The Pregame Warm-Up AA Team


I have watched as many college football games over the past 4 months as physically possible, taking notes and rewatching games along the way.  After all the games have been watched, here is my attempt at an All-American Team for The Pregame Warm-Up.  The PGWU team features the most players from the Nebraska Cornhuskers with 4.  Auburn, Oregon and Florida each had 2.

Head Coach- Jim Harbaugh Stanford Cardinal

OFFENSE

Player of the Year- Cam Newton Auburn Tigers

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 04: Quarterback Cam Newton  of the Auburn Tigers celebrates after their 56-17 win over the South Carolina Gamecocks during the 2010 SEC Championship at Georgia Dome on December 4, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

QB- Cameron Newton Auburn Tigers

RB- LaMichael James Oregon Ducks

RB- Jordan Todman Connecticut Huskies

WR- Justin Blackmon Oklahoma State Cowboys

WR- Ryan Broyles Oklahoma Sooners

TE- Michael Egnew Missouri Tigers

OT- Gabe Carimi Wisconsin Badgers

OT- Derek Sherrod Mississippi State Bulldogs

OG- Rodney Hudson Florida State Seminoles

OG- Justin Boren Ohio State Buckeyes

C- Chase Beeler Stanford Cardinal

DEFENSE

Player of the Year- Da’Quan Bowers Clemson Tigers

AUBURN, AL - SEPTEMBER 18: Da'Quan Bowers  of the Clemson Tigers against the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on September 18, 2010 in Auburn, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

DE- Da’Quan Bowers Clemson Tigers

DE- Ryan Kerrigan Purdue Boliermakers

DL- Nick Fairley Auburn Tigers

DL- Jared Crick Nebraska Cornhuskers

LB- Justin Houston Georgia Bulldogs

LB- Mason Foster Washington Huskies

LB- Luke Kuechly Boston College Eagles

CB- Prince Amukamara Nebraska Cornhuskers

CB- Patrick Peterson LSU Tigers

S- Eric Hagg Nebraska Cornhuskers

S- Ahmad Black Florida Gators

SPECIALISTS

K- Alex Henery Nebraska Cornhuskers

P- Chas Henry Florida Gators

RET- Cliff Harris Oregon Ducks

AP- Randall Cobb Kentucky Wildcats

Big East/Indy Report: Week 9


I was out of the loop last week due to technical difficulties on my side since I was out at the happiest place on earth, Disneyland. One of the downsides of parenthood is that your kid will at times get sick at the worst possible time. Unfortunately, I spent most of my weekend in either a hotel room or a hospital. On a positive note, my picks came up mostly flat. Who would have thought that Notre Dame would come up impotent against Navy in what was in effect a home away from home game? Who could have imagined Syracuse coming up huge defensively against a ranked West Virginia?
I hope things will come out brighter this week. We have 6 games on the slate between the Big East and the Indies. The Big East is simply one big mess where no one team can assert its dominance. One week you think Syracuse is on its way back and they get shelled by Pitt. Rutgers just catches its own bad luck.

West Virginia @ Connecticut (Friday)
West Virginia goes into Connecticut after being one of the lower profile victims of last week’s round of upsets.
Expect running back Noel Devine to pound away on the Connecticut defense to set up the pass for Geno Smith. This should be a recovery game for the Mountaineers as the Huskies were blanked last week by Louisville 26-0. Connecticut remains in flux as they are awaiting someone to step up with the departure of QB

Syracuse @ Cincinnati
Syracuse plays the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of the Big East. Much of that persona depends on the performance of linebacker Doug Hogue and defensive end Mikhail Marinovich. Hogue racked up his second national defensive player of the week award with his masterful performance against West Virginia. Hogue ended the game with 10 tackles, two interceptions, and 1.5 tackles for loss in the win. Marinovich had quarterback Geno Smith running for his life throughout the game. Marinovich is the son of the strength and conditioning guru, Marv, and brother to former NFL flameout Todd. He shows the aggressive nature that will serve him well at the next level. His problem is that he’s been known to get into trouble and last week during a 4th quarter drive picked up 2 facemask penalties. He dodged a bullet when a 3rd late hit penalty flag was picked up.
Cincinnati looks to recover from a 38-30 loss against South Florida. Zach Collaros put up 463 yards in passing but the Bearcats were catch-up most of the game. Three receivers put up 100 yards in receiving each, including main target, Armon Binns with 158. The Bearcat defense gave up points as soon as they could find them.
This week I expect Marinovich to push himself to the national spotlight by not giving Collaros enough time to beat the Syracuse zone defense. Expect Syracuse to win a close one here and solidify its 2nd place position in the Big East.

