Posted on: September 19, 2011 5:38 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
The new polls were released on Sunday, and the Big East saw their two nationally ranked representatives make a step up after convincing wins. West Virginia had a convincing win by defeating a competitive opponent away from home. South Florida impressed voters with a casual 745 yards of total offense in a 70-17 win.
West Virginia (AP: 16/Coaches: 16) - The Mountaineers have continued to be incredibly efficient on offense, but it was the defense's ability to come up with stops and turnovers early that impressed on Saturday. Maryland was able to climb back into the game with a bruising rushing attack, but all things considered it was an impressive non-conference victory for head coach Dana Holgorsen. The Mountaineers face their toughest challenge of the season on Saturday, welcoming the No. 2 LSU Tigers to Morgantown in primetime. If the Mountaineers can produce some offense on the rigid Tigers' D, they could give themselves a chance for the upset.
South Florida (AP: 18/Coaches: 17) - After three weeks of observation, the Bulls are finally starting to prove that their opening week upset of Notre Dame was no fluke. USF once again mightily handled their MEAC opponents, as quarterback BJ Daniels broke his own career-high numbers that were set just a week before. South Florida currently has no ranked opponents on their schedule before the season finale against No. 16 West Virginia on Dec. 1., so it will be difficult to make big jumps in the polls. Under the direction of head coach Skip Holtz, I don't expect the Bulls to get distracted by rankings anytime soon.
Other Receiving Votes - None. Pittsburgh blew a fourth quarter lead to Iowa, Syracuse lost by three touchdowns to USC, and Cincinnati blasted an inferior Akron squad. For right now, the Mountaineers and Bulls are representing the entire conference by themselves in the eyes of the national fan. Could be worse, there have been times it is ONLY West Virginia's banner to carry.
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Posted on: September 17, 2011 11:41 am
Posted by Adam Jacobi
ILLINOIS: Consistency. Ron Zook-coached teams and mental toughness don't often go hand-in-hand, but that's a trait the Illini will need when No. 22 Arizona State comes to town. With QB Brock Osweiler, WR Aaron Pflugrand, and LB Vontaze Burfict, ASU has a plethora of playmakers. And yet, Missouri nearly pulled off a fourth quarter comeback win on ASU last week by staying focused and taking advantage of the Sun Devils' mistakes. Illinois will likely need to do both to pull the upset today.
INDIANA: Just get the win. Indiana's had two games and two disappointing close losses to start the year, and now South Carolina State comes to town. The Hoosiers should be easily capable of defeating the Bulldogs here, and only a continued mental letdown from the first two losses can or should stand in Indiana's way.
IOWA: Avenge Jake Christensen! In 2008, Iowa travelled to Pitt with embattled QB Jake Christensen starting under center. Iowa lost a 21-20 heartbreaker, Christensen was benched for Ricky Stanzi, and that was that. Now, Pitt comes to Iowa City with junior QB Tino Sunseri struggling mightily. Can Iowa bury Sunseri and the Panthers?
MICHIGAN: That's enough drama for one month, thanks. The Notre Dame comeback was one for the ages, but Michigan's got Eastern Michigan and San Diego State to close out the month of September. Brady Hoke's got to be looking for safe, low-blood-pressure wins tomorrow and next week before Big Ten season begins.
MICHIGAN STATE: Score points (because Notre Dame sure will). Unless Notre Dame has one of the worst cases of the yips in football history, it won't turn the ball over five times again, which means that potent offense is going to put up points -- even against MSU's underrated defense. But Michigan State has major-league talent at every skill position, and that talent's going to have to pay off early and often today.
MINNESOTA: Jerry Kill wants you to kill. We're continually buoyed by the good news coming out of Minneapolis about Kill's improving condition, but meanwhile there is a game to be played, and as head coach, Kill must want nothing more than to see his players take the fight to Miami University -- and take the spotlight off him and his seizure condition.
