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    Date: 8/31 (Fri)

    Time: 10 p.m. Eastern

    Network: Pac-12 Network (HD, Select Areas Only)

    Way Too Early Line: SU by 28

    Andrew Luck is gone, but David Shaw returns and he still has quite a bit at his disposal.

    An experienced and physical, aggressive defense will likely obliterate the Spartans in their season opener.

    Stepfan Taylor among many others will run roughshod in a game that should be decided at halftime.

    Danny V’s Pick: SU by 38

Saturday Games Not Yet Scheduled (Or No National Networks)

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    Austin Peay at Western Kentucky, 7 p.m. Eastern, (TBA)

    Florida International at Duke, 7 p.m. Eastern, (espn3.com)

    Idaho State at Air Force, 2 p.m. Eastern, (TBA)

    Lamar at Louisiana Lafayette, 7 p.m. Eastern, (TBA)

    Liberty at Wake Forest, 6:30 p.m., Eastern (espn3.com)

    Marshall at West Virginia, TBA, (TBA)

    Missouri State at Kansas State, TBA (TBA)

    Nevada at California, 3 p.m. Eastern, (Pac-12 Network, HD)

    Nicholls State at Oregon State, 3 p.m. Eastern (Pac-12 Network, HD)

    Northwestern State at Texas Tech, TBA (TBA)

    Savannah State at Oklahoma State, TBA (TBA)

    South Dakota State at Kansas, TBA (TBA)

    Southern at New Mexico, 5 p.m. Eastern, (TBA)

    Texas State at Houston, 8 p.m. Eastern, (CSS)

    Troy at UAB, Noon Eastern, (FCS)

    UT Chattanooga at South Florida, 7 p.m. Eastern, (espn3.com)

    UT Martin at Memphis, 7 p.m. Eastern, (TBA)

    Weber State at Fresno State, 10 p.m. Eastern, (TBA)

    William & Mary at Maryland, 3 p.m. Eastern (espn3.com)

    Wyoming at Texas, TBA, (TBA)

    Youngstown State at Pittsburgh, 6 p.m. Eastern, (espn3.com)

    Note: Games on espn3.com may be packaged for ESPN Gameplan, at the moment they are all TBA

Navy vs. Notre Dame (Dublin, Ire)

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    Date: 9/1 (Sat)

    Time: 9 a.m. Eastern

    Network: CBS (HD), sportsline.com

    Way Too Early Line: ND by 13.5

    The Irish fans will be decked out in Dublin and everybody around college football better be awake early for this one. A season in which Brian Kelly and the Irish will be expected to fight for a BCS bid will be tough with one of the toughest schedules in America.

    It helps to have a solid running game and this would be Cierre Wood’s perfect game to breakthrough and get some attention. A tremendous back who ran for 1,102 yards and 9 TDs last season as a junior.

    Michael Floyd may be missed at wide receiver, but All-American tight end Tyler Eifert should help fill the void a bit. Navy will attempt to control the clock and own the line of scrimmage, but ND’s defense will be stifling in this contest.

    Danny V’s Pick: ND by 24

Miami Ohio at Ohio State

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    Date: 9/1 (Sat)

    Time: Noon Eastern 

    Network: BTN (HD, btn2go.com)

    Way Too Early Line: OSU by 27

    Urban Meyer is back in his home state and more importantly college football gets the two-time BCS national champ back in the sport.

    The Buckeyes will be relying on their defense to carry them as they open up with four straight home games before a tough trip to East Lansing. John Simon, Johnathan Hankins, Ryan Shazier and many talented defensive backs will headline this squad.

    The injury to Jordan Hall could be devastating if he had to sit out the entire season due to his offseason injury (foot), but Braxton Miller has the talents to breakthrough and lead an Ohio State program that will be trying to prove all their doubters wrong this season (no bowl or Big Ten title). 

    Danny V’s Pick: OSU by 31

Northwestern at Syracuse

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    Date: 9/1 (Sat)

    Time: Noon Eastern

    Network: ESPN 2 (HD, espn3.com) 

    Way Too Early Line: NW by 3

    Pat Fitzgerald would love to get back into the postseason to end that terrifying bowl victory drought going back to 1949!

