Kickoff Weekend: Week 1 Predictions for Every FBS Team
Screw the preseason polls. They're little more than opinions designed to fulfill some team and conference's "destiny" of becoming the "national champion" or at least a contender.
Instead, I'm going to go out on a limb and predicting every game for Week 1 well before those pesky preseason polls come out.
Instead of boring everybody with 50 or 60-something slides, I will consolidate as much as I can on matchups that should be easy wins for some teams.
And then I'll include a few slides of close games and upset alerts. The two marquee matchups that will occur in Week 1 will get a slide.
Up first, the easy games.
The Easy Games
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Thursday Sept. 1, 2011
Mississippi State at Memphis: MISSISSIPPI STATE
South Carolina State at Central Michigan: CENTRAL MICHIGAN
Western Carolina at Georgia Tech: GEORGIA TECH
North Carolina Central at Rutgers: RUTGERS
Montana State at Utah: UTAH
UNLV at Wisconsin: WISCONSIN
UC Davis at Arizona State: ARIZONA STATE
Western Kentucky vs. Kentucky: KENTUCKY
Murray State at Louisville: LOUISVILLE
Friday Sept. 2, 2011
Youngstown State at Michigan State: MICHIGAN STATE
TCU at Baylor: TCU
Saturday Sept. 3, 2011
Utah State at Auburn: AUBURN
Missouri State at Arkansas: ARKANSAS
Northern Arizona at Arizona: ARIZONA
San Jose State at Stanford: STANFORD
Florida Atlantic at Florida: FLORIDA
Ball State at Indiana: INDIANA
Western Michigan at Michigan: MICHIGAN
Miami (OH) at Missouri: MISSOURI
Chattanooga at Nebraska: NEBRASKA
Wake Forest at Syracuse: SYRACUSE
Akron at Ohio State: OHIO STATE
Louisiana-Lafayette at Oklahoma State: OKLAHOMA STATE
Indiana State at Penn State: PENN STATE
Buffalo at Pittsburgh: PITTSBURGH
Rice at Texas: TEXAS
Idaho State at Washington State: WASHINGTON STATE
Kent State at Alabama: ALABAMA
Arkansas State at Illinois: ILLINOIS
Howard at Eastern Michigan: EASTERN MICHIGAN
Tennessee Tech at Iowa: IOWA
McNeese State at Kansas: KANSAS
Eastern Kentucky at Kansas State: KANSAS STATE
Middle Tennessee at Purdue: PURDUE
East Carolina vs. South Carolina: SOUTH CAROLINA
Texas State at Texas Tech: TEXAS TECH
Appalachian State at Virginia Tech: VIRGINIA TECH
South Dakota at Air Force: AIR FORCE
Minnesota at USC: USC
Louisiana-Monroe at Florida State: FLORIDA STATE
James Madison at North Carolina: NORTH CAROLINA
Troy at Clemson: CLEMSON
Southeastern Louisiana at Tulane: TULANE
Liberty at North Carolina State: NORTH CAROLINA STATE
William & Mary at Virginia: VIRGINIA
Northern Iowa at Iowa State: IOWA STATE
Charleston Southern at UCF: UCF
Austin Peay at Cincinnati: CINCINNATI
Stony Brook at UTEP: UTEP
Weber State at Wyoming: WYOMING
Cal Poly at San Diego State: SAN DIEGO STATE
Colorado at Hawaii: HAWAII
Sunday Sept. 4, 2011
Marshall at West Virginia: WEST VIRGINIA
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
The following is a list of the games that are too difficult to predict at this point and should be close games. Some of them are less than interesting matchups, but I said I would predict every game.
Thursday Sept. 1, 2011
Fordham at Connecticut: CONNECTICUT
Villanova at Temple: TEMPLE
New Hampshire at Toledo: TOLEDO
North Texas at Florida International: FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL
Saturday Sept. 3, 2011
Northwestern at Boston College: NORTHWESTERN
Ohio at New Mexico State: OHIO
Army at Northern Illinois: NORTHERN ILLINOIS
Louisiana Tech at Southern Miss: SOUTHERN MISS
Delaware at Navy: NAVY
Colorado State at New Mexico: COLORADO STATE
Monday Sept. 5, 2011
Miami (FL) at Maryland: MARYLAND
Ahhh, there's bound to be some upsets. These are those games with that potential and the winner predicted. Keep in mind thse are upset ALERTS and don't necessarily mean a team will be upset in the game.
Sept. 3, 2011
Fresno State at California
OK, so this may not technically be an upset, but it will certainly have that feel to it with a WAC team against a PAC-12 team. The WAC wins this one.
Fresno State: 34, Cal 24
Tulsa at Oklahoma
With Oklahoma projected to be No. 1 in the preseason polls, they're bound to be the favorite in just about any game as long as they're No. 1. Tulsa isn't a bad team though and may break the preseason top 25, if not be just on the outside.
