Articles By Steven Lassan
Thanks to conference realignment, Michigan and Notre Dame are only scheduled to play one more matchup after this season. The Fighting Irish had to cancel the 2015-17 scheduled games with the Wolverines due to their decision to play five games with ACC members. With the Big Ten moving to nine conference games in the future, Michigan may also have been forced to rethink its non-conference slate – even with an emphasis on schedule strength in the playoffs.
Although new rivalries were created from realignment, it’s a shame these two teams may not play for a significant period of time. But let’s forget about assigning blame and focus on the game this Saturday.
Michigan and Notre Dame cruised to easy victories in Week 1. The Wolverines dominated Central Michigan 59-9, while the Fighting Irish won 28-6 over Temple.
Even though it’s early, this game could play a key role in shaping where these two teams are positioned for bowl bids later this year. Michigan and Notre Dame expect to be in the mix for an at-large BCS spot in December and an early loss certainly isn’t crippling, but it doesn’t leave much room for error the rest of the year.
Three Things to Watch
Michigan’s OL versus Notre Dame’s DL
The Wolverines’ offensive line is in transition this year. Three new starters stepped into the lineup last week against Central Michigan and allowed only one sack to the Chippewas. Left tackle Taylor Lewan is one of the best in the nation, while right tackle Michael Schofield has 24 starts under his belt. But the interior is a concern for Hoke and coordinator Al Borges. Left guard Graham Glasgow, center Jack Miller and right guard Kyle Kalis have just three combined starts – all from last week’s win over Central Michigan. Notre Dame’s defensive line is one of the best in the nation, anchored by 357-pound nose guard Louis Nix III and future first-round pick Stephon Tuitt at end. The Fighting Irish allowed 134 rushing yards in the opener against Temple but should have a better effort on Saturday. How well Michigan’s new starters on the line perform will play a large role in deciding the outcome of this game.
Who steps up at running back?
The Fighting Irish lost Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood this offseason, but replacements George Atkinson III, Amir Carlisle, Cam McDaniel and Greg Bryant combined for 179 yards against Temple last week. Notre Dame may not have a true No. 1 but there are playmakers. Michigan’s Fitzgerald Toussaint returned to action after suffering a broken leg late last year and rushed for 57 yards and two touchdowns on 14 attempts in the opener. However, the postgame buzz in Ann Arbor last week was all about Derrick Green. The freshman rushed for 58 yards and one touchdown against Central Michigan and is poised to take a bigger role in the backfield this Saturday. It’s not necessarily important for either team to have one rusher get to 100 yards, but both coaching staffs would like to see a back get the hot hand and produce.
Which Tommy Rees shows up?
Rees has experienced a roller-coaster ride in his two extensive appearances against Michigan. In 2011, Rees threw for 315 yards and three touchdowns, including a 29-yard score with 30 seconds left. However, Michigan scored on a pass from Denard Robinson to Roy Roundtree with two seconds left to steal the victory. Last year, Rees came on to relieve a struggling Everett Golson and finished with 115 yards on eight completions. With Golson out of the picture in 2013, Rees is the unquestioned No. 1 quarterback in South Bend. Michigan allowed 144 passing yards to Central Michigan in the opener, but Rees should have opportunities to make plays against this secondary. The senior is coming off a good appearance last week (346 yards) and failed to throw an interception on 23 attempts. Yards are important, but Rees’ No. 1 priority on Saturday will be limiting the turnovers.
Key Player: Devin Funchess, TE, Michigan
The Wolverines already lost one key receiver for 2013 with Amara Darboh suffering a foot injury late in fall camp. Senior Jeremy Gallon was Devin Gardner’s favorite target last Saturday, recording 47 yards on four catches. Funchess is a breakout candidate for Michigan in 2013, and the sophomore grabbed two passes for 47 yards in the opener. Although Notre Dame’s back seven is experienced, Funchess needs to be a big part of Michigan’s gameplan.
The last four meetings in this series have been decided by seven points or less, including the 35-31 thriller in 2011.
Michigan has won three consecutive meetings over Notre Dame in Ann Arbor and should have a slight edge to make it No. 4 on Saturday.
Notre Dame’s defense is clearly one of the best in the nation and should be in midseason form after holding Temple to just six points last year. But Gardner outduels Rees, and the Wolverines create a late turnover to pull off a close victory.