Louisville @ Pittsburgh
Louisville comes into Pittsburgh this week after blanking UCONN 26-0. Pitt comes into the game at 4-3, but 2-0 in the conference with big wins against Rutgers and Syracuse.
Bilal Powell has already reached the 1,000 yard mark for the season for the Cardinals. This may not be enough as inconsistency has plagued Louisville all this season.
Look for Pitt to retain sole possession of 1st place in the Big East behind the accurate passing of Tino Sunseri. At this point in the season, he has completed 67% of his passes with an average of 8 yards per attempt. Expect to see him at the next level with a team that runs a version of the West Coast offense. If Pitt can win out including games with WVU and South Florida, that buzz may become a roar. Don’t be surprised to see him in black and gold as an understudy to Big Ben within the next two years. Sunseri is a graduate of Pittsburgh Central Catholic HS, a school entrenched in yearly Top 100 HS Football rankings.
I don’t expect Pitt to have trouble this week and push closer to the Top 25…and sad to say a BCS bid.

VMI @ Army
Army is home this week. I expect an easy time with VMI, but this is the very definition of a trap game because the Air Force Academy looms next week. Trent Steelman remains “the best quarterback in the country you’ve never heard of”. The running attack should be on all cylinders and Army remains 2 wins away from its first bowl berth in over a decade. A win here does not count towards the mandatory 6.

Tulsa @ Notre Dame
Notre Dame is having difficulty becoming an elite team. After getting shelled by Navy in what was in essence a home game at the new Giants Stadium, they come back to South Bend to play a Tulsa team that has not been tested beyond a trouncing from #20 Oklahoma State. Expect Notre Dame to continue to beat teams that aren’t at the level of their personnel. Utah, Army, and USC loom ahead and Notre Dame is looking down the barrel of a 5 game losing streak if they cannot put it together here. They should, but, this may be the end of the highlights for Brian Kelly’s first season as coach.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 23: Ricky Dobbs  of the Navy Midshipmen rushes with the ball against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at New Meadowlands Stadium on October 23, 2010 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

Duke @ Navy
Ricky Dobbs leads the triple-option at home in Annapolis this week against a Duke team well on its way to becoming the doormat of the ACC once again.
Sean Renfree of Duke has put up a respectable 1700 yards of passing. His poor TD-INT ratio is a result of Duke continuing to play a less than stellar line giving up 10 sacks and -59 total yards of rushing for the QB.
Navy has the blueprint given by Army to continue the pressure on the young quarterback and run the ball into the ground.
Expect a 3 TD win for Navy this week.

Today’s preview was fueled by the pork shaped goodness of the McRib.
For those who like questions:
Do we need to put a watch on Regis Philbin after watching his beloved Fighting Irish blow another game to Navy? Will I make it to the end of the World Series without shaving my beard? Should the Big East lose its automatic BCS bid after losing BC and Miami? Let me know what you think on Twitter @prttimesouthpaw.

Big East and Indy Report: Week 7


This week the Big East moves into Week 2 of conference play. West Virginia is solidifying its status as the conference favorite. Will Syracuse and Rutgers have anything to say about it later in the season?

West Virginia 20 – South Florida 6 (Thursday)

South Florida loses its second straight game in Big East play after losing to Syracuse for the first time last week.

Sophomore Geno Smith led WVU with 219 yards on 24 of 31 passing and 2 TDs.

BATON ROUGE, LA - SEPTEMBER 25: Quarterback Geno Smith  of the West Virginia Mountaineers looks to throw a pass against the Louisiana State University Tigers at Tiger Stadium on September 25, 2010 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

South Florida just could not get it together offensively with only 202 total yards of offense. Dontavia Bogan put in the lone outstanding performance with 11 receptions for 98 yards.

Louisville @ Cincinnati

Cincinnati is a slight favorite away at Louisville this Friday.

Louisville had a confidence building game last week after shelling Memphis 56-0. Reality sets in with a Cincinnati team looking to salvage its slow 2-3 start.

Adam Froman is looking to win his first conference game of the year. After 4 TD passes against Memphis in the first half and an impressive performance against Oregon State, he should continue to pressure the Cincy defense.

Cincinnati is well prepared this week as running back Isaiah Pead rushed for all of his 197 yards against Miami (OH). All of those yards came in the first half.

Cincy and QB Zach Collaros have chips burning on the shoulders after being spurned by their coach. The win against Louisville will push the Bearcats back to .500.

Army @ Rutgers (@ East Rutherford, NJ)

Army is only 2 more wins away from securing its first bowl game in over a decade when it faces 3-2 Rutgers at the new Giants Stadium.

Greg Schiano continues to lie in wait for the Penn State job when Joe Paterno finally retires. He’ll be ready for this surprisingly big game against the Black Knights.

Army continues to have the 9th ranked rushing offense and continues to rack up the points with 32 points a game. Trent Steelman continues to impress and statistically ranks among the top quarterbacks in the NCAA. For backup, I implore you to read the well-written “Positive Impact Factors” articles found on our sister site inthebleachers.net.

