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Predicting a Game-Breaking Player for Every Week 1 College Football Contest

Dan VastaSenior Writer IIIDecember 5, 2016

Predicting a Game-Breaking Player for Every Week 1 College Football Contest

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    We are officially only 10 days away from the start of the 2012 college football season and the breakdown's for every opening weekend matchup are coming out.

    There are 78 matchups that I already have my eyes set on (41 FBS matchups), and we all know there will be electric and dazzling moments that entertain us as if we have never watched the sport before.

    The teams, coaches, die-hard supporters and players lay it all on the line each and every weekend, but nothing shouts college football's pageantry than the opening weekend of the season.

    Starting with Vanderbilt hosting South Carolina (8/30) and ending with Virginia Tech hosting Georgia Tech (9/3), here are your game-breaker stars to look at for every single opening weekend matchup in college football.

    Note: The final five games so you don't have to scroll all the way through are Bama-UM, CU-AU, UT-NCST, BOISE-MSU & GT-VT

South Carolina at Vanderbilt, Marcus Lattimore

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    The Gamecocks and Commodores kick off the 2012 season and why not start the year in the SEC?

    Vanderbilt was a pleasant surprise under James Franklin last season and they should continue to sneak around the SEC East. This will likely be the biggest game of the program's history thus far with ESPN coming to Nashville on a Thursday night to start the season.

    South Carolina possesses arguably the best defensive end in the country as Jadeveon Clowney is an absolute freak. Throw in Devin Taylor and this defense is fast and furious all over the field.

    However, Marcus Lattimore is the most talented back in the country and albeit he missed the later stages of the 2011 season due to his knee injury (missed final six games), the guy is still the baddest man on the planet.

    Look for Lattimore to breakthrough (150 yards, 2 TD) in this close contest between a pair of talented SEC East squads.

Massachusetts at Connecticut, Lyle McCombs

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    The Minutemen will be playing in their first official game as members of the FBS, but the Huskies and Lyle McCombs likely have other ideas.

    One of the more productive backs in the country from a season ago, McCombs was No. 29 in rushing last season and he should be able to go bonkers on Massachusetts in the opener.

Texas A&M vs. Louisiana Tech, Ryan Swope

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    Ryan Swope doesn’t need a specific quarterback to thread the needle to, but Johnny Manziel will be the one at the moment who will thread the needle to him.

    Swope has the possibility of having a breakout game against the Bulldogs because the A&M defense may allow some points and a shootout will be on the way.

UCLA at Rice, Joseph Fauria

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    One of the most athletic tight ends in the country will find a few holes against the Owls secondary.

    Brett Hundley is starting at quarterback, but a gifted athlete who has technically moved to the “X” spot at wide receiver will be open a ton in this matchup.

Washington State at BYU, Cody Hoffman

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    Brigham Young and Washington State will be one of the more entertaining games in the opening weekend.

    I love Jeff Tuel and Marquess Wilson posting legit numbers in 2012, but Riley Nelson and Cody Hoffman will be productive all season as well.

    Hoffman has hauled in 6 TD in his postseason career, and is a stud in the spotlight when the squad is counting on him to make an impact.

    Bank on plenty of points in this one with Hoffman headlining all the top performers.   

Minnesota at UNLV, MarQueis Gray

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    The Golden Gophers need a solid start to their season and it starts in Vegas against Bobby Hauck’s Rebels.

    MarQueis Gray is an athletic quarterback that can help Minnesota start off on the right foot and the duel-threat signal-caller should be fine against a UNLV defense that ranked just 105th in total defense and 118th in scoring defense.

Northern Arizona at Arizona State, Cameron Marshall

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    The Sun Devils won’t be struggling in Todd Graham’s debut in Tempe, so look for a good ole fashioned blowout in this matchup.

    Cameron Marshall is a talented running back that will have no issues running against this FCS squad they defeated by three touchdowns two season ago.

Northern Colorado at Utah, John White IV

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    The Utes are considered by some to surprise us in the Pac-12, but not many have them in their preseason top 25.