Prediction: Michigan 24, Notre Dame 20
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ACC Week 2 Preview and Predictions
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Pac-12 Week 2 Preview and Predictions
SEC Week 2 Preview and Predictions
Week 2 Upset Predictions
Georgia and South Carolina have combined to win the last three SEC East titles, and Saturday’s game will play a key role in determining the division champion this year.
After losing to Clemson last Saturday, the Bulldogs have to win against the Gamecocks to keep their national title hopes alive. And while a loss to South Carolina wouldn’t put Georgia out of contention to win the East title, the Gamecocks have a much easier path to the division crown.
South Carolina fared better than Georgia in Week 1, handling North Carolina 27-10 on Thursday night. The Gamecocks allowed the Tar Heels to move the ball some (293 yards), but the defense held North Carolina without a touchdown in the second half.
South Carolina has claimed the last three meetings in this series, including a dominating 35-7 win last year. The last Bulldogs’ victory came in 2009. Dating back to last season, the Gamecocks have won six in a row, while the Bulldogs have claimed seven victories in their last nine games.
Three Things to Watch
Georgia’s offensive line
Even though the Bulldogs have a potential All-SEC quarterback in Aaron Murray and two standouts at running back (Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall), the offensive line holds the key to winning on Saturday night. Clemson recorded four sacks against Georgia’s front five last week and generated consistent pressure on Murray throughout the second half. In last year’s meeting with the Bulldogs, South Carolina had only two sacks, but the defensive line clearly dominated the line of scrimmage. Now that Georgia’s offensive line has a game under its belt, along with the motivation of last year’s performance hanging in their heads, can this unit give Murray time to throw? And it’s not like the Gamecocks are just a one-man show (Jadeveon Clowney). Senior Chaz Sutton and freshman Darius English are two other threats off the edge, while tackles J.T. Surratt and Gerald Dixon will present plenty of problems for the offensive line.
South Carolina running back Mike Davis
In last week’s win over North Carolina, Davis had a breakout performance, rushing for 115 yards and one touchdown on 12 attempts. The sophomore’s 75-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter ended any hope the Tar Heels had of a comeback. Davis will share carries with Brandon Wilds, but he will be the Gamecocks’ feature back. Clemson rushed for 197 yards against Georgia, so there will be opportunities for Davis to have a big performance. The Bulldogs are getting safety/linebacker Josh Harvey-Clemons back after a one-game suspension. Will Harvey-Clemons make a big difference in the rush defense? Or will South Carolina’s massive offensive line dominate the line of scrimmage? Georgia needs a better effort from its front seven to win on Saturday.
Even though most of the spotlight in this game will be on Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray and South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, don’t overlook the special teams department. The Bulldogs will be without kicker Marshall Morgan, who is suspended for two games due to an off-the-field incident. With Morgan sidelined, Patrick Beless is expected to attempt field goals and extra points. Beless connected on all five extra points against Clemson but did not attempt a field goal. The Gamecocks broke in a new kicker last week, with Elliott Fry connecting on both of his attempts. With a close game expected, the inexperience at kicker could play a significant role in determining the outcome of this game.
Key Player: Michael Bennett/Justin Scott-Wesley, WR, Georgia
With Malcolm Mitchell sidelined for the rest of the year due to a torn ACL, it’s up to Bennett and Scott-Wesley to emerge as go-to receivers for quarterback Aaron Murray. Bennett returned from a season-ending knee injury in 2012 to catch five passes for 60 yards in the opener, while Scott-Wesley grabbed four passes for 55 yards. Even though Mitchell will be missed, Bennett and Scott-Wesley are a capable duo, and Saturday’s game against South Carolina is a huge opportunity for both players.
Everything seems to point to a South Carolina win. The Gamecocks have the momentum and own three consecutive victories in this series. South Carolina’s defensive line also has a sizeable advantage over Georgia’s offensive line, especially with last year’s meeting in mind.
However, Georgia didn’t play terrible in the opener and only lost by three points to a top-five team. The Bulldogs will only get better on defense with more snaps for the young players, and Harvey-Clemons’ return will help slow down South Carolina’s offense.
