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All taxonomy terms: College Football, Overtime
Path: /college-football/heisman-house-commercials-nissan-johnny-manziel-bradford-mariota-robert-griffin
Body:

Who knew Heisman winners had such sense of humors?

 

Former Heisman winners like Eddie George, Johnny Manziel, Robert Griffin III, Sam Bradford, Marcus Mariota, and more take part in the "Heisman House" for Nissan. The results are hilarious.

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, September 3, 2015 - 16:35
Path: /magazines/flashback-nebraskas-season-opening-win-streak-looks-hit-30
Body:

When Danny McManus arrived at Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium on Sept. 7, 1985, the then-sophomore Florida State quarterback allowed himself to soak up the scene.

 

There was Tom Osborne, in the flesh. McManus, who grew up in Hollywood, Fla., saw plenty of the Nebraska coach on trips to the Orange Bowl.

 

“You just remember the sea of red and then our pocket of garnet and gold in the end zone,” McManus (right) said. “And those were the people who came on the flight with us.”

 

By the end of that hot September day, Florida State pulled off one of the most rare feats in college football — forcing Nebraska to start a season 0–1.

 

McManus and Florida State defeated Nebraska 17–13 on that day. It’s also the last time Nebraska lost a season opener. The Cornhuskers’ season-opening win streak, the longest active streak in the country, could turn 30 this season.

 

Nebraska opens the season against BYU, a seven-point underdog. In other words, Nebraska’s season-opening win streak is in danger of ending for the first time since 2003 when the Huskers defeated a ranked Oklahoma State team 17–7.

 

Incidentally, McManus, the last quarterback to beat Nebraska in a season opener, has ties to new Huskers coach Mike Riley. McManus, now an assistant general manager for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, played his first season of a Canadian Football Hall of Fame career under Riley for the Blue Bombers in 1990.

 

At the time of the Florida State-Nebraska matchup in 1985, though, neither McManus nor the Seminoles had approached a high level of fame.

 

Florida State at that point had been to the Orange Bowl twice under Bobby Bowden — both losses — but the Seminoles wouldn’t win their first national championship for another eight years. Nebraska, meanwhile, was near the height of their powers.

 

Defeating a top-10 Nebraska team on the road to start the 1985 season was a key step in Florida State’s ascent to becoming a national power in the 90s and beyond.

 

“To be able match up with Nebraska and stay in toe to toe and to be able to punch over enough points to finish the game, it was huge,” McManus said.

 

To start, though, going toe-to-toe with Nebraska wasn’t a sure thing. Fullback Tom Rathman, now the running backs coach with the San Francisco 49ers, reeled off a 60-yard touchdown run less than two minutes into the game.

 

“I remember looking at their offensive and defensive line and thinking we don’t have a chance,” said Georgia coach Mark Richt, who was then a first-year volunteer assistant with Florida State. “That’s a big strong corn-fed line. But we found a way to win.”

 

Nebraska did its part to help Florida State, completing only 3-of-14 passes for 40 yards with an interception. The Cornhuskers turned the ball over three times. A low snap on a punt set up Florida State running back Cletis Jones for what would become the game-winning touchdown in the second quarter.

 

Nebraska outgained Florida State 412-290 that day, but the Seminoles were able to hold the stalemate — and the four-point lead — throughout the second half.

 

Maybe Florida State had the advantage of playing a week earlier, a 38-12 win at Tulane. Maybe Florida State was just more used to the conditions in Lincoln.

 

Former Florida State center Jamie Dukes doesn’t remember setting any blocks for Jones or anyone else in that game, but the All-American and nine-year NFL veteran remembers the heat.

 

Memorial Stadium then had artificial turf, sending the on-field temperature soaring to 132 degrees, then a record for a game at Nebraska.

 

“It was just unbelievable,” said Dukes, now an analyst for the NFL Network and a radio host in Atlanta. “We were taking our shoes and stepping into buckets of ice water just to cool them down. It was an unbelievably hot day.”

 

Thirty years later, the carpet turf has long since been replaced. Osborne and Bowden have retired. Pro careers have come and gone for the players in that game.

 

Nebraska eventually got revenge for its season-opening loss to Florida State. The following year, the Cornhuskers defeated then No. 11 FSU 34–17 in 1986 to start the current season-opening win streak.

 

McManus will be rooting for Nebraska’s streak to hit 30, not just because it means his old coach will start 1–0 with the Huskers, but also because it gives him a little piece of college football history.

 

“I’ll be rooting for coach Riley,” McManus said. “Got to keep that streak going.”

Teaser:
Flashback: Nebraska's season-opening win streak looks to hit 30
Post date: Thursday, September 3, 2015 - 15:35
Path: /college-football/baylor-bears-vs-smu-mustangs-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

A new era of SMU football starts this season as former Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris takes off as head coach of the Mustangs. On the other hand, Baylor head coach Art Briles returns a roster filled with playmakers from last season that couldn’t have been closer to making the inaugural College Football Playoff. While both coaches are in two different situations — Briles attempting to continue Baylor’s dominance and Morris trying to rebuild a program — they have one thing in common. Both have something to prove.

 

Baylor at SMU

 

Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET (Friday)
TV Channel: ESPN
Spread: Baylor -36

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Baylor Offense vs SMU Defense
Yes, I know it seems this may be funny but SMU has a new defensive coordinator, Van Malone. Malone was the former cornerbacks coach at Oklahoma State and has switched the Mustangs defense to a 4-2-5 scheme. This would normally force offenses to find productivity on the ground. However, you just aren’t going to force Art Briles to do anything. It will be interesting to watch new Baylor starting quarterback Seth Russell face off against a defense that, although has holes to fill, will be daring him to pass.

 

2. SMU Offense
Don’t look for SMU to put up a lot of points against a Baylor defense that is arguably among the top in the Big 12. Do, however, pay attention to the new offensive scheme. The Mustangs will be running a fast tempo, no huddle, spread offense. With plenty of experience and speed in the backfield they should be able to at least sustain some drives. This will be a good test for SMU as every opponent after Baylor will seem easy in comparison.

 

3. Can Seth Russell Fill Bryce Petty’s Shoes

Russell will be making his second career start when he takes the field against SMU. While most are familiar with his style of play and ability, there is an added element being the starter of the 4th ranked team in the nation. Can Bears fans expect to see the same productivity they are now accustomed to seeing? Petty led the Baylor offense to an average of 48.2 points per game and 581.5 yards per game. This particular game should be able to showcase all of Russell’s abilities as the Bears offense ought to simply be able to move at will.

 

Final Analysis

 

Baylor has been criticized for their inability to schedule stronger non-conference games. Opening the season against a team that finished 1-11 last season won’t change that criticism. However, SMU will present a good warm up for the Bears with Big 12 Conference play just a month away. The Mustangs will run offensive as well as defensive schemes the Bears will see again once they get into the meat of their schedule.

 

As far as the outcome, this simply should not be a test for the Bears. While many are waiting to see how Seth Russell controls the offense, the speed of KD Cannon, or the power of Shawn Oakman, you better pay attention early. You can expect most starters to be sitting later in the game, unless of course head coach Art Briles is still holding a grudge after last season and is looking to make a statement. Then this could be something Mustang fans will want to forget immediately.

 

Prediction: Baylor 56, SMU 14

 

— Written by Jeremy Simon, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and editor-in-chief of BlueGoldSports.com, a must visit for any and all West Virginia Mountaineer fans. Follow BlueGoldSports.com on Twitter @Blue_GoldSports.

Teaser:
Baylor Bears vs SMU Mustangs Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, September 3, 2015 - 15:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, NFL, Fantasy
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2015-tight-end-rankings
Body:

For the most part, tight ends have been relatively spared from the rash of injuries that have already impacted the running back and wide receiver positions as it relates to fantasy football rankings. Travis Kelce put a scare into his owners (and Chiefs fans) when he left practice earlier this week with an apparent leg injury. Fortunately, it was later classified as a sprained ankle and head coach Andy Reid went so far as to say if this was the regular season, he probably would have been able to play. But instead, Kansas City will wisely hold Kelce out of their final preseason game for precaution so you should be able to continue to draft Kelce as a top-five TE.

 

Fantasy Football 2015 Tight End Rankings

(Updated Sept. 3)

 

Fantasy Football Rankings powered by FantasyPros
Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2015 Tight End Rankings
Post date: Thursday, September 3, 2015 - 15:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, NFL, Fantasy
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2015-quarterback-rankings
Body:

The big new NFL news of the week is undoubtedly Tom Brady's four-game suspension being vacated by a federal judge. But what the's fantasy impact you ask? Not that much in my opinion, as Brady moves up just one spot, from No. 13 to 12, in my quarterback rankings. While Brady does pass Cam Newton, whose value has taken a hit because of the loss of No. 1 wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, I also have similar concerns about Brady's group of pass catchers. Yes, he has all-world tight end Rob Gronkowski, but outside of Julian Edelman, who's dealing with a leg injury that could keep him out of the season opener, there are plenty of question marks. So even though Brady now has the opportunity to play all 16 games, there are 11 other QBs I would rather have on my fantasy team than him.

 

Fantasy Football 2015 Quarterback Rankings

(Updated Sept. 3)

 

Fantasy Football Rankings powered by FantasyPros
Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2015 Quarterback Rankings
Post date: Thursday, September 3, 2015 - 15:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, NFL, Fantasy
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2015-preseason-top-200
Body:

Just one more week of NFL preseason action and for the most part, fantasy owners can breathe a sigh of relief. The vast majority of starters won't even suit up for the final preseason game, so from here out it's all about injuries (Randall Cobb AC joint sprain in shoulder could have been worse), surprising cuts (Fred Jackson) and other developments (Washington, Buffalo going different directions with Week 1 starting QB) that will impact draft boards the most. There are still plenty of depth charts that need to be sorted out, but by and large there are no major shakes up rankings-wise, and that's a good thing.

 

Fantasy Football 2015: Preseason Top 200

(Updated Sept. 3)

 

Fantasy Football Rankings powered by FantasyPros
Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2015: Preseason Top 200
Post date: Thursday, September 3, 2015 - 15:15
Path: /college-football/michigan-state-spartans-vs-western-michigan-broncos-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

Michigan State travels to Kalamazoo in order to fulfill its end of the "3 for 1" contract with Western Michigan. The stadium is already sold out. However, one might wonder how many of those in attendance will be wearing green and white, not brown and gold.

 

A significant portion of players for Western Michigan have already faced Michigan State. Two years ago, the Broncos' offense actually outscored the Spartans' offense in Spartan Stadium. An interception in the first quarter and a fumble in the fourth, both returned for touchdowns, gave the victory to Michigan State. Those Broncos who remain on the squad from that game could feel like they have a shot at redemption, this time on their home field.

 

Michigan State Spartans at Western Michigan Broncos

 

Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET (Friday)

TV Channel: ESPNU

Spread: Michigan State -19

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Plugging in New Parts into the Rushing Game

The Spartans lost their top two leading rushers, Jeremy Langford and Nick Hill, from last season. The replacements, Delton Williams and R.J. Shelton, combined for less than a third of Langford's total rushing attempts, yards gained and touchdowns and less than Hill's number in all three categories. Can one or both adapt to an increase in playing time and contribute numbers close to the leaders' from last season? Is L.J. Scott ready to see a significant number of snaps despite his freshman status? Connor Cook and the rest of the offense need to have a dependable running back to hammer away at defenses, as has been the case in each of the past two highly successful seasons.

 

2. Broncos' wide receivers versus Spartans' defensive backs

Michigan State's secondary is by far the weakest third of the defense, mostly due to inexperience. Darian Hicks will miss the game because of mononucleosis. Four other defensive backs each played in 13 games last season. However, none recorded more than 31 tackles, two interceptions or two passes defensed during the season. Only one member, R.J. Williamson, has more than three starts in his college career. 