    In fact, they are completely under the radar despite having the best defensive tackle in the country (Star Lotulelei) and a hard-nosed runner in John White IV.

    White may only play a half in this one, but he will likely find paydirt a few times and eclipse the 100-yard mark without much effort.

Sacramento State at New Mexico State, Andrew Manley

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    The Aggies have struggled miserably in the FBS, but they are coming off a respectable 4-9 season where most had envisioned a 2-11 season.

    Coming off a torn ACL (missed all of 2011 season), Andrew Manley should be set to start his sophomore campaign on a strong note. The Aggies come in as solid favorites (14.5) and they should come away winners thanks to their quarterback.

UCF at Akron, Storm Johnson

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    The former Miami Hurricanes back is a stud and will be getting a ton of carries in this one against an Akron Zips squad that finished 108th against the run.

    Look for some first downs, a ton of yards and some touchdowns by the most explosive skill player for the Knights.

San Jose State at Stanford, Stepfan Taylor

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    The Cardinal will punish the Spartans up front with their physical and talented offensive line, so look for Stepfan Taylor to have a solid start to the 2012 season.

    He may only play for two or three quarters, but look for 125-plus yards and a pair of touchdowns against a putrid run defense from one season ago (106th).

Villanova at Temple, Matt Brown

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    Bernard Pierce will not be easy to replace due to the Big East competition being a bit tougher compared to the MAC.

    However, Matt Brown is a quick and explosive back that should see decent success for the Owls under Steve Addazio. While an All-Big East season is likely not awaiting the Temple back, a solid start to the season will be.

Bowling Green at Florida, Mike Gillislee

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    Mike Gillislee was behind both Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey last season, but many are expecting a tremendous season from an explosive, physical back that will be running behind a much improved offensive line.

    Bowling Green will not have much of a chance of stopping the Gators for four quarters, and Gillislee should reap the benefits.

Iowa vs. Northern Illinois, Keenan Davis

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    Soldier Field will host a solid matchup between a Big Ten dark horse and an underrated MAC squad.

    Quarterback James Vandenberg will be quite the surprise in the Big Ten this season, but Keenan Davis should be able to carve up the Huskies thanks to tight end C.J. Fierdowicz taking up the middle of the field.

Miami at Boston College, Mike James

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    Stephon Morris has taken over the starting quarterback duties, but the Canes have always been at their best when they can run the ball effectively.

    Like any team, it opens up the passing game and makes life much less difficult, but Mike James is solid enough to start off the 2012 campaign on a good note for Miami.

    BC’s defense is still respectable despite the loss of Luke Kuechly, but James will get a ton of opportunities in this season opener.   

Northern Iowa at Wisconsin, Melvin Gordon

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    Montee Ball is the most productive back in the country and his backup James White will likely slice up the Panthers run defense in this game as well.

    However, it will get ugly in the second half and Melvin Gordon should put up monster numbers in the fourth quarter. Wisconsin has never had problems putting up half a hundred points and they may get 70-plus without much effort in this one.

Southern Miss at Nebraska, Rex Burkhead

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    Rex Burkhead is about as productive as a Big Ten player as it gets these days, and the Huskers should get challenged enough by Southern Miss to keep their starters in four at least three quarters.

    This game could come down to the wire, but Burkhead will likely seal the deal with a dashing touchdown in the final quarter.

SMU at Baylor, Terrance Williams

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    The Bears will be without Robert Griffin III, but they still have a ton of talented wide receivers.

    Terrance Williams is the one star for Baylor that will once again be shining even without the Heisman Trophy winner. Nick Florence will fill in admirably for a legend, and this will be the perfect game to watch both squads go back and forth.

    While the Mustangs very well could come out of this game victorious, Baylor’s offense is more than capable of taking over and controlling the fast tempo thanks to their star receivers.

Kentucky at Louisville, Teddy Bridgewater

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    The Cats and Cards will be a solid early contest between a pair of programs that are heading in complete opposite directions.

