2010 College Football Predictions: The Best Individual Matchups of Week One
It's football time, and week one is almost here.
Tim Tebow, Colt McCoy and Ndamukong Suh are gone, but plenty of talent remains. Also, the usual "cupcakes" remain on this year's week one schedule, but there are plenty of intriguing individual marquee match-ups that will be taking place.
Some big names are included, and some under-the-radar players are mentioned, but each match-up will have a large impact on that particular game and on the college football season itself.
So without further ado, here's a list of the top individual match-ups you'll see in college football throughout week one.
1. LSU WR Terrence Tolliver vs. UNC CB Kendric Burney
North Carolina may have the very best defense in the entire country. The Tar Heels return six defensive all conference selections, none of which is more impressive than junior cornerback Kendric Burney.
He's a preseason favorite for defensive player of the year, and he's projected as a mid to high first round draft pick after recording 52 tackles and five interceptions last season.
He'll have a tough task covering Terrance Tolliver, who will likely be the Tigers' biggest offensive threat. The 6'5" wideout has improved steadily at LSU, and caught 53 balls for 735 yards and three touchdowns in 2009.
This match-up will be a lot of fun to watch, and will play a huge part in what the scoreboard looks like at the end of the game.
2. So. Miss. WR DeAndre Brown vs. South Carolina CB Stephen Gilmore
When you look at DeAndre Brown's size and athleticism, you begin to wonder why the Mississippi native isn't playing in the SEC.
He had a phenomenal freshman season, tallying 1,117 yards and 12 touchdowns before breaking his leg during a winter scrimmage. Despite coming off the injury, Brown still managed to record 785 receiving yards and nine touchdowns in 2009.
The 6'6" receiver will post big numbers this season, and could be a potential third round draft pick.
USC cornerback Stephon Gilmore is a budding star, and could emerge as one of the best defensive backs in the SEC. He'll only be a sophomore, but has been a preseason all-conference selection as well as a potential Thorpe Award candidate.
The Gamecocks shouldn't have any trouble handling Southern Mississippi, but Gilmore, as well as the rest of the USC secondary, will get all they can ask for from DeAndre Brown.
3. Oregon State RB Jacquizz Rodgers vs. TCU Linebacker Corp
This game has huge implications for both teams, thus making this particular match-up that much more significant.
Rodgers is the centerpiece of the Beavers offense, and rushed for nearly 1,500 yards and 21 touchdowns in 2009. That said, I'm not sure he's faced a defense like TCU's
The Horned Frogs ranked second in rush defense last season, giving up only 966 yards on the ground. And while some notable defensive names aren't back for Gary Patterson, he'll still have all-conference players Wayne Daniels and Tank Carder to carry on his run-stopping tradition.
Don't expect the Heisman-seeking Rodgers to be slowed down too much, but do expect to find out exactly what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object.
4. Boise St. WR Titus Young/Austin Pettis vs. VT CB Rashad Carmichael
This might be the most highly anticipated game of the first few weeks, as it will act as a determinant for how serious Boise State's national championship chances are.
Broncos quarterback Kellen Moore has been nothing short of dominant the past two seasons, largely due to these two stellar wideouts. In 2009, they combined for 1,900 yards and 24 touchdowns, and will be a major concern for the Virginia Tech secondary.
Rashad Carmichael looks most prepared to make plays against the pass, having recorded six interceptions in 2009 while picking up an all-ACC honorable mention. He's a future second round draft pick and looks ready for the challenge, but who will he cover?
Austin Pettis looks to be the better athlete, but Young has the big-time numbers.
My guess is that he'll spend some time on both, as he's the only established playmaker in an young secondary.
5. UNC WR Greg Little vs. LSU CB Patrick Peterson
I know I have this game mentioned already, but I simply couldn't leave this one out.
Heading into the 2010 season, Patrick Peterson is the best cornerback in the country. Period. As a sophomore, he recorded 93 tackles, 13 pass breakups, and three interceptions. He has tremendous size at 6'1", 211 lb, and is a probable top five draft pick.
Enter wideout Greg Little, and you have a match-up worth paying to see.
Little is the best offensive Tar Heel, and looks to be projected as a mid-third round draft pick. He had a great junior season, accumulating 724 yards and five touchdowns on 62 catches.
The 6'3" receiver will have to make plays if North Carolina hopes to move the ball effectively, and that can be done only by getting passed one of the best cornerbacks to come along in a long, long time.
6. Navy QB Ricky Dobbs vs. Maryland Linebacker Corps
Some call Ricky Dobbs a dark horse Heisman candidate due to his amazing playmaking ability in Navy's triple option rushing attack.