Oklahoma's performance last year against WAC bottom feeder Utah State was ugly to say the least. They pulled out the W but just barely. This one will be much closer. Oklahoma still pulls off the W.
Oklahoma 38, Tulsa 35
Elon at Vanderbilt
Once again, the upset status is really because of the difference between two different leagues. In this case, 1A and 1AA. Elon has a chance to pull off the win against an unsuspecting rag-tag SEC team. Vandy still wins. Not impressively but a win is a win.
Vanderbilt 24, Elon 14
UCLA at Houston
The perception of an upset will be seen in this one, even though Houston is arguably the better team, at least before the season starts. That all changes come week one kickoff time. In this game, Houston returns Case Keenum in his sixth year of eligibility. Anything can happen. They lost to UCLA in the game Keenum was injured. A healthy Keenum gives Houston the edge.
Houston 30, UCLA 21
Eastern Washington at Washington
Washington had a rough season but finished with an impressive bowl win against Nebraska last year. Without Jake Locker, who knows how they'll fare, but all indications say there's really not going to be much if any improvement.
Eastern Washington on the other hand is coming off a national championship season and is a truly great football team. If only they were playing at Eastern Washington on their blood red field...
Washington 21, Eastern Washington 20
Montana at Tennessee
I know, another 1AA team against an SEC team. How dare I, right? Tennessee isn't that great though. Considering some of the other talent and teams in the SEC this year, they will struggle hard. And those struggles will start with a very talented and tough Montana team. The Grizz are tougher than their 1AA status would seem to denote.
Montana 23, Tennessee 16
South Florida at Notre Dame
I've heard all the hype about Notre Dame before. Every year. No year has been all that much different from another. South Florida is a tenacious team with something to prove. You can bet they'll come out hungry. Will it be enough to win?
Notre Dame 23, South Florida 20
BYU at Ole Miss
While this is another that might not technically be an upset since neither team will likely be ranked in the pre-season polls and there's a good chance neither will finish ranked either. Still, I like this as an upset for the implications of yet another SEC team against an "inferior" opponent.
BYU 36, Ole Miss 28
Richmond at Duke
Let's face it, Duke is not very good. They won't be very good this year. And this game will show just that. Fortunately for Duke, this may be one of the few games they walk away from with a win. Although the score I predict isn't indicative of an upset, I think Richmond will hang for at least three quarters before Duke finally pulls away.
Duke 30, Richmond 14
Sunday Sept. 4, 2011
Southern Methodist at Texas A&M
Whether this one technically would be considered an upset is anybody's guess at this point, but it is one more case where the difference in conferences will make it certainly seem as though it's an upset. Nonetheless, I expect a really great game between these two teams.
SMU 43, Texas A&M 38
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Of course, the beginning of the season is usually the time for teams to get a few "practice games" in. These four teams skipped the practice session and went straight to a pair of great games with huge BCS implications.
Can you say Sugar Bowl?
BOISE STATE VS. GEORGIA, Sept. 3, 2011, at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA 8 p.m. ET (ESPN)
You either hate them or you love them. There's no in between with the Broncos. I would credit coach Chris Petersen with that. He took a relative unknown into the national spotlight and busted the BCS twice while still making waves in the other three years he's been Boise's head coach.
And Georgia has one hell of a coach themselves in Mark Richt. Sure last season was a bit of a disappointment with a 6-6 regular season finish and a bowl loss to UCF. That's just how the ball rolls sometimes, even for the best of them.
Neither coach will have his team ill-prepared for this game. You can take that to the bank. Richt won't allow his team to take this game, or the Broncos themselves, lightly. Coach Pete knows all too well about game day preparation.
It should be a battle of epic proportions and well worth the watch on TV if you can't actually make it to the game.
Both teams have a lot going for them, and both are starving for a BCS bowl at the very least. Maybe even more if it's possible.
BOISE STATE 35, GEORGIA 28
OREGON VS. LSU, Sept. 3, 2011, Cowboys Stadium, Dallas, TX 8 p.m. ET (ABC)
Oregon has a solid offense. That much is no surprise. And the bulk of that offense will be back again this season.
Despite losing possibly their best defender and special teamer in Patrick Peterson, LSU's defense will be stout once again.
Each has some serious question marks on the opposite side of the ball, but at this point in the offseason, who doesn't? Can Oregon figure out their defense to replace the ones they lost in the offseason? Can LSU figure out their quarterback situation or can they really rely on Jordan Jefferson?
All that remains to be seen.
And there are obviously national title talks and expectations from both teams. I don't suspect either team will truly lose much in the way of their ability to play (and coach) great football. It'll be another epic game in a season full of them.
OREGON 27, LSU 24