The college football season opens tonight with a nine-game
slate, and the headliner is Oregon visiting Boise State(10:15 PM on ESPN). The
Broncos won in Eugene
last season, and there is some bad blood between the two teams. BoiseState
picked up two late-hit personal fouls, one of which resulted in an ejection and
Jeremiah Masoli being knocked out of the game with a concussion. Add this
subplot to the NCAA’s mandate that teams will shake hands before the game and you have all the makings for a possibly
When both quarterbacks state in the weeks leading up to the
game that they don’t want to shake hands, imagine what the linemen are
thinking. Personally I think the new rule is a bad idea; guys spend the hours
before a game getting keyed up and focused on knocking the taste out of someone’s
mouth. How are they expected to calm down momentarily to shake hands? The NCAA
means well by instituting this rule, but it may be best to limit the
hand-shaking to after the game.
As for the game itself, expect a lot of points on the
scoreboard. Quarterbacks Masoli and Kellen Moore do things in different ways
but they’re both outstanding at leading their teams down the field. And in head
coaches Chris Petersen and Chip Kelly, who replaces the retired Mike Bellotti,
you’ll have two of the brighter offensive minds in the game. BoiseState
will use their spread as a pass-first offense, mixing in the run to maintain a
balanced attack. Oregon,
on the other hand, likes to run the option out of its system and can throw as
well. Keep and eye on the Ducks’ “TZR” idea, developed to make sure that
players LaMichael James (T; running back), Ed Dickson (Z; tight end) and Kenjon
Barner (R; slot receiver) are involved in some way, shape or form.
The winner most likely will come down to which defense can
make the critical stop and you’ve got two of the better cornerbacks in the
nation on display in BSU’s Kyle Wilson and Oregon’s Walter Thurmond III. Both teams
have some fresh faces on defense so do not expect a defensive struggle. Since I
like the Broncos to reach the BCS this season they’ll be my pick, but
this will be an explosive beginning to the college football season. Here’s the
rest of the schedule for Thursday and Friday.
7:00 PM ETSouth
Carolina at North
Last year’s meeting got out of hand, with the Gamecocks
romping to a 34-0 win in which NC State QB Russell Wilson was knocked out of
the game with a concussion. Wilson, who is expected to be one of the best
quarterbacks in the ACC, returns for a sophomore campaign that follows a First
Team All-ACC selection in 2008. The Gamecocks lost two of their top three
tacklers but they do return senior LB Eric Norwood, who finished with seventy-five
tackles and nine sacks as a defensive end last season.
The questions for Steve Spurrier’s team lie on the other
side of the football, where Stephen Garcia has to be the answer at quarterback.
There are no other experienced answers on the roster, and he’ll need to produce
without the graduated Kenny McKinley and Jared Cook. Despite some solid options
at running back for South Carolina
and injuries to Tom O’Brien’s defense, look for the Wolfpack to avenge last year’s defeat in a close home victory.
7:00 PM ETTroy at Bowling Green
The reigning Sun Belt champs take their show on the road,
visiting a Bowling Green
squad playing its first game under new head coach Dave Clawson. Seven starters
return on offense for the Falcons, including QB Tyler Sheehan, but they’ll also
have to replace eight defensive starters. And with the Trojans returning practically all of their key offensive
contributors from 2008, it isn’t too difficult to see them heading back home
with a victory.
7:00 PM ETVillanova at Temple
Not exactly the Big 5, but the newly created Mayor’s Cup.
The Wildcats did give West Virginia
some trouble for a little while in last season’s opener, and they could do the
same to the Owls tonight. But there’s something about the Owls that leads some
to believe that they can be a contender in the MAC East. They lose Adam DiMichele
and will need to revamp an offense that was among the nation’s worst in 2008,
but there is a lot of talent on defense that used the last two seasons to
mature. Close game, but Temple wins.
7:00 PM ETCoastal Carolina
The Golden Flashes did lose QB Julian Edelman, but RB Eugene
Jarvis is back and healthy going into his senior campaign. The Chanticleers may
give them a run in the first half but look for KentState
to pull away.
7:30 PM ETNorth Texas at BallState
There are some who think the Mean Green has a chance to
knock off Stan Parrish’s Cardinals in Muncie.
You won’t find that opinion here, especially when the visitors have a record of
8-39 over the last four seasons, including 4-23 in the road. BallState
has a lot of adjustments to make in replacing QB Nate Davis, but they should
have enough to take care of North Texas.
8:00 PM ETNorth DakotaState at IowaState
The first game of the Paul Rhoads era in Ames,
and they take on a North DakotaState team that will pose
a serious challenge despite their FCS status. Over the last ten seasons the
Cyclones are 9-1 in home openers, but the Bison have won three of their last
five games against FBS opponents. QB Austen Arnaud lends a steady hand to the
ISU offense, and besides WR RJ Sumrall the Cyclones return the majority of
their key offensive playmakers. A year older and a year wiser, look for IowaState
to hold off North DakotaState.
8:00 PM ETEastern Kentucky
at Indiana (Big Ten Network)
Even with the loss of Kellen Lewis the Hoosiers should not
lose to the Colonels. They’ve had more than enough time to get used to the
playmaker being gone (kicked off of the team in the offseason), and even with
the lack of explosive offensive threats they do welcome back senior DE Jammie
Kirlew. Look for him to spend a lot of time in the EKU backfield, and QB Ben
Chappell to move the offense down the field in an Indiana
9:00 PM ETUtahState at No. 19 Utah
The Utes own the nation’s longest winning streak, having won
their last fourteen ball games. Therefore it will be an extremely tough task
for the Aggies to go into Salt Lake
City and leave with a win. New head coach Gary
Andersen will be very familiar with Utah’s
personnel, having been the defensive coordinator over the previous three
seasons. But he’ll also be familiar with the disparity in talent, and if he
forgot the Utes will definitely remind him. Look for Utah
to get their young quarterbacks some work in a routine victory, extending their
win streaks to fifteen (overall) and twelve (in the series) respectively.
8:00 PM ET (Friday) Tulsa at Tulane
A lot of points may end up on the scoreboard, with the
majority coming from Todd Graham’s Golden Hurricane in the regular season and
conference opener for both. Bob Toledo’s team may have improved some, but the
quarterback position is still an iffy proposition and the Green Wave simply do
not have the firepower required to keep up with Tulsa. Turnovers will make this interesting
if Tulane can force a few; otherwise look for the Golden Hurricane to take care of business in the Big Easy.
College sports has always been a source of excitement for Raphielle Johnson, be it through watching, writing, or taking a shot in the dark and walking onto a college football team just to live the life (Arizona Football, 2001). Raphielle is the assistant editor, providing his own work in addition to helping out with the site operations. When not writing for CHN, you can usually find him in front of a television set watching one of many pay-per-view sports packages that he owns. He can be followed at twitter.com/raphiellej.