NEBRASKA: So what's Taylor Martinez here to do? Nebraska has looked unstoppable on the ground at times this season, but good heavens is Taylor Martinez hit-and-miss when he throws the ball. Today's a good day to show the coaches he's been watching game film -- and to make better reads and passes against Washington's sturdy secondary as a result. Otherwise he's a glorified tailback running the wildcat.
NORTHWESTERN: The Kain mutiny. This is likely Kain Colter's third straight start under center for Northwestern, and since there's a bye week coming up and Dan Persa's at least suiting up for today's game against Army, it's also likely Colter's last start. His last, that is, unless he earns the spot over Persa with play on the field. What I'm saying is, he should aim for at least eight touchdowns today against our troops. It's not patriotic, but neither is any team that beats Army, so what're you gonna do.
OHIO STATE: Win the aerial battle. Both Ohio State and Miami have somewhat suspect situations at quarterback, with Joe Bauserman and Jacory Harris both seemingly one or two bad weeks away from a spot on the bench. OSU's got the better secondary, but not by much, so execution on both ends of the passing game is going to be critical in this night game.
PENN STATE: Don't sleep on Temple. The Alabama nightmare is gone and done, and Penn State can get back on track this week. Except... Temple's off to a hellacious start. It beat FCS powerhouse Villanova 42-7, then stomped MAC rival Akron 41-3. The line on this game is seven points. SEVEN! Temple RB Bernard Pierce vs. Penn State's front seven should be great fun to watch.
PURDUE: A new peace at quarterback? Purdue fans are probably eager for a familiar face under center against Southeast Missouri State, and to that end, Robert Marve appears to be ready to take snaps today. Caleb TerBush is still the starter, but it's generally accepted that he was just placeholding until Marve's rehab from last year's ACL injury; he wasn't even expected to play much this year, but putative starter Rob Henry tore an ACL before Week 1. Sophomore Sean Robinson has had his expected redshirt burnt for the second straight season, and has struggled in his limited opportunities. Sound like a mess? It is. So if Marve looks good today coming into next Saturday's bye week, expect him to be written into the starting role for Week 5.
WISCONSIN: No alarms and no surprises. Wisconsin is headed for a classic "trap game" at Northern Illinois this weekend, and Northern Illinois is better than you think. The Badgers have the horses to win handily, but they're on the road and facing former defensive coordinator Dave Doeren, who's now helming NIU. A fast start and a minimum of mistakes will help put this game away early -- and keep blood pressures down back home in Madison.
Tags: Aaron Pflugrand, Adam Jacobi, Akron, Alabama, Arizona State, Army, Bernard Pierce, Big Ten Bullet Points, Brady Hoke, Brock Osweiler, Caleb TerBush, Dan Persa, Dave Doeren, Eastern Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Jacory Harris, Jake Christensen, Jerry Kill, Joe Bauserman, Kain Colter, Miami, Miami University, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Northern Illinois, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Purdue, Ricky Stanzi, Rob Henry, Robert Marve, Ron Zook, San Diego State, Sean Robinson, South Carolina State, Southeast Missouri State, Taylor Martinez, Temple, Tino Sunseri, Villanova, Vontaze Burfict, Washington, Wisconsin
Posted on: September 9, 2011 6:26 pm
Edited on: September 9, 2011 6:33 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
Last week, Ohio State suspended RB Jordan Hall, CB Travis Howard and S Corey Brown for the Akron game after learning the three players had accepted $200 for their presence at a Cleveland charity event. Ohio State expected its three suspended players to be reinstated by the NCAA for this week's game at Toledo following the conclusion of the NCAA's investigation.
Problem: the NCAA never agreed to a one-game suspension. As a result, all three players will be sitting out their second straight game.
