College Football Power Rankings: Week 1 Games from Worst to Best

Alex Callos@@alexcallosCorrespondent IAugust 28, 2012

College Football Power Rankings: Week 1 Games from Worst to Best

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    The start of the college football season is only about a day away and, as always, there are some huge opening weekend games that will have fans glued to their televisions.

    While there are a few games to get excited about, there are also plenty that are going to be very hard to watch.

    Since it is the first week of the season, many teams are playing FCS schools and other low-level cupcakes.

    But, with games Thursday-Monday, it will be quite an opening weekend for college football. 

    Here is a power ranking of the games from worst to best.

No. 78: Sacramento State vs. New Mexico State

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    New Mexico State is a bad FCS school that went 4-9 a year ago, and Sacramento State is an FCS school that has never really been a factor.

    Sacramento State also won four games a year ago. It is safe to say that nobody except the fans of these two schools will be tuning into this one.

No. 77: McNeese State vs. Middle Tennessee State

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    Middle Tennessee State only won two games last season, and not many people have even heard of McNeese State.

    McNeese State did go 6-5 a year ago at the FCS level, but this one also has all the makings of a big-time yawner from start to finish.

No. 76: Eastern Washington vs. Idaho

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    Idaho is another pitiful team, and they only managed to string together two wins all of last season.

    The Vandals should have a great shot to start off the season with a win when they take on FCS opponent Eastern Washington. They went 6-5 last year, but shouldn't be much trouble for Idaho. 

No. 75: Southern vs. New Mexico

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    New Mexico is another school that has been dominated in recent years by just about everybody. They went 1-11 a year ago and were one of the worst teams in the country. 

    They open the season against a Southern team that did manage to win four games last year in the SWAC.

    This one might be closer than expected.

No. 74: Wagner vs. Florida Atlantic

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    Florida Atlantic had an uncharacteristically bad season in 2011, going 1-11, and they should be able to equal their win total from a year ago opening against Wagner.

    Wagner won four games last year, but should not be much of a problem for the Owls.

No. 73: Austin Peay vs. Western Kentucky

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    Western Kentucky was impressive last season, finishing 7-5 overall, good for second place in the Sun Belt.

    With that being said, they are still Western Kentucky and have to replace running back Bobby Rainey.

    Austin Peay was 3-8 last year and does not stand much of a chance in this one.

No. 72: Tennessee-Martin vs. Memphis

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    Memphis is welcoming a new head coach, and it might be some time before they get back on track. They only won two games a season ago, but should have no trouble in this one.

    Tennessee-Martin was 5-6 a year ago, and this is another in-state game that nobody really wants to have to sit through.

No. 71: Central Arkansas vs. Ole Miss

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    Ole Miss only won two games a season ago, and this is a chance to equal half of that win total from 2011.

    They take on Central Arkansas. The Bears were 9-4 a season ago, so they are more competitive than a lot of other FCS schools.

    Still, this one could get ugly rather quickly.

No. 70: Towson vs. Kent State

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    Kent State won five games last year, and they open the season against Towson. The Golden Flashes are looking to qualify for a bowl game, and they need to win this game to do so.

    Towson won the CAA last year, going 9-3 overall, and they might be able to hang with Kent State for a little while.

No. 69: Southeast Missouri State vs. Central Michigan

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    Central Michigan finished near the bottom of the MAC at 3-9 last season, but they are likely to improve in 2011.

    The Chippewas open the season against Southeast Missouri State. The Redhawks were only 3-8 last year, near the bottom of the Ohio Valley Conference. They have struggled mightily over the past few seasons, and Central Michigan should be able to start off on the right foot.

No. 68: Lamar vs. Louisiana-Lafayette

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    The Louisiana-Lafayette Rajin' Cajuns had a solid season in 2011, going 9-4 and winning the New Orleans Bowl.

    They open the season this year against a Lamar team that won four games last season. This one could get ugly relatively quickly.