 

In contrast, Western Michigan has two junior receivers on the watch list for the Biletnikoff Award, which goes to the top receiver in college football. One of the two, Corey Davis, had the most receiving yards (1,408 to be exact) in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) and seventh most in FBS last season. He also had 15 touchdowns, tied for third most nationally in 2014. The other receiver, Daniel Braverman, was recognized as third team All-MAC last year. Additionally, junior quarterback Zach Terrell made the 2015 watch list for the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award after being chosen for the All-MAC second team last season.

 

3. Questions of Motivation

Forty-eight players on Western Michigan's roster are from the Great Lakes State. Were any of them offered scholarships to play in East Lansing? How many of them view this game as a way to prove that they were wrongfully snubbed? The Broncos are 0-8 all-time versus the Spartans. However, Michigan State has never ventured to Kalamazoo for a game versus its western neighbors from the MAC. Could the guys in green be looking ahead to a highly publicized re-match against the top-five-ranked Ducks? Can the Broncos ride the enthusiasm of their fans to upset their big brother from the Big Ten?

 

Final Analysis

 

Western Michigan will feed off the excitement of the home crowd through the first half. Terrell will test the Spartans' secondary early and often with passes to Davis and Braverman. Viewers should not be surprised to see the game tied or the Broncos with a slight lead after the first quarter or at halftime. In the second half, Michigan State's front seven will ramp up the pressure on Terrell, limiting his completions and forcing the Broncos into turnovers or punts. Meanwhile, Cook and the offense will continue to move the ball and pile up points.

 

Prediction: Michigan State 34, Western Michigan 16               

 

— Written by John La Fleur, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network. A graduate of Michigan State and LSU, La Fleur also has been a Saints fan since he was old enough to understand football. Follow him on Twitter @FBConnoisseur.

Teaser:
Michigan State Spartans vs. Western Michigan Broncos Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, September 3, 2015 - 15:00
All taxonomy terms: New England Patriots, Tom Brady, NFL
Path: /nfl/tom-bradys-four-game-nfl-suspension-thrown-out
Body:

Judge Richard Berman vacated the NFL's punishment of Tom Brady on Thursday, putting an end to our long national nightmare known as Deflategate, for now.

 

Brady is clear to start the Patriots' season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers next Thursday night, when the Pats will also raise the team's fourth Super Bowl banner at Gillette Stadium. However, Roger Goodell promised in a statement that the NFL would appeal the decision, so it's not like Deflategate will be buried for eternity with Judge Berman's ruling.

 

This hearing was never about whether or not Brady actually knew about, or had anything to do with, a ball deflating scheme. It was about whether or not the punishment process was fair to Brady, and Judge Berman found that it was not.

 

A closer look at the Judge's 40-page ruling shows three key areas he found unfair to Brady.

 

The first is that Brady had no notice of potential discipline for being "generally aware" of any wrongdoing. While this seems like the biggest technicality of the reasons, it's valid. Ted Wells told Brady he didn't need his phone, then the NFL turned around and hammered him for not providing it, making that one of the biggest red flags against him and confirming his guilt in the eyes of many.

 

But Judge Berman's bigger problem with notice was the NFL equating Brady's offense to that of steroid use. Judge Berman wrote, "the Award offers no scientific, empirical, or historical evidence of any comparability between Brady's alleged offense and steroid use." 

 

The second area was completely tied to NFL lead council Jeff Pash. At the outset, the NFL tried to pretend this was an "independent" investigation, yet Pash was not only listed as "co-lead investigator" on the front of the Wells Report, he also had a chance to edit it. What exactly did he edit? We'll never know because Brady was given no access to question Pash about his involvement. 

 

The third area also has to do with the access afforded Brady's legal team. Not only did the NFL not allow Pash to be questioned, they didn't allow any of the notes from the investigation to be reviewed. As the NFL saw it, they could put together The Wells Report however they wanted and everyone just needed to accept it as fact without the ability to review how they came to their conclusions.

 

While Ted Wells did an admirable job framing his report to paint a picture of guilt, the actual findings, scientific or otherwise, were all debatable and unclear, as often stated in the footnotes of the report. Judge Berman repeatedly pointed out all the qualifiers in The Wells Report that essentially said it seems like something was going on here, but we don't really have any proof of it.

 

Really, these three points only scratch the surface of how badly the NFL handled this entire thing. There's no mention of the repeated leaks from the NFL offices of blatant lies that could only paint a sinister picture of Brady.

 

There was the Chris Mortensen report that was allowed to set the tone of the entire ordeal. That was so damaging that many in the general public still believe "11 of the 12 Patriots balls were two PSI below the legal limit". In reality, the Patriots balls were on average two-one-hundredths lower than what the Ideal Gas Law said they should be, a statistically insignificant amount.

 

Then there's this report from NFL.com's Judy Battista, a blatant lie that never would've been outed if Judge Berman hadn't ordered the release of the appeal transcripts.

 

You can hate the Patriots and think they're the biggest cheaters in football history, but any way you slice it the NFL purposely spreading lies to tarnish their players like this is unacceptable on every level.

 

The NFL thought they had learned from their mistakes in past controversies. They wanted to leave no doubt this time, successfully evading Judge David Doty's court in Minnesota that had been player-friendly. They hand-picked this New York court and it backfired horribly on them, not because the Judge was a player's union shill, but because their handling of Deflategate was that much a farce.

 

Many saw Judge Berman's repeated hammering of the NFL's positions during the last month of hearings as a sign that he was just pushing for a settlement, but now it's clear he truly believed every point he challenged them on. His ruling reads like it was ripped directly from the Patriots' "Wells Report Context" website.

 

We have not heard the end of Deflategate, at the very least the Patriots still have to surrender picks in both the 2016 (first-rounder) and 2017 (fourth-rounder) drafts, and who knows how the NFL's appeal will unfold. But what is clear is that the NFL once again completely mishandled a case of discipline and tarnished the legacy of one of their best players in the process.

 

Commissioner Goodell might've burned some important bridges with this one as well, at least losing the faith of one of the league's most influential owners, Robert Kraft. Many of the other NFL owners continue to have their heads buried in the sand, but hopefully this episode wakes them up to how their league is really being run.

 

— Written by Mike Dussault, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and writer/editor of PatsPropaganda.com (@PatsPropaganda), a comprehensive blog covering the New England Patriots.

Teaser:
Tom Brady's Four-Game NFL Suspension Thrown Out
Post date: Thursday, September 3, 2015 - 14:45
Path: /college-football/duke-blue-devils-vs-tulane-green-wave-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

Thursday’s season opener for the Blue Devils is a rematch of last season’s 47-13 victory over the inexperienced and troubled Tulane Green Wave. Head coach David Cutcliffe, the man solely responsible for turning around the once downtrodden Duke program, has the team primed for yet another bowl appearance. An expected Week 1 victory over Tulane is Cutcliffe’s chance to show the rest of the ACC that his team is still riding the momentum of a 7-5 campaign last season that saw the Blue Devils win four straight games twice, including an overtime victory against Pittsburgh and a road victory against Georgia Tech.

 

Though Tulane couldn’t overcome early turnover struggles against the Blue Devils in last season’s matchup, they were able to put up nearly 400 yards of total offense, with 28 total first downs. Tulane head coach Curtis Johnson said of Lee’s performance against Duke last season, "[Lee] didn't know what he was doing half the time, and then the receivers didn't know what they were doing the other half.” But Johnson did add that Lee is, "[doing] so much better" heading into the 2015 season-opening rematch.

 

Duke at Tulane 

 

Kickoff: 9:30 p.m. EST (Thursday)

TV Channel: CBSSN

Spread: Duke -7, o/u 51

 

Three Things To Watch For

 

1. Tulane’s Three-Headed Rushing Attack

Tulane returns speedster Sherman Badie, who rushed for 688 yards at 5.7 YPC last season, including three rushes of 70-yards or more. They also return power-back Lazedrick Thompson, who ran for 533 yards and four touchdowns. Dontrell Hilliard, arguably the most unheralded tailback in the entire conference, also returns to assist in blocking and receiving out of the backfield. With Duke only returning one lone starter from their front-six (base 4-2-5 defense) expect Tulane to use ground-and-pound early and often to set the tone for redshirt sophomore quarterback Tanner Lee to ensure he doesn’t endure the same struggles as last season, throwing three interceptions.

 

2. Duke’s Quarterback

When David Cutcliffe took over the Duke program in 2008, he inherited an awful team with little talent. He turned that roster into a team looking to make it to a second consecutive bowl game, and has had the likes of Sean Renfree (Atlanta Falcons) and Anthony Boone lead his team under center during his tenure.

 

The 2015 quarterback outlook is much more bleak than in recent history, with junior Thomas Sirk starting under center in Week 1. Sirk emerged as the Blue Devils’ best passer during spring camp, and has been heralded as being “physically gifted” with raw throwing ability. As Tulane expects to do, look for Duke to also use their ground game early to set the tone for their inexperienced quarterback. Sirk will be working with an offensive line that boasts three returning starters including seniors Lucas Patrick at left guard and Matt Skura at center. Shaquille Powell returns at running back as the team’s dual-threat back, with the ability to pound the ball between the tackles and bust it outside for big gains.

 

3. Tulane Quarterback Tanner Lee

As mentioned earlier, Lee struggled last season against Duke, throwing three interceptions. His outlook for Week 1’s game doesn’t look all too great, as Duke returns their entire secondary including senior safety Jeremy Cash. Lee went 14 of 35 for 160 yards and three picks last year, but with an entire offseason as the known starter and four returning offensive lineman, Lee could find the ability to move the ball thoroughly with a short and efficient passing game — a matchup that favors Tulane against an inexperienced duke front-six.

 

Final Analysis

 

Duke has just too much defensive firepower for Tulane to overcome. With their entire starting secondary returning, and already having Lee’s number from last season’s matchup, Duke shouldn’t find much trouble against the redshirt sophomore who threw 14 total interceptions last season.

 

Prediction: Duke 31, Tulane 14

 

— Written by Chris Dougherty, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Dougherty also serves as a National Recruiting Analyst for 247Sports.com and has written for other sites, including FanSided.com and Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter @warontheweekend.

Teaser:
Duke Blue Devils vs. Tulane Green Wave Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, September 3, 2015 - 13:45
All taxonomy terms: Overtime
Path: /overtime/bo-jackson-att-commercial-college-football-playoff-doug-flutie-hershel-walker-jerry-rice-desmond-howard-steve-young
Body:

Evidently none of us know Bo.

 

Former NFL star Bo Jackson makes other football legends do some strange things in order to watch the College Football Playoff at his house. AT&T and Jackson team up to put Doug Flutie, Hershel Walker, Jerry Rice, Roger Stauback, Steve Young, Desmond Howard, Rocket Ismail, Ron Dayne, and Danny Kannell all to the test.

It'll be exciting to see who ultimately wins but with hilarious commercials like this I think we're all winners here.

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, September 3, 2015 - 13:44
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/challenge-athlon-sports-experts-week-1-pick-em
Body:

College football is back, and the competition off the field is nearly as heated as the competition on game day.

 

The Athlon Sports College Football Experts Club presented by Nexium & Advil gives you the chance to compete with your friends and our experts each week.

 

Think you’re up for taking on our experts every week? Think you can beat the writers and editors each week? Join our weekly pick ‘em game and compete for tons of cool prizes.

 

Here are this week’s top picks from Athlon Sports senior writer David Fox:

 

Thursday’s Games

 

North Carolina vs. South Carolina (Charlotte)

Both teams need to re-boot their defenses under new coordinators. South Carolina has the stiffer test in the opener against Marquise Williams.

