Thursday, Aug. 28
Hofstra vs. UConn
The Huskies surprisingly finished the 2007 season tied for first in the Big East standings with powerhouse West Virginia, sporting a 5-2 record in the conference and a 9-3 record overall.
UConn has been buried in almost all the preseason predictions for the Big East behind WVU, South Florida, and Pitt. Some polls even have them behind Rutgers and Cincinnati.
Hofstra of the FCS will be no match for UConn, who returns its top QB, RBs, WRs, and defensive leaders in sacks, tackles, and interceptions.
There's really no reason UConn should lose this game. The Huskies will steamroll the Pride.
Prediction: UConn 42, Hofstra 7
UConn's chances of winning: 95 percent
Eastern Kentucky vs. Cincinnati
The Bearcats are also coming off a surprise season in 2008, when they also tallied a 9-3 record.
Unfortunately for UC fans, the Bearcats lost several key players, like stud running back Butler Benton, corner Hakuri Nakamura, and potential star quarterback Ben Mauk.
UC will still roll over Eastern Kentucky, who won't stand a chance against Cincinnati.
Prediction: Cincinnati 38, Eastern Kentucky 3
UC's chance of winning: 95 percent
Saturday, Aug. 30
Bowling Green vs. Pittsburgh
Pitt has some issues at quarterback, but TB LeSean McCoy is as good as it gets. Pitt also brings back its top two wide receivers and gets stud WR Derek Kinder back from an ACL injury. The Panthers are going to be able to point up points easily on Bowling Green.
BGSU is still one of the better teams in the MAC and won't roll over for the Panthers.
Pitt will use their explosive running game to control the game and dominate time of possession, while the defense will be good enough to keep a decent BGSU offense off the field.
This game will be a little closer than it should seem, but Pitt will win.
Prediction: Pitt 35, Bowling Green 20
Pitt's chance of winning: 75 percent
Syracuse vs. Northwestern
SU is flat-out awful. The Orange lost their top two wide receivers: Taj Smith to the pros and Mike Williams to academic ineligibility. Those two alone will be the difference between the 'Cuse finishing in the four- to six-win range and the two- to four-win range.
Northwestern isn't going to turn many heads, but they are going to win a decent number of games—and this will be one of them.
Syracuse will be trying to figure out who's going to catch the ball and who's going to run it (four different players can make a claim for the starting tailback spot). The Orange's defense will once again be porous.
The only way the 'Cuse wins this game is if its stellar special teams can create a touchdown and dominate the field position battle.
Prediction: Northwestern 34, Syracuse 13
Syracuse's chance of winning: 30 percent
Villanova vs. West Virginia
Pat White, Noel Devine, and a stud offensive line: WVU could have Syracuse's defense and still win this game easily.
'Nova has become a top tier FCS team, but this game is in West Virginia and is the first game of the Bill Stewart era.
There's really nothing else to say about this game.
Prediction: West Virginia 55, Villanova 7
WVU's chances of winning: 98 percent
Tennessee-Martin vs. South Florida
See West Virginia, but substitute Matt Grothe, Mike Ford, and George Selvie.
Tennessee-Martin is in the FCS but isn't nearly at the level of Villanova.
USF will absolutely roll in this game.
Prediction: USF 52, Tennessee-Martin 0
USF's chances of winning: 99.5 percent
Sunday, Aug. 31
Kentucky vs. Louisville
UK and UL had completely opposite seasons last year. UK didn't have a ton of expectations and played well, including a win over number one-ranked LSU. Louisville was in the preseason top 10 and floundered.
UK doesn't bring back all their players, but they will still be a solid team. UL, on the other hand, lost over 20 players plus graduated seniors from their 2007 roster.
Pro-style QB Hunter Cantwell will bring some smiles to Cardinals fans, but UL shouldn't win this game despite its home field advantage.
Expect a lot of offense like last year's epic win for the Wildcats.
Prediction: Kentucky 38, Louisville 31
UL's chances of winning: 45 percent
Monday, Sep. 1
Fresno State vs. Rutgers
No Ray Rice doesn't mean no offense for the Scarlet Knights. RU will bring back solid quarterback Mike Teel and standout wide receivers Tiquan Underwood and Kenny Britt.
Fresno State will certainly give Rutgers a challenge and may even enter this game as a slight favorite. FSU is considered the top team in the WAC and will use this game as a tune-up for a fairly difficult non-conference schedule.
The Scarlet Knights have been pretty solid at home since their rise through the Big East.
The home field advantage will be the reason Rutgers barely wins a very close, hard-fought game.
Prediction: Rutgers 28, Fresno State 24
RU's chances of winning: 55 percent
Big East will finish 6-2 in Week One.