3 Key Week One Games: Predictions and Analysis
Sure, week one has a lot of the big boys matched up against lower FBS or even FCS schools. But, there are several very good matchups in week one. Not only are these very good matchups, but they are also key games that could decide the direction of the entire season. There are multiple key games in week one, but I want to take a look at three of the biggest games of the week one slate.
Oregon State vs. TCU in Arlington, Texas
Can James Rodgers and Oregon State end TCU's BCS hopes in Week One?
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Although the Boise-VT game is getting the most hype from the media, this game is a massive game. Oregon State will play Boise State and TCU in the first couple of weeks of the season. This game is a huge opportunity for the Horned Frogs. They are playing a top 25 team on a national stage in Cowboys Stadium. Everything has fallen into place for TCU, now all they have to do is go out and win. Oregon State though has their eyes on the Pac 10 crown and a run at the BCS. They certainly will have a tough road to get there.
Oregon State returns thirteen starters from an 8-5 team. But, two of those players are the Rodgers’ brothers. Of course by now, Jaquizz is a household name. He is as explosive of a player as can be and James is pretty good himself. But, the Beavers are going to have to break in a new quarterback with the departure of Sean Canfield. Ryan Katz has the starting job and Mike Riley has been raving about this kids potential. The defense was great against the run last year, but they need to sure up the pass defense. Preseason All-American Defensive Tackle Stephen Paea anchors that defense.
TCU of course had a magical run to the BCS last season. But, the ending wasn’t quite as magical as they lost to Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl. But, the Horned Frogs are returning sixteen starters and nine on the offensive side. The offense looks stacked led by Senior QB Andy Dalton. They also return there top two running backs in Matthew Tucker and Ed Wesley. The offensive line is led by potential All-American Left Tackle Marcus Cannon and are very solid at each position. But, as good as they are everywhere else, the position where the Horned Frogs have the most talent is at Wide Receiver. They return all three starters in Jimmy Young, Jeremy Kerley, and Antoine Hicks. Now, the defense looks to be really good again, but they will have to replace All-American End Jerry Hughes. They need Wayne Daniels to step up and fill Hughes’ role. The two linebackers look good led by Tank Carder. The secondary should be the strongest area on defense. Tejay Johnson is a tremendous safety.
So, as you can see, both teams have a lot coming back. TCU having the experience at QB really helps. But, Oregon State just finds ways to win. If Ryan Katz does not make mistakes and let his playmakers make plays, they should have a shot to win. I think TCU is going to have more problems replacing Hughes, Priest, and Sanders than people believe and I think the Beavers pull this one out in a back and forth game.
Prediction: Oregon State 31-27
LSU vs. North Carolina in Atlanta, Georgia
Will Marvin Austin be cleared by the NCAA to play against the Tigers?
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For the third straight season an ACC-SEC matchup helps open up the season with the Chik-Fil-A Kickoff in the Georgia Dome. Alabama won the first two over Clemson and Virginia Tech. Not only is this a huge game for North Carolina, it is also a huge game for the ACC. The ACC looks to be much improved this season, but they have to earn respect on the field and who better to do that against than a member of the mighty SEC. North Carolina has some players dealing with off the field issues in Marvin Austin and Greg Little which they hope to be resolved by game time. It should be settled before the season begins. The Tar Heels hope it doesn’t cost Austin or Little any games. Either way this should be a defensive slugfest.
North Carolina is loaded on defense. Robert Quinn and Marvin Austin anchor the defensive line. Quan Sturdivant and Bruce Carter are tremendous linebackers. Deunta Williams and Kendric Burney are great in the secondary. They are absolutely loaded. But, the question is on the offensive side. More specifically, the problem is at quarterback. T.J. Yates struggled mightily at times last year. According to reports, Yates is being pushed by Redshirt Freshman Bryn Renner. They have playmakers at receiver with Greg Little and Erik Highsmith. They also have a solid backfield in Shaun Draughn and the big bruiser Ryan Houston. The only real question mark on the O Line is Left Tackle.