Even though some are down on the Bulldogs after Week 1, the guess here is Murray delivers with a solid performance to knock off South Carolina to take an early lead in the SEC East standings.
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ACC Week 2 Preview and Predictions
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Week 2 Upset Predictions
Arizona State recently made some renovations to Sun Devil Stadium, and the Tillman Tunnel is now one of the best entrances in college football.
Here’s a full album of the Tillman Tunnel from Arizona State’s official site, but the image below is a glimpse into what the Sun Devils will see before they take the field each week.
Simply, there’s not a better way for Arizona State to honor Pat Tillman or for the team to remember his legacy than have No. 42 lead the way to the field.
The Week 2 college football slate is relatively light with elite matchups. Florida-Miami, Notre Dame-Michigan and Georgia-South Carolina are the must-see games, but there’s not much else to get excited about. Of course, college football is on television, so at least there’s something to watch.
With a chunk of FBS teams playing opponents from FCS or BCS versus non-BCS conference matchups, the pool for upsets appears to be small this week. BYU hosts Texas in an intriguing non-conference game, and receiver Cody Hoffman is expected to return after missing last week due to a hamstring injury. Hoffman's return is huge for an offense that struggled to move the ball through the air last week.
The favorites can't win every game each week, so it's no surprise one of the most popular discussion points every Saturday is upset picks. Each week on AthlonSports.com, the editors will give an upset pick for the upcoming week of action.
Other Week 2 Previews and Predictions
ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC
College Football Week 2 Upset Predictions
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): Wake Forest (+3) over Boston College
I realize this isn’t much of an upset in terms of point spread, but just as I mentioned in Week 1, there’s not much to like with the odds early in the year. Western Kentucky over Tennessee is very tempting, but I’m giving the Volunteers a slight edge in that one. Wake Forest and Boston College both played FCS opponents in Week 1, so this will be a better test of where both teams stack up in the ACC. Both squads have plenty of kinks to work out over the next few weeks. The Demon Deacons have a shaky offensive line, and the Eagles are adjusting to new schemes on both sides of the ball. Boston College also needs to find another receiver or two to pair with potential All-ACC target Alex Amidon. This game is a tossup, but I like Wake Forest to leave Chestnut Hill with a three-point win.
Braden Gall (@BradenGall): Notre Dame (+4.5) over Michigan
These two have split the last two meetings since both Brady Hoke and Brian Kelly entered the series with the home team taking each of the last two meetings. Last season was the lowest scoring meeting between the two since 1909 and the Irish defense will once again take center stage. If Tommy Rees is even half of the player he was in Week 1, he should be able to move the ball effectively against a Michigan defense that is still a recruiting class or two away from being championship caliber. Look for the ND defensive line to pressure Devin Gardner into a few mistakes and that will lead to an upset in one of the most "historic, traditional" rivalry games in college football.
David Fox (@DavidFox615): BYU (+7) over Texas
A home underdog raises eyebrows, for sure. I also wonder if we’ve overcompensated for Week 1. After stalling early, Texas throttled New Mexico State as it should, but BYU had a bizarre game against Virginia, delay for more than two and a half hours by lightning. A Western team going East, a rain delay and two Virginia drives starting in the red zone due to a turnover and a blocked punt leads me to believe we might see the real BYU team this week. I like the Cougars pass rush against David Ash, who threw two first-half picks against New Mexico State.
Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch): Arkansas State (+11.5) over Auburn
It’s possible that Auburn’s Week 2 opponent (Arkansas State) has more talent than its Week 1 opponent (Washington State). The Red Wolves are solid at quarterback with Adam Kennedy, a transfer from Utah State, and outstanding at tailback with David Oku, a former Tennessee Vol. The wild card on offense could be Fredi Knighten, who ran for 101 yards (one of four Red Wolves to top the 100-yard mark) and two touchdowns on three carries against Arkansas-Pine Bluff. I smell upset.
Mark Ross: James Madison (+3) over Akron
As this season has already shown us, FCS teams are more than capable of not only hanging with big brother, but also beating them on occasion. While the mighty Zips of Akron, who got manhandled 38-7 by UCF in their opener, aren't exactly on the same level as Oregon State or Kansas State, they are still an FBS team. Akron struggled in all facets of the game last week, but was particularly bad against the pass, giving up nearly 17 yards per completion to the Knights.
