So it's about midnight on Wednesday night/Thursday Morning. I spent my night watching Leverage (an underrated show) and Top Chef: Las Vegas. As you can imagine, I'm ready for meaningful football. Thursday marks the kickoff of the 2009 season and the first weekend should be very entertaining with some rare early top-25 non-conference matchups .
The game that kicks them all off is South Carolina at NC State at 7pm. NC State was already without star linebacker Nate Irving, but will also be missing starting Cornerback DeAndre Morgan with an ankle injury. South Carolina will be led by Sophomore QB Stephen Garcia, who played in 8 games last year as a freshman. USC will be without starting defensive end Clifton Geathers due to injury and academic issues. Prediction: NC State 27, USC 24
The game of night, and possibly the weekend, is #16 Oregon at #14 Boise State on the smurf turf at 10:15 pm. Personally, If Boise State wins this, they are headed to a BCS bowl game because they will almost certainly be undefeated. Boise State is led by QB Kellen Moore and a solid, but reshuffled, O-Line. Oregon has a new coach and only returns 9 starters, but should be out looking for a 37-32 loss at Autzen Stadium last year. Boise State 41, Oregon 31
Other Games of Note: Troy at Bowling Green, North Texas at Ball State and Utah State at Utah.
Only one 1-A/FBS game on tap for Friday with Tulsa visiting Tulane. Not a lot to say here. Tulsa had the #1 offense in the country last year, but lost a lot of starters, but return 4 of their top 6 receivers. Prediction: Tulsa 49, Tulane 13
Navy at #6 Ohio State at Noon kicks off the action on Saturday. Ricky Dobbs is one of the best passing Quarterbacks Navy has had in a while, but it will be tough for an undersized Navy defense to keep this game close for more than a quarter or two. QB Terrelle Pryor starts off what should be an excellent season. My only question is: Losing as much as Ohio State did on defense, could their possibly be a few mistakes in covering an offense most of the players haven't seen before. Prediction: OSU 35, Navy 21
Appalachian State at East Carolina, can the giant killers do it again? I know ECU isn't Michigan, and ASU will probably be without superstar QB Armanti Edwards, but they are a very, very talented team. ECU returns QB Patrick Pinkney and two of their top three rushers from last year. Prediction: ECU 24, ASU 17 *An Odd Note about ECU - They have 17 listed WR's , but only 1 Safety and 2 Defensive Ends
#13 Georgia at #9 Oklahoma State at 3:30 pm. This is another game i'm looking forward too, for obvious reasons. Georgia was one of the more overrated teams of last season and lost their starting QB, RB and Top WR . Meanwhile, Oklahoma State showed signs of breaking out last year, and returns their top players. It will be an interesting head-to-head matchup at WR as Dez Bryant is the top WR in the country for OSU , but Georgia has a stud in A.J. Green. Oklahoma State did get some bad news yesterday as they lost their starting TE Jamal Mosley (personal reasons) and Middle Linebacker Orie Lemon (Torn ACL ). Prediction: OSU 42, Georgia 30
Jackson State at Mississippi State at 3:30 pm. This game is interesting for one reason, and one reason only: It's the first time an SEC team is playing a SWAC team. In the history of both conferences, the nations best known conference and the best-known historically black college. Both are located in the southeast. Crazy. I'm sure MSU will win this game, but it means a lot to both conferences.
#20 BYU vs. #3 Oklahoma at 7 pm. This is a another great top-20 matchup , both teams are hoping for a BCS bowl this year. A loss here eliminates BYU from BCS bowl contention, but a win... look out. Both teams will show off potent offenses in this shootout, but Oklahoma has too much firepower. Returning Heisman winner QB Sam Bradford along with a 1-2 punch of Demarco Murray and Chris Brown at RB and the best TE in the country in Jermaine Gresham. LB's Travis Lewis and Ryan Reynolds are back and will look to keep RB Harvey Unga and TE Dennis Pitta in check. Prediction: Oklahoma 52, BYU 35.
#5 Alabama at #7 Virginia Tech at 8 pm in Atlanta, GA. This game has two great masterminds going head-to-head in Frank Beamer and Nick Saban . There are a lot of players to watch in this game and should be highly entertaining. Watching Alabama WR Julio Jones play on primetime TV should be mandatory. Matching up against Jones is Stephen Virgil, a talented CB in his own right, but gives up 5 inches to Jones. The Alabama defense has elite players at every level of defense. NT Terrence Cody, MLB Renaldo McClain and DB Javier Arenas. QB Tyrod Taylor will have a lot on his shoulders in this game after RB Darren Evans went down for the season. Even Special Teams should be incredibly intense as Beamer Ball will be in full effect. Arenas is one of the best return men in the country and it will be interesting to see how he does against the VTech coverage units. Prediction: Alabama 31, VT 27
Maryland at #12 Cal at 10 pm. Obviously this game has a lot of interest for it's local ties. But I think it's possible (assuming Maryland's offensive line can perform at a high level) that Maryland could pull the upset. Cal is a 21.5 point favorite, but they return a mediocre quarterback who is terribly inconsistent, and going up against a very good Maryland Secondary. RB Jahvid Best won't have to worry about Kevin Barnes, and should have a fantastic day. New Defensive Coordinator Don Brown will have a tough time keeping Best in check. Prediction: Cal 35, Maryland 21
#11 LSU at Washington at 10:30 pm. This is going to be a completely one-sided game, but it will give east coasters probably their only chance to watch Washington's Great QB Jake Locker. LSU has 3 great running backs in Charles Scott, Keiland Williams and Trindon Holliday . Scott and Williams can bruise while Holliday brings world-class speed to the Bayou Bengals attack. Prediction: LSU 31, Washington 7
Other Games of Note: Nevada at #23 Notre Dame, Missouri at Illinois, Florida Atlantic at #24 Nebraska (Upset Watch), Minnesota at Syracuse (Paulus ' Debut).
#8 Mississippi at Memphis at 3:30 pm. QB Jevan Snead, RB/WR Dexter McCluster and one of the nations best defenses head to Memphis to defend their lofty status at #8, and while Memphis won't put up much of a fight, It's a top 10 team playing on Sunday with no NFL to distract you. Prediction: Ole Miss 49, Memphis 7
Other Game of Note: Colorado State at Colorado
Miami (Fl.) at #18 Florida State at 8 pm. This once great rivalry has been reduced to.... wait... they couldn't even sell out the game. Yikes. I know Dolphins Stadium is bigger, I know the economy is down, but still this is considered a marquee matchup and they can't even sell it out. Both teams are trying to regain their national credibility and a win here will go a long way for both teams. There have been rumblings that neither of these teams is the #2 team in the state behind Florida. Personally, I think USF (who they both happen to play) has passed them. Prediction: Miami 24, Florida State 17
Other Game of Note: Cincinnati at Rutgers (Big East Battle).
This should be a great weekend for College Football, including 4 games between top 20 teams. Check them out on a variety of networks this weekend, and enjoy. If you do take time away from the TV this weekend, join me in seeing the new Gerard Butler movie 'Gamer' .