    Syracuse does not open up at home as road underdogs very often (favored last two), but that will be the case against an improving Wildcats squad.

    This should be considered a toss-up game, but the Wildcats spread offense led by Kain Colter should be just enough to squeak by the Orange.

    Danny V’s Pick: NW by 6

Ohio at Penn State

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    Date: 9/1 (Sat)

    Time: Noon Eastern 

    Network: ESPN (HD, espn3.com)

    Way Too Early Line: PSU by 13

    Bill O’Brien and the Nittany Lions will be watched by all of college football in their season opener to see just how the team will react to the albatross of an offseason.

    The players and current coaches may have had nothing to do with anything, but the pressure and eyes that will be on them in their home opener will be like nothing we have seen before.

    The Ohio Bobcats are not the easy opponent that they can just show up and come away with a victory.

    The Bobcats are as good as it gets in the MAC, and their quarterback Tyler Tettleton can take over this game if he plays like the underrated star he is.

    We know PSU will bring the heat on defense, but Silas Redd needs some help from his passing offense to avoid eight or nine men fronts.

    Danny V’s Pick: PSU by 2

Western Michigan at Illinois

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    Date: 9/1 (Sat)

    Time: Noon Eastern

    Network: ESPN U (HD) 

    Way Too Early Line: ILL by 10

    Having two Bednarik nominees in linebacker Jonathan Brown and defensive end Michael Buchanan should help new head coach Tim Beckman.

    Illinois is a talented squad despite their recent struggles in terms of finishing in the mid-tier of the Big Ten, but they should give Western Michigan gunslinger Alex Carder all he can handle in the opener.

    Danny V’s Pick: ILL by 14

Appalachian State at East Carolina

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    Date: 9/1 (Sat)

    Time: Noon Eastern

    Network: FSN (HD)

    Way Too Early Line: ECU by 15

    The Pirates will take on what most consider to be a dangerous FCS squad due to a few upsets in the past (ask Michigan).

    However, the kids from Boone aren’t quite as good as they have been in the past.

    East Carolina will chuck it around with a few solid athletes they have, but Justin Hardy is the one player (wide receiver) that should shine the brightest. ECU may not be receiving much praise, but they are a dark horse contender in C-USA.

    Danny V’s Pick: ECU by 21

Buffalo at Georgia

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    Date: 9/1 (Sat)

    Time: 12:21 p.m. Eastern

    Network: SEC Network (ESPN Gameplan, espn3.com)

    Way Too Early Line: UGA by 41

    The relentless defense that the Georgia Bulldogs will unleash on the poor Bulls of Buffalo will be fun for SEC squads to watch.

    Even without a few starters due to suspensions and team violations, Mark Richt has quite the depth on his squad to pack a hurting on this lower-tier MAC school.

    Aaron Murray is often talked about as a Heisman dark horse contender, and this is one of those games where he may throw for more touchdowns than incomplete passes. 

    Danny V’s Pick: UGA by 45

Elon at North Carolina

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    Date: 9/1 (Sat)

    Time: 12:30 p.m. Eastern

    Network: ACC Network (ESPN Gameplan, espn3.com)

    Way Too Early Line: UNC by 39

    Larry Fedora is ready to put the Tar Heels back on the national map, and with a fairly easy schedule they may just have a sensational season.

    Despite being ineligible to compete for a bowl or ACC title, UNC should still be motivated in the first season in the Fedora era. Look for an improved season with a ton of talent still on the roster.  

    Danny V’s Pick: UNC by 35

Richmond at Virginia

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    Date: 9/1 (Sat)

    Time: 3 p.m. Eastern

    Network: FSN Affiliates (HD, ESPN Gameplan, espn3.com)

    Way Too Early Line: UVA by 28.5

    Mike London had quite the season last year finishing up at 8-5, but the Wahoos are hopeful they will only improve in the immediate future. Phillip Sims is an Alabama transfer that will draw quite the buzz heading into the season.

    A physical and aggressive defense, UVA should stifle the Spiders in their season and home opener.

