2010 College Football: The Ultimate TV Guide To Week One
Well, it's finally here!
The college football season starts its week one with the usual lineup of powers vs. patsies but nestled among those mismatches are some intriguing matchups, many of which will direct the fortunes of some powerful programs.
Can Boise State get by Virginia Tech and position themselves for a run at the national championship? How will the Lane Kiffin era start at USC? And what about Brian Kelly? Can he start the Fighting Irish off on the right foot?
So many questions.
The good news is that the answers are on the way.
So sit back and take a look at the best matchups of the college football season in this, The Ultimate Guide to Week One of the College Football Season!
15. Wisconsin at UNLV
Week 1 finds this somewhat intriguing matchup of the Wisconsin Badgers and their vaunted running game against UNLV. The Badgers feature huge running back, John Clay running behind perhaps the best offensive line in the country, with highly-touted offensive linemen, John Moffit, Josh Ogelsby, and Gabe Carimi. If, for some reason, the running game bogs down, the Badgers can turn to quarterback Scott Tolzien who threw for over 2,700 yards last year,
Meanwhile, UNLV is coming off a 5-7 season in 2009 in which they were completely mediocre. Unfortunately for the Rebels, this trend will continue in 2010 beginning with a blowout out the hands of the Badgers.
This game makes the list basically because I ran out of options for my 15th and last game of the slide show. Other than diehard Badger fans tuning in to see how many yards Clay and company run up on the Rebels, there is very little else to draw the casual fans interest.
14. Colorado vs. Colorado State
This in-state rivalry features an embattled coach, Colorado’s Dan Hawkins, and his team’s 3-9 record in 2009, against another struggling program that matches the Buff’s woeful record.
For both programs, whatever hopes they have to turn around last year's bitter memory, will have to start with this game. Especially in the case of Hawkins, this game must be won in order to keep the wolves calling for his head at bay.
While neither team is expected to contend for a conference title this year, the futures of both programs will ride on a good start, and that is why for these two struggling programs, this game is of paramount importance.
13. UCLA at Kansas State
Season three of the Rick Neuheisel experiment at UCLA begins with a return match against Bill Snyder’s Wildcats.
Snyder, a legend in Manhattan, KS, who is returning for season two after a fairly lengthy retirement, will be looking to improve on last year's somewhat surprising better than expected 6-6 record, while Neuheisel needs to show improvement on the 7-6 record of 2009, which may be a tall order given the Bruins brutal out of conference schedule.
With a tough early schedule facing UCLA, a road win at K-State is crucial. Meanwhile, Snyder will be seeking revenge for last year's loss at UCLA, and with three more winnable games ahead before they face a very tough Nebraska team, a good start against the Bruins will be critical.
Pick: Kansas State in a close game.
12. Northwestern vs. Vanderbilt
Typically, a matchup featuring the Big Ten vs. the SEC would draw more attention, but with these teams, that certainly is not the case.
Northwestern, who will have to replace last years quarterback, Mike Kafka, will look to improve on last year's better than expected 8-5 record, while Vanderbilt, mired in what is arguably the nation's toughest conference, hopes to somehow find last years 2-10 record a fading memory with an upset win in the opener.
11. Kentucky at Louisville
This in-state rivalry finds Kentucky, resurgent in 2009 with a 7-6 record under head coach Joker Phillips, traveling to Louisville to meet the Cardinals, who floundered in 2009 with a 4-8 ledger.
Playing in the always tough SEC demands that Kentucky find their wins anywhere they can, and this game provides the Wildcats with an opportunity to get an out of conference victory and bragging rights in state for a year.
For Louisville, improvement on a dismal 2009 can begin immediately with a win against an in-state rival from the vaunted SEC.
10. Navy vs. Maryland
Navy, everyone’s “hot” pick after last year's 10-4 record makes the journey to Maryland to take on beleaguered head coach Ralph Friedgen and his 2-10 in 2009 Terrapins. Called the “Crab Bowl Classic,” these two teams have met intermittently since 1905.
Led by quarterback Ricky Dobbs, the Midshipmen feature a unique offense that is tough to game plan for because it is so unconventional and it runs so well under the multi-talented Dobbs.
For Friedgen, who started off so well at Maryland, it is crucial that the Terrapins establish momentum at the start of the season, and a win over Navy will go a long way to building hope for the rest of the season.
9. Marshall at Ohio State
An argument can be made that this game is placed too high on the list, but an opportunity to watch Buckeye Heisman hopeful Terrelle Pryor is too good to pass up.
The Buckeyes, who return an experienced team that is widely considered a contender for the national championship game, will look to start the season off right at home against a Thundering Herd team that went 7-6 in 2009.
Led by quarterback Brian Anderson, Marshall features a potent air attack that will need Anderson to cut down on his 2009 interceptions if they are to be successful in 2010.
Meanwhile, Pryor begins his 2010 season attempting to prove that his rocket arm can match his prolific running ability. This game will be the launching point for that mission.
Pick: Ohio State big
8. Washington at BYU
Many people questioned why Washington quarterback Jake Locker would return to the Huskies when he was projected as possibly the top pick in 2009 if had come out and made himself eligible for the NFL draft. Saying he felt he could improve with another season under second-year coach Steve Sarkisian, Locker will get a chance to prove he was right with a big performance at BYU.