On its face, this appears to run counter to the NCAA's speedy reinstatement of several suspended Miami players who had accepted much more than $200 from disgraced booster Nevin Shapiro. The problem for Ohio State is that this is more than an issue of just punishment; the NCAA is not satisfied with the results of its investigation, and the fact that the three players gave conflicting reports to officials and investigators about why they were at the fundraiser and who paid them cannot possibly help their case for an expedited reinstatement.
To that end, here is the official statement from the NCAA (emphasis ours):
Two of the three suspended players named a former Buckeye as the source of the money, and the third named a "representative of athletics interests." All names were redacted by Ohio State on the documents acquired by the Columbus Dispatch.
It is strange that we live in a world where athletes in a multi-billion dollar sport/industry can be taken out of competition for something as insignificant as accepting a $200 gift, and it's been made clear recently that Ohio State has a few boosters who don't have much respect for those rules, but they are still the rules. So as long as giving money to players is still illegal, as long as the NCAA's sniffing around Columbus because of previous violations, and as long as the NCAA won't reinstate players who are being evasive with an investigation, it strongly behooves everybody involved with the Ohio State program to follow the NCAA's rules to a T. To do anything less is demonstrably harmful to the program, and it's strange that so many people around the team -- from Jim Tressel to everyone else who evidently wants to give these players an extra little something -- don't seem to realize this.
Posted on: September 6, 2011 10:30 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
It wasn't a terribly eventful week in the Big Ten. The most notable opponent anybody in the conference played in Week 1 was Boston College, who was felled by Northwestern in a 24-17 thriller. Other than that, Indiana lost to Ball State in a game that had precisely zero effect on the polls, and everybody else not named Purdue more or less rolled to victory.
[MORE: View full AP rankings here, and Coaches rankings here.]
Accordingly, there wasn't much movement in the polls this week, since wins over cupcakes don't often stand out as reasons for voters to bump teams up a notch or two, and well, there were a lot of cupcakes in Big Ten play in Week 1. Onward!
For as much as I grouse about the "win go up lose go down" mentality of voters, I have to hand it to the AP for pushing Wisconsin not just past Oregon, but above fellow winners Nebraska and Oklahoma State after Week 1; both teams led the Badgers in the preseason poll. Unfortunately, no such push happened in the Coaches Poll, where Wisconsin only passed up Oregon. Objectively, this ranking is a sham, because Wisconsin would definitely beat Texas A&M (one spot above Wisconsin in both polls) on a neutral field, and they would give Boise State and Stanford mountains of hell. This is a bad ranking. Let's fix it already.
The Huskers didn't look quite on Wisconsin's level, or much better than any number of high-major programs that smacked their cupcake opponents around, but polling entropy being what it is they stay more or less put. That's fine, I guess, but it's terribly boring. We have small sample sizes! Let's abuse them!
15/15. Ohio State
Ohio State looked like a team that belonged a lot higher in the polls in its opening week performance against Akron, and the voters responded; OSU went up three spots in the AP and one in the Coaches. The upcoming battle with Miami doesn't exactly have the teeth it used to, but the likely OSU romp in that game ought to improve the Buckeyes' standing in voters' minds anyway. The real fun begins in October, though, when Luke Fickell's boys host the next team in the rankings in the conference opener.
17/16. Michigan State
That next team in the rankings is Michigan State, who didn't put together a very sharp performance in Week 1 as it beat Youngstown State 28-6. The Spartans' road to glory is already fraught with peril (though the road date with Notre Dame doesn't look quite as daunting as it did a week ago), so a quick start to this weekend's matchup with woeful Florida Atlantic should help convince voters that the MSU offense does actually match the hype.
23/20. Penn State
The Nittany Lions made a big splash with their easy dismantling of Indiana State in season-opening action. Splashes don't have much effect on the ocean, though, and wouldn't you know it -- the Tide's coming in to Happy Valley this week. Suffice it to say, PSU's either going way up or way down in the rankings after facing Alabama.