    Danny V’s Pick: UVA by 31

Iowa vs. Northern Illinois (Chicago, IL)

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    Date: 9/1 (Sat)

    Time: 3:30 p.m. Eastern

    Network: ESPN U (HD)

    Way Too Early Line: Iowa by 10

    Kirk Ferentz heads into a huge season for the Hawkeyes coming off a tough 7-6 season, and many are questioning if they are even capable of posting an eight-plus win year.

    Losing their top tackle, running back and wide receiver will be tough to overcome, but quarterback James Vandenberg is primed to become arguably the best quarterback in the Big Ten.

    Keenan Davis and C.J. Fiedorowicz are not too shabby of some options and the Hawkeyes defense will improve as well (and they better against a legit NIU program).

    Danny V’s Pick: Iowa by 14

Miami at Boston College

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    Date: 9/1 (Sat)

    Time: 3:30 p.m. Eastern

    Network: ABC (ESPN2, HD, espn3.com)

    Way Too Early Line: U by 1

    The Hurricanes struggled to get the key stops on defense one season ago against Maryland in their season opener.

    Labor Day night’s nationally televised game last season showed us some of the flaws that this program had, and how much improvement they make in one year will let us know how long this program still is from becoming a legit ranked squad.

    Danny V’s Pick: U by 7 

Bowling Green at Florida

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    Date: 9/1 (Sat)

    Time: 3:30 p.m. Eastern

    Network: ESPN (HD, espn3.com)

    Way Too Early Line: UF by 27.5

    The Gators defense will be fun to watch next season and that is even if Ronald Powell cannot come back at 100 percent (at some point, most say October).

    The defensive line is one of the best in the entire country and their athletic linebackers and defensive backs should put their offense in much better positions to score.

    The Gators were just dreadful last season, ranking 105th in total offense averaging 328 yards per game. Improvements will likely be made, but the hope is they can get into high gear in the opener with the Aggies licking their chops in perhaps what will become an ESPN College Gameday night game thriller.

    Danny V’s Pick: UF by 24

Eastern Kentucky at Purdue

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    Date: 9/1 (Sat)

    Time: 3:30 p.m. Eastern 

    Network: BTN (HD, btn2go.com)

    Way Too Early Line: PU by 20

    Danny Hope has a 2012 slate to bring back another winning season and a bowl victory, and it all because of his returning starters (13).

    It surely helps to have one of the more dominant linemen (Kawann Short) in the country, and a solid running game on offense will give opposing Big Ten defenses some major issues.

    Gaining momentum with a lopsided victory over Eastern Michigan could go a long way with Notre Dame coming off their trip to Ireland for the following weekend.

    Purdue hosts Michigan and Wisconsin in October, which should tell the nation how successful their season will be in 2012.

    Danny V’s Pick: PU by 24

Northern Iowa at Wisconsin

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    Date: 9/1 (Sat)

    Time: 3:30 p.m. Eastern

    Network: BTN (HD, btn2go.com)

    Way Too Early Line: UW by 37

    Montee Ball is coming off his record-setting season in which he totaled for 39 TDs and his offensive line had its say in every opponent they competed against.

    Ball is an All-American and one of the best overall players in the country coming off his Heisman invite last year, but even without Russell Wilson around we should expect great production once again.

    Plus, Wisconsin’s defense is much better than they showed against Oregon and this beatdown against a solid FCS program will get them rolling early on the season once again.

    Danny V’s Pick: UW by 42

Southern Miss at Nebraska

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    Date: 9/1 (Sat)

    Time: 3:30 p.m. Eastern

    Network: ABC (ESPN2, HD, espn3.com)

    Way Too Early Line: NE by 13.5 

    Larry Fedora just led Southern Miss to a C-USA title before he went off to Chapel Hill, so the Golden Eagles are a talented team even with a few of the key losses they have since suffered.

    Jamie Collins is a beast on defense and while they will bring the heat against Taylor Martinez, they cannot stop the multi-faceted Rex Burkhead.

    Burkhead is ready to have another monster season in the Big Ten and with an improved set of receivers I look at the Huskers as one of your more improved teams out there.

    The biggest and most vital reason will be the defense since they were often dreadful in their biggest of games.