For BYU, attempts to match last years 11-2 record will hinge on who replaces record setting quarterback Max Hall and how he performs. Compounding the Cougars' woes, 1,000+ yard running back Harvey Unga has also taken his considerable game to the NFL.
7. Purdue at Notre Dame
The Brian Kelly era at Notre Dame begins with the Big Ten’s Purdue invading South Bend for an early season clash with the Fighting Irish. Kelly will ask new Irish quarterback Dayne Crist to spear an attack that will look somewhat different from those that Kelly had at Cincinnati due to limitations with Crist’s mobility. How effective Crist will be might be answered right away against the Boilermakers.
Purdue will look to improve on its disappointing 5-7 record in 2009 with a potent passing game and a young defense which must improve in 2010.
Pick: Notre Dame
6. Pittsburgh at Utah
One year away from its big move to the Pac-10, Utah will look to start its 2010 season off right at home against a very tough Panther team who starts off the year ranked at No. 15.
Jordan Wynn will start the season as the Utes quarterback, but if things go wrong, Terence Cain, the starter for most of the 2009 season, can step in as an adequate replacement.
The Panthers must replace quarterback Bill Stull, but the overall talent, including a very stingy defense, has the Pittsburgh faithful optimistic for a big 2010 season. On offense, the Panthers will look to a potent running game as the new quarterback gets acclimated.
Pick: Pittsburgh in a close game
5. Connecticut at Michigan
Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez, very much on the hot seat, will begin this critical season with a tough opener against a motivated Huskie team.
Michigan Quarterback Tate Forcier, locked in a spirited battle with Denard Robinson, will operate behind a mostly experienced offensive line, but the defense will have to show significant improvement over the 2009 version to give coach “Rich Rod” some breathing room for the future.
Head coach Randy Edsall’s Huskies, who had so much to deal with in 2009, including the shooting death of Jasper Howard, is the dark horse pick of many to win the Big East. Quarterback Zach Frazer and 1000+ yard running back Jordan Todman return to lead a potent Huskie offense.
Pick: Michigan in a close game
4. USC at Hawaii
A year of transition starts for the Trojans in Hawaii, where they will face a fast spread offense that will test their young secondary.
The Trojans will field a young team with talent at the skill positions but with little depth in the linebacker corp and offensive line. New coach Lane Kiffin will look for a fast start to quiet the naysayers as he tries to get the Trojans through the first of two years of no postseason bowl appearances thanks to the penalties handed down by the NCAA.
For Hawaii, any hope of beating the Trojans hinge on the their potent spread offense featuring quarterback Bryant Moniz and wide receiver Greg Salas, who hooked up an amazing 106 times in 2009.
3. LSU vs. North Carolina
This matchup certainly looked more intriguing before the recent allegations of NCAA impropriety surfaced recently. As of this writing, some of the starting Tar Heels have been relegated to the scout team and their status for this game is undetermined.
If North Carolina fields its starters, they are certainly deserving of their No. 18 ranking. The Tar Heel defense, replete with some of the best players at their position in the nation, has future NFL draft picks in every unit. If the North Carolina offense can produce points, this team can make hay in the 2010 season.
Meanwhile Les Miles and the LSU Tigers, ranked No. 21 in the nation, are looking to turn around disappointing recent seasons. Playing in the tough SEC conference, the Tigers need to get off to a good start, and a win against North Carolina is a good place to start.
2. Oregon State vs. TCU
No one can accuse Mike Riley and the Beavers of playing a soft out of conference schedule. Prior to travelling to the blue field of Boise State, Oregon State will take on No. 6 TCU in a tough roadie at Jerry Jones billion dollar Mecca in Dallas.
The Beavers, led by the very productive Rodgers brothers James and Jacquizz, combine an explosive offense with a tough defense featuring defensive lineman Stephen Paea, who is cut out of the Suh mold.
TCU’s star has been on a precipitous rise over the last few years, and there is no reason to believe they will tail off in 2010. Returning nine starters from an offense that averaged 38 points in 2009, the Horned Frogs also offer a stout defense that averaged giving up less than 13 points last season.
Pick: TCU in a close game.
1. Boise State vs. Virginia Tech
Here is the opportunity head coach Chris Peterson and his Boise State Broncos have been waiting for.
Ranked No. 3, the Broncos return almost all of their starters from last year’s 14-0 juggernaut. If the Broncos can get by the Hokies and next week's match at home against Oregon State, they should be able to run the table and position themselves nicely for inclusion in the BCS title game.
Waiting for the Broncos will be the No. 10 ranked Hokies, who feature an explosive offense led by quarterback Tyrod Taylor and the two headed running back monster of Darren Evans and Ryan Williams. However, let’s not forget about the Hokie defense, which was ranked ninth in the country last year in points allowed.
So will the irresistible force (the Bronco offense) be able to budge the immovable object (the Hokie defense)? Tune in at prime time to find out…
Pick: Virginia Tech
There you have it. For those teams able to escape week one with a win, optimism will abound, while those who don’t will seek answers they will hope will come before the next time they take the field.
For fans of the college game, the excitement of week one will only serve as a prelude to the weeks to follow.
This week will provide joy for fans of some college football programs and disappointment for others, but for all, it will begin a renewal of the love affair of the game they live for every week…