College Football Week 1 Schedule: Predicting Top Clashes of Opening Slate
Here we are, heading into the first week of the 2012-2013 college football season, and there are sure to be plenty of thrills and spills to start off the calendar as some Top-25 teams look to make an imprint early on.
We have some electric playmakers eagerly waiting to juke, bull rush and toss their way to victory. Lucky for us, some games will have these playmakers matched up against each other.
Here's are my predictions for some of the top clashes of Week 1, complete with the TV schedule (preseason rankings are in parentheses).
Boise State (24) at Michigan State (13)
Where: Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, MI
When: Friday, August 31 at 8 p.m. ET
The general sentiment is that Boise State will fall this season without quarterback Kellen Moore and an inexperienced team, but don't forget who is coaching the Broncos.
Chris Petersen has proven himself as one of the best coaches in college football throughout the years, compiling a 73-6 record and winning the the Paul "Bear" Bryant Award twice. He certainly has had talent, but let's not forget the various schemes he has employed.
On the other hand, this could be Petersen's toughest season yet.
Michigan State, of course, won't be slipping under the radar this season. The Spartans went on to their second straight 11-win season in 2011-2012, going on to a riveting victory over Georgia in the Outback Bowl behind quarterback Kirk Cousins.
But Cousins is in the NFL now, and that means senior Andrew Maxwell must step up. He played well in limited action last season, so the hope is that he's developed to the point where he can lead Michigan State.
He'll certainly have help in the form of running back Le'Veon Bell (987 yards, 13 touchdowns last season) and a defense complete with powerhouse William Gholston, Denicos Allen and Max Bullough. Remember, the Spartans allowed just 18.4 points per game last season. They have some wiggle room to lose a bit on offense.
I think this will be a tough game for junior quarterback Joe Southwick and Michigan State should be able to put some points against a suspect Broncos defense.
Michigan (8) at Alabama (2)
Where: Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, TX
When: Saturday, Sept. 1 at 8 p.m. ET
To say I'm excited for this game would be an understatement.
On one hand, you have reigning national champion Alabama, which comes complete with plenty of talent on both sides of the ball and college football's greatest coach. On the other hand, you have Denard Robinson, led by a head coach who isn't too bad himself, Brady Hoke.
The biggest thing for Michigan this season is making do on the lines, starting with defensive tackle Will Campbell in place of Mike Martin, but the biggest thing for the Wolverines in this game may be Robinson's ability to throw the pigskin. With Alabama's 3-4 defense looking to contain the electric dual-threat QB, receiver Roy Roundtree could play a big part in the ultimate outcome.
There's also the question about the Wolverines' top running back, Fitzgerald Toussaint. Hoke has not said whether the junior will play after he pleaded guilty to drunk driving on Tuesday.
In the end, there are just too many questions on Michigan's side for me to give this one to the Wolverines. I could see Alabama winning by 10 points or more.
Clemson (14) at Auburn
Where: Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA
When: Saturday, Sept. 1 at 7 p.m. ET
On one hand, you have the No. 14 team in the country, according to a preseason poll. On the other hand, Clemson is facing a program with a rich history that beat Mississippi State and South Carolina last season.
What game are you most excited to watch?
Auburn has undergone a lot of changes as far as personnel since last season and will be without its former star running back Michael Dyer after he was dismissed by head coach Gene Chizik for violating team rules. (Dyer transferred to Arkansas State, where he was recently dismissed.)
Clemson will be without one of its premier playmakers, though. Sophomore receiver Sammy Watkins, widely regarded as one of the most explosive receivers in college football, begins serving his two-game suspension for a drug arrest this offseason on Saturday.
I have Clemson doing enough on offense behind dynamic quarterback Tajh Boyd to defeat Auburn to start off the season, despite concerns with both of its lines.
Tweet me your thoughts.
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