    Many people point to Jared Crick being gone as a huge loss, but he did miss eight games a season ago and the likes of Cameron Meredith and Baker Steinkuhler will ease the pressure and make life much more enjoyable for everybody.

    Danny V’s Pick: NE by 21

Tulsa at Iowa State

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    Date: 9/1 (Sat)

    Time: 3:30 p.m. Eastern 

    Network: ABC (ESPN2, HD, espn3.com)

    Way Too Early Line: ISU by 2

    Paul Rhoads is proud and then some with the effort he received from his Cyclones in the last three seasons (two bowl bids), but he still wants a bit more from this program (just 18-19 overall in his tenure).

    Tulsa is a dangerous opponent in the opener for Iowa State because former Nebraska backup quarterback Cody Green will create some havoc in one of the more entertaining and underrated match-ups of the entire opening weekend.

    Danny V’s Pick: ISU by 3

Colorado vs. Colorado State (Denver)

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    Date: 9/1 (Sat)

    Time: 4 p.m. Eastern

    Network: FX (HD)

    Way Too Early Line: CU by 7

    The Colorado Buffaloes are looked at as one of the worst teams in the Pac-12 because of the injuries, depth and experience factors that have plagued them for the past few seasons.

    However, Jon Embree has an excellent chance to change all of that thanks to perhaps a miracle return of wide receiver Paul Richardson.

    Whether Richardson becomes a serious threat like he has been in the past or not, Colorado has a much easier schedule than last season but their defense up front looks to be much more physical and athletic than it was one season ago.  

    Danny V’s Pick: CU by 17

Murray State at Florida State

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    Date: 9/1 (Sat)

    Time: 6 p.m. Eastern 

    Network: espn3.com

    Way Too Early Line: FSU by 49

    The Seminoles open up with two FCS opponents after West Virginia backed out due to their tough Big 12 schedule, but these games should allow FSU to develop an identity and allow youngsters to really develop before October rolls along.

    The FSU defense will be among the tops in the country and it is because of the athletes and experience they finally possess.

    Plus, they have a secondary and special teams unit that is among the best in the country as well.

    Developing a running game with all of the young lineman and backs they have will be critical, and this opening quiz against Murray State should be just what the doctor ordered.

    Danny V’s Pick: FSU 52

Southeast Louisiana at Missouri

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    Date: 9/1 (Sat)

    Time: 7 p.m. Eastern

    Network: ESPN Gameplan (espn3.com, PPV MO)

    Way Too Early Line: Mizzou by 42.5

    The Misouri Tigers better be fully healthy heading into the 2012 season since they have entered the gauntlet known as the SEC.

    Quarterback James Franklin is quite the talent but he needs to remain healthy with the likely possibility of star running back Henry Josey being unable to suit up in 2012.

    Dorial Green-Beckham brings the talent and hype to the Tigers that many feel will give them an opportunity to compete with any SEC squad for years to come.

    The depth on both lines of scrimmage will be interesting for the Tigers, who possess the talent but they will be battling every week like never before. Their opener will be enjoyable, but they will have a bloodbath, per se, in the near future (brutal slate in 2012).  

    Danny V’s Pick: Mizzou by 35

North Texas at LSU

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    Date: 9/1 (Sat)

    Time: 7 p.m. Eastern

    Network: ESPN U (HD)

    Way Too Early Line: LSU by 39

    Les Miles and his Bayou Bengals will be ready to start this season coming off their disastrous performance against the Alabama Crimson Tide.

    Luckily, all should be right in Baton Rouge thanks to having arguably the best defense in the country and their offense should be improved with quarterback Zach Mettenberger (UGA transfer).

    The athleticism up front on defense really stands out as they can harass any team in the country, and poor North Texas will be taking a beatdown in this season opener.

    Watch Les run the rock 40 times for over 300 yards in this game and they may not even have to throw the ball more than a dozen times with the starters.

    Danny V’s Pick: LSU by 42

Jacksonville State at Arkansas

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    Date: 9/1 (Sat)

    Time: 7 p.m. Eastern

    Network: ESPN Gameplan (espn3.com, PPV AR)

    Way Too Early Line: AR by 27

    Tyler Wilson enters the 2012 season as an All-American quarterback and the return of his running back Knile Davis should make them one of the most explosive offenses in the country.