No. 67: Indiana State vs. Indiana

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    Indiana was downright awful last season, and the 1-11 record they posted made them the worst team of all the BCS programs.

    They should be able to win the opener against Indiana State. The Sycamores were better last year, going 6-5, but still probably don't have enough to hang with the Hoosiers.

No. 66: Weber State vs. Fresno State

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    Fresno State was a big disappointment in 2011, and they will be looking to rebound beginning with the home opener against Weber State.

    Weber State won five games a season ago, but Fresno State, led by quarterback Derek Carr, will be ready to play this year.

No. 65: Youngstown State vs. Pittsburgh

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    The disappointment of last season is certainly still fresh in the minds of the Panthers, and they open the season against a cupcake in Youngstown State.

    It will be interesting to see how Ray Graham does coming back from injury, but that is the only thing to get excited about for this one.

No. 64: Nicolls State vs. Oregon State

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    Oregon State has a lot of questions that need answering, and they are going to open the season with a game they should have no trouble winning.

    The development of sophomore quarterback Sean Mannion will be key to how they do, but a win in Week 1 is inevitable.

No. 63: Southern Utah vs. Utah State

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    Utah State won seven games last season, and they have a talented sophomore quarterback in Chuckie Keeton.

    Southern Utah won six games, but does not have anywhere close to enough talent to compete with the Aggies.

No. 62: Idaho State vs. Air Force

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    Air Force won seven games a year ago. They kick off this season with a game against Idaho State.

    The Idaho State Bengals only won two games in 2011, so this does game does not seem like something many people are looking forward to.

    This one could have few passes, and even less points.

No. 61: Liberty vs. Wake Forest

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    Wake Forest made a bowl game last season, so starting off the year with a victory against Liberty certainly will not be a problem.

    Quarterback Tanner Price should be even better in 2012, and Liberty is no match for the Demon Deacons.

No. 60: Jackson State vs. Mississippi State

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    Mississippi State won seven games a year ago, surprising a lot of people in the conference and around the country.

    Jackson State, on the other hand, is an FCS school that can compete. The team went 9-2 last season, and could aspire to pull off an upset.

    However, that is not likely to happen.

No. 59: Richmond vs. Virginia

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    Duplicating last season's eight-win campaign may be easier said than done, and if Virginia plans to do so, they will need to win the season opener against Richmond.

    The Richmond Spiders were dead last in the CAA last year, going 0-8 in the league and 3-9 overall.

    Nothing about this game seems all that intriguing.

No. 58: Northwestern State vs. Texas Tech

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    If nothing else, watching Seth Doege is something fans may want to see. He is one of the best quarterbacks in the entire country, and Texas Tech can put some points on the board.

    Northwestern State should have no trouble letting them to do just that, and the Red Raiders could put up 60 points.

No 57: Chattanooga vs. South Florida

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    South Florida is looking to rebound from a monumental collapse last year that has become all too familiar recently.

    They have the talent to contend for a Big East title, and the first step in the right direction is taking out Chattanooga.

    That will likely happen in dominant fashion.

No. 56: Northern Colorado vs. Utah

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    Utah improved a lot over the course of last season. With running back John White IV and quarterback Jordan Wynn both returning from injury, Utah will be trouble for an overmatched Northern Colorado team.

    This has blowout written all over it.

No. 55:Villanova vs. Temple

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    Temple is joining the Big East, and many thought that Villanova was on the way to that conference a few years ago. That does not appear to be the case, and Villanova has fallen on hard times.

    The Wildcats only won two games last season, and Temple will be too much for them in the opener.

No. 54: Northern Arizona vs. Arizona State

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    Arizona State welcomes new head coach Todd Graham to the fold, opening the year against in-state rival Northern Arizona.

    They have some talent coming back, and there is no chance the Lumberjacks will be able to hang with them for too long.

No. 53: Texas San Antonio vs. South Alabama

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    This game is at least a little intriguing because these are two of the four teams that are joining the FBS ranks this season.