Others receiving votes:
Northwestern (40 AP votes, 30 Coaches votes), Iowa (29 AP votes, 44 Coaches votes), Michigan (17 AP votes, 15 Coaches votes).
Tags: Adam Jacobi, Akron, Alabama, AP Poll, Ball State, Big Ten, Boise State, Boston College, Coaches Poll, Florida Atlantic, Indiana, Iowa, Luke Fickell, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Northwestern, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Penn State, Poll Reactions, Stanford, Texas A&M, Week 1 Poll, Week 2 Poll, Wisconsin, Youngstown State
Posted on: September 3, 2011 11:37 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
1. Ohio State isn't back, because they never went anywhere to begin with. Let's get one thing out of the way: Ohio State was only playing Akron. Beating Akron proves nothing. The Buckeyes probably aren't going to be the last team to beat Akron by 42 points this season. And yet, that sure looked like Jim Tressel's Ohio State, didn't it?
It makes sense that OSU still looks mostly the same, to an extent; Luke Fickell is a Jim Tressel disciple, and the rest of the Tressel staff is still in place. Further, the vast majority of OSU's superior talent is back. Terrelle Pryor is gone, obviously, and there are a handful of starters who are suspended for the early going. But OSU's real strength didn't lie in its starters' talent, it was having second- and third-stringers who could start for pretty much any other team, and those guys are all still around. So Fickell's got some institutional advantages in place.
But keeping those players focused in the middle of what's arguably OSU's largest scandal is much easier said than done, and Fickell deserves a ton of credit for maintaining control of the program when it looked like all hell would break loose. Nobody's talking about Terrelle Pryor in Columbus today, they're talking about the Buckeyes. That's the way it ought to be.
2. It's like thunder! And lightning! On its face, it seems silly to discuss non-catastrophic weather in a column called "what I learned"; everyone's got that sort of thing figured out by, oh, third grade. But I did learn that even in the legendary, leaderish Big Ten, they will flat-out cancel the rest of a football game on account of lightning if it persists long enough.
That's precisely what happened Saturday, when Michigan and Western Michigan officials decided to call off a 34-10 contest with over a full quarter remaining in the game. The weather report looked grim at that point, and it was unlikely that the game could be finished before at least 10:00. Still, even though it's admirable that there are rules with the protection of fans and players in mind like this, it also seems decidedly un-football to do so. Oh, if it weren't for that pesky liability. Alas.
3. The Leaders Division is Wisconsin's to lose right now. Sure, Wisconsin's defense struggled at times with the UNLV rushing attack, but not disastrously so, and the second unit of the Badger offense was pretty pedestrian. That's all true. What Wisconsin showed on offense on Thursday rendered that all moot. Russell Wilson made the best reads of anybody in the Big Ten in Week 1, and he's only been in Madison for a few months. He also showed the best rushing acumen of any Big Ten quarterback not named Taylor Martinez or Denard Robinson. And oh yes, the Wisconsin rushing attack is as mansome as ever. The Badgers don't have a bruiser anymore, and mountain man Gabe Carimi is off starting in the NFL, but the mashing will continue apace for another year as long as James White and Montee Ball are healthy.
If Wisconsin had a decent second quarterback (or if presumptive backup Jon Budmayr's arm were healthy), or if this game were in November, it might have hung 70 or 80 on UNLV. The offense scored touchdowns on seven of its first eight possessions, and the only reason it didn't get eight was because it got the ball in its own territory with only 47 seconds left (that ended up being a field goal). It was 51-3 early in the second half. Yes, it's only UNLV, but the Badgers are probably going to score at least 31 points in every game in the Big Ten. Do you really see any team that's going to outscore them?
4. Being a running back at Iowa is still a catastrophic idea. Iowa tailback Marcus Coker was expected to be the workhorse of the Iowa offense in 2011, so it was jarring to say the least to see him put two fumbles on the turf early in the first quarter of Iowa's opener against Tennessee Tech. In came true freshman Mika'il McCall, who wowed fans with 61 yards on nine carries in the first quarter. For a backfield that's short on experience, that kind of firepower would be crucial over the course of the Big Ten season.