    Look for a bulked up Teddy Bridgewater to thread the needle in this one with nice numbers for a so called, “Big East” quarterback that cannot get the job done. The ‘Ville should be legit top 25 contenders and Bridgewater will prove to be the real deal.

Austin Peay at Western Kentucky, Jack Boyle

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    The Second Team All-Sun Belt tight end did not reach paydirt a whole lot last season with running back Bobby Rainey getting most of the looks, but the solid pass catching tight end should have a solid 2012 season.

    Going up against Austin Peay should not be too much of a tough challenge so look for the Hilltoppers and Boyle to get off to a good start here.

Florida International at Duke, Conner Vernon

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    Conner Vernon became the first ACC player to haul in 70 receptions for consecutive seasons, and this Dukie is far from done.

    Sean Renfree is returning at quarterback and the Blue Devils passing game should be good again, so look for Vernon to be the main target for a third consecutive season in Durham.

Idaho State at Air Force, Mike DeWitt

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    Fullback Mike DeWitt is the guy to look out for in this contest. After missing the entire 2010 season with a knee injury, the back played the entire 2011 season without losing one yard all season on any carries.

    He ran in for 12 TD last season and there is an excellent chance one of the better fullbacks in the non-BCS gets in the end zone more than once in this one.

Lamar at Louisiana Lafayette, Javone Lawson

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    I wish I could choose both players in this deadly duo of wide receiver Javone Lawson and quarterback Blaine Gautier, but let us go with just one.

    Javone Lawson is the pick riding a ton of momentum after he hauled in nine catches for 193 yards and 2 TD in their amazing New Orleans Bowl victory.

Liberty at Wake Forest, Tanner Price

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    The fighting Jim Grobe’s have been a joy to follow despite the lack of talent they have possessed against the upper echelon talent in the ACC.

    Wake has continued to appear in a bowl every season or two, but that is because of an underrated defense and smart (productive too) play from their quarterbacks.

    Tanner Price has a little bit of Riley Skinner (last QB to lead to BCS, ’06) in him despite being a lefty. Price can move well around the pocket escaping pressure and throwing on the run with ease to a few of his underrated targets (Terence Davis, Michael Campanaro).

Missouri State at Kansas State, John Hubert

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    Everybody knows all about Collin Klein at quarterback after he ran in 27 TD a season ago, but running back John Hubert will get a ton of opportunities after running for nearly 1,000 yards last season.

    He only had 3 TD and those numbers should at least double, which means we would see a few to start off the season against an inferior FCS opponent.

Murray State at Florida State, Clint Trickett

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    E.J. Manuel is the main superstar on offense due to his duel-threat ability, and everybody knows about the Noles killer defense.

    Plus, they have one of the deepest receiving corps in the country and a few solid backs as well, so who exactly should I choose?

    Backup quarterback Clint Trickett!!??

    Trickett should see a ton of snaps in this one as Manuel’s backup. Drawing greatreviews throughout the spring and summer, Trickett should light up the scoreboard with somewhere around 200 yards and a pair of TDs in the second half against the Racers.

Nicholls State at Oregon State, Markus Wheaton

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    This stud receiver for the Beavers should not have any issues drawing separation against the secondary of Nicholls State.

    Plus, Oregon State should have redemption on their mind after getting stunned at home in overtime by Sacramento State last season (29-28).

Northwestern State at Texas Tech, Seth Doege

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    Seth Doege flashed brilliance last season against the top-ranked Sooners in Norman, but he was far too inconsistent against even the mid-tier competition.

    Doege has a ton of weapons at his disposal albeit no All-Americans (or even All- Big 12 arguably), but the system still allows for him to put up respectable numbers. Look for a great start in this matchup between the FBS and FCS.

San Diego State at Washington, Keith Price

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    KP17 as he is known by many, is one of the more talented quarterbacks in all of the nation.

    Keith Price has one of the most gifted playmakers in tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins and a few others (Kasen Williams, James Johnson) that can stretch the field.

    Price went absolutely bonkers in the Alamo Bowl (477 yards, 7 TD) and he could put up those numbers if this one is closer than the experts believe it to be.