    The game gives both of them a chance to get a win against the other and start the season off on the right foot.

No. 52: Texas State vs. Houston

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    Houston will have to learn to live without quarterback Case Keenum. They get a good chance to get started on the right foot against Texas State.

    The Bobcats are another of the teams joining the FBS level, so this will be their first real taste of the big time.

No. 51: William & Mary vs. Maryland

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    Randy Edsall did not have the success in his first season as head coach that he was looking for, and the Terrapins were only able to win two games.

    They should get a win to start the season against William & Mary, but nothing is guaranteed. It will be interesting to see how Maryland does in their second season under Edsall.

No. 50: Missouri vs. Southeastern Louisiana

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    Missouri is joining the SEC, and this is one of the cupcakes they will get to enjoy before reaching the meat of the SEC schedule.

    Southeastern Louisiana is obviously no match for the Tigers, and James Franklin should put up some astronomical numbers in this one from the quarterback position.

No. 49: South Dakota State vs. Kansas

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    This game is a little bit interesting because Charlie Weis is taking over at Notre Dame. It might be fun to watch how he does at his new program.

    Dayne Crist is the quarterback, so that should also make for an interesting first week in Lawrence.

    On the other hand, South Dakota State likely will not have many answers for the Jayhawks.

No. 48: Eastern Kentucky vs. Purdue

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    Purdue is a team that is seemingly on the rise in the Big Ten, and they take on an Eastern Kentucky team that won seven games last year.

    The Boilermakers are strong on defense, particularly along the line, and the Colonels will not be able to do too much on the offensive side of the ball.

    Boilermakers big in this one.

No. 47: Elon vs. North Carolina

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    North Carolina has a talented quarterback in Bryn Renner and a very good running back in Giovani Bernard. Even though they are on probation, they will still be able to take advantage of Elon.

    Elon is not much of a football school, and this will likely be another boring blowout for the home team.

No. 46: Massachusetts vs. Connecticut

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    Massachusetts and Connecticut have played in recent years, and this year Massachusetts enters the FBS level, so the Huskies do not have an FCS school on their schedule.

    Connecticut may not be too talented, but they are still a level above UMass, who will be joining the MAC. Not really too interested in this one, to be honest.

No. 45: Eastern Michigan vs. Ball State

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    This is an early-season MAC battle, so it actually has a little bit of meaning.

    Both teams went 6-6 a year ago, so this has all the makings of a relatively even matchup. That does not necessarily make it a good game, but it has potential.

No. 44: Central Florida vs. Akron

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    Akron has been the worst FBS team over the past few years, and there is no question that welcoming a new head coach like Terry Bowden will be a jolt for the program.

    That is the only thing that makes this game even a little bit interesting. Central Florida disappointed last year, and should be better in 2012.

No. 43: Rutgers vs. Tulane

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    Rutgers is one of the best teams in the Big East, and Tulane is one of the worst in Conference USA, so this should be a blowout.

    For some reason, this game is going to be close for quite some time. With Rutgers on the road, it could come down to the very end.

    That has to be good for something.

No. 42: Colorado State vs. Colorado

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    Colorado State and Colorado have an in-state rivalry that has to be good for something.

    Both of these teams were disappointments last year, and starting off the season on the right foot will be a big deal for both of them.

    Whoever wins this game should be able to jump-start their season.

No. 41: Troy vs. UAB

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    Troy was a major disappointment last season, and UAB has been on a downward spiral in recent years.

    There is not much intrigue in this game either, and if Troy can get back to where they once were, there might be a little more meaning in this one.

No. 40: Appalachian State vs. East Carolina

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    East Carolina will learn quickly what it is like to live without quarterback Dominique Davis, and they better be ready, because Appalachian State is coming to town.

    This game has a little bit of intrigue because of what Appalachian State is capable of doing to programs much better than East Carolina.

No. 39: Missouri State vs. Kansas State

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    With the schedule Kansas State plays, a cupcake to start the season is not a bad way to go about things.