So naturally, McCall suffered a broken ankle on his ninth carry, and he is gone for the year, according to Kirk Ferentz. McCall is just the latest in a series of Iowa runing backs who have been stricken with serious injuries, missed seasons, or other early exits over the last few years, a list that includes former starters Jewel Hampton (ACLs, transfer), Adam Robinson (concussions, dismissal), Brandon Wegher (personal issues, transfer), Paki O'Meara (concussions), and even in a sense Shonn Greene (academics, early NFL entry). Former starting fullback Brad Rogers is also sidelined with a heart issue, although he's still working to rejoin the Hawkeyes at some point. It's a legacy of disaster that some have semi-jokingly blamed on the "Angry Iowa Running Back Hating God." The evidence seems to be overwhelmingly in the favor of such a god existing. At any rate, here's hoping McCall recovers well from his broken ankle and the Big Ten sees him again in 2012.
Tags: Adam Jacobi, Adam Robinson, AIRBHG, Akron, Angry Iowa Running Back Hating God, Big Ten, Brad Rogers, Brandon Wegher, Denard Robinson, Gabe Carimi, Iowa, James White, Jewel Hampton, Jim Tressel, Jon Budmayr, Luke Fickell, MAC, Marcus Coker, Michigan, Mika'il McCall, Montee Ball, Mountain West, Non-BCS, Ohio State, Paki O'Meara, Russell Wilson, Shonn Greene, Taylor Martinez, Tennessee Tech, Tennessee Tech, Terrelle Pryor, UNLV, Week 1, Western Michigan, What I Learned, Wisconsin
Posted on: September 3, 2011 3:48 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
OHIO STATE WON. 18th-ranked Ohio State throttled hapless Akron, 42-0, in both teams' season opener. Fans at "The 'Shoe" were treated to 517 total yards of offense by the Buckeyes, including a four-touchdown effort from senior quarterback Joe Bauserman. Akron, meanwhile, managed only five first downs on the entire game; OSU racked up 27.
WHEN OHIO STATE WON: As soon as the national anthem finished. Ohio State is just vastly more talented than Akron from players 1-85, even with the myriad suspensions, and this game proved the impossibility of Akron pulling an upset.
WHY OHIO STATE WON: The real story for Ohio State is the solid play of Joe Bauserman, who led the team for all but one series until the game was out of hand at 28-0 midway through the third quarter. Bauserman's final stats were gaudy: 12-16, 163 yards, 3 TDs, no INTs, plus six rushes for 32 yards and another score. Yes, it's Akron we're talking about here, and yes, Braxton Miller was effective after coming in for good (8-12, 130, 1 TD), but Bauserman looked like Ohio State's best option at this point in the season. Expect him to continue starting for at least another few weeks, barring injury.
WHAT OHIO STATE WON: The Buckeyes didn't look like they'd lost a step from Jim Tressel's regime, which is welcome news for anybody with lingering reservations about newcomer head coach Luke Fickell. That all stands to reason, as Fickell basically inherited Tressel's coaching staff and all the institutional knowledge therein, but still: head coaching changes matter, and it wasn't necessarily a given that OSU would roll so easily. Between Bauserman looking like a winner and Fickell looking like a major league head coach, it's fair to say that reports of Ohio State's demise were greatly exaggerated.
WHAT AKRON LOST: Akron doesn't have a whole lot going for it, so a 42-0 loss to a powerhouse like Ohio State isn't going to have much of an effect on the rest of the season. Back in 2007, the Zips gave an eventual 11-win OSU team fits in an ugly 20-2 Buckeye win, and then Akron went on to go just 4-8, so again: just one game here.