    Either way, Price will post gaudy stats this year with a defense that still has long ways to go before they challenge for a Pac-12 title.

Savannah State at Oklahoma State, Joseph Randle

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    The Pokes offense under Todd Monken and Mike Gundy has been spectacular with their ability to steadily increase their offensive production.

    Oklahoma State has simply been remarkable to witness, but their defense has quietly been better as well. Giving the offense solid field position and plenty of opportunities, look for Randle to pick up right where he left off last season (1,400-plus yard, 26 TD).

South Dakota State at Kansas, Mike Ragone

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    The former Golden Domer played under Charlie Weis as one of their tight ends, but he may lead the Jayhawks in receptions and touchdowns this season.

    James Sims is their most talented player, but he has been suspended for the first three games. Kansas will still be running the ball quite a bit albeit Ragone is the true threat once they get towards the redzone.

Southern at New Mexico, Ty Kirk

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    The Lobos will attempt to end their brutal streak of going 1-11 (last three seasons) with Bob Davie in charge. The receivers are not the most talented players in the country, but they are solid players that can beat you deep.

    Lamaar Thomas can put on the afterburners and so can Ty Kirk, as these two players will be the ones that everybody heavily relies on this season for the Lobos.

Texas State at Houston, Charles Sims

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    This stud back had 9 TD last season and albeit it was with Kevin Sumlin, Case Keenum, Patrick Edwards, Tyron Carrier and Justin Johnson, Sims will still be respectable in 2012.

    Plus, going against one of the four new FBS squads will make life easier since the Bobcats are still easing into life as the new kids on the block.

Troy at UAB, Eric Thomas

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    The Trojans come into this game as slight favorites over the Blazers, but Eric Thomas might just be the difference maker in this battle between the Sun Belt and C-USA.

    Thomas hauled in 9 TD a season ago and was actually named to the Second Team All-Sun Belt squad as just a sophomore.

Tulsa at Iowa State, Cody Green

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    The former Cornhusker is ready to burst onto the national scene in this battle between the Big 12 and C-USA.

    This mine as well be thrown under the bus because this game is not nearly talked about enough.

    The Golden Hurricane come in as slight ‘dogs but they may leave Ames victorious thanks to this duel-threat athlete that can do a ton of damage with the offensive pieces that he is surrounded with.

UT Chattanooga at South Florida, BJ Daniels

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    One of the Big East favorites would love to start off the season with a blowout victory, and let us not forget they have Nevada, Miami FL and Florida State all on the non-conference slate.

    Daniels has a ton of talent that he has not quite been able to live up to, but his senior season looks to be a strong one as he should finally take that next step.

UT Martin at Memphis, Marcus Rucker

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    The Tigers may be considered one of your worst programs in the FBS over the last two seasons (3-21), but things have to turn around eventually, right?

    Only 14 starters combined return, but the talented Marcus Rucker should be one of the few Tigers to thrive this season on offense (116th in total offense, 115th in scoring).

Weber State at Fresno State, Derek Carr

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    Robbie Rouse is one fine back to look forward to with his ability to dash past opposing defensive backs once again, but Derek Carr is the igniter of this offense.

    Carr combined for 29 TD last season with just 6 INTs, and the brother of David (former Fresno star, first pick in draft, '02) sure has the looks of becoming an NFL signal-caller in the distant future (just a junior).

William & Mary at Maryland, Matt Furstenberg

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    How many games will the Terps win after losing their starting quarterback C.J. Brown for the entire season with a torn ACL?

    After those first three games, it might be tough to witness many if any victories this season for Randy Edsall. Surely he will draw the hotseat if they fail to pick up any ACC victories, but at least they can rely on Matt Furstenberg to carry them early on in the season.

    A solid ACC tight end, we should anticipate half a dozen of TD despite the fact that he has lost his starting quarterback.

Wyoming at Texas, Johnathan Grey

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    The top running back in the country heading into the season for freshman will have a bevy of opportunities to come through for the Longhorn faithful.