Army may want you to “bet on black”, but the Rutgers defense should be enough to pull off the win.

Pitt at Syracuse

Syracuse comes home this week to face Pitt after a huge upset against South Florida.

Fans in upstate New York have a reason to believe in the poise of QB Mike Nassib after completing a 98 yard scoring drive in the middle of the 4th quarter.

Quarterback Tino Sunseri led a 2nd half comeback against Notre Dame last week with a rushing and passing TD. He finished 27 of 39 for 272 yards.

Syracuse only gives up 160 yards a game passing but had a weak outing against Jake Locker and Washington in Week 2.

The Carrier Dome should be as loud as it has been for a football game in years. That crowd edge should make the difference and give Syracuse the win.

SMU at Navy

The Midshipmen are at home this week against Southern Methodist.

The running game continues to impress, but one must worry about special teams due to 6’8” 270 pound DE Margus Hunt. In his second year of playing football, he has set the SMU record for 9 blocked kicks. Opponents are only 2 of 9 in FG attempts this year. Impressive more so as SMU has kept it competitive in its two losses against Texas Tech and #4 TCU.

COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 05:  Quarterback Ricky Dobbs #4 of the Navy Midshipmen calls out signals to his teammates in a game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium on September 5, 2009 in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Navy is at home this week and should keep squeak out a close win in what is expected to muddy fields galore along the entire eastern seaboard. Quarterback Ricky Dobbs should be able to take advantage of the conditions and lead the rushing attack for another 200 yards on the ground.

Expect a Navy win in this one.

Western Michigan @ Notre Dame
Western Michigan comes into South Bend after a big win against Ball State.

Let’s be honest. The momentum screams Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish are on a 2 game winning streak after tough wins at Boston College and at home against Pitt.

Notre Dame hits the softer part of its schedule in 4 of the next 5 games, barring an upset at home against Top-10 Utah. QB Dayne Crist is coming along as a leader with a rushing and passing TD each last week against the Panthers.

Expect an easy 2 TD victory with starters pulled in the 4th Quarter to take away any risk of injury.

Will we finally see an Army-Navy game with teams that have double digit combined wins? Will Mike Nassib prove to be the best Syracuse QB since Donovan McNabb? Is Michael Bisping underrated or just way too confident in his abilities? Let me know on Twitter @prttimesouthpaw

Big East and Indy Report: Week 6


This week, we have shifted responsibilities, but we are ready to continue to bring you the most comprehensive independent review of all the Division I games.

As for me, my newest responsibilities seem to make sense due to my own background.  I will be covering the Big East and the Independents going forward.

I actually have slight connections to both conferences.  The Holy Cross fathers from Notre Dame founded my undergraduate school in Pennsylvania.  My graduate school was originally a satellite campus for Syracuse University before it became part of the State University of New York system.

Enough about my background for one week, let’s get to the games:

 

Connecticut at Rutgers

Connecticut brings its 3-2 record to 2-2 Rutgers.

Rutgers is ranked 4th in nation in points scoring defense and has the 7th ranked rush defense.  Rutgers played tough in losses to Temple and North Carolina while Connecticut has beaten up on Buffalo, Vandy, and Texas Southern.

Connecticut is led by Junior RB Jordan Todman.  He comes into the game averaging 150 yards rushing per game in 4 appearances this year.  For his career, he has accumulated over 2,000 total yards.

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - SEPTEMBER 02: Tom Savage  of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights drops back against the Norfolk State Spartans at Rutgers Stadium on September 2, 2010 in New Brunswick, New Jersey. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Rutgers is a +5 underdog at home, most likely due to starting QB Tom Savage being knocked out of last week’s game against Tulane.  I believe Rutgers’ bend but don’t break defense should keep things competitive enough to cover if not win outright.

Syracuse at South Florida

Syracuse comes into South Florida with matching 3-1 records.

Syracuse has a ray of hope after many years of being the doormat of the division.  After the Greg Paulus experiment, the quarterback situation has been solidified by Junior Ryan Nassib who comes into this game with a 151 QB rating.  Granted, the 3 wins have come against weak competition. 

South Florida comes into the game with an air of confidence, knowing that they have handled Syracuse in all 5 previous meetings.  Quarterback B.J. Daniels will have to deal with pressure all game long after showing a susceptibility towards mistakes after throwing 4 INT’s against Florida in Week 2.

Syracuse is playing away from home and facing its first conference test of the season.  South Florida should hold its home field and come away with a hard fought victory.

Memphis at Louisville

Louisville is a heavy favorite against 1-3 Memphis.

Memphis ranks towards the bottom in both points for and points against.

Expect an easy win for Louisville this weekend.

Army @ Tulane

Army continues its surprising run at 3-2 when it travels to Tulane this weekend.  Trent Steelman leads a rushing attack ranked 9th in the country.

This game is basically a pick ‘em, but Army will likely continue its march towards its first bowl game since 1996.

