Monday, September 6, 2010

A Nice Kickoff

Ah, college football is back, and opening week was better than usual!

In an intriguing Thursday night match-up, Utah continued its run of successes against the BCS conferences by defeating Pitt in overtime.

On Saturday Michigan and Notre Dame knocked off respectable foes, giving their fans reason to believe that the programs may be emerging from their recent woes. And for the first time I can remember, two I-A programs lost games to I-AA teams on the same day.

As for my own alma matter, Auburn, I am enthused about QB Cam Newton and the high-octane offense, but worried about the defense. Tenacious D has always been Auburn’s signature, but Saturday’s win was marred by sloppiness in the secondary and a slew of missed tackles. Those issues must get fixed for us to be a legitimate contender in the SEC.

And one of the best things about this opening weekend is that it is not yet over. With today being Labor Day, the weekend’s most intriguing game -- Boise State vs. Virginia Tech -- is scheduled for tonight on ESPN. A Boise State win would continue to polish the Broncos’ resume as a true power, and give them a rare (for them) inside track to the national title game. On the other hand, a Virginia Tech win would go a long way toward restoring some of the ACC’s lost luster.

As entertaining as Week One has been, Week Two looks even better, with lots of big games lined up. I don’t usually do this so early in the season, before we have a real feel for the teams, but I decided to stick my neck out and make some predictions on those big games. Here they are:

Penn State at Alabama. These are traditional juggernauts, but Alabama is clearly the better team right now -- and they are playing at home. As an Auburn fan, I will be rooting for Penn State, but I expect Bama to win easily. Prediction: Crimson Tide 34-16.

Miami at Ohio State. This looks like the best Ohio State team in years, and Miami is clearly not at their level. My brain says that Ohio State will win, but in what for me is a rarity, I am going to ignore my brain while making a prediction. I think the football gods know the injustice of 2002 must be avenged, and therefore will be on Miami’s side. Prediction: Hurricanes 26-24.

Florida State at Oklahoma. Is FSU really on the way back, or is it all hype? I think it’s the latter. Although it’s been a while since “Big Game Bob” coached Oklahoma to a big game win, he will do it this weekend with an overrated opponent on the field and the home crowd behind him. Prediction: Sooners 31-23.

Oregon at Tennessee. The Vols’ history against Pac 10 teams early in the season is not promising. Nor is the general state of their program right now. And Oregon is a hungry team, out to prove that it belongs back in the Top Ten after finishing last year with a loss. Rocky Top is a tough place for opponents to play, and I think this game will be closer than most people expect, but… Prediction: Ducks 34-26.

Georgia at South Carolina. This is an intense early-season rivalry, and you should ignore the fact that Georgia is ranked and South Carolina is not. South Carolina is loaded with talent and I think they just might be the best team in the SEC East. Prediction: Gamecocks 20-17.

Michigan at Notre Dame. Neither team is ranked, but like I noted above, they appear to be on the way back. I believe Notre Dame is more talented, but Michigan made fewer mistakes in Week One and seems to be particularly energized by the play of Denard Robinson. In what is a bellwether game for both teams, the visitor will prevail. Prediction: Michigan 28-24.

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