    However, it does not necessarily bode well for these rankings, as this will likely be one of the biggest blowouts of the season.

    The Bears only managed two wins a season ago.

No. 38: Savannah State vs. Oklahoma State

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    Oklahoma State will at least have a game to ease into the season and learn to live without quarterback Branden Weeden and star receiver Justin Blackmon.

    Savannah State is not likely to give them much of a test, and the Cowboys will likely be putting up points left and right.

No. 37: Tulsa vs. Iowa State

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    This game at least features two teams that everybody has heard of.

    The Iowa State Cyclones won six games a season ago and qualified for a bowl game. On the other hand, the Tulsa Hurricanes won eight games, so this should make for an interesting encounter.

No. 36: Minnesota vs. UNLV

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    Minnesota struggled through a three-win season in 2011, and will look to start the season off on the right foot.

    UNLV were equally bad a year ago, but they are at home, so this one should be close. The Rebels only won two games last season, and the possibility of a close games moves this one up the list.

No. 35: Bowling Green vs. Florida

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    This is a battle of two programs once coached by Urban Meyer. That does not really mean anything right now, and Florida is looking to start off on the right foot.

    The Gators only won seven games a year ago, and they have a lot of questions, particularly on the offensive side of the ball.

    This one might be closer than some expect, but the Gators will be too much in the end.

No. 34: Northern Iowa vs. Wisconsin

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    Wisconsin is perhaps the best team in the nation at running the football. They have the best back in the country, Montee Ball, and the most talented backup in James White.

    Northern Iowa can look forward to the Badgers ramming the ball down its throat. This could be a 40-point victory.

    The Panthers did win 10 games a year ago, but will be no match for Wisconsin.

No. 33: Florida International vs. Duke

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    Duke seems to be headed in the right direction, but it is always hard to tell with them.

    They have a challenge the first game of the year against a Florida International team that has the talent to surprise a few people.

    The Golden Panthers won eight games a season ago, and this game may come down to the wire.

No. 32: Jacksonville State vs. Arkansas

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    Jacksonville State is the cupcake for Arkansas this year, and it is not the only SEC team taking on an overmatched FCS school in Week 1.

    The Razorbacks will look to get rid of some frustration after an offseason of turmoil, and what better way to do so than against Jacksonville State?

No. 31: Murray State vs. Florida State

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    The national title aspirations for Florida State begin with a home game against the Murray State Racers, and unless this is basketball, the Racers do not stand a chance.

    Florida State is just too talented on both sides of the ball, and Murray State will likely have trouble putting any points on the board.

    A shutout could be in store here.

No. 30: Buffalo vs. Georgia

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    Buffalo is not an FCS school, but they are the closest thing to it. Georgia will certainly put them in their place, starting off the season on the right foot.

    The Bulldogs are a legitimate national title contender, and a 35-point victory against Buffalo should be expected.

No. 29: North Texas vs. LSU

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    This will obviously be no contest, but what will everybody say about dismissed player Tyrann Mathieu?

    Just how many times will his name come up during the telecast? LSU is just using this game as a scrimmage to get ready for the big boys of the SEC.

    It will definitely get ugly.

No. 28: Western Michigan vs. Illinois

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    Illinois is learning to live with a new head coach, and Tim Beckman brings a whole lot of success to Champaign.

    It will be a intriguing to see how the Illinois offense has come along under his leadership, particularly quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase.

    Western Michigan is no pushover, so this one could be close.

No. 27: Miami vs. Boston College

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    Boston College struggled big time last season, and has seemingly been on a downward spiral in recent years.

    Miami has had a tumultuous offseason, and a loss here to Boston College would make things that much worse. 

    A new quarterback for the Hurricanes also leaves some question marks.

No. 26: UCLA vs. Rice

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    Neither of these teams did much last year, but with new head coach Jim Mora Jr. taking over at UCLA, this game might be interesting to watch.

    A loss at Rice would be an embarrassing way to start off his collegiate head coaching career.