Pitt at Notre Dame

Notre Dame comes back home after getting back on track against Boston college.

Notre Dame looks better than its 2-3 record.  Both Michigan and Michigan State are ranked.  Stanford will still be in the Top 25 at the end of this year.

Pitt is led by Quarterback Tino Sunseri.  He’s completed 63% of passes this year, but looked more human against Miami and Utah.

Notre Dame should continue that positive momentum with a win this week.

 

Navy at Wake Forest

 

After a defeat last week at the hands of Air Force, Navy needs a great deal of help in order to keep the Commander-In-Chief  Trophy for this year.

Wake Forest comes into this game ranked 111th in the country in scoring defense, giving up close to 37 points a game.  Uncertainty at quarterback for Wake Forest combined with Navy’s 11th ranked rushing attack should mark a recovery for the service academy.

 

Miami (OH) at Cincinnati

Cincinnati is continuing its first season with coach Brian Kelly now coaching Notre Dame.

CINCINNATI - SEPTEMBER 25: Zach Collaros  of the Cincinnati Bearcats throws a pass during the game against the Oklahoma Sooners at Paul Brown Stadium on September 25, 2010 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Quarterback Zach Collaros continues the rebuilding effort and should get back on track against Miami of Ohio.  Cincy gave Oklahoma all it could handle while Miami took a 51-3 trouncing from Mizzou.

Expect at least a 2 TD victory from Cincinnati.

West Virginia over UNLV

This game will likely get out of hand.  UNLV is without the services Phillip Payne as a result of a suspension for remarks made on Twitter.

Do you miss Virginia Tech, Boston College, and Miami as a part of the Big East?  Should Villanova and Georgetown finally step up and bring their football programs to a D-1 level?  Have you wrapped your heads around the possibility that the Army-Navy game will have legitimate bowl implications this year?  Let me know @prttimesouthpaw on Twitter

Big East Week 4 Preview


Overview: West Virginia had an impressive win against Maryland this weekend as they continue to tune up for their big game this weekend against LSU.  Maryland is coming off of a terrible season but looked decent so far this year so it was a nice win for the Mountaineers.

Connecticut and Cincinnati both looked terrible and have really hurt the credibility of the Big East.  This conference needs solid performances from all their members in order to remain relevant on a national stage.  Both teams really need to step it up for the remainder of the season!

Last but not least we have to give a big hand to Louisville for putting on a good performance against Oregon State.  As far as preseason expectations go Oregon State was suppose to contend for a Pac 10 crown as Louisville was going to be a bottom feeder.  They gave the Beavers a tough fight this weekend and Louisville fans should feel good about the direction Charlie Strong is taking that team.

Standout Players: Geno Smith of West Virginia had the best day of any Big East performer.  He lead his team to a nice victory while going 19-29 for 268 yards and a touchdown.  Smith has proven to be a good passing quarterback and looks to lead the Mountaineers against a tough LSU secondary next week.

Jordan Todman of UConn was the lone bright spot for that team as he rushed for 192 yards and 1 touchdown.  Todman is going to get lost in the shuffle if his team continues to struggle.

CINCINNATI - NOVEMBER 07:  Jordan Todman #23 of the Connecticut Huskies celebrates with Mike Ryan #71 after running for a touchdownl against the Cincinnati Bearcats during the Big East Conference game at Nippert Stadium on November 7, 2009 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Looking Ahead: The conference has two marquee match-ups this week and the outcomes will go along in determining how people perceive this conference.  The top game is #22 West Virginia @ #15 LSU in what is sure to be a great game.  I truly believe that LSU is ripe for the plucking as they shown limited abilities on offense.  Geno Smith is going to have to have a big game against a tough LSU defense that boasts NFL Mocks top rated pro prospect in Patrick Peterson.  I am predicting the upset here for the Mountaineers. The other top game will air Thursday night on ESPN as #19 Miami takes on Pitt.  Pitt desperately needs to pull off the victory here and get a quality out of conference win.  They will be counting on Dion Lewis to return to form and lead them to victory.  Miami is a very talented team and is coming off a disappoint loss to Ohio State so Pitt should expect them to be fully focused and ready to go.

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 26:  Dion Lewis #28 of the Pittsburgh Panthers runs with the ball against the North Carolina Tar Heels during their game on December 26, 2009 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Another game that means a lot to the conference is North Carolina @ Rutgers.  UNC is still without the majority of their starting defense as they await word from the NCAA regarding their eligibility.  Rutgers has chance to pull off the win and gain some respect for the Big East.

PISCATAWAY, NJ - NOVEMBER 12:  Tom Savage #7 of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights throws a pass against the South Florida Bulls at Rutgers Stadium on November 12, 2009 in Piscataway, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

If I was a Cincinnati fan I would hide my eyes this weekend as they take on #7 Oklahoma.  This game will not be pretty.