LSU comes into the year with expectations that are much lower than usual. But, this team is going to have one of it’s fastest defenses. They have arguably the best defensive player in the country in Patrick Peterson. The secondary and line should be solid on defense. They also have Kelvin Sheppard anchoring the middle of the field at linebacker, but they have two unproven outside LBs in Stefoin Francois and Ryan Baker. Offensively the problems seem to be almost identical to North Carolina. They have solid receivers with Terrance Toliver, Russell Shepard, and Reuben Randle. The O Line is solid and seems to have quality depth. The rushing attack has to improve for LSU. They ranked 11th in the SEC in rushing yards per game last season. If Richard Murphy can stay healthy, he should be a quality back. Stevan Ridley is the backup, but expect Redshirt Freshman Michael Ford to get some snaps. Russell Shepard will probably run out of the wildcat at quarterback, which will help the rushing attack. The biggest problem going into the season is QB. Jordan Jefferson has a bunch of talent, but his problem is between his ears. If he can get things figured out, he will be a tremendous quarterback. But, that hasn’t happened yet.
This game is going to be all about these two defenses. It should be a low scoring game. I would take Jefferson over Yates and believe LSU will have the advantage at QB. But, I believe UNC has a slight advantage of the two defenses. I believe it will be an extremely close, low scoring game, but I think the LSU offense has a little bit more offensively and we’ll score just enough to win. The Georgia Dome should be a great atmosphere for a big game.
Prediction: LSU 17-16
Boise State vs. Virginia Tech in Landover, Maryland
Kellen Moore will lead Boise into there biggest game in school history
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The marquee matchup of week one is definitely on Monday night at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. The darling of college football finally gets there shot. They are posed to be able to make a run at the National Championship Game if they stay undefeated. But, Virginia Tech also has their eyes on the National Championship and feel like they have there best team in years. This game is going to be an electric atmosphere and the game should live up to the hype.
You have probably heard by now that Boise is returning 20 of 22 starters. They have a veteran QB who has pinpoint accuracy in Kellen Moore. They have their top two running backs back with James Avery and Doug Martin. Austin Pettis and Titus Young are two of the better receivers in the country at a position that they are very deep. Both tight ends return as well as eight linemen that started at least one game last season. In other words, there are not many holes is this offense. The defense is what doesn’t get the credit that some believe they should. The only starter Boise lost was start corner Kyle Wilson. That should be the biggest problem on this Boise defense is replacing him. Ryan Wintersywk and Billy Winn anchor a great defensive line and Aaron Tevis anchors the linebackers. The secondary is solid outside of the question mark at one of the corner spots. Jeron Johnson and Wilson Venable are a very solid safety tandem. Kyle Brotzman returns with his punting and kicking duties and Titus Young will handle both returning duties once again.
Virginia Tech is going to be led by one of the best backfields in the country with Ryan Williams and Darren Evans. Tyrod Taylor is back for his senior season and should have his best year. If he puts it all together, this offense will be taken to another level. They have a solid receiving core with Jarrett Boykin, Danny Coale, and Dyrell Roberts. They are returning three offensive linemen returning, but they lost arguably there strongest two in Ed Wang and Sergio Render. Now the question mark is on defense. The Hokies only return three starters. Two of those are in the secondary in Davon Morgan and Rashad Carmichael. Jayron Hosley and Eddie Whitley look to be the new starters and show a lot of promise so the secondary should be the strongest area defensively. The only returning linebacker is Barquell Rivers. So they need others to step up. The defensive line is not returning a single starter although Steven Friday, Chris Drager, and John Graves have experience. They need others to step up just like at linebacker. They replace their punter and kicker, but have a great kick returner in Dyrell Roberts.
This should be an absolutely fabulous game. I really like the QB matchup between Kellen Moore and Tyrod Taylor. Virginia Tech will have the home field advantage even though it is not in Lane Stadium. But, Boise State will travel well. Virginia Tech is going to have to have guys step up and fill the holes that they have. But, this Virginia Tech offense is going to be really good. The backfield is absolutely stacked with Williams and Evans. I know Boise is loaded offensively and will score points, and I know they are very solid on defense. But, I think the combo of Williams and Evans will be just enough and the Hokies pull it out and dash Boise’s dream of a National Title.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 24-17
College Football Is Here
Can Michigan get started on the right foot against UConn?
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Finally, college football is back. We are one week from Southern Miss and South Carolina kicking off the 2010 season. There are several really good games in week one (more than usual.) UConn at Michigan, Pittsburgh at Utah, and many more to just name a few that I didn't discuss. It is ok my friends, college football is here.