JMU isn't known for throwing the ball all over the field, but what the Dukes do have is a dangerous dual-threat quarterback in Michael Birdsong and the confidence that comes with the success the program has enjoyed under coach Mickey Matthews. JMU also has experience as a giant-killer, as the Dukes defeated in-state powerhouse Virginia Tech in Blacksburg in 2010. Three years later, lightning strikes again for JMU, but this time in Ohio, as the Dukes produce just enough offense and make a key play on defense late to add another W to the FCS' win total against FBS teams this season.
Stephen Schindler (@SteveSchindler): Washington State (-15.5) over USC
Lane Kiffin is a mess. The USC quarterback situation is a mess. And the Trojans looked spotty in their victory over a very mediocre Hawaii squad last week. Washington State almost stole a game at Auburn with quarterback Connor Halliday throwing for over 300 yards. Mike Leach is still one of the best offensive minds in the game. Expect the Cougars to spread USC out and pass upwards of 60 times. While Marqise Lee is an unquestionable talent, the Trojans still don’t know who will be throwing him the ball. If Washington State can protect Halliday and he can protect the football, Washington State will get its first win in LA since 2000.
Week 1 was a good debut for most of the teams in the ACC. North Carolina was handled by South Carolina on the road, but Virginia knocked off BYU, and Clemson scored a huge non-conference victory over Georgia.
Although non-conference wins aren’t necessarily a good indicator of depth for any league, it certainly helps the national perception of the ACC.
This week, Miami, Syracuse and Virginia will have opportunities for non-conference wins. The Hurricanes host Florida, the Cavaliers welcome Oregon to Charlottesville, and the Orange travel to Northwestern.
There’s only one conference matchup this Saturday, as Wake Forest plays at Boston College.
The rest of the schedule is full of one-sided affairs, including Virginia Tech against Western Carolina and Clemson versus South Carolina State.
ACC Week 2 Game Power Rankings
1. Florida (-3) at Miami (noon ET, ESPN)
Week 2 doesn’t feature many marquee matchups, but this meeting between Sunshine State rivals should be one of the must-see games this Saturday. The Hurricanes are making progress under coach Al Golden, and a win over Florida certainly wouldn’t hurt the rebuilding efforts for this coaching staff. The battle in the trenches will be worth watching, as the Gators’ defensive line is one of the best in the nation, and Miami’s offensive line ranked in the top 10 of Athlon’s preseason rankings. Quarterback Stephen Morris and a solid group of receivers will test a Florida secondary that ranked 17th nationally against the pass last season and is led by future NFL cornerbacks in Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson. Running back Duke Johnson is explosive and is due for a heavy workload after recording 19 carries in the opener. Miami’s defense was one of the worst in the ACC last year but showed improvement - albeit against FAU - in Week 1. Stopping Florida's offense will be a bigger challenge for the 'Canes, especially with quarterback Jeff Driskel improving, and a solid duo of running backs in Matt Jones and Mack Brown. If the Hurricanes can slow down the Gators’ rushing attack, it’s a good sign for a defense that was shredded for 217.9 yards per game on the ground last year.
2. Oregon (-22) at Virginia (3:30 ET, ABC/ESPN2)
After a last-minute win against BYU last Saturday, the schedule doesn’t get any easier for Virginia in Week 2. Even without Chip Kelly calling the plays, the Ducks didn’t miss a beat on offense against Nicholls State. Oregon recorded 66 points and 772 yards on less than 20 minutes on time of possession last week. Virginia struggled to generate much offense against the Cougars last Saturday (223 yards), but its defense limited BYU to only 175 passing yards. The Ducks are more explosive and deeper on offense than the Cougars, which presents an even bigger challenge for the Cavaliers. Although the Cavaliers need to get stops on defense, they need to play keep away on offense. The running back trio of Kevin Parks, Khalek Shepherd and freshman Tiquan Mizzell has to have success on early downs, as Virginia hopes to wear down Oregon’s defense. Even if the Cavaliers defense manages to limit quarterback Marcus Mariota, the Ducks have other weapons, including running back De’Anthony Thomas and receiver Josh Huff.