Written by Jon Dove @NFLMocks on Twitter

PGWU Heisman Watch


Every Monday we will be giving out the top 5 Heisman candidates based on their performance so far in the season.  Last weekend gave us some strong showings, from some of the top candidates.  Michigan Wolverines QB Denard Robinson continues to impress the voters.  Terrelle Pryor has put up some tremendous stats, so has Kellen Moore from Boise State.  Here are the top 5 Heisman candidates after week 3.  They are ranked in reverse order.

5th Taylor Martinez QB Nebraska Cornhuskers

SEATTLE - SEPTEMBER 18: Quarterback Taylor Martinez  of the Nebraska Cornhuskers rushes against Nate Williams  of the Washington Huskies on September 18, 2010 at Husky Stadium in Seattle, Washington. The Cornhuskers defeated the Huskies 56-21. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
He has led the Cornhuskers to a 3-0 record, and done so in a convincing manor.  He has rushed 40 times for 421 yards and 8 TD averaging 10.5 per rush.  In what isn’t a strong part of his game, he has thrown the ball for a 65% completion percentage and  392 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT.  He runs the Nebraska offense extremely well, and if they keep winning he will keep climbing on this list.
 
4th Andrew Luck QB Stanford Cardinal
PALO ALTO, CA - SEPTEMBER 18: Andrew Luck  of the Stanford Cardinal in action against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Stanford Stadium on September 18, 2010 in Palo Alto, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Luck has played flawlessly so far this season.  He has led Stanford to a 3-0 record with a TD-INT ration of 10-0.  He has thrown for 674 yards this season and has a completion percentage of 64%.  He is no slouch on the ground either.  He averages 10.8 yards per carry and has another score on the ground.
 
3rd Patrick Peterson CB LSU Tigers
ATLANTA - SEPTEMBER 04: Patrick Peterson  of the LSU Tigers breaks up a touchdown reception to Joshua Adams  of the North Carolina Tar Heels in the final seconds of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at Georgia Dome on September 4, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Peterson has played his role perfectly as a shutdown corner, he already has 2 INT.  He is also an incredible return man for the Tigers.  He is averaging 31.7 yards per kick return and 23.9 per punt return.  He is as good as they come for what he does.
 
2nd Ryan Mallett QB Arkansas Razorbacks
ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 03:  Quarterback Ryan Mallett #15 of the Texas A&M Aggies at Cowboys Stadium on October 3, 2009 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Mallet has done an incredible job leading the Razorback offense this season.  The Hogs have a huge game this weekend with number 1 ranked Alabama.  If Arkansas and Mallett come out of this game with a W, I could see a magical season for Mallett and his team.

1st Denard Robinson QB Michigan Wolverines

 

SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 11: Denard Robinson  of the Michigan Wolverines pushes off a tackle attempt by Manti Te
This kid has been a huge surprise this season.  Very few had any idea about him before he exploded against UCONN.  I figured it would slow down after that game, but he has continued to impress.  He has a 69% completion percentage, has thrown for 671 yards, 4 TD and 1 INT.  That is impressive, but here is where it gets ridiculous, his running stats are that much better.  He leads the nation in rushing with 559 yards and a 7.6 average yards per carry.  Add in another 4 TD on the ground and you can tell why Michigan has played so well this season.
Written by Jason Madson @isbnJMAD on Twitter

College Football Week 1: What The Fan Should Know


 

With college football starting up this week, there are a lot of questions that arise every season. Will Alabama repeat? Will Mark Ingram repeat as Heisman? Who will be this year’s Cinderella school? What player will make the best case for himself in the NFL Draft?

Questions are answered throughout the year. With that being said, week-by-week new questions and answers arise and headlines are made. Week one is filled of excitement, joy, and more importantly adrenaline instilled in fans, players, and coaches.

Not many highlight games are on for the first week, most major schools are playing out of conference opponents that are touch-up games for the bigger matches throughout the year.

Here is an inside look to the top ten games for week one in college football for the year 2010.

 

North Carolina vs. LSU (Georgia Dome)

The Tar Heels come in being at one of their highest rankings ever for a pre-season, which is thirteen. LSU has been here before, they know what it takes to win, to put on a show and more importantly have the spotlight. With that being said, it’s the new age team against the veteran team. Here’s what you need to know

Who to watch for on the Tar Heels: Only rushing for 567 in ’09 all eyes will be focused on Shaun Draughn (Sr.) for the run game and wide receiver Greg Little for the passing attack. The defense is held down by defensive tackle Marvin Austin and cornerback Kendric Burney. With the Tar Heels being ranked in the top 25, which is a rarity they must prove to the naysayers that they belong at the top. Late Wednesday night a report was put out that Marvin Austin among other players might be suspended for this game, which means the Heels will have to overcome yet again, another challenge.

