At last the time has come for another season of college football. I unfortunately didn’t have the opportunity to post an article last week for the season opener and I still can’t get that out of my head. But alas I am now back in the game and have a fresh take of the biggest games of the weekend. Bama and Penn State should be an interesting game among two of college football’s flagship programs. Michigan vs. Notre Dame just conjures up those old school images of football and this will be a slobberknocker in the Big House. Those are two of the better games this weekend we will touch on plus more. So sit back and enjoy as we set your primer for the weekend in college football.
Alabama (1-0) vs. Penn State (1-0) – This will be the 15th meeting between the two football juggernauts and the first time in Happy Valley since 1989. Joe Pa and the Nittany Lions traveled to Tuscaloosa last year and got whipped 24-3. This year shouldn’t be any different as Bama’s vaunted defense is just as good as or even better than last year’s. Led by Dre Kiltpatrick, Mark Barron and Dont’a Hightower, they are loaded on that side of the ball. In last week’s dismantling of Kent State, the Tide held them to a paltry 90 total yards of offense on 70 plays. Penn State has a chance though because Bama is relying on A.J McCarron, who looked good but not great last week. If Rob Bolden and or Matt McGloin can generate enough offense to at least put a bit of fear into the Crimson Tide, then they may be able to make a game out of this one. In the end though, Bama will just be too strong on the ground with Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy and will just wear down Joe Pa’s boys with their defense. The Pick: Bama 28-14
Michigan (1-0) vs. Notre Dame (0-1) – You know the Big House will be rocking in Ann Arbor for this one Saturday. This is the first time in 84 years that the game will be played at night. The Wolverines looked good in Brady Hoke’s new pro-style offense including Denard “Shoelaces” Robinson. I thought he would have a difficult transition from the spread to Hoke’s more disciplined pro style but so far so good. His numbers may not have showed it as he was 9 of 13 for 98 yards passing and added 46 yards on the ground but he looked comfortable in the pocket and didn’t look to run as much as did last year. The Michigan defense is still a work in progress as they let lowly Western Michigan gain almost 300 yards in total offense (279) but they did make some big plays as they forced 3 turnovers. And what can we say about Notre Dame? Once again they were hyped as being championship material this year and low and behold they lose their season opener to South Florida. As I was watching that game I kept saying to myself “Alright Notre Dame lets get for real now.” But they never could compose themselves and take over the game. Coach Brian Kelly subbed the inefficient Danye Crist for Tommy Rees and that seemed to spark the Fighting Irish offense as they finished with 508 total yards of offense. In order for the Irish to win this game they will need to get Michael Floyd the ball early and often. He had 12 catches for 154 yards and 2 touchdowns last game and could be just as effective in this one. I get the feeling that Notre Dame has a lot to prove in this game and will be up to the challenge against the Wolverines. The Pick: Notre Dame 35-30
South Carolina (1-0) vs. Georgia (0-1) – The SEC game of week features the two favorites to win the SEC East. The Bulldogs are facing yet another stiff challenge after losing to Boise State last week. I was very disappointed in Andy Murray and the entire Georgia offense with their dismal performance against the Broncos. I was also disappointed with those ugly red uniforms but that’s another story. With all due respect to Boise State’s defense, I believe the Bulldogs were not prepared for the challenge and intensity of the first game on that side of the ball which says something to the coaching of that team. Mark Richt already is on the hot seat and how warm will that seat get if the “Dawgs” get off to a 0-2 start. The Gamecocks on the other hand did won in extraordinary fashion last year as they spotted East Carolina an early 17 point lead with hand picked Connor Shaw at the helm. It was at this point the “Ol Ball Coach” Steve Spurrier realized that umm yeah that Stephen Garcia is pretty good and put him in. Garcia immediately got to work as he ran for a 32-yard touchdown and the offense took off from that point. Marcus Lattimore is just a beast in every meaning of the word. He tore up the ECU defense for 122 yards on the ground and just controlled the game once he got into his groove. Alshon Jeffrey continues to be the big time wide receiver he is suppose to be with 5 catches for 92 yards. This one will come down to the trenches as Georgia will have to find a way to stop Lattimore. He is the key to the game in my opinion and I just don’t think the Bulldogs will be able to stop him even though they have a good defense. The Pick: South Carolina 23-16
Game of the week – Notre Dame vs. Michigan - For traditions sake, I have to go with the old Midwest rivalry dating back 84 years ago. And this one will be the first time they face off under the lights. Notre Dame can’t start off 0-2 if they plan on going to a BCS game but I get the feeling the Wolverines could care less about any of that.
Most Intriguing game - Mississippi State vs. Auburn - Why is this intriguing you ask? Well lets see, this will be the first test for Miss. State and coach Dan Mullen who some have pegged as a darkhorse in the SEC West. The defending national champs Auburn dropped out the poles with a unsavory victory over lowly Utah State. Auburn has won 17 of 18 SEC openers and nine in a row at home. They have also won 9 of the past 10 against the Bulldogs, so something has to give here in this game.
Under the radar game – BYU vs. Texas - This is just the third meeting between the two and BYU actually has the upper hand 2-0 against the Longhorns. The Longhorns and Garrett Gilbert better come to play because if not, BYU can spring the upset over Texas. Malcolm Brown has to continue to be the foundation of the Texas offense.
Wake me when its over game – Memphis vs. Arkansas State - Yes my hometown of Memphis has a football team and no they are not very good. Arkansas State also has a pretty bad team so this one gets the first triple Z’s rating this season. Memphis has lost 10 straight and couldn’t beat an elite JV high school football team. Arkansas State has lost 8 straight non-conference games as well. Sounds like a sleeper to me as in I will sleep through this one. Keep it classy Memphis.
Coach better get it right game – South Carolina vs. Georgia - Mark Richt can go down two roads this game. If the Bulldogs win, then all is well and Georgia can make a run at the SEC East crown. If they lose then all the swirling negativity will engulf the program Its hard enough to play in the SEC but when you’re a coach who trying to keep your job its makes it that much harder. Richt and co better get this one right before its too late. And I can’t wait to see those away jerseys.