    Bank on Texas running up some massacres early on in the season with a legit offensive line and a boatload of stars that will go bonkers in the non-conference.

    Joe Bergeron will help give Malcolm Brown some rest as well, but Mr. Grey has the likes of becoming a superstar in the immediate future (explosive, vision, cut ability).

Youngstown State at Pittsburgh, Ray Graham

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    Coming off a torn ACL is always difficult to recover from, but the Panthers will be expecting Graham to ease back into star mode.

    He may not be getting a ton of carries early on in this contest, but he still should be productive nonetheless against an inferior FCS squad.

    Note: Ray Graham is "unlikely" to play in the opener, so give me Mike Shanahan at wide receiver

Toledo at Arizona, Dan Buckner

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    A big, physical specimen that can get separation from the Toledo secondary, look for the former Longhorn receiver to be productive under Rich Rodriguez.

    Dan Buckner is the main threat on the ‘Cats, and he should make Toledo pay near the goal-line where he can come down with anything thrown towards his direction.

Oklahoma at UTEP, Blake Bell

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    Known as the “Belldozer”, this Oklahoma backup quarterback (Drew Allen too) will feast off the poor Miners defense that may allow close to half a hundred points.

    Landry Jones is the easy choice, as is Kenny Stills or Trey Metoyer, but Blake Bell is a touchdown machine (13) that will not be stopped in this matchup.

Arkansas State at Oregon, De’Anthony Thomas

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    De’Anthony Thomas will dazzle us all season long with his adventurous runs in which opposing defenses will make us think if they are of the same caliber of a high school team.

    The “Black Mamba” is all that with Kenjon Barner running alongside him in the backfield, but many believe if he can post huge numbers in the non-conference that he could become your dark horse to reach New York City for the Heisman.

Hawai’i at USC, Matt Barkley

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    Really, going with any offensive Trojan would be the ideal pick since there is a shot that they drop 50-plus points in this one.

    Will Matt Barkley even play in the fourth quarter let alone the second half?

    Robert Woods and Marquise Lee are studs, but everybody will get a great glimpse at the depth behind these two All-Americans because the talent is there.

    Throw in Silas Redd and Curtis McNeal, and this offense surely looks like the one to watch in 2012.

Ohio at Penn State, Tyler Tettleton

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    The Nittany Lions season could not get here soon enough for the faithful, but it will be tough to pick up their first victory.

    The Bobcats have the looks of the best team in the MAC, and we could sneak near the top 25 if they were able to pull off this upset in the season opener.

    Tyler Tettleton is the man in charge of Frank Solich’s squad and while going up against a solid defensive squad will be a challenge, Ohio has the goods to compete for the entire ball game.

    Tettleton is a houdini back in the pocket and he can escape from any pressure you might attempt to throw at him, but this game has the makings of coming down to the wire.

Western Michigan at Illinois, Donovonn Young

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    The Illini have quite the duel-threat quarterback in Nathan Scheelhaase (the starter), but Riley O’Toole should continue to see some snaps as well with such a lively arm.

    Illinois likely has watched the game film between Western Michigan and Purdue from their bowl game last season, and the Boilermakers absolutely gashed them up front.

    Despite only being a sophomore, Donovonn Young is more than capable of slashing and dashing his way towards a big day on the ground.

Marshall at West Virginia, Tavon Austin

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    Stedman Bailey might just become an All-American this season with the number of passes that Geno Smith will throw towards his direction.

    Still, Tavon Austin is an all-purpose freak that can breakdown a defense with the best of them.

    These two teams do not exactly love each other, so look for a ton of trash-talking and some big plays by several Mountaineers, including Austin.  

Buffalo at Georgia, Keith Marshall

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    The ‘Dawgs will be hungry to start their season off against the Bulls and the amount of freshman backs we will see in the opener is going to be really interesting.

    Todd Gurley would be one of them, but Keith Marshall should get a few more opportunities to come close to the 100-yard mark and he should do such with a few reservations for six.

Elon at North Carolina, Giovanni Benard

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    The Tar Heels of course are not eligible for any ACC title or postseason berth, but nothing is preventing them from winning at least eight or nine games.