Who to watch for on the LSU Tigers: Two juniors lead the way for the offense that needs to pick up the pace. Quarterback Jordan Jefferson and running back Stevan Ridley both come in to this season looking to make sure the offense brings together. On defense the Tigers are led by the only regular starter back from last year, defensive tackle, Lazarius Levingston. The Tigers also have a big play defensive back in Patrick Peterson who held highly-touted Georgia wide receiver, AJ Green to just four catches last year.

The Tar Heels and Tigers aren’t fighting for much in this out of conference battle except for respect. The Heels, an underrated team ready to prove its worth in not only the ACC but also the entire college football nation will take on the LSU Tigers. A Tiger team that has been through it all, a team that has to play in one of the most powerhouse conferences, the SEC. It should be a good game till the end, with Carolina’s power defense and LSU’s awaiting offense. The Heels may come out on top.

               Purdue at Notre Dame

This matchup has more then just a couple big name schools in it. Notre Dame has a new head coach in Brian Kelly who promises to make the offensive system, “worth watching.”

Who to watch for the Boilermakers- Former Miami Hurricane quarterback Robert Marve will now be under center for Purdue as he had to sit out and await eligibility. Helping Marve will be senior Kevin Smith who led the Big Ten conference in receiving last season. Al-Terek McBurse will need to show a burst since he is now the replacement for injured Ralph Boden at running back. The defense returns five starters from last year and those five will need to produce. The secondary for the Boilermakers is a huge question mark as there are four new starters.

Who to watch for the Fighting Irish: everyone. From head coach Brian Kelly to star wide receiver, Michael Floyd all eyes will be zoned on the new look Notre Dame team and more importantly new look offense. Kelly has promised that his group of guys will play at pace seen at the NFL level. If that is true, quarterback Dayne Crist who comes in replacing Jimmy Clausen, running back Armando Allen and Michael Floyd will need to produce often.

                              The first game of the year proves to be a big one for both teams this year. With Notre Dame’s new everything and Purdue using a transferee at quarterback there will be rust on both teams. The most important thing is what side can shake off the rust quicker, Purdue or Notre Dame? In the end, Notre Dame has to many skilled players and the Fighting Irish should win this game.

Oregon St. vs. Texas Christian University (TCU) in Arlington, Texas

               Respect is something both teams want in this matchup and they get the big stage to prove their worth. The game will be held in what can be called the football palace, new Cowboys Stadium. TCU has had the small-school label on them for to long and Oregon St. while they are not the USC Trojans, they are a very tough opponent to face. It should be more of a test for TCU who has more to prove then Oregon St.

               Who to watch for on the Oregon St. Beavers- They come out with a new quarterback in sophomore Ryan Katz, usually a young player can bring worries to a system but Katz has backup. His backup comes in groups of two, brother Jacquizz Rodgers (a potential Heisman trophy winner) and James Rodgers. Both are undersized but their play can’t be measured. Along side of the Rodgers brothers are Markus Wheaton and Jordan Bishop who could be the biggest beneficiaries if the Rodgers’ brothers get to much attention. On the defensive side of the ball many questions arise for the Beavers who lost many starters either due to injury or personal reasons. Everyone must outplay themselves if the Beavers want to be serious.

               Who to watch for on the Horned Frogs: The Frogs have nine returning starters on offense and the new guys, which include running back Ed Wesley, have been around the system and have made an impact. Quarterback Andy Dalton could be making his case for the NFL draft but more importantly for some respect.  The Frogs did lose first-round pick Jerry Hughes to the NFL but they ranked number one in total defense last season.  Using a five man secondary could help the lack of experience with the help of weak-side safety Alex Ibiloye.

Both teams come in with a lot of potential. A lot of firepower on each side as well for both teams. The key thing to look for here is who gets going first. If the Rodgers’ brothers get the Beavers biting the Frogs may have no answer. That is unless of course, Andy Dalton has something to say about it. Dalton has been very successful and it’s hard to go against the normal, the TCU Frogs may win this one in an epic battle.

Boise St. vs. Virginia Tech (Landover, Maryland)

 

               The Boise St. Broncos aren’t just a small school anymore, which is exactly what they want. But did they want it like this? The Broncos have a very tough opponent in Virginia Tech but they will be playing on a neutral field. Star players are on both teams and on both sides of the ball for each team respectively.

               Who to watch for on the Broncos:  Quarterback Kellen Moore was second in the nation for passing efficiency last season and the thing that makes him lethal is his running backs and wide receivers.  Those weapons are highlighted by running back D.J. Harper, who led the team in rushing last season before tearing his ACL. If he can return to top form the Broncos will have a very scary offense. The Broncos defense has been inconsistent at times but will have nine returning starters including the headliner on the d-line, Ryan Winterswyk.