Fox’s Prediction: North Carolina 28­–21

 

WKU at Vanderbilt

Western Kentucky put up points on just about everyone last season. Derek Mason’s life won’t get any easier if his first game at DC is a showcase for WKU QB Brandon Doughty.

Fox’s Prediction: WKU 35–21

 

Michigan at Utah

Jim Harbaugh may have won the offseason, but he’s going to need solid offensive line play to win his debut at Michigan. That’s been in short supply.

Fox’s Prediction: Utah 24–21

 

TCU at Minnesota

Trevone Boykin’s Heisman bid gets an early test in a rematch against the standout Minnesota secondary.

Fox’s Prediction: TCU 28–14

 

Friday’s Games

 

Baylor at SMU

A neat game for head coaches who worked their way from Texas high schools to being offensive masterminds. Unfortunately, it won’t be close.

Fox’s Prediction: Baylor 56–14

 

Washington at Boise State

Washington’s defense is rebuilding. So is Boise State’s backfield. I’ll throw my lot in with the Broncos.

Fox’s Prediction: Boise State 35–28

 

Saturday’s Games

 

Stanford at Northwestern

Stanford will have a lopsided advantage in the trenches and has the more experienced quarterback. The Wildcats could go 0-for-the-Bay Area the last two openers.

Fox’s Prediction: 28–21

 

BYU at Nebraska

Nebraska’s 29-game season-opener winning streak might end if we see the same Taysom Hill we saw at the start of last season.

Fox’s Prediction: BYU 28–24

 

Louisville vs. Auburn (Atlanta)

Jeremy Johnson might be the most hyped first-year starting quarterback in a preseason since Tim Tebow. Facing Louisville in an opener is an interesting test.

Fox’s Prediction: Auburn 28–21

 

Penn State at Temple

Christian Hackenberg and P.J. Walker combined for six interceptions in this game last year. This game has to be better, right?

Fox’s Prediction: Penn State 24–14

 

Virginia at UCLA

UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen’s first start comes against a team rebuilding the pass rush.

Fox’s Prediction: UCLA 35–21

 

Bowling Green vs. Tennessee (Nashville)

Can Tennessee live up to the hype? The Volunteers might have to play through some nerves as they start the season.

Fox’s Prediction: Tennessee 35–17

 

Arizona State vs. Texas A&M (Houston)

This game could set up as a shootout. Arizona State will be the team that can make the critical stop or force the crucial turnover.

Fox’s Prediction: Arizona State 35–28

 

New Mexico State at Florida

Treon Harris is a surprise starting quarterback for new Gators coach Jim McElwain. Can he hang onto the job?

Fox’s Prediction: Florida 49–14

 

Texas at Notre Dame

Expect some nasty defense in this one. Notre Dame has the experience on defense and a functional offense, making this an easy pick for the Irish.

Fox’s Prediction: Notre Dame 24–10

 

Wisconsin vs. Alabama (Arlington)

Wisconsin’s normally stout offensive line is a question this year. Alabama will have a major edge.

Fox’s Prediction: Alabama 31–14

 

Texas State at Florida State

FSU won’t have much trouble, but Everett Golson’s progress will be worth watching.

Fox’s Prediction: Florida State 41–10

 

Mississippi State at Southern Miss

Mississippi State will go as far as Dak Prescott can take the Bulldogs.

Fox’s Prediction: Mississippi State 28–10

 

Colorado at Hawaii

This is actually an interesting late-night game. Well-traveled USC transfer Max Wittek might give the Warriors a chance, and those late games at Hawaii are always tricky.

Fox’s Prediction: Colorado 28–21

 

Monday’s Game

 

Ohio State at Virginia Tech

The Buckeyes will be better prepared for anything Bud Foster throws at them this time around.

Fox’s Prediction: Ohio State 28–14

 

Teaser:
Challenge Athlon Sports Experts in the Week 1 Pick 'em
Post date: Thursday, September 3, 2015 - 12:45
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Overtime
Path: /overtime/eddie-george-calls-tom-brady-cheater-dan-patrick-show-patriots-above-law-deflategate-ruling
Body:

Tom Brady will start for the Patriots, and his four-game suspension is no more. As one can imagine, that ruffled some feathers around the NFL.

 

One person who didn't appreciate the decision at all was former NFLer, Eddie George. During an appearance on "The Dan Patrick Show," George went on to call Brady a "cheater" and that the Patriots are "above the law."

 

Some other players put their two cents on the untouchable Brady as well.

 

 

 

 

Here's Blake Griffin, because he is never one to shy away from controversy that doesn't involve him.

 

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, September 3, 2015 - 12:40
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/predictions-college-football-every-game-week-1
Body:

The 2015 college football season officially begins on Thursday, Sept. 3 and it's time to put aside the preseason predictions and pick the upcoming slate of action. The Week 1 schedule starts with a neutral site affair between North Carolina and South Carolina in Charlotte, and the opening night action concludes in Hawaii as the Rainbow Warriors host Colorado.

 

Several marquee games dot the schedule for Week 1, including Texas A&M-Arizona State, Louisville-Auburn, Boise State-Washington and Virginia Tech-Ohio State on Monday night.

 

Each week, Athlon Sports’ editors will pick every game in the FBS ranks. Follow us on Twitter: (@AthlonSports)

 

Conference Predictions for Week 1

 

ACCBig 12Big TenPac-12SEC

 

College Football Week 1 Predictions

 

Steven

Lassan

Mitch

Light

David

Fox

Braden

Gall

Mark

Ross

John

Gworek

UNC vs. 

S. Carolina

FIU at 

UCF

Elon at 

Wake Forest

VMI at 

Ball State

Okla. State at

CMU

Stony Brook at

Toledo

Alcorn State at

Georgia Tech

Villanova at 

UConn

WKU at 

Vanderbilt

Michigan at 

Utah

TCU at 

Minnesota

Ohio at 

Idaho

Southern Utah at

Utah State

Duke at 

Tulane

UTSA at 

Arizona

N. Hampshire at

SJSU

UC Davis at

Nevada

Ab. Christian at

Fresno State

Colorado at 

Hawaii

Charlotte at

Georgia State

Michigan State at

W. Michigan

Fordham at 

Army

Baylor at 

SMU

Rhode Island at

Syracuse

Weber State at

Oregon State

Kent State at 

Illinois

Washington at

Boise State

ULM at

Georgia

Richmond at

Maryland

Norfolk State at

Rutgers

Illinois State at

Iowa

South Dakota State at

Kansas

Stanford at 

Northwestern

UT Martin at 

Ole Miss

Colgate at 

Navy

Wofford at

Clemson

Maine at

Boston College

Youngstown State at

PIttsburgh

Portland State at

Wash. State

Old Dominion at

E. Michigan

Louisville at

Auburn

Penn State at

Temple

UTEP at

Arkansas

BYU at 

Nebraska

SHSU at

Texas Tech

Virginia at 

UCLA

Wagner at

Rice

Howard at

App. State

Presbyterian at

Miami, Ohio

FAU at

Tulsa

Albany at 

Buffalo

Morgan State at

Air Force

Southern Illinois at

Indiana

SE Missouri State at

Missouri

BGSU vs. 

Tennessee

Savannah State at

Colorado State

North Dakota at

Wyoming

Grambling State at

California

Bethune-Cookman at

Miami

Troy at 

NC State

Gardner Webb at

South Alabama

Towson at 

East Carolina

UL Lafayette at 

Kentucky

Arizona State vs.

Texas A&M

Florida A&M at

South Florida

Southern at 

Louisiana Tech

Jackson State at 

MTSU

Akron at

Oklahoma

Alabama A&M at

Cincinnati

Missouri State at

Memphis

South Dakota at

Kansas State

NMSU at

Florida

Texas at

Notre Dame

Georgia Southern at

West Virginia

McNeese State at

LSU

UNLV at

N. Illinois

Texas State at

Florida State

Wisconsin vs.

Alabama

Northern Iowa at 

Iowa State

E. Washington at 

Oregon

Tennessee Tech at

Houston

Miss. Valley State at

New Mexico

San Diego at 

SDSU

Miss. State at

Southern Miss

Arkansas State at

USC

Purdue at

Marshall

Ohio State at

Virginia Tech

 

 

Teaser:
Predictions for Every College Football Game in Week 1
Post date: Thursday, September 3, 2015 - 12:30
Path: /college-football/utsa-roadrunners-vs-arizona-wildcats-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

The sting of two losses to close an otherwise dream 2014 season left members of the Arizona football team with a lingering, bad taste in the offseason. The Wildcats finally get a chaser with kickoff of the 2015 campaign Thursday at Arizona Stadium.

 

Arizona opens with the final leg of a three-game series against fledgling Conference USA program, UTSA. The Wildcats won the first big in 2013, but had to sweat out a 26-23 nail-biter last September in San Antonio. Their season launched into the stratosphere from there, while the Roadrunners faded to a 4-8 finish — the worst mark in the program's very brief history.

 

Last season's UTSA roster was among the most veteran in college football. The first wave of recruits in program history departed, making the 2015 edition of Roadrunner football especially young. Head coach Larry Coker is starting nine new players on offense and eight on defense.

 

Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez was in a similar position last year, starting a bevy of youngsters. Pac-12 Networks' J.B. Long astutely noted just how young on Twitter.

 

 

If the Wildcats' inexperience showed against the veteran savvy of UTSA last year, the roles are reversed this time around.

 

UTSA at Arizona

 

Kickoff: 10 p.m. ET (Thursday)
TV: Pac-12 Networks
Spread: Arizona -31.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Anu Solomon A Year Older

Chief among the new starters in the Arizona lineup last season was quarterback Anu Solomon. Entering his redshirt sophomore campaign, Solomon is the first two-year starter Rodriguez has had since arrival in 2012. Another year more familiar with the system and another year wiser have set high expectations for the quarterback.

 

Thursday is the nation's first look at Solomon with another eight months of refinement. For Solomon, it's his first chance to exorcize the bad memory of taking a sack just yards from the goal line and Arizona driving late in the Fiesta Bowl loss to Boise State. Expect the now-veteran Solomon to take out his frustrations on UTSA early and often.

 

2. DaVonte' Neal's Defensive Transition

Former 5-star recruit and Notre Dame transfer Neal was effective in Arizona's deep wide receiving corps, catching 27 passes for 214 yards, but hardly a standout. To make a bigger impact, Neal went to the Arizona coaching staff with a pitch: Put him on a defense, Rodriguez said Neal asked. So far, the coach is loving the idea.

 

"It's been a really good move for him," Rodriguez said, adding that Neal's "energy" brought a needed element to the Wildcat secondary.

 

Arizona needs that energy to translate into big plays. The Wildcats lost several key contributors in the secondary, including Jourdan Grandon and Tra'Mayne Bondurant. Neal takes over a cornerback spot capably manned by Jonathan McKnight for the duration of defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel's tenure at Arizona.

 

3. Scooby Snacks

The Arizona sports information department launched a Heisman Trophy campaign for linebacker Scooby Wright last season, which included weekly emails to remind awards voters to watch for #ScoobySnacks. Wright enters 2015 in that rare position as a defense-only player with a legitimate Heisman buzz, but he'll have to replicate his monster numbers from a year ago to remain in the conversation.

 

If all goes according to plan for the Wildcats Thursday, Wright won't have to play long. That means packing as many Scooby Snacks — those are tackles, tackles for a loss, sacks and forced fumbles, by the way — in early as he can.

 

Final Analysis

 

Arizona and UTSA are in much different positions than when they met a year ago. Coker is overseeing his first rebuild after the initial building project, while Rodriguez has the Wildcats positioned to be a player on the national landscape.