THAT WAS CRAZY: Joe Bauserman brings a lot to the table, but few would argue that one of his greatest strengths is pure athleticism -- especially with speedsters like Braxton Miller and Kenny Guiton also in OSU's QB corps. Yet there was Bauserman on a busted play, tucking the ball and running through the Akron defense for a 15-yard score in the second quarter. Bauserman didn't have to dive into the end zone, but he did it anyway, and it was delightfully graceless.
Posted on: September 3, 2011 11:52 am
Edited on: September 3, 2011 2:49 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
Ah, sweet, glorious football. There's nothing quite like the first football Saturday of the season, when the days are warm, so are the nights, and you're liable to catch a major sunburn on half your face if you're sitting in the north or south part of the stadium. Lots of great games and great weather on tap today. All times are eastern.
Akron at No. 18 Ohio State, 12:00, Columbus, OH: Low 90s, clear
Utah State at No. 23 Auburn, 12:00, Auburn, AL: Low 90s, clear
Miami (OH) at No. 21 Missouri, 12:00, Columbia, MO: Upper 80s, partly cloudy, storms
Kent State at No. 2 Alabama, 12:20, Tuscaloosa, AL: Low 90s, clear
Appalachian State at No. 13 Virginia Tech, 12:30, Blacksburg, VA: Upper 80s, partly cloudy, storms
Louisiana-Monroe at No. 6 Florida State, 3:30, Tallahassee, FL: Upper 80s, partly cloudy
Chattanooga at No. 10 Nebraska, 3:30, Lincoln, NE: Mid 70s, storms
South Florida at No. 16 Notre Dame, 3:30, South Bend, IN: Upper 80s, mostly cloudy, storms
Minnesota at No. 25 USC, 3:30, Los Angeles, CA: Lower 80s, clear
San Jose State at No. 7 Stanford, 5:00, Palo Alto, CA: Lower 80s, clear
Florida Atlantic at No. 22 Florida, 7:00, Gainesville, FL: Lower 80s, partly cloudy, storms
Missouri State at No. 15 Arkansas, 7:00, Fayetteville, AR: Upper 80s, clear
Louisiana-Lafayette at No. 9 Oklahoma State, 7:00, Stillwater, OK: Lower 90s, partly cloudy
East Carolina at No. 12 South Carolina, 7:00, Columbia, SC: Mid 80s, clear
Tulsa at No. 1 Oklahoma, 8:00, Norman, OK: Lower 90s, partly cloudy
No. 5 Boise State at No. 19 Georgia, 8:00, Atlanta, GA (Georgia Dome): Mid 70, partly cloudy
No. 3 Oregon at No. 4 LSU, 8:00, Arlington, TX (Cowboys Stadium): Whatever temperature Jerry Jones says. But outside it will be in the high 80s
Late night kickoffs
Colorado at Hawaii, 10:15, Honolulu, HI: Upper 70s, showers
Tags: ACC, Akron, Alabama, Appalachian State, Arkansas, Auburn, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Boise State, Chattanooga, Colorado, Conference USA, East Carolina, FCS, Florida, Florida Atlantic, Florida State, Football Weather, Gameday Weather, Georgia, Hawaii, Jerry Jones, Jerryworld, Kent State, Kickoff Weather, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, LSU, MAC, Miami University, Minnesota, Missouri, Missouri State, Mountain West, Nebraska, Non-BCS, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Pac-12, San Jose State, SEC, South Carolina, South Florida, Stanford, Sun Belt, Tailgate Weather, Tulsa, USC, Utah State, Virginia Tech, WAC, Weather Updates
Posted on: September 2, 2011 3:17 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
The Saturday Meal Plan is a helpful guide put together for you to maximize the results of your college football diet. Just enough to leave you feeling full, but not so much you spend your entire Sunday in the bathroom.
While Thursday and Friday night serve as delicious appetizers for the new college football season, one that feels like it took forever to get here, the big games start on Saturday. Since it's been a while since you planted your behind on a couch on a Saturday morning and stayed there all day, you're probably going to need some help navigating through the day.
