Marshall at No. 11 West Virginia
Kickoff: Saturday, Noon ET (FX)
Spread: West Virginia by 24
Watchability: Any game featuring WVU coach Dana Holgorsen's offense is worthy of attention. Add in the drama of the last two meetings between these two teams (WVU rallied from a 15-point fourth-quarter deficit at Marshall in 2010; last season saw the game called off with almost the entire fourth quarter left to play due to lightning) and, for at least the first half, this may be one of the better noon kickoffs to watch.
Shining stars: Marshall: Aaron Dobson. A native of West Virginia who was not recruited by the Mountaineers, Dobson has become a bona fide star for the Thundering Herd, catching 49 passes for 668 yards and 12 touchdowns a season ago. He has a flair for the spectacular and should provide a stern test for WVU's corners. West Virginia: Geno Smith. With a virtuoso performance in January's Orange Bowl thrashing of Clemson, Smith catapulted his team into the preseason top 15 and placed himself squarely in the discussion of potential Heisman Trophy candidates. He packed on a few pounds of muscle in the offseason and claims to be far more comfortable in WVU's offense this season, meaning last year's 4,385-yard, 31-touchdown performance might seem paltry by the end of 2012.
Who could steal the show: Marshall: Travon Van. Pushed up into the starting lineup this week after an injury to projected starting running back Tron Martinez, Van should shoulder the load Saturday. He split reps with Martinez a year ago and averaged 42.4 yards per game. Given the chance to develop a rhythm (if Marshall doesn't fall behind by too many points early) he could keep WVU's defense from simply focusing on locking down Dobson. West Virginia: Freshman receiver Jordan Thompson. Recruited by essentially no major programs until WVU came calling late in the process, Thompson enrolled early and impressed Holgorsen throughout spring practice and followed it up with a strong preseason camp. The true freshman speedster will start and could benefit from the attention MU will have to pay to Mountaineer stars Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey.
You going? Ranking the road trip: Morgantown tends to get plenty wild on a football Saturday, and an offseason's worth of hype surrounding the Mountaineers' Big 12 move and their top 15 team should have folks lathered up nicely by kickoff. Add in the in-state element (many WVU fans cringe if you call it a "rivalry") and you could do far worse for an opening week road trip.
Magic number for West Virginia: 30. The Mountaineers are 75-3 since 2000 in games in which they score 30 or more points.
Magic number for Marshall: 14. It has been almost a decade since the Herd knocked off a nationally ranked opponent, losing 14 consecutive games against ranked squads since a 27-20 upset of then-No. 6 Kansas State in 2003.
The game comes down to: A battle of the unknowns. Marshall's coaches went to Oregon this offseason, presumably to study the Ducks' uptempo offense. Could the Herd unveil a new scheme against WVU? Similarly, little is known of the Mountaineers' new 3-4 defense other than its base alignment. After a decade of running a 3-3-5, how differently will West Virginia play defense? Emotion also matters in what could be the final battle between the Mountain State's only two FBS programs for the foreseeable future. Marshall has never beaten WVU (0-11 all-time) and would love to ruin the Mountaineers' national title hopes just as the season begins.
Prediction: West Virginia 48, Marshall 20
For more up-to-the-minute news and analysis from Big 12 bloggers C.J. Moore and Patrick Southern, follow @CBSSportsBig12 on Twitter.