 

Solomon's first pass against the Roadrunners last year went more than 80 yards for a touchdown. It was the last time the quarterback threw a score on the night. Expect him to do much more damage against a completely new secondary, and with the Wildcats returning one of the deepest receiving corps in college football. The counter-punch of running back Nick Wilson, who rushed for 174 yards on the Roadrunners last season, should sufficiently stagger UTSA.

 

Prediction: Arizona 52, UTSA 14

 

— Written by Kyle Kensing, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a sportswriter in Southern California. Kensing is publisher of CFBHuddle.com. Follow him on Twitter @kensing45.

Teaser:
UTSA Roadrunners vs. Arizona Wildcats Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, September 3, 2015 - 12:00
Path: /college-football/southern-utah-thunderbirds-vs-utah-state-aggies-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

One thing remains in Utah State's ascension as a football program. The Aggies want to finish out a season as conference champions. Given the level of talent and experience on both sides of the ball, Utah State should pose a major threat to Boise State's continued domination of the Mountain West Conference during the 2015 season.

 

Utah State and head coach Matt Wells get to enjoy a rare season opener at home when it hosts Southern Utah on Thursday. This is the fourth game in the series between the two in-state foes. USU won all three previous meetings including, most recently, a 34-3 victory in 2012 — which, ironically, was also the most recent home season opener for the Aggies.

 

Southern Utah at Utah State

 

Kickoff: 9 p.m. ET (Thursday)

TV: None

Spread: N/A

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Keeton at the reins again

It seems like ages ago since Chuckie Keeton was tormenting opposing defenses with his electrifying play. The senior quarterback missed parts of the last two seasons because of knee injuries and returned this year after being granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA. When he is fully healthy, Keeton can help the Aggies light up the scoreboard in a hurry. Southern Utah knows it all too well. Keeton completed 22 of 25 passes for 304 yards to help Utah State beat the Thunderbirds in 2012. He is one of just three active FBS quarterbacks who hold their school's passing record. Keeton set the USU record in 2012 when he passed for 3,373 yards.

 

2. Defensive domination

Utah State posted a 10-win season for just the second time in school history in 2014. Defense played a major role in making it happen. The Aggies had the 12th-best scoring defense in the nation, allowing just 19.7 points per game. USU also led the Mountain West in both sacks (3.57 per game) and rushing defense (130.7 yards per game). The Aggies have forced at least one turnover in 34 of their last 37 games. Odds are good that Utah State can keep the defensive engine humming in 2015. Several key defensive playmakers return — led by linebackers Nick Vigil and Kyler Fackrell.

 

3. Finding balance

Southern Utah is looking for more offensive balance after featuring a pass-heavy attack last season. Senior quarterback Ammon Olsen is coming off a season where he passed for 3,049 yards and 21 touchdowns while completing 63.3 percent of his passes. The running game was quite dismal in comparison and improving it has been a point of emphasis this offseason. The T-Birds averaged just 104 rushing yards per game in 2014  less than half of what their opponents generated per contest.

 

Final Analysis

 

Southern Utah has pulled off upsets over FBS opponents in recent seasons, beating UNLV in 2011 and South Alabama in 2013. Playing a team like Utah State is a whole different animal. The Aggies are poised to be one of the nation's best all-around defensive teams again in 2015. Paired with a healthy Keeton directing the offense, it adds up to what should be an easy home victory for USU to kickoff a new season.

 

Prediction: Utah State 38, Southern Utah 10

 

Written by John Coon,who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Coon has more than a decade of experience covering sports for different publications and outlets, including The Associated Press, Salt Lake Tribune, ESPN, Deseret News, MaxPreps, Yahoo! Sports and many others. Follow him on Twitter @johncoonsports.

Teaser:
Southern Utah Thunderbirds vs. Utah State Aggies Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, September 3, 2015 - 11:45
Path: /college-football/5-nebraska-blackshirts-who-cant-afford-many-first-game-jitters
Body:

While The Suspension Bowl featuring BYU and Nebraska is going to be handicapped due to several members of both teams on the sideline, the Cougars and Cornhuskers aren’t left entirely wanting for talent. How defensive coordinator Mark Banker’s first set of Blackshirts handle Taysom Hill likely determines whether or not the people of Lincoln go home happy.

 

Related: Nebraska Football Game-by-Game Predictions for 2015

 

Mistakes always happen during the first game of the season, but these five Big Red defenders can’t make too many for the Huskers to win the day.

 

1. Defensive Tackle Maliek Collins

Arguably the best player on Nebraska’s defense (if not the team), Collins isn't just only one of the most important players when it comes to stopping Hill. He’s also the least likely to be intimidated by any Cougar offensive lineman. He’s not referred to as “Baby Suh” by his teammates for nothing.

 

2. Defensive Tackle Vincent Valentine

Next to Collins is his partner in crime, “Big Vince.” These two form one of the best defensive tandems in the Big Ten conference and will be critical in defining both defensive success and how the team performs overall. Valentine will aid Collins in attempting to eat through Hill’s protection and forcing him to the outside.

 

3. Taysom Hill’s Spy

Whoever this individual is, they need to go into this game accepting the fact that botches will happen and yards will be given up. It’s all about shaking off big plays and trusting the back seven once Hill gets to the second level.

 

The Huskers do have quality veterans in linebackers Michael Rose-Ivey and Josh Banderas. However, youngsters such as Dedrick Young and Tyrin Ferguson will get plenty of snaps and going against Hill is no easy way to start your college football career.

 

4. Safety Nate Gerry

A cuddly safety known as “Bane” to his friends, Gerry is no stranger to interceptions, tackles for a loss and forced fumbles. His role will likely be that of turning Hill’s tall and talented receivers black and blue underneath their pads.

 

5. The Cornerback Opposite Daniel Davie

This is as vital a role as Hill’s spy. Joshua Kalu and Jonathan Rose are the other two cornerbacks that wear Blackshirts besides Davie. Kalu is tabbed as the starting nickel, so Rose likely steps into this role. A transfer from Auburn, Nebraska fans have been waiting for Rose to shine. No time like the present.

 

— Written by Brandon Cavanaugh, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Cavanaugh is founder of Eightlaces.com, a site devoted to in-depth Nebraska coverage. Be sure to follow Brandon on Twitter @eightlaces and Periscope (eightlaces), and like his Facebook page.

Teaser:
5 Nebraska Blackshirts Who Can’t Afford Many First Game Jitters
Post date: Thursday, September 3, 2015 - 11:30
Path: /college-football/villanova-wildcats-vs-connecticut-huskies-game-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

Scheduling a team from the FCS ranks is often seen as an easy win, unless that FCS squad happens to be North Dakota State. However, this is a rare occasion when the FCS visitors happen to be the favorites heading in. Villanova, one of the top teams in the FCS this fall, heads to Storrs, Conn., to take on the UConn Huskies. While this series may not have the intensity it carries in men’s basketball, there is some potential for some hostilities on Thursday night.

 

Villanova at Connecticut

 

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. (Thursday)

TV Channel: SNY/ESPN3

Spread: UConn -3

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Can UConn manage to pull away from Villanova?

One of the challenges of facing an FCS squad at the beginning of the season compared to later in the year is the FCS challenger is more fresh going in. That could pose a problem for UConn. Despite having a scholarship advantage, Villanova can still manage to linger around and strike late if the Huskies cannot put the Wildcats down.

 

2. Say hello to Villanova QB John Robertson

Those plugged into the Villanova program need no introduction to Robertson. He even has generated some NFL buzz based on his prolific numbers from last season. He should once again be the key for Villanova against the Huskies. Robertson may not be facing a great UConn defense, but it is the strength of UConn entering the new season. UConn returns seven starters on that side of the ball.

 

3. Looking for another FBS victory

A few years back Villanova opened the season with a win against Temple in Philadelphia. Villanova has not recorded a win over an FBS opponent since 2009, although the Wildcats have had a couple of close calls. This may be Villanova’s best shot to pick up another FBS victory unless UConn figures anything out on offense.

 

Final Analysis

 

Andy Talley has been doing this for a long time at Villanova, and this may be one of his best teams outside of his national championship squad from a few years back. Villanova should enter this game feeling good about the chances of returning to the Main Line with a win, but it must protect the football and cash in on red zone opportunities. They may not come often, but they will have enough of them to score the win.

 

Prediction: Villanova 23, UConn 20

 

— Written by Kevin McGuire, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. McGuire also writes for CollegeFootballTalk.com and hosts the No 2-Minute Warning Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @KevinOnCFB.

Teaser:
Villanova Wildcats vs. Connecticut Huskies Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, September 3, 2015 - 11:15
Path: /college-football/pac-12-2015-week-1-predictions
Body:

The Pac-12 has its share of one-sided matchups in Week 1, but the conference also boasts intriguing games with Boise State-Washington, Oregon-Eastern Washington, Utah-Michigan and Texas A&M-Arizona State. Stanford is a dark horse pick to get to the College Football Playoff, but the Cardinal opens 2015 with a tricky road test at Northwestern.

 

Oregon quarterback Vernon Adams faces his former team (Eastern Washington) in his first start with the Ducks, which also happens to be the first game in the post-Marcus Mariota era. With a game against Michigan State up next, Adams has a chance to get acclimated to his new teammates and offense in live action.

 

On Thursday, the Pac-12 takes center stage with Michigan traveling to Utah, and Colorado visits Hawaii to close out the first night of action.

 

Athlon Sports offers its Pac-12 Week 1 predictions from three editors: Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven), David Fox (@DavidFox615) and Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch).

 

Pac-12 Week 1 Game Power Rankings & Predictions

 

1. Arizona State vs. Texas A&M

Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: ESPN

 

David Fox:

Mike Bercovici could have an easy time against the Texas A&M secondary … provided his line can keep Myles Garrett from getting up field. 

Arizona State 35–28

 

Steven Lassan:

Easily one of the weekend’s most intriguing games and should be no shortage of fireworks between these two offenses. An underrated matchup to watch is the Arizona State offensive line against Texas A&M’s defense – under new coordinator John Chavis – with Myles Garrett coming off the edge. The Sun Devils will land their share of big plays, but the Aggies score a key non-conference win.

Texas A&M 34-31

 

Mitch Light:

John Chavis takes over an A&M defense that allowed a staggering 509.5 points per game against SEC opponents last season. The Aggies will be tested by strong-armed Arizona State quarterback Mike Bercovici. 

Arizona State 34-31

 

2. Michigan at Utah

Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET (Thursday)

TV Channel: Fox Sports 1

 

David Fox:

I’m not sure if Utah can contend in the Pac-12 South, but Devontae Booker, that defense and the home field advantage will help the Utes steal a game or two.

Utah 24–21

 

Steven Lassan:

Jim Harbaugh’s debut. Not much else needs to be said for the must-see value of this one. Wouldn’t expect a ton of points on Thursday night, as both teams are solid on defense and enter the season with question marks on offense. Utah’s defense is the difference in this matchup.

Utah 23-20

 

Mitch Light:

Michigan outgained the Utes 308-to-286 and held Devontae Booker to 34 yards on 11 carries in a 26–10 loss at home last season. The Wolverines will need to duplicate that defensive effort. 

Michigan 24-20

 

3. Washington at Boise State

Kickoff: 10:15 p.m. ET (Friday)

TV Channel: ESPN

 

David Fox:

Washington’s defense is rebuilding. So is Boise State’s backfield. I’ll throw my lot in with the Broncos. 

Boise State 35–28

 

Steven Lassan:

Chris Petersen returns to Boise with a young Washington team. Who will start at quarterback for the Huskies? Interested to see if Jake Browning gets the nod over K.J. Carta-Samuels and Jeff Lindquist. The Broncos are the top Group of 5 team this year, but they are breaking in a new quarterback and starting running back. However, Boise State’s defense is more than enough to win this Friday night matchup.