3. Syracuse (+12) at Northwestern (6 ET, Big Ten Network)
Even though the Orange suffered a loss to Penn State in the opener, all is not lost in Syracuse. A new coaching staff and quarterback is a lot to overcome in the first week of the season, so Syracuse has plenty of room to grow over the next few contests. But the Orange will have their hands full on Saturday night. Northwestern’s offense recorded 508 yards in last week’s win over California – and that was with top quarterback Kain Colter and running back Venric Mark sidelined due to injuries. Both players are expected to be back in the lineup on Saturday. The Wildcats should have no trouble scoring, so it’s up to Syracuse’s offense to improve after recording only 260 yards against Penn State. Quarterback Drew Allen was 16 of 37 for 189 yards in his first start, but he will have an opportunity to throw against a Wildcats’ secondary that allowed 455 passing yards to California.
4. Wake Forest (+3) at Boston College (Friday, 8 ET, ESPN2)
Although both Wake Forest and Boston College were victorious in Week 1, it’s hard to glean too much from playing FCS opponents. However, both teams had to be pleased with some of the individual performances in their early tune-up. Take out Presbyterian’s 66-yard run in the first half, and the Blue Hose managed only 85 yards on 42 plays against Wake Forest’s defense. The Eagles trailed 14-7 in the first half but rallied behind the steady play of quarterback Chase Rettig, and a defense that held Villanova without a point in the final two quarters. Boston College’s defense was aggressive against the Wildcats (four sacks), which will test a Demon Deacon offensive line that struggled mightily last year. After a good showing against Presbyterian, this matchup against a balanced Boston College offense should give the rest of the ACC a better idea of where Wake Forest’s defense stacks up in 2013.
5. Old Dominion (+18) at Maryland (4 ET, ESPNEWS)
Outside of Clemson and Florida State, the ACC’s most impressive team of Week 1 had to be Maryland. Even though FIU is one of the worst teams in the nation, the Terrapins seem to have the right pieces in place on both sides of the ball. Quarterback C.J. Brown was sharp in his return from a torn ACL, recording 386 total yards and five touchdowns. And a defense with only four returning starters allowed just 171 yards to the Panthers. Old Dominion is transitioning to the FBS level and features a high-scoring offense, led by quarterback Taylor Heinicke (338 yards last week against East Carolina). While the Monarchs can move the ball on offense, the defense gave up 6.3 yards per play against the Pirates last week and ranked 94th nationally in total defense among FCS teams in 2012. Old Dominion will make Maryland sweat more than it did against FIU, but the Terrapins should be 2-0 heading into Week 3.
6. Duke (-6) at Memphis (4:30 ET, ESPN3)
Although it’s only Week 2 of the college football season, it’s never too early to start thinking about bowl eligibility. If Duke wants to make a return trip to the postseason, it has to win this game. Memphis is a team headed in the right direction under coach Justin Fuente, and the Tigers closed out 2012 by winning three consecutive games. Duke easily handled North Carolina Central in its opener, recording its first shutout since 1989 in a 45-0 win. Memphis is a mystery team after a bye in Week 1, and redshirt freshman Paxton Lynch unseated Jacob Karam in the quarterback battle this fall. Memphis’ defense returns eight starters, so this should be a good test for Duke quarterback Anthony Boone in his third career start.
7. MTSU (+17.5) at North Carolina (12:30 ET, ESPN3)
The Tar Heels lost to South Carolina 27-10 last Thursday night, but there were a few positives for coach Larry Fedora to build on this week. A rebuilt offensive line held its own, and after struggling early, the defense held the Gamecocks to just seven points in the second half. The Blue Raiders defeated Western Carolina 45-24 last Thursday, but the win came at a price. Quarterback Logan Kilgore suffered a shoulder injury against the Catamounts and may be at less than full strength against the Tar Heels. With Kilgore at less than 100 percent, North Carolina should expect a heavy dose of sophomore running back Jordan Parker (156 yards last week), especially after struggling to stop South Carolina’s ground attack. Even if MTSU can move the ball, the Tar Heels simply have too much firepower and should take advantage of a Blue Raider defense that allowed 440 yards per game last year. With Georgia Tech up next, it’s important for North Carolina’s defense to have a good outing to build confidence for the ACC opener.
