In less than a week, college football will be back. After such a long layoff, many fans are willing to watch almost any game, provided that it actually counts towards the teams’ overall record. While those feelings are mutual, here are five of the more entertaining match-ups on opening weekend to save you the hassle of trying to find them on your own.
#14 TCU at Baylor (Friday, September 2nd)
This isn’t just a game to watch because it is the only game on Friday besides Youngstown State vs. Michigan State. Baylor actually has a chance to win this game.
This game sets up nicely for a Bears team looking to build on the success of their 7-6 season in 2010 to start off the new season right with a victory over a talented TCU squad. While the Bears may have their issues again defensively, they are very strong at wide receiver and still boast duel-threat quarterback Robert Griffin III at quarterback.
TCU may have a problem containing Baylor’s offense on Friday night. The Horned Frogs are still pretty solid on defense this year, but the one area of concern lies in the secondary, where they return only one starter. It is normal to suspect that there could be some wrinkles to iron out, especially early in the season.
Because of this mismatch, the Bears may have the ability to score a lot of points on the Horned Frogs. If they can do so, they would surprise a lot of people heading into the weekend.
South Florida at #16 Notre Dame (Saturday, September 3rd)
There are people out there predicting that South Florida will win the Big East as well as people predicting that Notre Dame will do enough during the regular season to receive a BCS bowl bid. This coming Saturday, we will get a great chance to see just how realistic those predictions are.
This is the first time that the two teams have met. South Florida quarterback B.J. Daniels would like to make it one that Notre Dame fans will want to forget, and he will definitely have a say achieving that. If the Bulls want to win this game, they will need a near perfect performance from Daniels, and cannot afford to have him make bad decisions that he has sometimes made in the last two seasons.
The Fighting Irish are the better team on paper on both sides of the ball, but could pay dearly if they get lazy. South Florida has nothing to lose, and it would make their season by sending the message to Fighting Irish fans to “hold on, because you’re team isn’t quite there yet”.
#5 Boise State at #19 Georgia (Saturday, September 3rd)
This game is actually being played in Atlanta instead of Athens, but that will not make it any easier for Boise State. Georgia fans will be out in full force to see the Bulldogs play in arguably their most anticipated early season non-conference game since taking on the Broncos back in 2005.
This game should have a very different story from the one that played out back in 2005. In that year, Boise State was overmatched and not ready for the powerful defense that Georgia possessed. This year, it may be the other way around. Boise State comes into the 2011 season with one of the better offenses in the nation, and Georgia will still be figuring out how to best utilize the 3-4 defense that defensive coordinator Todd Grantham installed last season.
The Bulldogs do have experience in the defensive secondary, and will be going up against a relatively inexperienced Boise State receiving corps. However, that may not be enough to save the Bulldogs. If they want a real shot at winning this game, they will need a strong performance by sophomore quarterback Aaron Murray. If Murray handles the pressure early on, then Georgia may be able to stick with the Broncos for the entirety of this monster matchup.
#3 Oregon at #5 LSU [Game played in Dallas] (Saturday, September 3rd)
The biggest game of Week 1 took a hit on Friday when LSU head coach Les Miles announced that Jarrett Lee will start at quarterback for the Tigers in place of Jordan Jefferson, who along with sophomore linebacker Josh Johns were suspended indefinitely from the team.
Without Jefferson, it looks as if LSU will have major problems on the offensive side of the ball. Jefferson is LSU’s most important player on offense, and without him the Tigers lose mobility at the quarterback position.
LSU’s defense should still be pretty good, but Oregon may not need to score quite as much in this game without Jefferson at quarterback for the Tigers. With Jefferson, this game was set up to be a back and forth game of attrition in which one great play may decide the game. Without him, it looks as if LSU will be holding on for dear life on defense, and hoping that the offense can produce just enough to escape with a win.
One thing is for sure: one of these teams will leave Dallas with a huge hole in their national title dreams, which is always a great reason to watch.
SMU at #8 Texas A&M (Sunday, September 4th)
There won’t be any NFL preseason games on at the same time, but wouldn’t you rather watch a game that actually counts for something regardless?
SMU is a severe underdog in this game, but that doesn’t mean the night will pass without some highlight reel worthy plays. June Jones has installed the same offensive attack at SMU that he did at Hawaii, which brought considerable attention to Hawaii quarterbacks such as Colt Brennan. In junior Kyle Padron, Jones has another gunslinger capable of having the success of guys like Brennan.
This game may not be all that close, but a lot of offensive firepower will take to Kyle Field on Sunday night. Unlike in the preseason NFL games some of you would prefer to be on instead, the quarterbacks will play on long after they throw their first touchdown, which shouldn’t take long for either Padron or Aggies quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
Count on an entertaining matchup in this one, no matter what the score is by the second half.