Best NCAA Football Week 1 Matchups

Doc MosemanCorrespondent IAugust 19, 2013

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 31:  Tajh Boyd #10 of the Clemson Tigers pitches the ball away from Kwon Alexander #25 of the LSU Tigers during the 2012 Chick-fil-A Bowl at Georgia Dome on December 31, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

A week from this Thursday, the 2013 college football season kicks things off with a healthy slate of games. The action spills over to Friday before Saturday’s jam-packed schedule takes center stage.

For good measure until the NFL gets underway, there are also a pair of games on Sunday and a Monday night ACC clash between No. 11 Florida State and Pittsburgh.

To get you ready for all the action in this five-day extravaganza of games, the following is a brief preview of some of the top matchups on Week 1’s slate along with the opening lines as provided by BetOnline.

The first game on ESPN next Thursday pits No. 6 South Carolina against North Carolina in a border war between the SEC and the ACC. The Gamecocks have been opened as 11-point favorites with the total set at 57.

These two last met in 2007 with South Carolina coming away with a 21-15 victory as a seven-point road favorite. The expectations are once again running high for the “Old Ball Coach” Steve Spurrier with Connor Shaw back at quarterback and all-American defensive end Jadeveon Clowney anchoring a defense that allowed an average of 18.2 points a game last season.

The No. 2-ranked team in the nation will take to the field in a high noon kickoff on Saturday, Aug. 31 when Urban Meyer’s Ohio State Buckeyes face the Mid-American Conference’s Buffalo Bulls. After posting a 12-0 record in 2012 that included an 8-0 run through the Big Ten, Meyer has his eyes set on a BCS title this time around.

His team was serving a one-year postseason ban last year, but the only thing that can stop the Buckeyes this season is themselves. In what should amount to nothing more than a brisk scrimmage, Ohio State has been opened as a 37-point home favorite in its season opener with the total set at 60.5.

Johnny Manziel will open his sophomore season at Texas A&M against Rice in a 1 p.m. start on ESPN. Manziel led his team to an 11-2 mark last season, which included a stunning upset of Alabama and winning a Heisman Trophy with one of the most electrifying performances by a quarterback in recent memory.

Manziel will have to be able to put a tumultuous offseason behind him and get back to doing what he does best. The No. 7-ranked Aggies should have little problem getting past their Conference USA foes as 26.5-point home favorites. The total has been set at 71.5 points.

This season’s Texas Kickoff Classic at Reliant Stadium in Houston pits the SEC’s Mississippi State Bulldogs against the No. 13 Oklahoma State Cowboys, who have been listed as +265 favorites to win the Big 12 title. The Cowboys have also been opened as 12.5-point favorites in their season opener with the total set at 66.

The game is set to get underway at 3:30 p.m. and will be broadcast nationally on ABC.

Alabama begins its quest for a third-straight BCS title in a 5:30 p.m. start against Virginia Tech in another opening-day SEC/ACC clash. This neutral-site showdown will be played at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta and broadcast nationally on ESPN.

The Crimson Tide have been opened as +250 favorites to win the final BCS title before college football switches to a four-team playoff format in 2014. They have also been opened as 19-point favorites to make short work of the Hokies on Saturday afternoon with the total set at 45.5.

Saturday night features probably the best matchup on Week 1’s schedule when the SEC’s No. 5 Georgia Bulldogs travel to Clemson to square off against the No. 8-ranked Tigers out of the ACC in an 8 p.m. start on ABC.

The most exciting aspect of this showdown is that each team has aspirations beyond just competing for a conference title this season, but only one team will remain on track for a BCS title berth after this game. The Bulldogs have been opened as slight 1.5-point road favorites with the total set at 68.