Boise State 34-20

 

Mitch Light:

Chris Petersen will get it done at Washington, but the program might take a small step back in Year 2. Boise State continues to rule the Mountain West and should open the season with a nice win against the Pac-12. 

Boise State 31-23

 

4. Stanford at Northwestern

Kickoff: Noon ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: ESPN

 

David Fox:

Stanford will have a lopsided advantage in the trenches and has the more experienced quarterback. The Wildcats could go 0-for-the-Bay Area the last two openers. 

Stanford 28–21

 

Steven Lassan:

Intriguing matchup between two academic powers. Lots of intrigue on both sides, as Northwestern breaks in a talented new quarterback (Clayton Thorson), and Stanford looks to build off last year’s late momentum. The 12-point spread seems too high.

Stanford 27-20

 

Mitch Light:

Stanford has emerged as a dark horse College Football Playoff contender by some college football observers — including one of my colleagues at Athlon Sports. I disagree. 

Northwestern 24-20

 

5. Eastern Washington at Oregon

Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: (Pac-12 Networks)

 

David Fox:

How often does a transfer start his first game with a new team against his old team? Vernon Adams will be under pressure in this one. 

Oregon 49–21

 

Steven Lassan:

There’s no shortage of storylines here, as new Oregon starter (and Marcus Mariota’s replacement) Vernon Adams makes his first start against his former team. With a trip to East Lansing against Michigan State next week, this is a critical game for Adams and the Ducks’ offense to get on track. Oregon keeps rolling with Adams under center.

Oregon 48-20

 

Mitch Light:

The real test for Vernon Adams and the Ducks will come in Week 2 when they visit Michigan State, but this game is loaded with intrigue. An upset is highly unlikely, but don’t be surprised if this is a bit closer than expected. 

Oregon 44-27

 

6. Virginia at UCLA

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: FOX

 

David Fox:

UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen’s first start comes against a team rebuilding the pass rush. 

UCLA 35–21

 

Steven Lassan:

Last year’s matchup was closer than most anticipated (28-20). Virginia’s defense can keep this one close for a while, but will the offense provide enough of a spark behind new starter Matt Johns to pull off the upset? All eyes will be on true freshman quarterback Josh Rosen for UCLA.

UCLA 31-17

 

Mitch Light:

UCLA’s 28–20 win in Charlottesville last season was far more difficult than expected. The Bruins, who will be starting true freshman Josh Rosen at quarterback, won’t have to work quite as hard this time around. 

UCLA 34-20

 

7. Colorado at Hawaii

Kickoff: 1 a.m. ET (Thursday night/Friday morning)

TV Channel: CBS Sports Network

 

David Fox:

This is actually an interesting late-night game. Well-traveled USC transfer Max Wittek might give the Warriors a chance, and those late games at Hawaii are always tricky.

Colorado 28–21

 

Steven Lassan:

Colorado is trending in the right direction, and a win over Hawaii would be a good way to bolster the bowl hopes in 2015. Intriguing quarterback battle between Sefo Liufau (Colorado) and USC transfer Max Wittek (Hawaii). Be sure to set the DVR for this one.

Colorado 38-24

 

Mitch Light:

Mike McIntyre appears to have things moving in the right direction at Colorado, but wins might be tough to come by in the difficult Pac-12 South. This is a an opportunity for the Buffs to steal a road win.

Colorado 38-27 

 

8. Arkansas State at USC

Kickoff: 11 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: Pac-12 Networks

 

David Fox:

Offseason drama gives way to a talented team that should be more than a match for Arkansas State. 

USC 42–10

 

Steven Lassan:

Red Wolves have some firepower on offense, but USC simply has too much on both sides of the ball. Keep an eye on the defensive line as it looks to find Leonard Williams' replacement.

USC 45-17

 

Mitch Light:

USC boasts as much top-end talent as any team in the college football. We’ll find out if the Trojans have the depth and coaching to contend for a national championship. 

USC 38-10

 

9. UTSA at Arizona

Kickoff: 10 p.m. ET (Thursday)

TV Channel: Pac-12 Networks

 

David Fox: 

UTSA has zero returning starters on offense. That seems tough to do.

Arizona 42–10

 

Steven Lassan:

Last year’s meeting in San Antonio went down to the wire (26-23). Don’t expect a repeat this season. UTSA returns only three starters, while Arizona is loaded with firepower on offense and one of the nation’s top defenders in linebacker Scooby Wright.

Arizona 45-13

 

Mitch Light:

The veteran Roadrunners put a scare into Arizona last year in Week 2, falling 26–23 at the Alamodome. Almost all of the key personnel are gone for UTSA. This will not be close. 

Arizona 41-10

 

10. Portland State at Washington State

Kickoff: 2 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: Pac-12 Networks

 

David Fox:

Washington State will start better than it did last year when the Cougars lost to Rutgers and Nevada. Wazzu’s first win in 2014 was, incidentally, over Portland State 59–21. 

Washington State 49–20

 

Steven Lassan:

The Cougars knocked off Portland State 59-21 last season. It won’t be close this time around either. Good opportunity for quarterback Luke Falk to build confidence before a road trip to Rutgers next week.

Washington State 51-17

 

Mitch Light:

Washington State led the nation in passing by more 100 yards per game — a staggering difference between the No. 1 (477.7 ypg) and No. 2 (374.3 ypg) teams in the nation. All the Cougars need is a running game and a defense.  

Washington State 41-17

 

11. Grambling State at California

Kickoff: 5 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: Pac-12 Networks

 

David Fox:

A nice stat-padding game for Jared Goff. 

Cal 48–14

 

Steven Lassan:

California’s high-powered offense should have no trouble putting points on the board in this one.

California 52-13

 

Mitch Light:

Expectations are high at California in Year 3 of the Sonny Dykes era. If the Bears can fortify what was an alarmingly bad passing defense, a bowl game is well within reach.

California 63-10

 

12. Weber State at Oregon State

 Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET (Friday)

TV Channel: Pac-12 Networks

 

David Fox:

Gary Andersen won’t have a ton of wins to savor in Year One. This could be one of them. 

Oregon State 35–14

 

Steven Lassan:

Gary Andersen’s tenure in Corvallis should get off to a good start. The quarterback battle is worth watching, as the Beavers expect to play at least two freshmen (Seth Collins and Marcus McMaryion).

Oregon State 40-10

 

Mitch Light:

Gary Andersen is a proven winner who has enjoyed success at Utah State and Wisconsin. However, his first season at Oregon State will be a challenge. Anything but a last-place finish in the Pac-12 North should be considered a success. 

Oregon State 28-13

Teaser:
Pac-12 2015 Week 1 Predictions
Post date: Thursday, September 3, 2015 - 11:00
Path: /college-football/alcorn-state-vs-georgia-tech-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

Alcorn State and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets will open up the 2015 season on a Thursday night in Atlanta. Both teams are coming off of stellar 2014 campaigns as the Yellow Jackets won 11 games and upset Mississippi State in the Orange Bowl. The Alcorn State Braves finished 2014 as SWAC champions, winning their first title since the SWAC went to a championship game in 1999.

 

Georgia Tech welcomes back junior QB Justin Thomas to lead a high-powered offense. The Yellow Jackets do have to replace two of their three top leading running backs and top two receivers but should be in good hands with a number of familiar faces returning.

 

The 2015 Alcorn State Braves were named the preseason favorite of the Eastern Division at SWAC media days and will be led by senior quarterback John Gibbs Jr., who was named the 2015 SWAC Football Preseason Offensive Player of the Year and selected to the all-conference first team. 

 

This will be the first meeting between these two teams.

 

Alcorn State at Georgia Tech

 

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET (Thursday)

TV Channel: ESPN3.com

Spread: Georgia Tech

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. A Heavy Dose of Justin Thomas

You will see a lot of Justin Thomas in the first half of this game. Georgia Tech must figure out who will carry the load as far their running backs go and until that situation plays itself out, Thomas will be making the plays. Also, someone must step up and show they can be a reliable target in the passing game for the Jackets.

 

2. Who Will Step up on Defense?

Last year, the Yellow Jackets relied heavily on teams turning the ball over on their own accord. Ted Roof will want to change that and have his team causing turnovers. GT lost two of their top five tacklers from last year so there is plenty of room for guys to step up.

 

3. Keeping the FCS Winning Streak Alive

Georgia Tech is 13-0 since 2001 against FCS foes with an average winning score of 45-10. Alcorn State is a good FCS team and can get some things going on the offensive side of the ball. The Braves averaged 44 points per game last year and have their Senior QB John Gibbs back. Will we see that average rise above 10 points this year?

 

Final Analysis

 

In eight years as head coach of the Yellow Jackets, Paul Johnson has seen his teams win home openers by an average of 40 points per game. Johnson finally has the type of quarterback that he has dreamed about having in this offense in Justin Thomas. Alcorn State had a great run last year and may do great things again this year; it just won’t start on Thursday night. Atlanta is excited about the possibility of a playoff berth and Georgia Tech will begin that journey with a big win over the Braves on Thursday night.

 

Prediction: Georgia Tech 48 Alcorn State 7

 

— Written by Justin Nails, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @justinnails

Teaser:
Alcorn State Braves vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, September 3, 2015 - 10:30
Path: /college-football/sec-2015-week-1-predictions
Body:

The bowl season wasn’t kind to the SEC, but just like every other team in the nation, all 14 teams in college football’s No. 1 conference are 0-0 and looking to start the year with a victory.

 

A couple of marquee non-conference matchups lead the way in the Week 1 slate for the SEC. In Atlanta, Auburn takes on Louisville, while Texas A&M and Arizona State meet in Houston for an anticipated high-scoring affair. Auburn has playoff aspirations, and this matchup against Louisville should be a good barometer test for coach Gus Malzahn and coordinator Will Muschamp on how far the defense has progressed in one offseason.

 

Elsewhere in the SEC this week, South Carolina-North Carolina and Vanderbilt-WKU play on Thursday night. Tennessee travels to Nashville to take on Bowling Green, and Mississippi State takes an in-state road trip to Southern Miss on Saturday night.

 

Athlon Sports offers its SEC Week 1 predictions from three editors: Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven), David Fox (@DavidFox615) and Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch).

 

SEC Week 1 Game Power Rankings & Predictions

 

1. Louisville vs. Auburn (Atlanta)

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: CBS

 

David Fox:

Among Bobby Petrino, Todd Grantham, Gus Malzahn and Will Muschamp, a ton of the coaches in this game have crossed paths at one time or another. 

Auburn 31–21

 

Steven Lassan:

Easily one of the best games of Week 1 and a great matchup of Auburn’s offense versus Louisville’s defense. The Cardinals should present some problems for the Tigers at the line of scrimmage, but quarterback Jeremy Johnson hits a few plays in the second half to secure the victory.

Auburn 31-20

 

Mitch Light:

Auburn will turn to Jeremy Johnson, who has completed 73.1 percent of his passes with 11 TDs and two INTs in 11 career games. He will be tested by a Louisville defense that has been rebuilt by impact transfers. 

Auburn 27-20

 

2. Arizona State vs. Texas A&M (Houston)

Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: ESPN

 

David Fox:

This game could set up as a shootout. Arizona State will be the team that can make the critical stop or force the crucial turnover.

Arizona State 35–28

 

Steven Lassan:

Easily one of the weekend’s most intriguing games and should be no shortage of fireworks between these two offenses. An underrated matchup to watch is the Arizona State offensive line against Texas A&M’s defense – under new coordinator John Chavis – with Myles Garrett coming off the edge. The Sun Devils will land their share of big plays, but the Aggies score a key non-conference win.