    Throw in Cobi Hamilton and Chris Gragg and they are a complete squad offensively speaking, but their defense needs to perform at its best when they compete against LSU and Alabama.

    The SEC West is tougher in itself than any conference arguably and the Razorbacks will have their hands full despite the talent they posses on paper. Starting off the season by hanging half a hundred is not too shabby though.

    Danny V’s Pick: AR by 31

Jackson State at Mississippi State

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    Date: 9/1 (Sat)

    Time: 7 p.m. Eastern

    Network: Fox Sports South (espn3.com, ESPN Game Plan)

    Way Too Early Line: MSU by 38.5

    Dan Mullen has done a solid job since taking over as the head coach, but it will be interesting to see how much they can improve with Chris Relf gone as their quarterback. He was consistent two seasons ago, but he was anything but in 2011.

    Tyler Russell takes over and he just needs to take care of the ball with a bevy of playmakers stretching the field, and let us not forget they have a respectable defense as well.

    Mullen is capable of putting together a seven or eight win season, though it may be tough to achieve anything more. 

    Danny V’s Pick: MSU by 42

Central Arkansas at Ole Miss

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    Date: 9/1 (Sat)

    Time: 7 p.m. Eastern

    Network: ESPN Game Plan (espn3.com, PPV, MS)

    Way Too Early Line: Ole Miss by 21

    The Rebels will be an intriguing to watch since they have some solid talent for one of your basement teams in the SEC.

    Houston Nutt is long gone and Hugh Freeze now looks to cement a winning atmosphere in Oxford.

    A cupcake opener against Central Arkansas is not a bad start since the Rebels actually have a brutal schedule even in the non-conference (Texas).

    Danny V’s Pick: Ole Miss by 17

Auburn vs. Clemson (Atlanta)

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    Date: 9/1 (Sat)

    Time: 7 p.m. Eastern

    Network: ESPN HD (espn3.com) 

    Way Too Early Line: CU by 3*

    A lot of this game really depends on whether or not Sammy Watkins will play and many are suspecting that it is highly doubtful that he will.

    Watkins simply is electric and is arguably the most explosive player in the country thanks to his size, strength, speed and pure athleticism. Even his crisp route running and football awareness is sensational.

    Tajh Boyd should not struggle too much with running back Andre Ellington back healthy and a slew of other playmakers around him. However, Auburn’s defensive line is as deep and talented as any in the country.

    They took a beating last season as that same defense allowed 624 yards as Boyd torched AU’s secondary for 386 yards and 4TDs!

    Redemption among many other things will be on the minds of Gene Chizik’s Tigers, and if they take care of the ball they should be able to land a few haymakers early and often.

    Expect the Clemson offensive line to get pushed around just enough in the fourth quarter to allow Auburn's defense to come away with a key turnover thanks to new defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder likely throwing everything but the kitchen sink at Boyd.

    * Sammy Watkins' playing status is clearly up in the air due to his drug charges (He may play and just sit out a half perhaps, but Dabo will get the final word)

    Danny V’s Pick: AU by 4*

Hawai’i at USC

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    Date: 9/1 (Sat)

    Time: 7:30 p.m. Eastern

    Network: FOX (HD)

    Way Too Early Line: USC by 38.5

    Likely the top-ranked squad in the preseason, USC will have the offense to make nearly any defense look bad. Matt Barkley, Marqise Lee, Robert Woods and Curtis McNeil are deadly list of weapon that will make its mark in the 2012 season.

    The Warriors do not have the defense to even limit the damage and we could see Barkley have several virtuoso performances this season.

    Lee and Woods are two of the best in the country at their position, so look for USC to focus on some of their running game with several youngsters vying for playing time before conference play begins.

    Also, the USC defense has a point to prove this season since all the hype is talked about their offense, but make no mistake that their back seven is athletic and talented as any group in the country.

    There will be a boatload of blowouts this season put on by the Trojans and it all begins with Hawai’i. 