    It could happen if the Bruins do not watch out.

No. 25: Iowa vs. Northern Illinois

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    Northern Illinois was very good last season, but they lost star quarterback Chandler Harnish, and it might be hard to replace him, at least at the beginning of the season.

    Iowa should be just as good as last year, when they were an eight-win bowl team.

    This one could be close, with Northern Illinois benefiting from that fact that the game is in Chicago.

No. 24: Marshall at West Virginia

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    West Virginia might have one of the most explosive offenses in the country, and they are going to be very fun to watch in 2012.

    There are so many playmakers on offense that it is going to be very hard to stop them. Marshall will get the first shot at slowing them down—they have been known to give West Virginia trouble in the past.

No. 23: Washington State vs. BYU

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    This game is intriguing because it is Mike Leach's first game at Washington State. The Cougars are taking on a very talented BYU team in what should be a very close game.

    The battle of the Cougars will take place, and unless Leach has something up his sleeve, BYU will be too much for Washington State to handle.

No. 22: Oklahoma vs. UTEP

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    Oklahoma can score some points, and there is no question that they are going to put up at least 50 against UTEP.

    That might be somewhat intriguing to watch, but it will probably get ugly early. Either way, Landry Jones will probably throw for at least five touchdowns and 400 yards.

No. 21: San Jose State vs. Stanford

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    The will be the first game for Stanford post-Andrew Luck, and it is not going to be easy to move on without him.

    Head coach David Shaw did put together quite a recruiting class, and the Cardinal still have the talent to hang around near the top of the Pac-12.

    San Jose State will not be too much of a challenge.

No. 20: SMU vs. Baylor

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    Just like Stanford has to move on without its star quarterback, Baylor has to do the exact same thing, as Robert Griffin III has moved on as well.

    SMU is no pushover, and this will be a very competitive game, as the Bears have a lot of talent to replace. There is enough talent remaining to win more than a handful of games, but SMU will be a huge threat to pull off the upset on the road.

No. 19: Northwestern vs. Syracuse

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    These are two teams that are likely to finish in the bottom half of their conference, but they are relatively evenly matched, and with the Orange at home, it should be a pretty competitive game.

    Northwestern has made a habit of reaching bowl games, and they will need to start off on the right foot in order to get back to one this season.

    However, Syracuse might have other plans.

No. 18: Kentucky vs. Lousiville

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    Even though it is not basketball, these two schools still do not like each other, and with the direction Louisville appears to be headed, that could be big trouble.

    The Cardinals are not only at home, but they also have a ton of young talent that will likely be too much for the Wildcats to handle.

No. 17: San Diego State vs. Washington

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    San Diego State will give Washington a huge challenge to kick off the season, but the Huskies just have too much firepower on offense.

    They have one of the most talented quarterbacks in the country in Keith Price, and for those who have not seen them in action yet, they are very fun to watch.

No. 16: Toledo vs. Arizona

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    Some may not realize, but Toledo is the more talented of the two teams in this game. They take on Arizona, who is welcoming new head coach Rich Rodriguez.

    He is one of the most fun coaches to watch, and this one should feature a whole bunch of points. Be prepared to have some fun while watching this one.

No. 15: Hawaii vs. USC

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    There will certainly be no shortage of points in this game, as these two teams could combine for as many as 100 points.

    Now, if that is not something to look forward to, then I don't know what is.

    Matt Barkely and USC have so many weapons that it is hard to imagine them not putting well over 60 points on the board.

No. 14: Wyoming vs. Texas

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    Wyoming will prove to be no pushover, as they have some talent coming back on both sides of the ball. They were in a bowl game last year, and will look to go back again.

    If the Longhorns are not careful, this could be a terrible way to start off the season, particularly with all of the questions they have at the quarterback position.

    With that being said, Texas is still a favorite in this one.

No. 13: Texas A&M vs. Louisiana Tech

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    Texas A&M is one of two teams joining the SEC, and they do not have an easy matchup to begin the season, unlike some of the SEC powers.

