In just a few hours the 2010 college football season kicks off. Quite a number of the games are "tune up" contests for the big boys and a good "payday" for the smaller program. This is the rule of thumb however no contest is over until the gun sounds. The following are the games I have chosen for Week One. I have included this Monday in this weeks' predictions instead of putting them in the week two category. I am excited about the upcoming season and hope you are as well. We will see if my amateurish and incomplete analysis will pay off. Onward!
1. Miami vs. Florida A&M: On the surface this looks like a no brainer. The Canes will beat the IAA Rattlers handily. Wait a minute hoss. This game has almost become an early season rivalry where the Canes supposedly work out their kinks and the Rattlers see how well they can compete with a quality opponent. Miami will win this game but look for the Rattlers to have a trick or two up their sleeve. Pick Miami.
2. Tulane vs. SE. Louisiana: Tulane looks like they will have another below par season in CUSA. How will the Lions fare in the IAA SLC? Hard to say. This game may have some pitfalls for Bob Toledo's club but they should prevail when all is said and done. Pick Tulane.
3. Pittsburgh vs Utah: Here we have a tough one. The Utes are well coached and perhaps have what it takes to crash the BCS party this year. The Panthers are picked by many to be the top dog in the Big East (I disagree) but have not been able to get over the hump in the recent past. Pitt travels to Utah and I will pick the Utes to pull this one out of the hat. If they do not, then Pitt should be considered for real. Pick Utah.
4. Idaho vs North Dakota: Was the Vandals success last season an anomaly? Not if Coach Akey has anything to say about it. They open with the Fighting Sioux and should be able to prevail. If they don't, look for a long year at State U. Pick Idaho.
5. Rice vs Texas: This is apparently a "home" game for Rice as it is played in Reliant Stadium in Houston. In reality though it is a home game for the Longhorns. Not that it really matters one way or other. Coach Brown will most likely have his squad poised for another run at the national championship and may well have won it last year if McCoy was not "injured" in the championship game with the Tide. Rice is in rebuild mode and figures to finish near the bottom in CUSA. This is a no brainer. The best the Owls can hope for is to keep it somewhat competitive. Hopefully Mack Brown has the class to not run up the score.
6. USC vs Hawaii: USC is not entitled to a bowl game either this year or next and so they will be looking to make a statement in regular season ball. Their new coach, this Kiffin, is an oddball and it is not proven yet he has what it takes to coach major college football. Not sure he can coach at any level. Apparently there are some character issues to say the least. This hire sure makes one scratch their head. Anyway, if this years' Hawaii team was the squad that Jones had a couple years back with Colt B. at QB I would pick Hawaii to pull this out of the hat. As it stands now I must go with USC. Pick the Trojans in a pretty competitive game.
7. Georgia vs Louisiana: Last year the Cajuns pulled off an upset of Kansas State at home in Lafayette. This year they meet the Bulldogs in Athens and that is an entirely different can of worms. Bustle has done a pretty good job with the Cajuns but they are not near this level. Word of warning though, if the Cajuns sneak up on them, look for an early departure of the Bulldog staff. Pick Georgia.
8. Colorado vs Colarado State: Last year the Rams pulled this off and I would have to say the game is a toss up. It is no wonder that the Buffs are moving on to the Pac 10. Perhaps they will be a bit more competitive there. This should probably be the last year with Hawkins at the helm in Boulder and I am sure he wishes he would have stayed in Idaho. The Rams are certainly not what they used to be either. I will go with the Buffs to avenge last years loss. Pick Colorado.
9. Connecticut vs. Michigan: This is an intriguing match up. Coach Rich is on the hot seat in Ann Arbor and Randy E. has done a commendable job with the Huskies. I think that Rich should have stayed in Morgan town. He was building a national power in West Virginia but things are not working out so well up in Michigan. I will go with UCONN to pull of a minor upset here.
10. UCLA vs Kansas State: Last year Snyder had a better season than most would expect. Whether one likes him or no, it can't be argued that he has the knowledge to make it happen at KSU. UCLA looks like they may be resurgent and this should be a very close game with the outcome hard to predict. I will go with the Wildcats in a close one.
11. Richmond vs Virginia: Another IAA vs D1 match up. Usually these type of games result in a loss for the IAA club but not here. Virginia will likely do nothing in the ACC and the Spiders may have what it takes to make it all the way to the IAA Championship Game. Time will tell but I will definitely go with Richmond in this contest.