               Who to watch for on the Hokies: Their offense is high powered and led by Tyrod Taylor who get’s some pressure taken off him by the running back duo of Ryan Williams and Darren Evans who have the ability to explode on any team in college football. Their defense will face its biggest test right away taking on Boise St. Led by team leaders, defensive tackle, John Graves and Rashad Carmichael will need to play all-out and prove to their teammates that the defense deserves credit as well.

               In the end there may just be too much Boise St. for the Hokies. Kellen Moore has another year of experience underneath his belt and Boise St. has more to play for then Virginia Tech who may be able to withstand a loss in the mediocre ACC.  The Boise St. Broncos should prove to be victorious in the most anticipated game in week one of college football.

 

 

USC at Hawaii  

 

The USC Trojans literally have nothing to play for.  After NCAA violations were handed down, the Trojans have been banned from post-season bowl games for the next two years.

               Who to watch for on the Trojans: Quarterback Matt Barkley is a sophomore this year but it might be the freshmen who have a big impact on his season. Highly touted recruit, wide receiver, Kyle Prater could be forced to red shirt. Losing Seantrel Henderson to Miami is another big loss for the Trojans who do have a positive in freshman Dillon Baxter. Baxter may see limited touches this season but has the ability to make every touch an explosive play for the offense. On defense the Trojans lose big play maker, Taylor Mays to the NFL and only have five returning starters from last season. Defensive tackle Jurrell Casey and defensive end Armond Armstead will look to be leaders for those newcomers on the defense.

               Who to watch for on the Warriors: Using a run-and-shoot offense Hawaii may have the Trojans on their heels all night. Quarterback Bryant Moniz had some spring troubles but will use wide receivers Greg Salas and Kealoha Pilares for assistance to keep the offense running smoothly. On defense there are plenty of newcomers as only six starters return from last year. Showcased by defensive backs Mana Silva and Spencer Smith the Warriors may find some struggles in their first couple of games to stop high powered offenses.

               While they may not have much to play for this year, USC plays with pride, fight and determination. They will be using those three motives as a reason to not roll over and let Hawaii have its glory. The Trojans may keep it close for the first quarter but in the end, they will make it a victorious trip to Hawaii.

Connecticut at Michigan

 

A very interesting game to say the least here as the UConn Huskies take on historic-program Michigan who has struggled lately. After a big signing of head coach Rich Rodriguez the Wolverines have been trapped in their cave for quite some time. Posting only a 5-7 record last season and going 1-7 is not what Big Blue had in mind when hiring Rich Rod. An out of conference game for both teams will test both squads respectively.

Who to watch for on the Huskies: The offense doesn’t have many big names but quarterback Zach Frazer ended the season strong, throwing eight touchdowns and only two interceptions in the final five games. Scary news for opponents of the Huskies is their ground game. Junior running back Jordan Todman didn’t even hit his full potential last season after rushing for 1,128 yards and 14 touchdowns. The defense will be led once again by team leader Greg Lloyd and last season’s Big East tackle leader, Lawrence Wilson. The Huskies have a bunch of well prepared players who can withstand a challenge from Michigan.

Who to watch for on the Wolverines: All eyes will be on quarterback Tate Forcier whose name I love to say. What Michigan fans didn’t love to say was the amount of losses their team had. The eyes of Tate Forcier will also be watching for the other quarterback making headlines, Denard Robinson who is compared to Pat White (a former Rich Rodriguez player) who is also the fastest player on the team. The running back and wide receiver positions are filled with depth so whoever is the quarterback will have many weapons, but those weapons need to produce. The defense returns eight starters and while there may not be one true standout star as there was last year in Brandon Graham, Michigan is deep.

Depth and talent may hold off UConn in this game. If Michigan wants to prove they can play they must start off right. The Wolverines should play up to par to keep their season and head coach’s future alive. Starting off right facing a tough opponent in the Huskies it should be an entertaining game.

Pittsburgh at Utah

 

            An under the radar matchup for the average fan, should turn out to be a fight-to-the-end battle.  Pittsburgh is led by Heisman candidate, Dion Lewis who is an explosive running back. For Utah, they will be moving to the Pac-10 conference next season and need every big game they can handle in their season before the big move.

               Who to watch for on the Panthers: Obviously the previously-mentioned Dion Lewis will have plenty of focus on him from the Utah defense to the fans watching on television. With that being said, Lewis will have a target on his back but his protector will be wide receiver and big play threat, Jonathan Baldwin who could have a big impact at any moment. The defensive side is led by the nation’s sack leading defensive line. With more depth and talent added to an already big-time force the defense might be the key to this game.

               Who to watch for on the Utes: Last season’s Poinsettia Bowl MVP, Jordan Wynn is back under center for Utah and so are running backs Matt Asiata who’s finally become healthy and new starter Eddie Wide who filled in for Asiata nicely. During the fill-in time Wide rushed for 1,069 yards and 12 touchdowns. The defense has more question marks then the offense as they only return three starters from last season.  Two of the starters, Dave Kruger and Sealver Sillga can be found on the defensive line and will need to play at their highest level all season.

