Week One: Big Game Predictions
Following months of desperation and long-suffering, the much anticipated 2009 College Football season is finally upon us.
Opening week features some of the most compelling out-of-conference matchups of the season.
While these games will provide insights to some of the most hotly debated topics, they are each wrought with BCS, conference pride and national title implications.
Giving fans and pundits talking points for the rest of the year.
Here are my predictions for this week's top five games.
5. Miami at No. 19 Florida State
Florida State brings a solid running game, an experienced offensive line and an improved QB Christian Ponder to complement a solid defense that returns eight defenders.
Miami and QB Jacory Harris are looking to bounce back from three disappointing losses to end the 2008-09 season.
While Harris flashed moments of brilliance in last year's freshman campaign, he never seemed to get over the hump against top tier opponents.
Harris will improve under Mark Whipple's tutelage along with a more experienced offensive line and a healthy RB Javarris James.
But it won't be enough Monday night as the 'Noles defense will ultimately prevail and the 'Canes continue their woes against stronger opponents.
Florida State - 16
Miami - 13
4. No. 24 BYU vs. No. 3 Oklahoma - Dallas Cowboys Stadium
The Sooner's offense will be unstoppable once again despite having to replace a ton of NFL-caliber talent.
Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford will break-in four new starters on the offensive line.
The passing game will be aided tremendously by TE Jermaine Gresham and the explosive one-two punch of 1,000-yard rushers Chris Brown and DeMarco Murray.
Not to be outdone, BYU also returns a star-studded offense and nearly every defender from last year's 10-3 season. Key returning starters include:
QB Max Hall - 3,957 yards passing
TE Dennis Pitta - 83 receptions, 1083 yards receiving
RB Harvey Unga - 1132 yards rushing, 4.7 yards per carry
A BYU win would do wonders for the Cougar program and for the Mountain West Conference.
An OU win would be a strong start from a challenging OOC schedule that may give the Sooner's the edge in another Big 12 tie breaker.
In the end, OU will prove too strong and too balanced offensively but the Cougars do strike blood.
Oklahoma - 44
BYU - 27
3. No. 7 Virginia Tech vs. No. 5 Alabama - Atlanta, GA
While the Tide lose a ton of talent on the offensive front they still maintain freshman sensation WR Julio Jones, RB Mark Ingram and most of their dominating defense.
The challenge for the Tide will be proving they can play without All-American OT Andre Smith and C Antoine Caldwell. A big question mark for a team that likes to control the ball, chew up clock and wear teams down.
Without Gators or Bulldogs on Alabama's schedule, the Hokies may be one of the Tide's biggest tests.
QB Tyrod Taylor returns but the injury to tailback Darren Evans will force Virginia Tech to be more one-dimensional against a stellar Alabama defense.
While I still see the Hokies as a serious threat for the ACC title once again, the Tide defense will win out in spite of an inexperienced line and relatively green QB Greg Mcelroy.
Alabama - 17
Virginia Tech - 9
2. No. 14 Oregon at No. 16 Boise State
The Ducks come into 2009 as an early favorite to challenge USC in the Pac-10, bringing back dual-threat QB Jeremiah Masoli and superstar RB LeGarrette Blount.
However, as palpable as a Pac-10 Championship could be, the Ducks first must take care of business against a hungry Boise State team looking to for an in-road to the BCS.
And this could be the Broncos biggest hurdle to the BCS.
Credit Oregon for their willingness to travel to Boise and play the Broncos on the Smurf Turf. One of the toughest places to visit in the country.
Masoli has been passionately vocal as he seeks vengeance against a team that knocked him out last year with a concussion on their way to a 37-32 win at Autzen.
Sophomore QB Kellen Moore returns to the Broncos following a 12-1 campaign last year where he threw for over 3,486 yards, 25 TD's and only 10 INT's. As a freshman!
Expect a shootout and plenty of fireworks from both offenses.
While the game will go back and forth, the Ducks LeGarrette Blount, will prove too much for the Broncos.
Oregon - 41
Boise State - 37
1. No. 13 Georgia at No. 11 Oklahoma State
The SEC vs. The Big 12. Bruising defense vs. explosive offense.
Credit Georgia yet again for scheduling an aggressive out of conference schedule and facing a loaded Oklahoma State in Stillwater, to begin the season.
The Cowboys return the best offensive triumvirate in the country:
QB Zac Robinson - 3,046 yards, 25 TD's, 10 INT's, 562 yards rushing
RB Kendall Hunter - 1,555 yards rushing, 6.5 yards per carry, 16 TD's.
WR Dez Bryant - 87 receptions, 1,480 yards receiving, 19 TD's
However, the Cowboys were very suspect last year defensively with almost no pass rush and an ineffective secondary.
Georgia begins life without QB Matthew Stafford and RB Knowshon Moreno as Joe Cox takes over the reigns at QB. A.J. Green will cause trouble for the OSU secondary all day so long as Cox can get the ball to him.
But the real story with the Bulldogs is their phenomenal defense boasting one of the most formidable defensive lines in the country.
An untested offense with a great defense on the road against an awesome offense and a terrible defense. This game will be decided by turnovers.
Oklahoma State - 28
Georgia - 24