    Giovanni Benard is quite the back in the ACC, and as the best back in the conference most should anticipate several monster games.

Richmond at Virginia, Perry Jones

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    Mike London enjoys running the rock regardless of the competition and we saw that last season as they utilized a two-back system.

    Kevin Parks is a solid back, but Perry Jones means everything (pass catcher, goal-line, blocker etc) to this squad and he likely see a ton of success early on against the Spiders.

Northwestern at Syracuse, Kain Colter

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    This is an intriguing matchup if either of these teams expect to go bowling. Northwestern has their hands full at the Carrier Dome, but the one edge they may have over the Orange is the ability of their quarterback to run all over the field while dissecting the defense.

    Formerly a triple threat (rusher, receiver, quarterback), Kain Colter can still do it all with a few trick plays that Pat Fitzgerald could pull off in the opener (at least use Colter with different looks).

Miami Ohio at Ohio State, Braxton Miller

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    The Buckeyes open their season at home like always, but while everybody will be talking about Urban Meyer the real story should be the improvement made by the offense.

    They were dreadful a season ago ranking 81st in scoring and 107th in total offense. Ohio State should be in great hands with Braxton Miller looking he may take that next step towards becoming a future Buckeye superstar.

Navy vs. Notre Dame, Cierre Wood

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    The Golden Domers will be looking forward to the start of the 2012 season while playing in lovely Dublin, Ireland.

    However, the Midshipmen’s run defense will make them even happier (92nd). Cierre Wood will be running behind a solid offensive line and reaping the benefits is something we shall see from the starting back on several occasions in 2012.

Jacksonville State at Arkansas, Knile Davis

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    The Razorbacks may not be picked from yours truly to represent the SEC in the BCS, but there is not much of a talent shortage with John L. Smith’s squad.

    Knile Davis will be back to his 2010 form and it all starts with this opener against a squad that was able to knock off the Ole Miss Rebels two seasons ago. This likely will become a blowout right out of the gates, and Davis will definitely put his imprint on the game.

North Texas at LSU, Michael Ford

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    The Bayou Bengals may have over half a dozen of ball carriers in the box score in this one, and a few may end up in the end zone.

    Michael Ford should be one of the two stud backs that Les Miles uses down the road, but this non-conference blowout should be an additional tryout for everybody that is looking for the most playing time.

Southeastern Louisiana at Missouri, Dorial Green-Beckham

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    The freshman superstar will dazzle us at some point of his Mizzou career, but the athletic wide receiver has the freakish skills to put on a clinic in a few SEC contests this season.

    Going up against Southeastern Louisiana should be far from the tough task compared to the likes of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee.

Towson at Kent State, Trayion Durham

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    The Golden Flashes have a few solid defensive studs in Roosevelt Nix, CJ Malauulu and Luke Batton, but this article is intended for offensive audiences only (sounds funny).

    Running back Trayion Durham is the key producer to breakout against FCS opponent Towson, especially since Kent State hardly breaks out on offense to begin with (scored 28 or more just three times all year).

Southern Utah at Utah State, Kerwynn Williams

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    The Aggies are losing a ton of playmakers on both sides of the ball, but thank goodness they have an FCS opponent in the opener.

    Kerwynn Williams was one of their studs from a season ago (542 yards, 3 TD) and we can pretty much bank on him showing up in the opener.

Southeast Missouri State at Central Michigan, Titus Davis

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    A stud back in his high school days, Austin Davis sure has lived up to the expectations and then some for Dan Enos (Davis hauled in 40 catches for 751 yards and 8 TD as a true frosh).

    The Chips are clearly a dark horse heading with Western Michigan, Toledo and defending champion Northern Illinois all in the West Division.

    However, the pass-catch combo of Ryan Radcliff and Titus Davis should be one of the more complete ones among the non-AQ’s in 2012.

Jackson State at Mississippi State, Chad Bumphis

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    Chris Relf was a disappointment last season and now Tyler Russell will take over under center for Dan Mullen’s offense.