So lucky for you, the Eye On College Football crew has brought the Saturday Meal Plan back. It's your weekly menu of which games should be on your plate and where you can find them.
#18 Ohio State vs. Akron - ESPN, 12pm ET
So many questions for Ohio State on Saturday. Will the Luke Fickell-era offense look any different? Who's going to shine between QBs Joe Bauserman and Braxton Miller? How much will the team miss its eight suspended players? Does Akron stand a chance anyway? - Adam Jacobi
#23 Auburn vs. Utah State - ESPN2, 12pm ET
Despite some close calls, Auburn hasn't lost to a school outside the current BCS conferences since Southern Miss upset the Tigers back in 1991. (USM's quarterback that day was a guy named Brett Favre, who would later become famous for inventing the cell phone camera.) So it's going to take a very good team by WAC standards to break that streak, and the Aggies -- the WAC's sixth-place finisher a year ago, now without star quarterback Diondre Borel -- very likely aren't that team. Most of the drama on the Auburn sidelines should concern which of their FBS-high 16 new starters look ready for their close-up, most notably new quarterback Barrett Trotter. But if Trotter and the other Tiger cubs come out nervous -- particularly the true sophomore defensive tackle pairing of Jeffrey Whitaker and Kenneth Carter, who could have their hands full with USU's veteran line -- things could stay competitive for longer than Gene Chizik would like. - Jerry Hinnen
Boston College vs. Northwestern - ESPNU, 12pm ET
You never like to start the season with injury concerns, and that this case for the star player on both these rosters. Northwestern quarterback Dan Persa was listed as "questionable" for Saturday's opener as he continues to recover from an achilles injury that ended his 2010 campaign, but popular belief seems to be that he will see the field. Boston College running back Montel Harris underwent his second arthroscopic knee surgery and will miss the game. Making matters even more difficult for the Eagles was an ankle sprain to talented backup Andre Williams. Williams will start and appears ready to go, but there will be more pressure on quarterback Chase Rettig to establish a passing attack against the Northwestern defense. Don't expect Persa to get any easy looks from the Boston College defense, led by All-American linebacker Luke Kuechly. - Chip Patterson
#16 Notre Dame vs. South Florida - NBC, 3:30pm ET
Year Two of the Brian Kelly Era in South Bend gets under way in a game against a former Notre Dame coach, and the son of the man who last brought a national championship to the school, Skip Holtz. There's a lot to look at in this game for both teams. Namely, will Notre Dame finally start to live up to the expectations placed on it every season, and which B.J. Daniels is going to show up for South Florida? - Tom Fornelli
#25 USC vs. Minnesota - ABC/ESPN2, 3:30pm ET
Perhaps it is saying something about how quiet Lane Kiffin has been at USC that one of the more notable things about this game is actually about the opposing coach. The Jerry Kill era begins in earnest on the road and he brings a Minnesota team that barely resembles the one that lost to the Trojans a year ago. The Gophers will compete with dual-threat MarQueis Gray at quarterback and a solid linebacking corps but it will be a tough task to pull of the upset against the firepower of the USC offense. Matt Barkley and Robert Woods are a fun pair to watch while Trojan fans will be nervous to see if the defense looks any better than it did last year. - Bryan Fischer
Michigan vs. Western Michigan - ABC/ESPN2, 3:30 pm ET
It's a new era for Michigan -- again -- and Brady Hoke's charges are going to face a stiff challenge from MAC stalwarts Western Michigan. Yes, seriously. The Wolverines probably won't be suffering for points with Denard Robinson leading the new offense, but the Broncos are more than capable of hanging around in this one, as standout QB Alex Carder should find plenty of opportunities to advance the ball through the air. Keep an eye on this one for some possible afternoon fireworks. - AJ
Ole Miss vs. BYU - ESPN, 4:45pm ET