Texas A&M 34-31

 

Mitch Light:

John Chavis takes over an A&M defense that allowed a staggering 509.5 yards per game against SEC opponents last season. The Aggies will be tested by strong-armed Arizona State quarterback Mike Bercovici. 

Arizona State 34-31

 

3. Wisconsin vs. Alabama (Arlington)

Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: ABC

 

David Fox:

Is it possible that quarterback could be a liability for Alabama? Guess we’ll find out.

Alabama 31–14

 

Steven Lassan:

Great name value in this matchup, but it’s tough to find a reason why Wisconsin can win this one. The Crimson Tide should be able to hold the Badgers’ rushing attack in check, which adds a lot of pressure on quarterback Joel Stave and an inexperienced receiving corps. Alabama won’t name a starter at quarterback until kickoff, but it shouldn’t matter which signal-caller takes the first or a majority of snaps this week.

Alabama 34-13

 

Mitch Light:

Alabama has concerns at quarterback and is inexperienced at wide receiver … but still has far more talent than Wisconsin. 

Alabama 28-13

 

4. North Carolina vs. South Carolina (Charlotte)

Kickoff: 6 p.m. ET (Thursday)

TV Channel: ESPN

 

David Fox:

South Carolina’s defense was abysmal last year, and I’m not sure what they’ve got on offense besides Pharoh Cooper. At least we know UNC can score.  

UNC 28–21

 

Steven Lassan:

Not sure what to expect in this one. North Carolina has one of the ACC’s best offenses, and Gene Chizik was hired to improve a struggling defense. South Carolina picked Connor Mitch as its starting quarterback, but he has only six career pass attempts. The Gamecocks also struggled mightily on defense last year.

South Carolina 31-27  

 

Mitch Light:

South Carolina lacks proven playmakers other than Pharoh Cooper. North Carolina is loaded with offensive weapons. North Carolina 37-30

 

5. Bowling Green vs. Tennessee (Nashville)

Kickoff: 4 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: SEC Network

 

David Fox:

Can Tennessee live up to the hype? The Volunteers might have to play through some nerves as they start the season. Tennessee 35–17

 

Steven Lassan:

Tennessee has momentum on its side entering coach Butch Jones’ third season. The Volunteers are heavy favorites here, but Bowling Green has enough firepower to make this one interesting for a half. Keep an eye on Falcons’ quarterback Matt Johnson returning to the lineup after missing most of last season with a hip injury.

Tennessee 38-17

 

Mitch Light:

Quarterback Matt Johnson returns to the Bowling Green lineup after missing all but one game with an injury last season. He will lead an offense that is good enough to score some points on Tennessee’s talented but young defense. Tennessee 41-22

 

6. WKU at Vanderbilt

Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET (Thursday)

TV Channel: SEC Network

 

David Fox:

Western Kentucky put up points on just about everyone last season. Derek Mason’s life won’t get any easier if his first game at DC is a showcase for WKU QB Brandon Doughty. 

WKU 35–21

 

Steven Lassan:

Vanderbilt needs this one. After a 3-9 debut, the pressure is already building on coach Derek Mason. WKU’s offense is explosive and is going to give the Commodores all they can handle. Expect Vanderbilt to use a heavy dose of running back Ralph Webb to avoid to the upset.

Vanderbilt 34-31

 

Mitch Light:

Vanderbilt is a home underdog to high-powered Western Kentucky. The Commodores will have a new look on defense now that head coach Derrick Mason is calling the shots. The plan: Put a ton of pressure on WKU quarterback Brandon Doughty.

Vanderbilt 38-30

 

7. Mississippi State at Southern Miss

Kickoff: 10 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: Fox Sports 1

 

David Fox:

Mississippi State will go as far as Dak Prescott can take the Bulldogs. 

Mississippi State 28–10

 

Steven Lassan:

Southern Miss is getting better under coach Todd Monken and hopes an infusion of transfers brings improvement to a defense that allowed 35.4 points a game last season. The Golden Eagles might hang around for a half, but Mississippi State won’t lose this one behind quarterback Dak Prescott.

Mississippi State 38-13

 

Mitch Light:

The Bulldogs make the short trip to Hattiesburg with a chip on their shoulder. Despite winning 10 games a year ago, most — including Athlon Sports — are picking Mississippi State to finish last in the SEC West. This, of course, is not a league game, but the Dogs will be eager to play well in Week 1.

Mississippi State 31-7

 

8. UL Lafayette at Kentucky

Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: ESPNU

 

David Fox:

Kentucky will be overlooked in Week 1, but this is a big test for a team hoping to return to the postseason. 

Kentucky 31–13

 

Steven Lassan:

This is a must-win game for Kentucky if it wants to go bowling. UL Lafayette running back Elijah McGuire is one of the top players in the Group of 5 ranks. Ragin’ Cajuns hang around, but Wildcats pull away late.

Kentucky 34-17

 

Mitch Light:

Kentucky’s march to bowl eligibility begins with a tough test against one of the Sun Belt’s top teams. UL Lafayette has won exactly nine games in each of the last four seasons. The Cats will have to earn this one. 

Kentucky 34-17

 

9. UTEP at Arkansas

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: ESPNU

 

David Fox:

Two grinding teams will try to keep possessions low. Arkansas, though, will run away with it. 

Arkansas 35–14

 

Steven Lassan:

These two teams are similar in style of play – strong offensive line and rushing attack – but there’s a clear edge in talent. Razorbacks continue the momentum from end of 2014 with an easy win on Saturday.

Arkansas 45-13

 

Mitch Light:

Arkansas’ rushing attack gets all the headlines, but UTEP boasts a quality running back of its own. Junior Aaron Jones rushed for 1,321 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2014. 

Arkansas 44-14

 

10. ULM at Georgia

Kickoff: Noon ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: SEC Network

 

David Fox:

Nick Chubb might be your Heisman front runner by the end of September. Of the first three opponents, ULM (86th in yards allowed per play) had the best rush defense. 

Georgia 42–14

 

Steven Lassan:

ULM has a good defense, but the offense is a work in progress. Bulldogs simply have too much defense and a deep stable of running backs to carry the workload on offense. Greyson Lambert earning the starting quarterback job over Brice Ramsey came as a surprise. How well will the Virginia transfer perform in his first game with the Bulldogs?

Georgia 44-13

 

Mitch Light:

Virginia transfer Greyson Lambert makes his first start at Georgia, but Nick Chubb is the main man for the Bulldogs’ attack. As a freshman, Chubb led the SEC with 7.1 yards per carry and averaged 172.9 yards over his final seven games against FBS foes. 

Georgia 41-13

 

11. New Mexico State at Florida

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: SEC Network

 

David Fox:

Treon Harris can prove why he held onto the starting job.

Florida 49–14

 

Steven Lassan:

Treon Harris gets the nod over Will Grier as Florida’s starting quarterback, but it won’t matter which signal-caller takes the first snap. The Gators should control this one from the start and open the Jim McElwain era with an easy win.

Florida 47-10

 

Mitch Light:

The Gators will play two quarterbacks in Jim McElwain’s debut. Both should have success against a New Mexico State team that ranked 116th in the nation in total defense in 2014. 

Florida 51-0

 

12. McNeese State at LSU

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: SEC Network

 

David Fox:

McNeese has former Kansas State quarterback Daniel Sams. LSU could be starting Brandon Harris. I’m still trying to figure out who has the QB advantage. 

LSU 35–10

 

Steven Lassan:

New quarterback Brandon Harris has an opportunity to build some confidence against McNeese State. Tigers should control this one from the opening snap.

LSU 45-9

 

Mitch Light:

Brandon Harris takes over an LSU offense that is desperate for adequate quarterback play. If he can deliver, this team has enough talent to contend in the SEC West. 

LSU 41-7

 

13. UT Martin at Ole Miss

Kickoff: Noon ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: SEC Network

 

David Fox:

I’m looking forward to seeing the Chad Kelly-Laquon Treadwell connection. 

Ole Miss 42–10


Steven Lassan:

Chad Kelly’s debut for Ole Miss makes this one worth a watch on Saturday. Rebels win easily.

Ole Miss 45-10

 

Mitch Light:

Led by a star-studded junior class, the Rebels have the talent to contend in the brutal SEC West. In the opener, all eyes will be on quarterback Chad Kelly.  

Ole Miss 34-11

 

14. Southeast Missouri State at Missouri

Kickoff: 4 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: SEC Network

 

David Fox:

Missouri’s young defensive line is worth watching here. Otherwise…

Missouri 42–7

 

Steven Lassan:

Look for quarterback Maty Mauk and his revamped receiving corps to work out a few kinks against Southeast Missouri State.

Missouri 40-7

 

Mitch Light:

The two-time defending SEC East champs being their season with a visit from an FCS foe for the fourth straight season. The Tigers won the last three by an average of 38.7 points. 

Missouri 48-10

Teaser:
SEC 2015 Week 1 Predictions
Post date: Thursday, September 3, 2015 - 10:15
All taxonomy terms: Overtime
Path: /overtime/boston-sports-kirk-minihane-roger-goodell-hire-someone-murder-him
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Unless you live in Boston, the chances are slim you've heard of Kirk Minihane. After hearing what he has to say about Roger Goodell, you won't forget him.

 

Minihane is a part of WEEI's "Dennis & Callahan Show" and on Wednesday's show he had some interesting remarks in regards to the NFL commissioner.

 

Over/under on the amount of time he's suspended? 

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, September 3, 2015 - 10:03
Path: /college-football/big-ten-2015-week-1-predictions
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The Big Ten ended the 2014 season in the spotlight with Ohio State’s national championship victory over Oregon, and the conference opens 2015 with two marquee games on Thursday night. Michigan travels to Salt Lake City to take on Utah in coach Jim Harbaugh’s debut, while playoff contender TCU makes the trek to Minnesota.

 

While both matchups are among the best of the weekend, the Ohio State-Virginia Tech showdown on Monday night is the most interesting contest of the Big Ten’s opening slate. Will the Buckeyes begin their title defense with a revenge victory over the Hokies? Or will the Hokies' defense lead the way for another upset?

 

Athlon Sports offers its Big Ten Week 1 predictions from three editors: Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven), David Fox (@DavidFox615) and Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch).

 

Big Ten Week 1 Game Power Rankings & Predictions

 

1. Ohio State at Virginia Tech

Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET (Monday)

TV Channel: ESPN

 

David Fox: 

Virginia Tech’s win last year is eons ago. J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones have won the biggest of big games and will again in Blacksburg.

Ohio State 28-20

 

Steven Lassan:

This is the best game of Week 1, and so many intriguing questions will be answered. Who will start at quarterback for Ohio State? How will the defense perform with end Joey Bosa suspended? How much of an impact will Braxton Miller make at receiver? The Hokies’ defense should keep them in this game, but will the offense consistently move the ball or avoid big mistakes?

Ohio State 30-20

 

Mitch Light:

In last year’s loss to Virginia Tech at home, Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett completed 9-of-29 passes with three interceptions. It’s safe to say Ohio State will get better play at the quarterback position this time around.

Ohio State 27-13

 

2. Michigan at Utah

Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET (Thursday)

TV Channel: Fox Sports 1

 

David Fox: 

Jim Harbaugh may have won the offseason, but he’s going to need solid offensive line play to win his debut at Michigan. That’s been in short supply.

Utah 24–21

 

Steven Lassan:

Jim Harbaugh’s debut. Not much else needs to be said for the must-see value of this one. Wouldn’t expect a ton of points on Thursday night, as both teams are solid on defense and enter the season with question marks on offense. Utah’s defense is the difference in this matchup.

Utah 23-20

 

Mitch Light:

Michigan outgained the Utes 308-to-286 and held Devontae Booker to 34 yards on 11 carries in a 26–10 loss at home last season. The Wolverines will need to duplicate that defensive effort. 