12. Bowling Green vs. Troy: The Trojans did not have much luck with the MAC last year, but look for them to take this one. Troy will likely compete for the number one spot in the Sun Belt and Bowling Green probably won't make too much noise in the MAC. Pick the Alabama team.
13. TCU vs Oregon State: This may be a pretty good game. If TCU is anywhere near what they were last year then they may be another BCS buster. Oregon State fields a good football team from a vastly over rated conference but they are well coached and a quality squad none the less. I will pick TCU to win this game but it will not be a cake walk. Go with the Frogs.
14. Cincinnati vs. Fresno State: A new coach at Cincy and no Tony Pike behind center. That is the bad news. The good news is that the new staff has proven they know how to win and the Bearcat back up is a pretty good QB in his own right. He did a fine job taking over from Pike when he was hurt. Fresno State is always well coached and usually can play with anyone. This should be a tough, close game and I will go with the Bulldogs to pull off a minor upset here.
15. Arkansas State vs. Auburn: Auburn is probably not ready to make a run at the SEC Championship but should be able to handle the Red Wolves in the opener for both squads. Arkansas State is well coached and should be competitive in the Sun Belt but is probably not ready to take on the Tigers. Go with Auburn.
16. Jacksonville State vs Ole Miss: J State is a pretty good IAA squad and almost took down Florida State last year. Ole Miss is well coached, although it can be argued that Nutt has some character problems. Be that as it may, he still is a good coach. The Gamecocks do not have Ryan Perrilloux behind center and that diminishes their firepower. This may actually be a fairly competitive game, but look for the Rebs to take it. Pick Ole Miss.
17. LSU vs UNC: This is high profile match up between two top twenty squads. UNC is supposed to make a run at the ACC Championship and LSU is probably just below first tier in the SEC. That makes this game pretty much a toss up. If LSU does not win at least nine this year I would look for the Tigers to start looking around for a new staff. A nine win season at UNC would probably be a blessing. I will go with LSU in this contest. Pick the Tigers.
18. Boise State vs Virginia Tech: This is the premier match up of the first week of college play. Every game is a must win game for the Broncos to be considered a BCS buster. They are well coached, return starters and are capable of beating anyone. Va. Tech is usually just not quite ready to challenge for a national championship but are arguably the best team in the ACC (they better watch out for the Canes though).I will have to go with Virgina Tech to pull off a minor upset here and ruin the Bronco's BCS run right out of the starting gate. Hope not, but think that is the way it will play out. Go with Virginia Tech.
19. Mississippi State vs Memphis: Larry Porter assumes the position at Memphis and he may consider this job a destination assignment. He is an alum after all. He has no head coaching experience but has been an exceptional assistant in the college ranks. Tommy West did not leave the Tigers a whole lot, but Mississippi State may well be at the bottom of the pack in the SEC. This is a hard game to predict and I think that Memphis may just pull off an upset here. Going pretty far out on a limb here I know. Go with the Tigers.
20. Tulsa vs East Carolina: A conference game to start the season? That is what we have on tap here. Ruffin McNeil assumes the head coaching duties at ECU and most publications pick this to be a rebuilding and a "getting to know you" type of year for the Pirates. Be that as it may, McNeil is probably going to be a pretty good coach and may have this squad ready to compete for CUSA East honors. Tulsa has an outside shot at competing for the top spot in the West. Coach Graham has character issues but is certainly a winner. It is also possible that Tulsa is considered a destination stop for Graham. Same goes for McNeil at ECU for that matter. This will probably be a close game but I will go with the Golden Hurricane to pull this one off.
Potential Shocker of the Week:
Texas A&M vs SFA: S.F. Austin is a pretty darn good IAA football program and is probably going to be the class of the SLC again. They are not on the same level as say a Montana or a Villanova, but are quite capable of being at least very competitive with the Aggies of College Station. Nacadoches and College Station are not that far apart and this game has the potential to have those in the older city celebrating until all hours and those in College Station whining again about "getting to the next level." Now A&M has a very good QB in Jerrod Johnson and a certain top pick in LB Von Miller and that is a plus. Even though this game has potential to be a shocker I think that the Aggies will pull this one out of the hat. It may be very close though.
These are the twenty games that I have chosen for the week plus the Potential Shocker. We will see how things pan out. Have a good week and enjoy the games.