The College Quickie: Opening Day 2014 Edition

Welcome Football Fans and welcome back to the College Quickie. Today is the day we’ve all been waiting for. Sure, there was football on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of this week, but us traditionalists always prefer our football on Saturday, so to me, today is opening day. We have a lot to get to, so let’s get to it.

The Kings of College Football

Way back in 2012, I wrote a column at More Than a Fan called, “The Kings of NCAA Football.” This week, and probably every week, we’ll talk about those teams and their matchups.

  • Alabama – this week the Crimson Tide face the Mountaineers of West Virginia in Atlanta. For the past several years, the Tide have played an FBS team in its opening game, and this year is no different. Here’s the problem, they have no quarterback this year, or at least they haven’t anointed one as of this writing. Will it matter, probably not. WVA, while a decent Big 12 team (worst defense in the country), shouldn’t provide much trouble for Alabama, a team that reloads year after year. Believe it or not, this is the first meeting between the two teams, and my prediction is Alabama wins by 30. Kline: Game Week: Alabama vs West Virginia
  • Michigan – Yikes. Remember, Remember, the First of September – right? Yeah, the Wolverines are playing Appalachian State again, who is now a FBS team. In case you forgot, the last time the two teams met, App State won on the last play of the game. In fact, why are you reading this column if you don’t remember what happened in 2007? If anyone has respect for Appalachian State, it’s Michigan. Sure, they lost on a fluke play, but they almost beat Ohio State on a fluke play last year. What counts here is they lost to both teams…on fluke plays. We shouldn’t expect anything exciting, but with Brady Hoke and Company anything is possible. Appalachian State leads the series, 1-0, but I expect that to be 1-1 and Michigan should pull of the win today. Bach: Michigan Non-Conference Analysis and Predictions
  • Notre Dame – Things aren’t awesome in South Bend as the Irish get ready to take on the Owls from Rice. Five (5!!) players have now been suspended in an overarching academic scandal at one of the FBS’ proudest institutions. I’m not sure if Brian Kelly has started to recruit kids from the soccer and rugby teams, but I’m sure they’d be willing to strap on a helmet (they’d probably prefer to play without a helmet). Everett Golson is back under center this season, after taking a year off after his own academic scandal – I’m sensing a theme here – and the team should be much improved on offense this year despite the loss of personnel. Rudder: Notre Dame: Season’s Greetings
  • Southern California – as if there weren’t already enough drama in Southern California, there’s been a ton this week. First, the week from hell with Josh Shaw, then Anthony Brown calls head coach Steve Sarkisian a racist (I’m guessing he isn’t) and quits the team. Though in retrospect, I guess it’s hard – and probably stupid – to call the man who gave you the chance to play at a Top-10 school a racist and expect to stay on the team. Anyway, the Trojans take on the Bulldogs of Fresno State. Fresno State is no slouch, and honestly might be one of the most underrated teams in college football. Like my man Nate Yanez (@NateYinKC) said on our podcast the other day, they always seem to have a great quarterback that no one has ever heard of. I think this game will be closer than expected because of the drama, and it also being the first game for Sark, but I expect USC to win. The series is currently tied, 1-1. Wilson: Most interesting Pac-12 game week 1: USC vs Fresno State
  • Tennessee – Things have not been good on Rocky Top for some time, and despite my loyalty to Big Orange, it might be time to take them off the list. Honestly, they’ve been decent the past few years, but have been an overall disappointment. Today they open at Neyland versus Utah State, and they should have no problems, but look out for something crazy to happen here. When you expect Tennessee to roll, they don’t, or at least haven’t over the last few years. There are plenty of questions surrounding Tennessee’s offense play at quarterback, and their secondary is just as suspect. After today, I’m not sure we’ll have any of the answers to the most serious questions about this team. Carner: Defense. . . Any Volunteers?
  • Oklahoma – as if this is a team we need to worry about. Every year, Oklahoma does something and it makes me question if it’s time for Bob Stoops to move on to another program, but then at the end of the season I realize how stupid I’ve been. Bob, I promise I won’t demand you get fired this year. Even if you lose to Texas. Today, the Crimson and Cream open with the Bulldogs of LA Tech. Tech is fast in all the places a good southern team should be, but Stoops and Company should have zero problem with this game. Expect senior cornerback Julian Wilson to be the most visible person in the game today.
  • Ohio State – Let’s cut to the chase, the 2013 campaign didn’t end the way Buckeye Nation was expecting, and the summer wasn’t awesome. Braxton Miller is out today, and all of 2014, and J.T. Barrett will start in his place. The backup is Cardale Jones (who I jokingly called Carl Stokes last week), and if Barrett struggles against the Midshipmen, expect to see Jones quickly. Head coach Urban Meyer pretty much said he wouldn’t bring in Jones to play, but if he needs him, he’ll bring him in. For the record, the last time Meyer had to start a season with a "backup quarterback," he won something like 21 games in a row. Navy is no slouch, and when they met in 2009 Ohio State barely escaped. This game is in Baltimore, which is practically a home game for Navy, but expect at least 50% of the crowd to be Buckeye fans. Buckeyes should win, but Ken Niumatalolo (@NAVYCoachKen) and the Middies will provide a decent enough challenge for the Scarlet and Grey. Banchek: How will the Buckeyes regroup after Braxton Miller’s injury?

The Best of the Rest

To be real, the only game above that interests me is Ohio State and Navy, and not because I live in Ohio, but because I love Navy. They don’t get enough coverage, and hopefully someone here (probably me) will change that. But, come on, it certainly isn’t the best game of the day. We have a few more options.

Sanford Stadium. Photo: ikwildrpepper/Flickr

Clemson vs. Georgia – on paper this is clearly the best game of the week. Dabo vs. Richt in Georgia between the Hedges. What a great way to start college football. Every year Georgia comes in with high expectations and somehow they find a way to commit what I call Pac-12 suicide. Georgia has an easy-ish route to Atlanta and the SEC playoff and they somehow trip up. This game won’t be easy, because the Tigers have to prove that their win over Ohio State wasn’t a fluke, and that teams from the ACC can beat teams from the Big Ten and SEC regularly. Georgia leads the series, 41-18 but I expect Clemson to come out and win this afternoon. I think everyone is sleeping on Clemson because they’re overshadowed by Florida State, but winning here will do nothing but boost their stature.

Kline: What Game of Thrones House is your SEC School?

Wisconsin v. LSU (Houston) – this game is here because, I don’t know, for some reason I think Wisconsin will find a way to make this game interesting. Every week I worry about which Les Miles team will show up to games. Considering this is basically a home game for LSU, I suspect LSU will win, but it will be close. I said on the podcast I thought they’d win by a touchdown, but it would be very close. I still believe that. I love Les Miles, but he has to be on the luckiest guys on the face of the Earth. I’d rather be good, than lucky, but lady luck has worked for the Michigan grad. It isn’t that I don’t have faith in Wisconsin, it’s just that I think playing down south in that environment could be interesting for the Badgers. If this game had been in Baton Rouge, I wouldn’t even consider giving Wisky a chance, but today they’re living on a prayer, or hoping that Miles left his horseshoe in Louisiana. Both teams are good, and this should be a fun game, but I’m sticking with my podcast prediction of LSU by 7.

Rodgers: LSU vs WISCONSIN-Game of the Week

Need more to read?

I think that's more than enough from me, but check out these articles from around the site:

Bramm: What to watch in Seminoles first game

Crisp: Predicting Penn State’s 2014 Season

Tews: Big Ten West Week 1 Preview

Hicks: 2014 Auburn Tigers Preview

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