A new decade calls for new beginnings. As the new decade of college football kicks off this week, a rarity will occur. For the first time in perhaps 10 years, USC will not be the front runner in the chase for the Rose Bowl.
Due to a two-year postseason ban handed down by the NCAA, UCLA has a rare opportunity to claim the title as the best football team in Southern California. To this, however, the Bruins will have to start quickly out of the gate as they head to Manhattan to take on the Wildcats of Kansas St.
Returning for the Bruins this season will be All-Americans LB Akeem Ayers and FS Rahim Moore (pictured), who should help to make the UCLA defense among the best in the Pac-10.
In terms of offense, sophomore QB Kevin Prince will be back to try and improve that ranked in the bottom 40 last year in total offense while they only ranked in the bottom 30 in terms of scoring offense. The Bruins are also hoping the sophomore back Jonathan Franklin can go back to his early 2009 form that say him amass 433 yards through the first six games.
One the side of this matchup is a Kansas State team that is far from that of two years ago when Josh Freedman was at the helm. This year senior QB Carson Coffman will be in charge of getting the Wildcats offense on track and will look to do so with three new but promising wide receivers in Aubrey Quarles (Sr.), Chris Harper (So. transfer from Oregon), and Brodrick Smith (So. transfer from Minnesota).
While Coffman and the receivers look to get on track the offense will lean heavily on senior back Daniel Thomas who had 1,265 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns a season ago.
On defense, the secondary should remain elite as junior safeties Tysyn Hartman and Emmanuel Lamur return looking to improve on their combined eight interceptions from last season. Junior end Brandon Harold will also return to anchor the line after only playing one game during the 2009 season.
With both teams look to make progress this upcoming season, I look for the Wildcats to beat out the Bruins to open the 2010 season.
My Prediction: Kansas St. 24, UCLA 17