    Danny V’s Pick: USC by 45

Indiana State at Indiana

38 of 47

    Date: 9/1 (Sat)

    Time: 8 p.m. Eastern 

    Network: BTN (HD, btn2go.com)

    Way Too Early Line: IU by 23.5

    The Hoosiers are looking to have a bounce back season and then some with Kevin Wilson at the helm.

    Coming off a tough 1-11 season is never fun for the faithful around the program and the Hoosiers are not catching many breaks with their conference slate.

    Playing Ohio State and Wisconsin is a must (Leaders), but in the Legends they have to go up against a much improved Iowa squad and the two-time champion Wisconsin Badgers.

    Any way you look at it, improvements should be made though thanks to a favorable non-conference slate (looking at four wins perhaps all OOC).

    Danny V’s Pick: IU by 21

Rutgers at Tulane

39 of 47

    Date: 9/1 (Sat)

    Time: 8p.m. Eastern

    Network: CBSSN (HD)

    Way Too Early Line: RU by 24

    Rutgers is looking forward to another successful season as Kyle Flood takes over for Greg Schiano. The Big East is completely changing obviously with the emergence of Boise State, San Diego State, SMU, Central Florida and Houston all joining in 2013.

    They will be losing Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the ACC, but the Scarlet Knights are likely to reap the benefits in the immediate future.

    It starts with a lopsided victory over Tulane and most should expect Rutgers to post another eight or nine-win season in 2012 despite the conference being up for grabs (USF, ‘Ville, Cincy, Pitt).

    Danny V’s Pick: RU by 28

Michigan vs. Alabama (Arlington)

40 of 47

    Date: 9/1 (Sat)

    Time: 8 p.m. Eastern

    Network: ABC (HD)

    Way Too Early Line: Bama by 13

    The biggest game of the first weekend of the 2012 college football season will be between the Alabama Crimson Tide and Michigan Wolverines

    Putting prestige to the side between these two storied programs, these top ten teams will bring their lunch pail attitudes to Jerry’s World.

    Michigan loses quite a bit on both lines of scrimmage which could prove to be the difference. Alabama’s defense is loaded with stars that have waited in the wings for years.

    Plus, the developing growth of quarterback A.J. McCarron will really become a factor since the Tide have the playmakers to beat you deep now as well.

    Throw in the fact that they possess the best offensive line in the country, and it will be tough for Michigan to come away victorious on a neutral field against arguably the best team in the country.

    Danny V’s Pick: Bama by 17

Oklahoma at UTEP

41 of 47

    Date: 9/1 (Sat)

    Time: 10:30 p.m. Eastern

    Network: FSN (HD)

    Way Too Early Line: OU by 28.5

    Landry Jones will come into the season as one of the Heisman frontrunners and this is the perfect game in which his numbers will go bonkers.

    He may only play three quarters, but he may still throw for 400 yards and 5 TDs to the bevy of receivers he has stretching the field for him. OU is not afraid to start off on a bang in the non-conference and Bob Stoops will allow a ton of players to come and get their feet wet early in the season.

    Drew Allen and Blake Bell will see significant action, and they will look to establish a more physical running game to set a tone before they begin Big 12 play.

    Also, let us not forget about their talented secondary (top 10) and athletic front seven that will be led by their linebackers.

    Danny V’s Pick: OU by 38

Arkansas State at Oregon

42 of 47

    Date: 9/1 (Sat)

    Time: 10:30 p.m. Eastern 

    Network: ESPN (HD, espn3.com)

    Way Too Early Line: Ore by 37

    I hope you enjoy a ton of points because these two teams should go for well over 50 points in this game. The Ducks themselves may hang a 50-burger with all of their speed on the field.

    Most notably would be De’Anthony Thomas and Kenjon Barner (their QB battle will be interesting) as they both can light up the scoreboard and stat sheets with the electricity they bring to the gridiron.

    Chip Kelly against Gus Malzahn will be quite the treat on a Saturday night (try past one in the morning eastern) because their up-tempo offenses are always tough to defend.

    The difference between last season’s Ducks and this year’s should be their improved defensive players.

    Kiko Alonzo, Michael Clay, John Boyett and Dion Jordan are just a few of the players that will be harassing Arkansas State’s Ryan Aplin, who is one of the best players in America you may have not heard of.