    Chad Bumphis also had a disappointing season, but the highly touted player is way too talented to be a bit of a bust once again.

    Look for Mississippi State to bounce back in 2012 and they should roll up half a hundred just like in their opener against Memphis last season (won 59-14).

Colorado vs Colorado State (Denver), Paul Richardson

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    Talk about one hell of a comeback for the star Buffaloe receiver?

    Colorado was certain when Paul Richardson went down with a torn ACL, he would be gone for the entire 2012 season. Having made a quick recovery throughout the entire summer, there is a chance we see Richardson in the season opener at 100%.

    There are a few other weapons in Boulder, but Richardson is by far the most explosive of them all and if he does in fact suit up in this rivalry matchup, look for him to find a way to make quite the impact.

Rutgers at Tulane, Savon Huggins

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    This Scarlet Knight backfield is loaded with talent between two incoming sophomores that are ready to officially burst onto the national radar.

    Big East squads are not suppose to have star players at such a young age. However, with Teddy Bridgewater at Louisville and Lyle McCombs at Connecticut, one cannot help but realize the star potential.

    Jawan Jamison and Savon Huggins are two stars to keep a close eye on albeit Huggins is the much more highly touted one going back to high school. Jamison made Third Team All-Big East last season with 9 rushing TD, but Huggins found paydirt five times.

    Look for that number to double in 2012 with a Rutgers program that is on the rise with newly hired coach Kyle Flood.

Indiana State at Indiana, Stephen Houston

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    The Hoosiers have only gone to a bowl game once since 1993 (’07 Insight) and that is because they have had major issues avoiding the basement of the Big Ten.

    There basketball program has the looks of becoming the number ranked team in the upcoming preseason, but Kevin Wilson really just wants to get his football program back to a respectable level.

    After watching nearly every quarterback leave the program outside of Tre Roberson, bank on Wilson keeping him fresh throughout the season by pounding the rock.

    Stephen Houston can be the real deal in Bloomington, and their four non-conference games sure look luring at the moment (Navy, Ball State, UMASS, Indiana St).

Central Arkansas at Ole Miss, Jeff Scott

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    This speed demon better return from concussion and lower back symptoms because the Rebels need all the help they can get these days.

    Picked by nearly person in America to finish last in the SEC West, Ole Miss could still start out 3-1 before heading into SEC play.

    We know the slate is beyond brutal by November, but a fast start and or decent start should occur if Scott is up to his old ways of coasting past defenders.

Wagner at Florida Atlantic, Marcus Cunningham

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    This Owl receiver had 14.3 YPC and he was just a freshman last season.

    Now with Carl Pelini in charge most anticipate them to run it a whole lot, but they just lost their star running back to the Washington Redskins (Alfred Morris) and they have some fairly talented guys on the outside ffor a squad that went just 1-11 last season.

Eastern Kentucky at Purdue, Akeem Shavers

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    Perhaps Ralph Bolden regains the starting gig in terms of carries right away and breaks wide open once we start the year, but Purdue has a few backs that can do some damage.

    Many forget Akeem Hunt is a solid back as well and he is just the third-string technically speaking. However, Akeem Shavers is the hottest back at the moment as he is coming off bowl MVP performance in which he gashed Western Michigan for 149 yards.

Appalachian State at East Carolina, Justin Hardy

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    Yes, those Pirates seemingly always have a talented quarterback and or wide receiver every single season.

    Last year Justin Hardy filled that role alongside Lance Lewis at receiver, who has since departed. Hardy will be a sophomore but he has already led the team in a few categories, haulinh in 6 TD with 64 catches for 658 yards.

UTSA at South Alabama, Demetre Baker

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    Yes, this is the former Bulldog running back who was dismissed after seeing the field a decent amount (491 yards).

    Demetre Baker is the perfect to start off the FBS season for Joey Jones since both the Jaguars and Roadrunners will take stage per se for college football on opening night (8/30).

McNeese State at Middle Tennessee, Logan Kilgore

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    Logan Kilmore may only be the quarterback of the team, but he is arguably their most important player since the Blue Raiders have been struggling to find any consistent offense recently.

