That’s right ladies and gentlemen, it is here. College football is truly upon us. The real opening weekend begins tonight with Ohio State-Indiana and ending Monday night with Georgia Tech-Tennessee. In between there are some exceptional matchups for an opening weekend. This is Christmas morning, your birthday, Thanksgiving and your first kiss all wrapped up in one fantastic weekend. And it has finally arrived. Here are some of the games to look for.
Ohio State-Indiana on Thursday: This game sounds like it should be one-sided and the final score will likely be exactly that. But, first games of the season can be tricky even for good teams. Do not be surprised if Indiana keeps this one close into the third quarter and a few Buckeye fans pinch the upholstery of their sofa somewhat. In the end, Ohio State has too much talent. Buckeyes by ten or more.
Texas A&M-UCLA: This game highlights two head coaches whose buttocks are planted firmly on the proverbial hot seat. Kevin Sumlin for the Aggies and Jim Mora for UCLA both need their teams to be playing for something more than pride in November if they want to still be employed by their respective teams next season. Getting off to a good start on the season is paramount. This game could be called the Desperation Bowl. It is a very difficult game to predict. I will go with quarterback Josh Rosen and the Bruins.
Florida-Michigan: This game keeps getting more interesting. The two head coaches continue to play mind games over who starts. Florida now has ten players suspended for the game due to a stupid scheme to use their school provided debit cards to buy products and sell them for cash (which is not allowed). However, you might have noticed that the line in Vegas did not shift much after the suspensions. That is because, of the ten players, only two would have started and perhaps two others might have seen the field in limited duty. The Gators are fortunate that the two starters are from units where the depth chart is loaded, wide receiver and running back. This game could be a nail-biter or either team could have a blowout win. Before the suspensions, I expected a double-digit win for the Gators. Just too much speed at the skill positions for Michigan to overcome with no returning starters on the defense and too much talent on the Gator defensive line for the Wolverines to keep their offense on the field. With the suspensions, I believe this game comes down to the final minutes but I still think Florida wins the game and wipes that annoying smirk off John Harbaugh’s evil little brother’s face.
Georgia-Appalachian State: This is another game that looks like it should be a blowout at first glance but look again. The Mountaineers have a history of coming to these opening games ready to play. They beat Michigan a few years back and should have beaten Tennessee last season. I think the trio of Jacob Eason, Nick Chubb and Sony Michel will be too much for App. State, but only if the Bulldog offensive line comes together and does its job. I think UGA pulls away in the second half and their fans are free to tune into the real game by the time it starts.
The real game, Alabama-FSU: Seldom do we get this kind of a marquee matchup on opening weekend. These are both teams that many believe will make the college football playoffs this season. The strange part is that losing this game doesn’t really change that for either team. These are two of the most talented rosters in college football and two excellent coaches. But not equal coaches. Nick Saban is one of, if not the, best coach in college football history. We all know he festered all off-season over that last second loss in the national championship game to Clemson. I just cannot picture a scenario where he loses this game. Alabama wins one of the great games of the season.
West Virginia-Virginia Tech: This Sunday game is supposed to reveal which program is back. The Mountaineers are excited to see Will Grier take over at quarterback after receiving what must be one of the longest suspensions in the history of college football. Grier looked talented in his limited time at the helm for Florida but it was not a big sample size. I think Grier will thrive in that offense and West Virginia gets the victory.
Georgia Tech-Tennessee: The weekend ends with a Monday night ACC-SEC matchup. The Yellow Jackets booted their top running back from the team a week ago. But, Paul Johnson’s offense is a plug-and-play system. It is just next man up. The biggest problem for Tech is that good coaches usually have their team prepared to stop that offense when they have more than a week to prepare for the triple option. Fortunately for Tech, Tennessee has Butch Jones. Tech wins a close one.