Qualk Talk: 20 Things to Watch For in Week One

William QualkinbushSenior Analyst IAugust 28, 2008

We have waited. And waited. And waited.

Since January, the speculation, recruiting rumors, cheap shots, name-calling, vanilla press conferences, and prognostication have been rampant. But there has been one thing missing from all the hype and hoopla: actual football.

We get down to business this Labor Day weekend, beginning with NC State's trek to Columbia to battle the Gamecocks and ending with the Vols heading to the Left Coast to duel with UCLA.

It promises to be a fun five days of football, so here's a list of what to see while scanning the football horizon.

20. The first game.When does a game featuring a rebuilding team from the ACC and an SEC team coming off of arguably the nation's biggest collapse matter? When it's the first primetime game of the season.

19. Georgia. Can the Bulldogs live up to the hype? Don't sleep on Georgia Southern.

18. Opening-week rivalry games. Get 'em out of the way early. Louisville-Kentucky should be a slugfest and Illinois-Missouri should be pretty compelling.

17. Opening-week conference games. There are two games between PAC-10 teams this weekend: Oregon State-Stanford and Washington-Oregon. So much for Directional Idaho as the opener.

16. Appalachian State. Can the Mountaineers go into Tiger Stadium and repeat history? Les Miles won't be overlooking them this time.

15. The point spread for the USC-Virginia game. Right now, it's hovering around 20 points, depending on who you talk to. Whatever it is, USC will cover. Period.

14. Quarterback performance. Guys like Kellen Lewis of Indiana, Russell Wilson of NC State, Sean Glennon of Virginia Tech, and Darryl Clark of Penn State will have to show why they won their respective starting QB battles this fall.

13. Ohio State's quarterback rotation.How much will Todd Boeckman and Terrelle Pryor play? Jim Tressel may have his hands full with this one.

12. ACC-SEC showdowns. NC State-South Carolina and Clemson-Alabama are great opportunities to compare the two rival conferences.

11. Big shoes to fill.Guys like Darren McFadden, Steve Slaton, Andre Woodson, John David Booty, Dennis Dixon, etc. will need to be replaced. The answers may not become clear for several weeks.

10. Georgia Tech running the triple option. Paul Johnson's trademark offense worked wonders at the Naval Academy. Eventually, it will work in Atlanta.

9. Off-the-wall upsets. UL-Monroe beat Alabama in its last trip across the state border. App State did it last year. Youngstown State is Jim Tressel's former team. Florida Atlantic has some talent. Not saying any of these will happen, but it's fun to hypothesize.

8. East Carolina. They are my sleeper team and they will prove it against Virginia Tech in Charlotte this weekend. Write it down in permanent marker.

7. New coaches.Guys like Bobby Petrino, Houston Nutt, Rich Rodriguez, and Bo Pelini will be facing lofty expectations at their new jobs. How will they respond?

6. Duke's potential for a winning record.With an opener against James Madison at home (which really means nothing, it might as well be on the intramural fields), the David Cutcliffe era will likely begin with a W. Don't expect too many more this season.

5. Hopes of non-BCS teams.Utah, BYU, and Fresno State are three teams that are looking to crash the BCS party. A good first impression could help.

4. Cross-country trips. USC comes to Virginia, while Rutgers and Tennessee travel to California. Games like these are fun because conditioning really matters, especially to the road team.

3. The #2 curse. Remember how unlucky the second spot was last year? Ohio State hosts Youngstown State. Cue the eerie music.

2. Tim Tebow's role.With Emmanuel Moody in the backfield, let's see how much Mr. Tebow runs the ball this year.

1. All of it. Seriously, it's the first week. Watch it all. You won't regret it, not one bit.

This should be one heck of a year. It should be fun to watch and even more fun to write about. As always, thanks for reading. Enjoy all the action and God bless!