Michigan 24-20

 

3. BYU at Nebraska

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: ABC

 

David Fox:

Nebraska’s 29-game season-opener winning streak might end if we see the same Taysom Hill we saw at the start of last season.

BYU 28–24


Steven Lassan:

This game isn’t generating the attention Ohio State-Virginia Tech or Louisville-Auburn are this week, but there’s intrigue here. BYU quarterback Taysom Hill is back after missing most of 2014 with a leg injury, and Nebraska opens the Mike Riley tenure looking to extend its winning streak in openers (29 consecutive victories).

Nebraska 31-27

 

Mitch Light:

Nebraska has won 29 straight openers, the longest such streak in the nation. The Huskers will make it 30 — but it won’t be easy.  

Nebraska 27-24

 

4. Wisconsin vs. Alabama (Arlington)

Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: ABC

 

David Fox:

Wisconsin’s normally stout offensive line is a question this year. Alabama will have a major edge.

Alabama 31–14

 

Steven Lassan:

Great name value in this matchup, but it’s tough to find a reason why Wisconsin can win this one. The Crimson Tide should be able to hold the Badgers’ rushing attack in check, which adds a lot of pressure on quarterback Joel Stave and an inexperienced receiving corps. Alabama won’t name a starter at quarterback until kickoff, but it shouldn’t matter which signal-caller takes the first or a majority of snaps this week.

Alabama 34-13

 

Mitch Light:

Alabama has concerns at quarterback and is inexperienced at wide receiver … but still has far more talent than Wisconsin. 

Alabama 28-13

 

5. TCU at Minnesota

Kickoff: 9 p.m. ET (Thursday)

TV Channel: ESPN

 

David Fox:

Trevone Boykin’s Heisman bid gets an early test in a rematch against the Minnesota secondary.

TCU 28–14

 

Steven Lassan:

Minnesota’s secondary could give TCU’s passing attack fits early on. However, can the Golden Gophers’ offense find enough firepower to match the Horned Frogs? Unlikely. TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin is the difference in this game.

TCU 34-17

 

Mitch Light:

Minnesota lost its two top offensive players in running back David Cobb and tight end Maxx Williams. The Gophers simply don’t have enough firepower to knock off the Frogs. 

TCU 30-13

 

6. Stanford at Northwestern

Kickoff: Noon ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: ESPN

 

David Fox:

Clayton Thorson is the future at quarterback for Northwestern. The Wildcats have to show signs they can turn things around, but it’s going to be tough against that Stanford D.

Stanford 28–21

 

Steven Lassan:

Interesting matchup between two academic powers. Lots of intrigue on both sides, as Northwestern breaks in a talented new quarterback (Clayton Thorson), and Stanford looks to build off last year’s late momentum. The 12-point spread seems too high.

Stanford 27-20

 

Mitch Light:

Stanford has emerged as a dark horse College Football Playoff contender by some college football observers — including one of my colleagues at Athlon Sports. I disagree. 

Northwestern 24-20

 

7. Michigan State at Western Michigan

Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET (Friday)

TV Channel: ESPNU

 

David Fox:

Western Michigan is a recruiting powerhouse (for a MAC team, relatively speaking). This could be a signature moment P.J. Fleck’s team. Could be.

Michigan State 38–17

 

Steven Lassan:

P.J. Fleck is a rising star in the coaching ranks, and a trip to Kalamazoo adds to the intrigue for the Broncos. However, the Spartans are balanced on offense, and the defense should do a good job of containing Western Michigan running back Jarvion Franklin.

Michigan State 34-17

 

Mitch Light:

The Broncos are vastly improved under P.J. Fleck, but they will have a tough time knocking off the mighty Spartans from East Lansing. 

Michigan State 38-21

 

8. Penn State at Temple

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: ESPN

 

David Fox:

Christian Hackenberg and P.J. Walker combined for six interceptions in this game last year. This game has to be better, right?

Penn State 24–14

 

Steven Lassan:

How much has Penn State’s offensive line improved since last season? That’s the big question in coach James Franklin’s second year. Led by standout linebacker Tyler Matakevich, Temple’s defense can present problems for the Nittany Lions.

Penn State 27-17

 

Mitch Light:

Temple is the home team, but there figures to be far more Penn State fans in this intriguing opener. Last year, the Nittany Lions scored 30 points — the most by James Franklin’s team in the regular season — in a win over Temple. 

Penn State 28-13

 

9. Purdue at Marshall

Kickoff: 3 p.m. ET (Sunday)

TV Channel: Fox Sports 1

 

David Fox:

Purdue may play a road game at Marshall only to get clobbered by its former offensive coordinator, Bill Legg.

Marshall 31–21

 

Steven Lassan:

The Boilermakers hope to show improvement in coach Darrell Hazell’s third season, but this team is nearly a touchdown underdog against Marshall. The Thundering Herd picked James Madison transfer Michael Birdsong to replace prolific four-year starter Rakeem Cato at quarterback. Even though Cato will be missed, Birdsong has a strong supporting cast to lean on, including running back Devon Johnson.

Marshall 31-27

 

Mitch Light:

Darrell Hazell is 4–20 in two seasons, and his team is a 7.5-point underdog in a Week 1 game against a team from Conference USA. 

Marshall 28-23

 

10. Illinois State at Iowa

Kickoff: Noon ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: Big Ten Network

 

David Fox:

Former Indiana quarterback Tre Roberson was tremendous for FCS runner-up Illinois State last season. Iowa should be worried. 

Illinois State 35–31.

 

Steven Lassan:

Former Indiana quarterback Tre Roberson leads an Illinois State team coming off a loss in the FCS Championship last year. This is a dangerous Week 1 opponent for Iowa. Hawkeyes avoid the upset.

Iowa 34-27

 

Mitch Light:

The Hawkeyes host one of the most powerful FCS teams in the nation. My advice to Kirk Ferentz: Don’t lose this game. 

Iowa 34-21

 

11. Kent State at Illinois

Kickoff: 9 p.m. ET (Friday)

TV Channel: Big Ten Network

 

David Fox:

I’m actually kind of interested to see Illinois respond to Tim Beckman’s firing.

Illinois 27–14

 

Steven Lassan:

There are a lot of distractions for the Fighting Illini right now after coach Tim Beckman was dismissed last week. However, I’m not sure Kent State has enough to pull off the upset.

Illinois 38-20

 

Mitch Light:

Just a hunch: The Fighting Illini will rally behind interim coach Bill Cubit and take out their frustrations on the Golden Flashes. 

Illinois 41-9

 

12. Richmond at Maryland

Kickoff: Noon ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: ESPN

 

David Fox:

Perry Hills’ journey back to the starting QB job after a two-year absence is an interesting storyline. 

Maryland 27–17

 

Steven Lassan:

With only nine returning starters and young talent stepping into the starting lineup, 2015 is shaping up as a rebuilding year for coach Randy Edsall. However, the Terrapins still have enough to win this one. Perry Hills is worth watching after he edged Caleb Rowe for the starting quarterback job this fall.

Maryland 34-13

 

Mitch Light:

Perry Hills earned the starting assignment at quarterback over preseason favorite Caleb Rowe. He takes over an offense that lost some key weapons at wide receiver. 

Maryland 33-13

 

13. Southern Illinois at Indiana

Kickoff: 4 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: ESPNEWS

 

David Fox:

Indiana has a chance to start 4–0. Will it be enough to save Kevin Wilson?

Indiana 35-17

 

Steven Lassan:

Quarterback Nate Sudfeld is back at full strength after missing most of last season with a shoulder injury. That’s good news for an Indiana team poised to challenge for a bowl bid in 2015.

Indiana 44-17

 

Mitch Light:

Conventional wisdom suggests Kevin Wilson will need to get Indiana to a bowl game to save his job. It will be tough for the Hoosiers to get to six wins without a victory in Week 1. 

Indiana 44-16

 

14. Norfolk State at Rutgers

Kickoff: Noon ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: ESPNEWS

 

David Fox:

What a miserable week for Rutgers with an academic scandal and suspensions. The Scarlet Knights will need to savor this week.

Rutgers 28–13

 

Steven Lassan:

It seems the question marks about Kyle Flood and an ongoing investigation into the academic handling of a player will continue into next week. Even though it’s a distraction, it won’t matter much on Saturday afternoon. Interested to see how well LSU transfer Hayden Rettig plays at quarterback for the Scarlet Knights.

Rutgers 45-10

 

Mitch Light:

Kyle Flood begins his fourth season in the middle of an academic scandal at Rutgers. Will the distractions affect his team’s performance? Stay tuned.

Rutgers 37-13

Teaser:
Big Ten 2015 Week 1 Predictions
Post date: Thursday, September 3, 2015 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/big-12-2015-week-1-predictions
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Week 1 of the 2015 Big 12 season isn’t filled with must-see matchups. But there are a few games on the schedule to move the needle, including Texas-Notre Dame and TCU-Minnesota. Will the Longhorns improve in coach Charlie Strong’s second season? A win in South Bend would be a good place to start. Big 12 frontrunners TCU and Baylor are both on the road in Week 1, but both teams are double-digit favorites.

 

A few Big 12 teams have to be on upset alert this weekend. West Virginia hosts a dangerous Georgia Southern squad, while Iowa State plays in-state FCS foe in a must-win game for coach Paul Rhoads. New Kansas coach David Beaty inherited a massive rebuilding project, and Saturday’s game against South Dakota State is probably the only winnable game on the schedule this year. 

 

Athlon Sports offers its Big 12 Week 1 predictions from three editors: Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven), David Fox (@DavidFox615) and Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch).

 

Big 12 Week 1 Game Power Rankings & Predictions

 

1. Texas at Notre Dame

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: NBC

 

David Fox:

Expect some nasty defense in this one. Notre Dame has the experience on defense and a functional offense, making this an easy pick for the Irish.  

Notre Dame 24–10

 

Steven Lassan:

Great matchup in terms of name value. How far has Texas improved this offseason under coach Charlie Strong? This is a great barometer test for the Longhorns. Quarterback play for both teams will be under the spotlight with Malik Zaire (Notre Dame) and Tyrone Swoopes (Texas).

Notre Dame 27, Texas 17

 

Mitch Light:

Texas struggled last season, but it wasn’t the fault of the defense. The Horns ranked No. 2 in the Big 12 in total defense and No. 1 against league opponents. This could be a struggle for the Irish.

Notre Dame 20-13

 

2. TCU at Minnesota

Kickoff: 9 p.m. ET (Thursday)

TV Channel: ESPN

 

David Fox:

Minnesota’s secondary had one of the better games against Trevone Boykin last season. If the Gophers had an above average offense, this would be more of a contest.

TCU 27–13

 

Steven Lassan:

Minnesota’s secondary could give TCU’s passing attack fits early on. However, can the Golden Gophers’ offense find enough firepower to match the Horned Frogs? Unlikely. TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin is the difference in this game.

TCU 34-17

 

Mitch Light:

Minnesota lost its two top offensive players in running back David Cobb and tight end Maxx Williams. The Gophers simply don’t have enough firepower to knock off the Frogs. 

TCU 30-13

 

3. Georgia Southern at West Virginia

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: FSN

 

David Fox:

For what’s supposed to be a good defense West Virginia got gashed in the run game A LOT last year. Does that worry anyone else?

West Virginia 27–17

 

Steven Lassan:

Georgia Southern is a dangerous opponent for West Virginia. The Eagles lost by one to NC State and by four to Georgia Tech last season. Starting quarterback Kevin Ellison is sidelined due to a suspension, but backup Favian Upshaw is a capable option. Having all offseason to prepare for Georgia Southern’s offense should benefit the Mountaineers. Keep an eye on the young West Virginia receivers and quarterback Skyler Howard.