    The Aggies take on a Louisiana Tech team that many are considering a sleeper in 2012. They won eight games last year, and have some talent coming back. This one could be really close throughout, especially because it is being played in Louisiana.

No. 12: Ohio vs. Penn State

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    This game is intriguing for a whole bunch of different reasons, but mostly because it is the first chance to see how Penn State will do after everything that has happened over the past year.

    Ohio is a very talented team, and this game is going to be very close, so the Nittany Lions better come to play if they want to come out on top.

No.11: Nevada vs. California

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    Nevada travels to California to start off the season, and this is one of the better matchups on opening weekend.

    It pits two very talented teams who are looking to improve on the success they had last season. It will likely be very close.

No. 10: Miami (OH) vs. Ohio State

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    This game makes the top 10 because it is new head coach Urban Meyer's debut for Ohio State. There is so much buzz surrounding the program, and even though they cannot go to a bowl game, there is still a lot to be excited about in Columbus.

    They are also taking on an in-state rival in Miami, and this is one of the most anticipated season openers in school history.

No. 9: Notre Dame vs. Navy

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    This game is very interesting because it is being played in Dublin, Ireland at 9 a.m. Eastern Standard Time.

    While Notre Dame will likely handle Navy from start to finish, how will it play out with Everett Golston as the starting quarterback?

    What a way to start the first college football Saturday of the season.

No. 8: Tennessee vs. North Carolina State

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    Mike Glennon and North Carolina State will battle Tyler Bray and his Tennessee Volunteers in a game that matches up two of the better quarterbacks in the country.

    This game could go either way, and the turnover battle will go a long way toward determining who comes out on top. It is a big non-conference game for both schools, who are relatively evenly matched.

No. 7: Arkansas State vs. Oregon

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    Arkansas State may not seem like much, but they will be a nice test for Oregon to start off the season.

    The Red Wolves won 10 games a year ago and have one of the best quarterbacks in the country, Ryan Aplin.

    Oregon, however, is at home, and much too talented for Arkansas State to hang with for too long.

No. 6: Southern Miss vs. Nebraska

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    Southern Miss was very talented last season, and will not be nearly as good in 2012. With that being said, they could still surprise some people and have enough coming back to win Conference USA.

    Nebraska is at home, so the edge is clearly with them, but this could be close for quite some time if Southern Miss can force a turnover or two.

No. 5: South Carolina vs. Vanderbilt

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    This game is the official start to the college football season, set for Thursday night.

    South Carolina is one of the top 10 teams in the country, and they have a tough road test to begin the year against Vanderbilt in Nashville.

    This one could have "upset" written all over it, and should be a great way to kick off the year.

No. 4: Georgia Tech vs. Virginia Tech

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    While the previous game is an excellent way to start off the weekend, this is a great way to end it, as it is set to take place on Monday night.

    Virginia Tech is one of the top 25 teams in the country, and Georgia Tech is not too far behind. This should be a great way to cap off a great opening weekend.

No. 3: Clemson vs. Auburn

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    This game is perfect every year for opening weekend. Even though Clemson has more talent this season, they are playing without wide receiver Sammy Watkins, who has been suspended. That should help even things out.

    These two teams do not particularly like each other, which makes it that much more interesting.

No. 2: Boise State vs. Michigan State

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    This game is a Friday night special that will keep fans watching college football for five days.

    It will definitely be weird seeing Boise State without Kellen Moore, and they have a tough game to start off the post-Moore era when they travel to East Lansing to take on the Spartans.

    This one might be close for a while, but Michigan State will just have too much for Boise to handle.

No. 1: Michigan vs. Alabama

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    Without question, the biggest game of opening weekend is taking place in Dallas between Michigan and Alabama.

    They are two of the top 10 teams in the country, and this is not only the biggest game of opening weekend, but one of the most intriguing non-conference games of the entire season.

    The talented Michigan offense against the always stingy Alabama defense should make for an interesting game throughout.