               While the Utes have been impressive throughout their past few seasons, they have many questionable players on defense.  Pittsburgh should prevail in this big game held at Rice-Eccles Stadium.  Win or lose, expect a huge game from Dion Lewis who will be playing like a man determined for the Heisman trophy.

Washington at BYU

 

 Also being moved from their division after this season, BYU is looking to prove its point. Led by a freshman quarterback and very few returning starters they may have a hard time starting off and scoring points which ranked 11th in the nation last season.  For Washington, the coaches are smiling and so are the fans as headline quarterback Jake Locker returned for his senior year and didn’t leave for the NFL draft.

               Who to watch for on the Huskies: Shouldn’t have to be mentioned but Jake Locker will need to prove that staying another year was the right decision. Locker isn’t the only one who needs to prove their worth as sophomore Chris Polk needs to prove his 1,000 yards rushing as a freshman was no fluke. On defense six starters return for Washington including senior linebacker, Mason Foster. A defense that held Pac-10 teams to 13 points or less three times last season looks to improve that number and keep their defense as highly-respected as it was last season.

               Who to watch for on the Cougars: Freshman quarterback Jake Heaps will have the hearts of many fans relying on him to impress right away. Deep at running back, J.J. Di Luigi and Brian Kariya are likely to see most of the work load to take pressure off Heaps. On defense, junior Jordan Pendleton is the only returning linebacker from last season and will need to keep a consistent core together. Many players will have to rise to the occasion and replace players from last season’s squad.

               In a quarterback matchup of senior vs. freshman Locker who was projected to go in the top selections in last year’s draft will have the upper hand.  BYU might have a hard time adjusting with the freshman under center which is why the Huskies should come out on top.

 

Northwestern at Vanderbilt

 

Big Ten (or is it Big Twelve yet?) vs. SEC in this matchup that may not get the attention it deserves.  The Wildcats come out replacing quarterback Mike Kafka with junior Dan Persa in their pass heavy attack. Pass heavy Northwestern against run heavy Vanderbilt who are led by sophomore running back Warren Norman. Both teams may have an offensive showcase to put on but the defenses must play as well.

               Who to watch for on the Wildcats: Dan Persa will need to make NW fans say, Mike Kafka who?  With more attention on wide receivers, returning starter Sidney Stewart, a senior will need to pave the way for the younger receivers on the squad. Northwestern also has to replace a lot of defensive players but do return six starters from last season. Led by the linebacker group of Quentin Davie, Nate Williams and Ben Johnson the Wildcats need to prove that when one door closes, two more open.

               Who to watch for on the Commodores: Warren Norman as previously mentioned will be the headline running back but when he’s not in Zac Stacy will do more then ok as his replacement.  Quarterback Larry Smith has had his playing ability questioned on more then one occasion and it’s time to prove the naysayers wrong.  On defense there are many new faces, with only three returning starters from last season.  Chris Marve will be the head linebacker while Sean Richardson will be leading with his head to make very impactful hits.

               In a game where one team has a true rush attack and the opposing team has a true pass attack, defenses are put on the spotlight. With question marks on both side of the ball it also comes down to the coaching system. Northwestern has been underrated for many seasons but should pull off this victory in front of their home crowd.

Wisconsin at UNLV

 

               A matchup that features running back candidate John Clay is the main reason for this game making the list. For any player to make his case for Heisman he must start off right, taking on UNLV is a perfect way for Clay to start.  UNLV looks to this game as a motivator; they don’t want to be a push-over team any longer and will fight to the end

               Who to watch for on the Badgers: John Clay as mentioned will be key to this game as it is the big game for him to begin.  Their offense led by Clay and quarterback Scott Tolzlen led the Big Ten in scoring, rushing, total offense and time of possession last season and returned ten starters. The defense only has six starters but return all three starting linebackers in Chris Borland, Culmer St. Jean and Mike Taylor who need to keep this defense strong.

               Who to watch for on the Rebels: Returning eight on offense, Omar Clayton is back at quarterback who has is sixth on UNLV’s all time passing list. His main target, junior Phillip Payne also returns and the two will need to have chemistry in tact if they want to fight for the win. The defense returns eight as well led by cornerback Quinton Pointer who was the team’s top tackler from last season.

               As easy as it is to write up Wisconsin as the winner, UNLV will fight. The fight may not last long so the Badgers have the upper hand in this matchup. The potential Heisman candidate John Clay hopes it’s as easy to begin as it was to pick his team as a winner.

So there you have it, a preview for your top ten college football games of week one. It’s finally here so throw on your face or body paint, get your tailgating gear ready and show your school pride. College football shows the top talents in the nation as young guys turn into young men.  One thing we can all agree on is Lee Corso should continue to put on those goofy-looking mascot heads.

written by Mike Pendleton follow him on twitter @MP2310

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