Tonight, life begins worth living again. From now until early January, there will be no more bad nights. Yes, the college football season starts tonight.
Tonight's biggest game is the matchup between No. 16 Oregon Ducks and No. 14 Boise State Broncos. I'll get back to that match in a second, but since this is a new column, proper introductions must be made.
This column predicts the winner and a rough score to every FBS (Division I) football game. The games are listed here in chronological order of their scheduled kickoff. This will be a daily occurrence, even on days like this Friday, when there is only one game.
So, without anymore pleasantries, let's begin.
South Carolina at North Carolina State
Inexperience is the word for the Gamecocks, as sophomore quarterback Stephen Garcia takes over behind the center while junior halfback Brian Maddox enters with only 38 attempts in the past two years. Recieving specialist Weslye "Not a Typo" Saunders will move in as tight end, replacing third round NFL draft pick Jared Cook. Senior wide receiver Moe Brown will have to step up as South Carolina's go-to-guy, despite his solitary touchdown in three years on the team.
As you can see, it is obvious the Gamecocks have a lot of ground to build on. Their unknown status coupled with coach Steve Spurrier's football brains could turn South Carolina into a surprise team.
On the other side of the field, North Carolina State opens the first of four straight non-conference home games looking to improve from last year's 5-7 record. The Wolfpack retain sophomore quarterback Russell Wilson and their top wide receiver, junior Darrell Davis, but are going into the season searching for a new halfback. Though tonight probably won't be the night to find him, the Wolfpack play their next two games against Murray State and Gardner-Webb.
Prediction: North Carolina State leads at halftime but falls apart in the second half. 31-20, Gamecocks.
Troy at Bowling Green
The Trojans seek their fourth straight Sun Belt championship under head coach Larry Blakeney. Their offensive, led by stand-out quarterback Levi Brown (15 TDs, 3 INTs in 2008), will look to give the ball to junior running back DuJuan Harris and do-it-all wide receiver Jerrel Jernigan.
The Falcons are seeking another bowl appearance, but they will have to do so with a new head coach. Dave Clawson is taking over for Gregg Brandon. Clawson was previously head coach at Richmond University, where he led the Spiders to three winning seasons in his four years there, including two appearances in the FCS quarterfinals and one in the semi-finals.
Prediction: Troy dominates, but that isn't reflected in the score. 27-14, Trojans.
Villanova at Temple
The Wildcats are FCS. Temple is not that bad of a team.
Prediction: 41-21, Owls.
Coastal Carolina at Kent State
Same principle applies as above. Now, if Michigan was playing, I might actually have to do some thinking for one of these games.
Prediction: 38-17, Golden Flashes
North Texas at Ball State
The main storyline for the Mean Green might just be how coach Todd Dodge hasn't gotten himself fired yet. He's 3-21 in two seasons and has only won one conference game. Expect more of the same this year.
Do not expect more of the same from the Ball State Cardinals this year. They got off to an unbelievable start, winning their first 12 (twelve!) games and climbing up to the No. 13 spot in the Coaches' Poll before losing their next two. Standout quarterback Nate Davis was lost to the NFL Draft and Stan Parrish has taken over as head coach. Parrish has been the offensive coordinator at Ball State since 2004. He was the head coach of Kansas State from 1986-1988, leading them to a, well...not 12-2 record. (They went 2-30-1.)
Prediction: Ball State may not be as good as last year, but they won't be as bad as North Texas. 34-17, Cardinals.
North Dakota State at Iowa State
Maybe if North Dakota State has the same fire their basketball team has.
Prediction: They don't. 31-14, Cyclones.
Eastern Kentucky at Indiana
The closest FBS/FCS game of the night.
Prediction: 27-20, Hoosiers.
Utah State at No. 19 Utah
The Aggies will live up to their nickname, assuming it is short for Aggravators. They haven't made a bowl game since 1997 and won't do so this year.
The Utes are not going to be as good as their Top 5 team last year. However, they still have a strong defensive corps and Kyle Whittingham is still calling the shots. Another Mountain West championship is definitely in the question.
Prediction: Utah, out of players and wanting to be humane, puts in fans from the first few rows of the student section. Even they score. 48-17, Utes.
No. 16 Oregon at No. 14 Boise State
Oregon will look for revenge after the Broncos injured starting quarterback Jeremiah Masoli in last year's meeting (literally adding insult to injury, the Broncos won the game). The Ducks, who have an outside shot at a BCS Bowl, will not seek mercy in their only away non-conference game.
The Broncos, who will not receive a BCS Bowl bid if they lose, will also seek blood. Quarterback Kellen Moore leads the offense, while 2nd-team CBSSports.com All-American defensive back Kyle Wilson takes the charge on the other end of the ball.
Prediction: This will be the first great game of the year that no one on the East Coast will stay up to watch, mostly because it's on a weeknight. 24-20, Broncos in a great game.
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