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The Top 10 Games in College Football for Week 1

Evan NesbittContributor ISeptember 1, 2010

The Top 10 Games in College Football for Week 1

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    It is that time of year again.  The weather is starting to cool down while the grills are beginning to heat up.  All across the country fans, players, coaches, and universities are gearing up for another college football season.

    Now while we have traditionally had to sit through painfully boring cupcake games during Week 1 the tide has turned during the past couple seasons.  Now we are treated to out of conference matchups featuring the county's best teams while potential Cinderellas also get their chance to shine.

    This year's week one should prove to be no different as the likes of QBs Kellen Moore and Tyrod Taylor (pictured), running backs Jacquizz Rodgers and Dion Lewis, and defensive specialists such as Rahim Moore and Quan Sturdivant will all be in action.

    This season is sure to be another wild one in the world of the BCS Championship race and it all begins in Week 1.

10. Missouri vs. Illinois (St. Louis, MO; Sept 4)

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    For the past several years this game has been one of the hot commodities of college football’s opening week with the game reaching its peak three years ago at the start of the ’07 season which would see the Fighting Illini reach the Rose Bowl while the Tigers made their way to the Cotton Bowl. 

    This year the game takes on new meaning as the Juice Williams era is over in Champaign leaving the hopes of the Illini hopefully likely resting on the shoulders of sophomore quarterback Jacob Charest who completed 23-of-56 passes last season. 

    Meanwhile the Tigers are looking to continue their upward trend and make the 2010 campaign the sixth straight with a bowl appearance.  This will be hard to do, however, with senior running back Derrick Washington having been suspended permanently for an incident that occurred back in June.  With this the offensive load will fall on the shoulders of junior QB Blaine Gabbert (pictured).

    With these two teams heading in two different directions, don’t expect to see the same high scoring affair seen in years past.

    My Prediction: Mizzu 17, Illinois 14

No 9. UCLA @ Kansas St. (Sept 4)

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    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

No 8. Connecticut @ Michigan (Sept 4)

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    Thus far the Rich Rodriquez experiment has not gone as planned as the Wolverines have amassed only eight wins over the last two seasons.  Combine that with a wave of allegations and a sea of angry fans and you have one tense situation in Ann Arbor. 

    With many believing that this will be the final season for Rodriquez should Michigan not when soon and often, coach Rich will have to work fast to prepare his team for their season opener against a Connecticut team that rallied to win its final four games (including a bowl win over South Carolina) following the tragic death of cornerback Jasper Howard.  

    At the helm for the Wolverines this year appears to be sophomore QB Denard Robinson (pictured) who only saw minimal time last year as a backup to fellow sophomore quarterback Tate Forcier.  With little to no running  game to fall back on Robinson must build a connection with his receivers early if the Wolverines hope to go somewhere during the 2010 season. 

    In addition to the offensive woes, the Wolverine D has been a sight for sore eyes as of late as well. 

    As for the Huskies the offense will be centered around junior running back Jordan Todman who rushed for 1,188 yards and 14 touchdowns last year on 235 carries.  Todman also added 185 yards through the air on 21 receptions. 

    Defensively Connecticut is in good shape with linebackers Lawrence Wilson and Scott Lutrus leading the way.  Returning starters such as sophomore FS Jerome Junior and senior end Greg Lloyd should also make an impact during the upcoming season.  

    Knowing that his team will have to face a revamped Notre Dame the following week, Rich Rodriquez will have his work cut out for him against a project top 25 opponent.

    My Prediction: UCONN 23, Michigan 14

No 7. Cincinnati @ Fresno St. (Sept 4)

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    Last season the Cincinnati Bearcats were the darlings of the BCS as the repeat Big East champions compiled an undefeated season en route to a trip to the Allstate Sugar Bowl.  This year however will prove to be a bit more challenging. 