West Virginia 38-24

 

Mitch Light:

Georgia Southern boasts one of the most potent running games in the nation but will be without standout QB Kevin Ellison, who is out with a suspension.

West Virginia 34-27

 

4. Baylor at SMU

Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET (Friday)

TV Channel: ESPN

 

David Fox:

A neat game for head coaches who worked their way from Texas high schools to being offensive masterminds. Unfortunately, it won’t be close.

Baylor 56–14

 

Steven Lassan:

Chad Morris is the right coach for SMU, and the Mustangs will be better in 2015. However, Baylor simply has too much firepower. Expect a big debut from quarterback Seth Russell.

Baylor 51-17

 

Mitch Light:

This might end up looking like a decent win for the Bears if Chad Morris can work some magic in Year 1 at SMU.

Baylor 41-17

 

5. Northern Iowa at Iowa State

Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: Cyclones.tv

 

David Fox:

Iowa State has lost back-to-back season openers against FCS teams and could make it three in a row. 

Northern Iowa 17–14

 

Steven Lassan:

This isn’t a guaranteed win for Iowa State. Northern Iowa knocked off the Cyclones in 2013 and lost by eight to Iowa last season. Getting receiver Quenton Bundrage back, along with better luck in the health department on the offensive line should help Iowa State in 2015. The Panthers make it interesting, but Iowa State avoids the upset.

Iowa State 27, Northern Iowa 20 

 

Mitch Light:

The Cyclones have lost two of the last four to their friends from Cedar Falls. This is a game Paul Rhoads cannot afford to lose.

Iowa State 24-20 

 

6. Akron at Oklahoma

Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: PPV

 

David Fox:

I’m ready to see the Baker Mayfield-Samaje Perine-Lincoln Riley dynamic at work.

Oklahoma 42–10

 

Steven Lassan:

Akron has a handful of talented transfers from Power 5 programs, but the Sooners should win this one with ease. With a road trip to Tennessee up next, it’s a good opportunity for new coordinator Lincoln Riley and quarterback Baker Mayfield to build confidence in the offense.

Oklahoma 48-17

 

Mitch Light

Former Texas Tech walk-on Baker Mayfield is running the show for new offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley at OU. Akron continues to improve under Terry Bowden’s watch, but the Zips aren’t good enough to win in Norman. Oklahoma 43-20

 

7. Oklahoma State at Central Michigan

Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET (Thursday)

TV Channel: ESPNU

 

David Fox:

Every now and then Oklahoma State plays a weird road game. Every now and then, that road game bites the Cowboys (a 41–23 loss at Troy in 2007). That won’t happen here. 

Oklahoma State 31–10

 

Steven Lassan:

I’m interested to see how much sophomore quarterback Mason Rudolph has progressed for Oklahoma State since the end of last season.

Oklahoma State 41-20

 

Mitch Light:

Mount Pleasant will be rocking with Oklahoma State coming to town. Too bad Dan LeFevour isn’t under center for the Chips.

Oklahoma State 48-10

 

8. Sam Houston State at Texas Tech

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: FSN

 

David Fox:

Might be time to get to know Sam Houston State coach K.C. Keeler, who has played in eight national championship games (FCS and Division III), winning one. His up-tempo offense will give new Texas Tech DC David Gibbs a test.

Texas Tech 41–21

 

Steven Lassan:

The Bearkats – ranked as a top-five FCS team – could be a pesky opponent for the Red Raiders. Will it be Davis Webb or Patrick Mahomes at quarterback for Texas Tech? The guess here is Mahomes starts and delivers a solid performance, while the defense shows progress under coordinator David Gibbs.

Texas Tech 50-24

 

Mitch Light: 

Sam Houston State lost 56–0 last September at LSU in its only game against an FCS opponent. Texas Tech has more than enough weapons to score 50 as well. 

Texas Tech 50-20

 

9. South Dakota State at Kansas

Kickoff: Noon ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: FSN

 

David Fox:

If Kansas wins one game this season, this will be it.

Kansas 27–10

 

Steven Lassan:

This is the best shot Kansas has at winning a game in 2015.

Kansas 27-20

 

Mitch Light:

David Beaty begins his tenure as the boss at Kansas with arguably the least-talented Power 5 conference team in the nation.

Kansas 21-17

 

10. South Dakota at Kansas State

Kickoff: 7:10 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: K-StateHD.tv

 

David Fox:

Kansas State wised up and played one of the lesser Dakotas after losing to North Dakota State two years ago.

Kansas State 28–10

 

Steven Lassan:

Bill Snyder’s team is a bit of a mystery with Jesse Ertz replacing Jake Waters at quarterback. South Dakota went 2-10 last year and shouldn’t provide too many problems for the Wildcats.

Kansas State 45-10

 

Mitch Light:

Kansas State has to find some answers on offense to be a threat in the Big 12 this season. 

Kansas State 31-7

Teaser:
Big 12 Week 1 Predictions
Post date: Thursday, September 3, 2015 - 09:45
Path: /college-football/mark-richt-needs-new-georgia-starting-quarterback-greyson-lambert-be-really-good-year
Body:

On Monday, Georgia head coach Mark Richt announced that Virginia QB transfer Greyson Lambert will start for the Bulldogs this weekend against Louisiana-Monroe.

 

Ever since Lambert announced his decision to attend the University of Georgia, we have waited for the announcement of who would win the starting position, Lambert or Brice Ramsey. And on Monday that question was answered. Now as Georgia and Lambert ready themselves for the 2015 season, the question will be just how good can Lambert be and can he lead this team to a title?

 

Related: Why Georgia Will or Won't Make the College Football Playoff in 2015

 

Last year, a really good Georgia team was led by sub-par quarterback play out of Hutson Mason. Don’t get me wrong, Mason had a good season if you just look at the numbers. But anyone that watched a single Georgia game knows that Mason was the less important sidekick to Todd Gurley and Nick Chubb on that offense. Mason did a good job; he just didn’t win a single game by his play alone. But I can’t help but think if quarterback play had been better, how much better could the Bulldogs have been?

 

That simply cannot be the case in 2015.

 

Since Mark Richt arrived in Athens, quarterback play has been good rather than not. He began with David Greene who helped produce Richt’s first SEC title followed by a one year stint from D.J. Shockley who helped bring a second SEC title, Joe Tereshinski, whose play was forgettable, Matthew Stafford, Joe Cox and Aaron Murray.

 

As it stands now, Richt is 4-3 when it comes to getting great play out of his quarterbacks. Georgia cannot afford “okay” quarterback play. Not playing for a chance at a national title is wearing thin on Georgia fans, and rightfully so. Georgia has all the pieces this year. A great defense, multiple skilled running backs including a Heisman hopeful in Nick Chubb, a great offensive line and playmakers surrounding Lambert on the offensive side of the ball.

 

This leads me to my next point. Sub-par quarterback play will not get you a national championship. Just take a look at the past 10 national championship winning teams and the quarterbacks that led them. From 2014 going back to 2005 they are Cardale Jones, Jameis Winston, AJ McCarron, Cam Newton, Greg McElroy, Tim Tebow, Matt Flynn, Chris Leak and Vince Young.

 

With the exception of not having enough tape on Cardale Jones, six of these quarterbacks were great in college, Chris Leak was really good and the other two, McElroy and Flynn, would be considered game managers. And even those last two had pretty good numbers during those championship runs. Game managers don’t win national championships. It just doesn’t happen as often anymore.

 

Richt needs Lambert to be really, really good. No, I don’t think Lambert has to be a Heisman dark horse in order for Georgia to have a shot this year. But he does have to play better than I expect him to. In 2014, Lambert failed to throw a 60% completion rate and threw more interceptions than he did touchdowns. Yes, I realize it's Virginia but some of that was just bad decision making. Lambert will see an upgrade at every offensive position while in Athens. His decision making will have to improve and it doesn’t hurt knowing Nick Chubb is behind you when you go under center.

 

But good just isn’t going to be good enough. Lambert will need to put his team in winning positions if I am to believe this team has a shot at the playoffs. Sept. 19 against South Carolina should give us a look at Lambert in his first big test, followed by tough road games against Auburn and Tennessee and a home date with Alabama. Georgia has little room for error when it comes to 2015; the least of those errors coming from newly announced starting quarterback Greyson Lambert.

 

— Written by Justin Nails, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @justinnails

Teaser:
Mark Richt Needs New Georgia Starting Quarterback Greyson Lambert to be Really Good This Year
Post date: Thursday, September 3, 2015 - 09:30
Path: /college-football/tcu-horned-frogs-vs-minnesota-golden-gophers-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

Gary Patterson and his TCU Horned Frogs have big plans for the 2015 season. After being left out of the College Football Playoff somewhat controversially last season, TCU begins 2015 ranked No. 2 in both major polls and have a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate under center in Trevone Boykin.

 

In Minneapolis, Jerry Kill's Minnesota team is the sexy pick of many pundits and publications to win the Big Ten West and possibly do some big things in the postseason.

 

The two programs will meet on opening night with both looking to make a huge statement to their respective conferences and the nation. A blowout win by the Horned Frogs should be enough to let us all know they are the team we thought they were. On the other side of the coin, if Minnesota can play TCU tough throughout — possibly pulling off an upset — it'll let everyone know the Golden Gophers truly have arrived and will be a force to be reckoned with in 2015.

 

Podcast: Week 1 Preview w/ Rece Davis



Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher

 

TCU at Minnesota

 

Kickoff: 9 p.m. ET (Thursday)

TV Channel: ESPN

Spread: TCU -14.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Trevone Boykin vs. the Minnesota Secondary

The Gophers should feature one of the stingiest defensive backfields in the nation in 2015. Both of their corners, Eric Murray and Briean Boddy-Calhoun, were named to the Bednarik Award Watch List — the only cornerback duo in the nation to accomplish that. They'll have two exceptional senior safeties playing between them, making life that much more difficult for Boykin. If the secondary can set the tone early on, frustrate Boykin in the passing game and make him one-dimensional, Minnesota's front seven is talented enough to make things interesting. If not, this game could become a track meet that the Gophers may not be equipped to keep pace in.

 

2. Special Teams Setting up Field Position

TCU punter Ethan Berry is built more like a linebacker than a punter. He has a leg capable of flipping the field quickly and forcing the Gophers to travel long distances for points. On the other hand, don't go anywhere after TCU scores, as the Horned Frogs will be kicking off to Minnesota's Jalen Myrick — one of the best kick returners in the Big Ten — capable of doing his own field-flipping. If this game is close, a big play by Berry or Myrick could be the difference.

 

3. Can Minnesota's Offense Stay on the Field?

The Gopher defense is talented enough to go toe-to-toe with TCU's electric offense. The key for the Gophers will be sustaining long enough drives to give their defense enough breathers to keep the game close into the fourth quarter. We'll get to see right away how much Mitch Leidner has progressed as a quarterback and a leader, especially without Maxx Williams and David Cobb as safety nets. If Minnesota can't move the ball early, this one could get away from them by halftime.

 

Final Analysis

 

TCU is about as talented as teams come, but Minnesota's physicality and persistence will test Patterson's squad. The Gophers won't fold and will likely hang around for the better part of three quarters. In the end, the speed of the Horned Frogs on both sides of the ball combined with the lack of a go-to offensive playmaker on Minnesota's offense will be enough for TCU to pull away and close out a sound and respectable road win in a lower scoring game than most are expecting.

 

Prediction: TCU 27, Minnesota 13

 

— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Scott is the editor-in-chief of KnowItAllFootball.com, a Big Ten site for Big Ten fans. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.

Teaser:
TCU Horned Frogs vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, September 3, 2015 - 09:20

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