    Ranking 96th in scoring from a season ago is never any fun and the hope is Kilgore can help save the job of Rick Stockhill, who is entering his seventh season in Murfreesboro with a record of 35-40.

Eastern Washington at Idaho, Dominique Blackman

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    The former Huskie and Monarch is quite the beast (6’5”, 274-pounds), and the Vandals have not had too many superstars on the scales very often.

    Blackman was just named the starting quarterback the other day, and this kid should surprise a few in their opener against one of the elite programs in the FCS.

Nevada at California, Keenan Allen

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    One of the elite wide receiver in college football will be tough to tackle let alone cover in the open field. Once he gets down field his speed does the rest as Keenan Allen has the capability of taking any reception to the house.

    Nevada has been respectable on defense through the years, but they have rarely had to worry about a talent such as Allen of the Bears.

Eastern Michigan at Ball State, Jahwan Edwards

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    Having one of the better backs in the MAC is always a positive and the hope is Pete Lembo can get a great game in the opener from his stud back.

    Jahwan Edwards as a freshman last season had 11 TD on 178 carries (4.4 YPV) and he accounted for 800 yards.

    Not bad for a freshman and he should likely avoid any sort of a sophomore slump thanks to running behind arguably the best offensive line in the MAC (Four of five return).

North Carolina State vs. Tennessee (Atlanta), Justin Hunter

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    This will be quite the contest between a pair of dark horse contenders for their respected BCS conferences, but the difference in this one will be David Amerson’s inability to cover two receivers at once.

    Sounds funny, but the Vols have one of the best receiving duo’s in America and as great as Amerson is, Da’Rick Rogers and Jusitn Hunter could both go bonkers if they are moved around all over the field.

    Rogers is a legit threat, but Hunter is the playmaker that should put on an absolute clinic in the red zone.

Boise State at Michigan State, Le’Veon Bell

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    The Broncos entire defensive line is gone from a season ago and yet Chris Petersen still finds guys to plug in the system.

    The only issue is that they may have an answer for stopping a bulldozer of a back at 240-pounds, that runs extremely well in the open field.

    Michigan State will likely win this game at the line of scrimmage in the fourth quarter, and Bell will be the stud to help decide this fantastic season opening matchup.

Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech, Logan Thomas

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    Logan Thomas is projected by many NFL guru’s to become the next big thing and he is quite the load (6’6”, 260-pounds).

    The Hokies are accustomed to having All-American caliber running backs, but Thomas is the one to worry about this season for the opposition.

    Not just a threat while tucking it an running, the superstar quarterback is set to thread the needle with an underrated cast of Hokie skill players.

    Marcus Davis, Dyrell Roberts and D.J. Coles are just a few of the receivers that will be stretching the field, but it is Thomas that will be carving apart a solid Yellow Jackets squad on Labor Day night.

Auburn vs. Clemson (Atlanta), Onterrio McCalebb

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    If it were not for Clemson having Sammy Watkins suspended, this would be an easy choice for the gamebreaker.

    Still, there are so many options to choose from on both squads, but Auburn has an excellent chance to come away victorious thanks to their depth.

    Onterrio McCalebb should be able to gash Clemson’s defense in the fourth quarter, but this game really comes down to the battle between Clemson’s offensive line and Auburn’s defensive line.

    If Clemson’s explosive offense can remain on the sidelines, look for the Auburn's speedy back to coast to plenty of yards and a crucial backbreaking touchdown in the fourth quarter.  

Alabama vs. Michigan (Arlington), Eddie Lacy

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    The Crimson Tide defense will have their eyes all on Denard Robinson in this matchup, and it should be quite the season opener.

    However, Alabama features the best offensive line the country and they have a bellcow runner in Eddie Lacy that has the ability to breakthrough for a ton of first downs, yards and ultimately touchdowns.

    There are a ton of other options in this primetime season opening matchup, but Lacy has the best chance to shine the brightest of them all.

    Follow Dan Vasta on Twitter.           

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