    With former coach Brian Kelly now taking up residence in South Bend as the head coach of Notre Dame and the former passing duo of quarterback Tony Pike and wide receiver Mardy Gillard (the most productive in the Big East last season) now in the NFL, the Bearcats will have much to over come this season.. 

    To do just that the Bearcats will look to USC transfer WR Vidal Hazelton and Junior Quarterback Zach Collaros (pictured). 

    On the other side of the ball the Bulldogs of Fresno St. will look to try and continue their running attack despite the loss of Ryan Mathews to the NFL Draft.  Returning in the backfield is sophomore Robbie Rouse who rushed for 479 yards and four touchdowns a season ago.  Looking to relieve Rouse of some of the pressure is senior quarterback Ryan Colburn who threw for nearly 2,500 yards last season a while throwing 19 touchdown passes. 

    With the Bearcats in a much better position thanks recover from last year, look for Cincinnati to perhaps to stumble a little given the layoff from last season but come through in the end.

    My Prediction: Cincinnati 27, Fresno St. 20

No 6. Purude @ Notre Dame (Sept. 4)

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    Charlie Weis is long gone as we find Brian Kelly (pictured) in his place.  While being a new coach is always tough Kelly finds himself in a fairly good situation with the best Irish team since the departure of Brady Quinn.

    Though the quarterback situation remains of some concern junior Dayne Crist has shown much promise and has won the starting job despite coming off an ACL injury.  Kelly has other pieces to look forward to as well in wide receiver Michael Floyd, running back Armando Allen and tight end Kyle Rudolph who all had productive seasons in ’09. 

    Defensively the Irish will reveal their new 3-4 defense in the hopes of improving on last year’s so-so effort when they employed a 4-3. 

    As for the Boilmakers of West Lafayette, the offense will rest on the shoulders of Miami Transfer Robert Marve who many believe can become a household name should he be able to stay out of trouble.  Look for Marve’s main target to be Keith Smith who caught 91 balls last season along with six touchdowns. 

    All in all this game is meant to be Kelly’s coming out party and not the start to a new Purdue era so look for the Irish to better handle the Boilmkaers this time around.    

    My Prediction: Notre Dame 21, Purdue 9

No 5. Washington @ BYU (Sept. 4)

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    This time last year Jake Locker (pictured) was not well known.  This year he’s being looked at as a Heisman Trophy frontrunner should he and the Washington Huskies be able to compile a successful 2010 season. 

    In order to get the ball rolling in the right direction, Locker and the Huskies must get off to a good start which is easier said than done considering they open up the season this week against the Cougars of BYU.  

    This year’s BYU team must find ways to win following the departure of quarterback Max Hall and the voluntary withdrawal of running back Harvey Unga who combine with Hall helped account for 4,647 yards and 44 touchdowns last year. 

    With this I see the game experience of senior Jake Locker to be the deciding factor in this game giving the Huskies a slight edge over the rebuilding Cougars.

    My Predicion: Washington 24, BYU 21

No 4. #15 Pittsburgh @ Utah (Sept. 2)

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    Back in January 2005, these two teams meet in the Fiesta Bowl in which the Utes beat the Panthers 35-7 in a game that would help jump start the current BCS fight we all know and love today. 

    Since then the Utes have also gone on to appear in the Sugar Bowl in 2008 beating Alabama 31-17 while the Panthers have not been on the BCS stage since. 

    With one team taking a back seat to their conference front runner (Utah to TCU) and Pittsburgh looking to be crowned in the Big East, both teams will look to prove that they belong in the top 25 and perhaps even the BCS conversation. 

    This year will be quarterback Jordan Wynn’s first year as a full time starter and could get off to a bad start given the duo of Pittsburgh’s senior ends Greg Romeus and Jabaal Sheard who combined for 13 sacks and 22 tackles. 

    Reversing roles, a rebuilding Utah defense will have to try and suppress big play threats in Panther’s running back Dion Lewis (pictured) and wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin. 

