This week we're going to break down the nation's schedules -- the quirks, peccadilloes and notables for 2005.
You can't get to the bowl without knowing how you got there. The series starts as we analyze the biggest games of the year.
|Heisman candidate Vince Young leads Texas against Ohio State on Sept. 10. (AP)|
Arizona at Utah: Two defensive wizards face off. In his first game, Utah's Kyle Whittingham gets a rebuilding Pac-10 bottom dweller. Arizona's Mike Stoops can't afford to lose this one if his team wants to go bowling. The Utes won't be as explosive as Urban Meyer's bunch, but they won't be punchless. At stake, Utah's 16-game winning streak (second-best to USC). Given Utah's schedule, the streak could reach 20 before a trip to North Carolina on Oct. 1.
Central Florida at South Carolina: Interesting only because Steve Spurrier kicks off his Gamecocks career against a team he can't lose to. Think of the grumbles that will start if South Carolina loses to a team with the nation's longest losing streak (15).
Notre Dame at Pittsburgh: Weis vs. Wanny in each coach's first college game as a head man. Great -- OK, really good -- quarterback matchup: (Tom) Brady Quinn vs. Tyler Palko. Given each team's knee-jerk fans, the heat begins right away for the loser.
Wyoming at Florida: Interesting opener for Urban Meyer. Yes, Florida should win by at least three touchdowns, but the Cowboys won't be the pushover you thought. Third-year coach Joe Glenn is a master strategist who made his bones at the Division II and I-AA levels. Wyoming has 19 starters back from a team that went 7-5 and beat UCLA in the Las Vegas Bowl.
Boise State at Georgia: The Broncos under Dan Hawkins are used to playing "up." Their 39-3 record the past three seasons is usually passed off as a product of being the best in the WAC (where they are 24-0 over that span). But someday they're going to pull off that upset that causes earthquakes. This could be it. Boise State reminds some of early Florida State teams under Bobby Bowden. They take on all comers and beat some. Georgia had better be ready because Boise will be able to control the clock with the running game and hit big passes fired by Jared Zabransky. Coming off a narrow bowl loss to Louisville, the Broncos already know they can play "up."
Virginia Tech at North Carolina State: The defending ACC champs started 2-2 last year. One of those losses was a heartbreaker at home to the Wolfpack. Virginia Tech's title hopes could be wrecked on opening day (a Sunday night) if Beamer's boys don't come up big. It's the first time since 1997 Tech has opened away from home.
Miami at Florida State: Not so fast, John Swofford. When this Labor Day night series was signed with ABC, the thinking was the ACC's two best teams would provide a marquee game to kick off the season. Maybe, but not necessarily this year. Both teams will be breaking in new starters at quarterback (Wyatt Sexton subbed for Chris Rix at times last year at FSU). There's a good chance at least one of the teams will start ranked out of the top 10.