Saturday, August 27, 2011

2011 College Football Preview: Week 1

Time to take a quick break from the Godzillapalooza and focus on a few games slated for week 1 of this glorious new College Football season! Since this is a brand new and permanent addition to my blog, I'll give you a quick run-down of the layout. First, I will always preview the same "featured teams" every week. These are teams that are either of great importance to me, my family, or my readership at large (obviously TCU is a featured team). If it becomes apparent to me that a large portion of my readers are devoted to a particular school not included in this section, I hope to be alerted so that team can be added. After featured teams come my "key games" (which are either games around the nation of high importance or that should be very competitive) and my "Game of the Week", which is self-explanatory. Once we are into the season, each preview will also include a brief recap of each team's previous weeks results. So sounds simple enough right? Nothing too out of the ordinary. Well now that the possibly gratuitous explanation is out of the way, let's get started! There's already a lot to talk about so let's jump right in!

Featured Teams

1. TCU Horned Frogs @ Baylor Bears
-Preview: An old, deep-rooted rivalry in the state of Texas that dates back to before the SWC. If I may be unbiased for a moment, I hate Baylor more than any other team in college football. Now that that's out of the way, this should be a hard fought game. Baylor returns arguably the most talented QB in their history in Junior, Robert Griffin III, whereas TCU will be breaking in a brand new QB (be it Casey Pachall or Matt Brown) and looking for leadership. Both defenses will be fairly inexperienced, but TCU looks to keep hold of their major advantage in this department. TCU has arguably the best stable of RBs in the country when healthy, and they will look to carry this offense. Overall, could be a bit of a rocky start for a young Frogs team on the road, but I still fully expect a victory.
-Matchup to watch: QB Robert Griffin vs. TCU's secondary
-My Pick: TCU wins, 21-10.

2. BYU Cougars @ Ole Miss Rebels
-Preview: This will be the toughest out of conference game for a Rebels team with a pretty favorable schedule. This is the first ever meeting between the two schools and looks to be an interesting game. Home field should make a big difference for Ole Miss, as they are 12-4 in their last 16 home openers. Also, while they are a very good team, BYU has never dealt well against teams with great speed, and the SEC is no exception. BYU is 1-3 vs the SEC and 2-7 in their last 9 road openers. Look for the Rebel victory, but this could still be a fun game to watch and BYU does have some chance of an upset.
-Matchup to Watch: Ole Miss RBs vs. BYU front 7
-My Pick: Ole Miss wins, 31-24

3. Texas State Bobcats @ Texas Tech Red Raiders
-Preview: There's not much to say about this one. It's your typical BCS vs. FCS early season matchup with the results you'd expect. Granted, Texas State will be moving up to FBS next year, but still they are not exactly on par with Big 12 competition yet. Tech is struggling to find a new identity under Tommy Tuberville and consider this another game on the road to finding themselves. Easy Tech win, unless they just don't show up, and a good barometer on what kind of team the Raiders will be this season.
-Matchup to Watch: Tech QB Seth Doege vs. Bobcat Defense
-My Pick: Texas Tech wins, 48-7

Key Games

UGA crushed Boise in '05, 48-13
1. Boise State Broncos vs Georgia Bulldogs (Georgia Dome)
-Preview: We've seen this scenario so many times it's pathetic. Boise plays a ranked BCS team early in the season in a "National Title elimination game". Whatever. Anyway, this should be a great game played at a not-so-neutral site. The Broncos know how to get ready for these big games and look to have another very good team this year anyway. Georgia on the otherhand is still struggling to regain SEC relevance. Granted, this could be the year the Bulldogs get back to where they were. They've got a very talented squad led by veteran QB, Aaron Murray and a much improved Defense. I have to pick Boise in this one based on recent history, but this should still be a hard-fought and likely close game.
-Matchup to Watch: Look to the QBs in this one and how they lead their respective teams; Boise's Kellen Moore vs. Georgia's Aaron Murray.
-My Pick: Boise State wins, 35-28

2. USF Bulls @ Notre Dame Fighting Irish
-Preview: Another season, another chance for the Irish to be overrated. But this game at least gives them somewhat of a chance to prove they deserve their #16 pre-season AP ranking. The Irish are at home (major disadvantage #1 for Bulls) and HC Kelly is very familiar with with USF, having gone 3-0 against them while he was coaching at Cincinnati. In a week dominated by cupcake games though, any game that presents some challenge for both sides make my list of Key Games. If one thing can be said about this game though, this is probably one of the faster and more athletic team the Irish will face this year. Irish win without too much struggle.
-Matchup to Watch: Notre Dame Offense vs. athletic USF Defense.
-My Pick: Notre Dame wins, 24-13

3. SMU Mustangs @ Texas A&M Aggies
SMU Legend, Jerry Levias vs A&M, 1967
-Preview: I picked this game more for nostalgic value than actual quality of the game. Don't get me wrong, SMU does have a chance at upsetting the Aggies (in fact, I hope they do), I just think it's unlikely. These two SWC rivals played every year from 1919-1995 and I'd be willing to bet that the SMU faithful are very excited for this one. The Ponies haven't won at Kyle field since '83 (the cheating years) and it looks as if they can add one more year to the streak. In my Big 12 Preview, I pick A&M to win the conference, so you can understand my pessimism. Should be fun to watch though if you're a fan of Texas football and the old SWC like me.
-Matchup to Watch: June Jones' Run-and-Shoot Mustang Offense vs. much improved Aggie Defense
-My Pick: Texas A&M wins, 35-17

4. UCLA Bruins @ Houston Cougars
-Preview: Everybody loves the Texas vs California football matchup. While this one's not quite as juicy as USC-Texas, it's still cool. Plus it's always nice to see a BCS school with the balls to play on a non-BCS school's home turf. Anyway, this looks to be a much better game than last season's blowout in which star QB Case Keenum suffered a season-ending injury. This year Keenum is back and leading a great offense for his senior revenge tour, the whole Cougar team has had this game circled. Look for UH to come out fired up in front of a home crowd and redeem last season's disappointment. The UH defense needs to strengthen, but overall I expect Houston to win in a shootout.
-Matchup to Watch: I've got two: QB Case Keenum vs Bruin Defense, and Cougar Defense vs. UCLA RBs
-My Pick: Houston grabs the upset, 35-31

*Game of the Week*

Oregon Ducks vs LSU Tigers (Cowboys Stadium)
-Preview: #3 vs #4 in the first week and two explosive teams? You bet this is the game of the week! Both of these teams will be very good heading into this year and it's hard to pick a clear cut winner. Both  teams have suffered very minimal losses and keep most of last season's star players including both QBs. LSU will likely have more fans in Arlington, but if 2010's OSU-TCU game is any indication, Oregon fans aren't afraid to travel to Texas either. The winner of this game will put themselves in the drivers seat for a National Title berth. Oregons defense will likely regress while LSU's has slightly improved. But the Duck offense is a very hard one to stop, and an enormous setback for the Tigers will be the loss of their QB, Jordan Jefferson, due to his suspension. That's why I'm picking Oregon to start the 2011 season 1-0.
-Matchup to Watch: Oregon Offense vs. LSU Defense
-My Pick: Oregon Ducks win, 38-35

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