He's had tremendous success at running the offense; he broke the single-season record for rushing touchdowns for a quarterback in 2009. He reached the endzone 26 times.
In Week One, he'll face an under-appreciated group of Maryland linebackers anchored by hard-nosed all-ACC player Alex Wujciak, who record 122 tackles in 2009. He'll be joined by preseason all-ACC selection Adrian Moten on the outside, who came up with 68 tackles and 5.5 sacks last season.
The Terps have a lot of questions to answer, but they seem to have all they need as far as linebackers go.
It will be interesting to see how well Ricky Dobbs will be able to move this option offense against such a talent group of linebackers.
7. Pittsburgh WR Jonathan Baldwin vs. Utah CB Brandon Burton
I may be going out on a limb here, but I think that Utah cornerback Brandon Burton could emerge as a premiere defensive in the Mountain West Conference and beyond.
The junior was named to the Thorpe watch list, and is coming off season in which he proved to be a consistent lockdown defender. He was also a first team all-conference selection, and led the Mountain West in pass breakups.
While Burton's proven himself as a very capable one-on-one defender, he may need help covering 6'5", 225 lb wideout Jonathan Baldwin, who looks primed for a potential 1,000 yard season. Sure, Dion Lewis gets all the press now, but don't be shocked to see Baldwin dominating headlines come draft time.
This match-up will have a big impact on the outcome of this game. If Baldwin can catch seven or eight balls and a score against Burton, the Utes are in trouble.
8. Oregon State WR James Rodgers vs. TCU CB Jason Teague
Much like James Rodgers himself, this match-up will fly under the radar when these two teams square off in Week One.
Rodgers doesn't get the press that his younger brother does, but he was a massive contributor to Oregon State's offense production in 2009, accounting for 1,034 yards and nine touchdowns on 91 receptions. Having James as a receiving threat took an enormous amount off of Jacquizz, which played a huge role in the Beavers' offensive success.
I'm being brave and including Teague on this list due to some flashes of brilliance in 2009.
He wasn't the premiere player on TCU's defense, but he's a preseason all-conference selection, and is projected by some as a late fifth to seventh round draft pick, assuming that his production increases.
He'll likely be the chosen one to match up with Rodgers, which won't be easy to say the least.
9. Kansas State RB Daniel Thomas vs. UCLA Linebacker Corps
This match-up features two players who are the best at what they do in their conference.
Daniel Thomas led the Big 12 in rushing, after amassing 1,200 yards and nine touchdowns in 2009, thus establishing himself as premiere running back and a future first round draft pick. He's no stranger to the Bruins, having been all but shut down in a disappointing loss last season, in which he collected only 54 yards on 15 carries.
Akeem Ayers had a lot to do with that.
In 2009, the sophomore recorded 69 tackles, three sacks and four interceptions. He'll likely finish the season as the Pac-10's best linebacker, and possibly even the conference's best defender overall.
This will be a great match-up between two leaders of BCS conferences. Ayers is great, but don't expect Thomas to be held under 100 yards again.
10. Michigan QB Tate Forcier/RB Vincent Smith vs. UConn Linebacker Corp
After an encouraging start, Tate Forcier's performance declined dramatically as Michigan entered conference play.
It's uncertain whether or not he'll be under center again, but if he is, expect him to carry a big part of the load offensively in Rich Rod's triple option system. Also, expect running back Vincent Smith to step in for Carlos Brown and Brandon Minor and emerge as a home-run hitter capable of going for six on any down.
It's almost certain that one of those players will be a leader of this offense, which makes their Week One contest very interesting.
UConn has one of the most underrated defenses in the country, and quietly shut down Big East offenses week in and week out. The linebackers are especially effective, led by preseason all-American Lawrence Wilson, who led the Big East in tackles last year, and Greg Lloyd, who may end up at defensive end.
Michigan hasn't been what it once was, but still has loads of speed and talent necessary to make big plays.
Unfortunately for the Wolverines, those big plays won't come in Week One against UConn defense.
11. Hawaii WR Greg Salas vs. USC CB Shareece Wright
Greg Salas is the under-the-radar wideout who's crippled by the offensive system in which he plays.
That being said, he put up incredible numbers last year, posting over 100 receiving yards in eight contests. His 106 receptions for 1,580 receiving yards launched him into the national spotlight, which makes his match-up against the USC secondary particularly interesting.
Trojan cornerback Shareece Wright has big plans for 2010.
He's come out and said that is primary goal is to finish the season as the number one cornerback in the nation and the top defensive back in the 2011 draft. He's caused a lot of commotion in Los Angeles, which gives a little confidence to a lagging secondary.
He doesn't necessarily have a terrific resume, but the his hype is enough to include him on this list. It should be a fun one to watch.