    Danny V’s Pick: Ore by 35

Toledo at Arizona

43 of 47

    Date: 9/1 (Sat)

    Time: 10:30 p.m. Eastern

    Network: ESPN U (HD)

    Way Too Early Line: AZ by 5

    Rich Rodriguez makes his debut with the Wildcats in lovely Tuscon, but the youngest coach in the FBS (Matt Campbell, 32) will sure give Arizona all they can handle.

    The Rockets possess some solid firepower and this should be one of your higher-scoring games as it involves two teams that will spread you to death and they have been known to allow a few yards every once in a blue moon.

    It is late at night so just pray it comes down to the wire as overtime could even be a strong possibility.

    Danny V’s Pick: AZ by 7

San Diego State at Washington (Seattle, WA)

44 of 47

    Date: 9/1 (Sat)

    Time: 10:30 pm. Eastern

    Network: Pac-12 Network (HD, Restricted Areas)

    Way Too Early Line: UW by 20

    Ryan Katz will be starting for the Aztecs as he is the former Oregon State quarterback, but Washington has a decent signal-caller of their own.

    Keith Price can thread it and then some with his talented weapons, so expect the Huskies to absolutely torch San Diego State when the dust clears from this mismatch.

    Danny V’s Pick: UW by 24

Kentucky at Louisville

45 of 47

    Date: 9/2 (Sun)

    Time: 3:30 p.m. Eastern

    Network: ESPN (HD, espn3.com)

    Way Too Early Line: ‘Ville by 10

    Charlie Strong will be digging the development of Teddy Bridgewater because he looks to be on the verge of becoming the top performer in the Big East and the Cardinals defense is improving to become the frontrunners to reach the BCS.

    South Florida, Cincinnati and Rutgers will be tough challengers, but this squad is experienced and talented enough to take care of their tough and rugged rivals from the SEC.  

    Danny V’s Pick: ‘Ville by 13

SMU at Baylor

46 of 47

    Date: 9/2 (Sun)

    Time: 6:30 p.m. Eastern

    Network: FSN (HD)

    Way Too Early Line: Baylor by 10.5

    The loss and departure of the reigning Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III will be impossible to overcome in terms of matching their offensive production, but the Bears wide receivers still rank among the more talented corps in the country.

    Terrance Williams, Lanear Sampson and Tevin Reese are quite the trio of stars spread out wide for new starting quarterback Nick Florence, but that does not help out the defense.

    The Bears were gashed all season long allowing 37 PPG (113th) and 488 yards per game (116th). SMU is a major dark horse contender out of C-USA because they have a few stud defenders (Margus Hunt, Taylor Reed, Ja’Gared Davis).

    Plus, the Mustangs have quite a pass-catch combo with former Texas quarterback Garrett Gilbert and Darius Johnson, and let us not forget they have a bruiser in the backfield as well (Zach Line). Look for an entertaining Sunday evening match-up that will likely come down to the wire. 

    Danny V’s Pick: SMU by 3

Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech

47 of 47

    Date: 9/3 (Mon)

    Time: 8 p.m. Eastern

    Network: ESPN (HD, ESPN3.COM)

    Way Too Early Line: VT by 9

    The Frank Beamer led-Hokies have been the most consistent program in the country for the last decade in terms of wins. They have currently posted eight consecutive seasons of at least ten or more victories.

    Beamer was a cornerback way back (don't worry Frank you are still the man) in the day for the Hokies (1966-1969), and some believe that is one of the main reasons as to how he transformed so many high school defensive backs into All-Americans.

    A college coach is only as successful as the coaches he brings in and defensive guru Bud Foster is entering his 13th season in Blacksburg.

    Virginia Tech has eight starters returning on the defensive side of the ball, and they have a star at each level.

    Whether we are talking about James Gayle, Bruce Taylor or Kyle Fuller, the Hokies are gifted on defense, which allows quarterback Logan Thomas and company some room for error on offense.

    The Yellow Jackets obviously are led by quarterback Tevin Washinton (25 total TDs), but their defense better plays lights out.

    If not, then we cannot expect them to upset the Hokies, let alone win the division with this potential season opening upset at Lane Stadium.

    Danny V’s Pick: VT by 13

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