    In the end though I see the Panthers' offense as being too big an obstacle for a Utes defense that lost the likes of linebacker Steven Sylvester, safety Robert Johnson, and defensive end Koa Misi.

    My Prediction: Pitt 24, Utah 20

No 3. #18 North Carolina vs. #21 LSU (Atlanta, GA; Sept 4)

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    For years we have known of the dominance of UNC basketball what with the likes of Tyler Hansbrough and Ty Lawson in recent years.  Yet now the focus shifts to football and the ever improving Tar Heels as UNC returns nine starters to a defense that ranked in the top 15 in all major categories a year ago. 

    Junior defensive end Robert Quinn brings back memories of Julius Peppers while senior tackle Marvin Austin and juniors Tydreke Powell (DT) and Quinton Couple (DE) help make up perhaps the most menacing defensive line in the country. 

    Meanwhile seniors Quan Sturdivant (pictured) and Bruce Carter (pictured) as outside linebackers combined with safety Deunta Williams will make it hard for Jordan Jefferson (now at wide receiver) and an inconsistent Tigers team to score. 

    Defensively LSU is young and inexperienced with only four starters returning which should give senior quarterback T.J. Yates an opportunity to control the game with the defense holding the Tigers offense at bay. 

    With a chance to win the ACC and perhaps contend for a BCS bowl game, look for North Carolina to seize an opportunity to kick off the 2010 season in style.

    My Prediction: UNC 17, LSU 10

No 2. #24 Oregon St vs. #6 TCU (Arlington, TX; Sept 4)

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    Following a disappointing loss to Boise St. in the Fiesta Bowl last January, TCU is looking to continue its climb toward Boise St. Cinderella status. 

    Defensively TCU will have to work hard to replace defensive end Jerry Hughes and linebacker Daryl Washington if it wishes to stop the Rodgers brothers of Oregon St. 

    On offensive Andy Dalton returns for his senior alongside a deep group of backs and receivers at his disposal which should give the defense some time to come into its own. 

    As for the Beavers of Oregon St. they must replace QB Sean Canfield and hope that Ryan Katz will be able to do so quickly.  Until that happens the offense will once again run through Heisman hopefully junior RB Jacquizz Rodgers (pictured). 

    In terms of the defense for the Beavers things are less clear.  While senior tackle Stephen Paea should once again be a force to reckon with the line will still have to deal with the loss of Matt LaGrone will the line backing core will not have David Pa’aluhi and may be without Keith Pankey. 

    All in all though the Beavers may be able to overcome setbacks I don’t expect all of the issues to meet by Week 1.  I look forward to what should be a good game but should ultimately be a TCU victory. 

    My Prediction: TCU 27, Oregon St. 21

No 1. #3 Boise St. vs. #10 Virgina Tech (Landover, MD; Sept. 6)

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    The charge has been mounting for years.  Hurdles have been overcome and challenges have been met. 

    So, is this finally the year that Boise St. finally crashes the biggest dance of all? 

    Well why we won’t know until the final BCS poll in December we do know that if the Broncos wish to have any chance they must not only go undefeated but also have a good showing against all their opponents.  Their first opponent?  The fifth-ranked Virginia Tech Hokies. 

    Slated for Labor Day night at the “neutral” site of FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, all eyes will be on the darlings of the Mountain West as the Broncos look to embark on what could be a historic journey come season's end. 

    In order to do just that Boise St. quarterback and Heisman hopeful Kellen Moore (pictured) must have a good game against CB Rashad Carmichael and a stout Hokie defense. 

    On the other side of the ball the Broncos will try and compensate for the loss of CB Kyle Wilson to the New York Jets and the NFL while also trying to slow down QB Tyrod Taylor, RB Ryan Williams, and the speedy VT offense. 

    When all is said and done I expect a closely contested game with a good effort from both teams leading to a narrow victory for the Broncos of the blue turf en route to what I think will be a championship season. 

    My Prediction: Boise St. 31, VT 28

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