Life in the SEC West isn't easy for anybody, but if Ole Miss is going to get to six wins and back to a bowl game this year, then this is one of those games the Rebels need to win. Though it's not like BYU is just going to hand the game to them, as the Cougars would like to get their new life as an independent off on the right foot, and what better way to do that than by getting a win against the SEC? - TF
#22 Florida vs. FAU - ESPNU, 7pm ET
The first sign that not everything was well in Gatorland in 2010 was Florida's season opener vs. Miami (Ohio), when Urban Meyer's team gained all of 25 yards through three quarters and wheezed their way to a 34-12 victory. Unfortunately for Meyer, the RedHawks wound up one of the nation's most surprising teams. But just as fortunately for Will Muschamp, his debut as Gator head coach shouldn't be nearly so stressful--FAU has been pegged for the bottom rungs of the Sun Belt, and will be breaking in a new quarterback and six new defensive starters in the Swamp. Most Gator fans should wind up watching quarterback John Brantley rather than the scoreboard, as a steady, solid outing by the much-maligned senior would boost his and his team's confidence considerably. - JH
#1 Oklahoma vs. Tulsa - FX, 8pm ET
The Sooners are the preseason favorite of many people throughout the country, and Saturday night will be their first chance to show people why. This game had a lot more upset potential before the arrest and suspension of Tulsa wide receiver Damaris Johnson, but the possibility that it's a lot closer than most would expect is still there. - TF
#4 LSU vs. #3 Oregon - ABC, 8pm ET
It's not just the game of this year's opening week; it would be the game of every year's opening week. And that's just looking at the rankings of the two teams--add in the Will Lyles drama at both schools, the Tigers' August bar brawl and subsequent Jordan Jefferson suspension, Cliff Harris' and Russell Shepard's respective troubles, Chip Kelly's history of nonconference woes, Jarrett Lee's potential redemption, LaMichael James kicking off his Heisman campaign, the bevy of other All-American candidates on both rosters, and the one-and-only Les Miles, and this game is as intriguing as intriguing gets. For the Ducks, victory may come down to their revamped offensive front giving Darron Thomas enough space to get Kelly's option-game going. Tiger end Sam Montgomery, though, is the kind of elite defensive lineman the Ducks have struggled with even with veteran lines. For LSU, if Lee can avoid turnovers, the Tigers' advantage on both lines-of-scrimmage should eventually prove decisive. But given the Ducks' ball-hawking ways, that's much easier said than done. The one thing we can say for certain: we'll be watching. - JH
#19 Georgia vs. #5 Boise State - ESPN, 8pm ET
Another year, another high profile season opener for the Broncos. Heisman candidate Kellen Moore will lead Boise State into a not-so-neutral Georgia Dome to face the Bulldogs in the annual Chick fil-A Kickoff. Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray, who said this week he hopes to emulate Moore's success, will be trying to make his own statement after an impressive freshman season in 2010. The Georgia-heavy crowd in Atlanta will not be the only uphill battle for the Broncos. Boise State is undersized defensively in comparison to the Bulldogs offensive line, and Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham is sure to use the 3-4 scheme to put some added pressure on Moore. However, Moore does take care of the ball (74-9 TD:Int ratio last two seasons) and Georgia will be counting on the unproven true freshman Isaiah Crowell to anchor the running game. Get the "LAST" button ready, because you'll want to see both Top 25 showdowns in the primetime slot. - CP
LATE NIGHT SNACK
Hawaii vs. Colorado - ESPN2, 10:15pm ET
This Pac-12 life isn't too bad, is it, Colorado? Your very first game and you get a trip to Hawaii to show for it. Unfortunately for the Buffaloes, they still have to face a Hawaii offense featuring dark horse Heisman candidate Bryant Moniz that puts up points in bunches. This game should be an entertaining way to end your Saturday. - TF
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