8. Richmond (+23) at NC State (6 ET, ESPN3)
New NC State coach Dave Doeren had an impressive debut last week, and the first-year coach should start off with a 2-0 mark with Richmond coming to down on Saturday. The Wolfpack handled Louisiana Tech 40-14 in Week 1, but the win was costly. Quarterback Brandon Mitchell suffered a foot injury and will miss at least four weeks. With Mitchell sidelined, Pete Thomas is expected to be the No. 1 quarterback, and the coaching staff can use this game to get him acclimated to the new offense, especially with a date against Clemson on Sept. 19. The Spiders won’t be a pushover, as they rank No. 15 in the FCS poll and are led by former Virginia quarterback Michael Strauss.
9. South Carolina State (+52.5) at Clemson (12:30 ET, ESPN3)
After a huge victory over a ranked opponent, it’s always a good idea to put for the winning team to be on letdown alert the next week. But there should be little concern for Clemson this Saturday. The Tigers take on South Carolina State in Week 2, a team that went 5-6 in 2012 and ranked 101st nationally in scoring offense last year. Don’t expect quarterback Tajh Boyd to play more than a half for the Tigers, but this matchup is a good opportunity to pad his stats for Heisman voters. Expect Clemson to get plenty of young players a handful of snaps in this game.
10. Western Carolina (+42) at Virginia Tech (1:30 ET, ESPN3)
As expected, Virginia Tech was handled by Alabama in Atlanta last Saturday. The Hokies managed only 212 yards of total offense – with 77 coming on Trey Edmunds’ touchdown run. The defense held the Crimson Tide to just 206 yards, and Bud Foster’s unit will have to carry this team until the offense gets on track. With a struggling Western Carolina team (2-20 from 2011-12), this should provide the perfect opportunity for Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas to gain some confidence. Thomas was just 5 of 26 against Alabama but should have no trouble against the Catamounts. The Hokies should regain the services of running back Joel Caleb (suspended for the opener), while J.C. Coleman is still on the mend from a preseason ankle injury.
ACC Week 2 Pivotal Players
Drew Allen, QB, Syracuse
It’s easy to list the quarterbacks in this section, but Syracuse’s offense managed just 17 points in last week’s loss to Penn State. With a matchup against Northwestern’s high-scoring offense ahead this Saturday, the Orange need a better effort from their passing attack. In his first start, quarterback Drew Allen threw for 189 yards on 16 completions and tossed two picks. Northwestern’s secondary struggled to stop California last week, and with Allen having another week to jell with the rest of the offense, expect a better performance on Saturday.
Trey Edmunds, RB, Virginia Tech
The Hokies are searching for answers on offense after last week’s 35-10 loss to Alabama. With Western Carolina up this week, Virginia Tech shouldn’t have to sweat much to break into the win column. However, we are listing Edmunds here with eye to the rest of the season. In the opener, Edmunds rushed for 132 yards – 77 on one carry – on 20 attempts. The Hokies struggled to find a No. 1 back last year and desperately need to find someone to take the pressure off of quarterback Logan Thomas. While this game will be a one-sided affair, Edmunds can solidify his place on the depth chart with a big performance.
Ereck Flowers/Seantrel Henderson/Jon Feliciano, OT, Miami
Florida’s front seven is among the best in the nation. The Gators held an explosive Toledo offense to just six points and 205 yards, while recording two sacks against quarterback Terrance Owens. If Miami’s offense is going to get on track, it has to give quarterback Stephen Morris and running back Duke Johnson room to operate. All three tackles will be under the spotlight, especially as they try to slow down the pass rush from Ronald Powell, Dante Fowler and Jonathan Bullard.
Wake Forest’s offensive line
The Demon Deacons had one of the ACC’s worst offensive lines last year. This unit allowed 2.3 sacks per game, while rushers averaged just three yards per carry. Although Presbyterian isn’t the toughest of opponents, there were encouraging signs in Week 1. Wake Forest’s offensive line allowed just one sack and rushers averaged 3.5 yards per carry. After recording four sacks against Villanova, Boston College’s front seven should provide a good litmus test for this unit.
David Watford, QB, Virginia
With one of the nation’s most prolific offenses coming to Charlottesville this weekend, the Cavaliers need to score more than 19 points they recorded against BYU to have a chance at an upset against the Ducks. Watford was just 18 of 32 for 114 yards and one touchdown against BYU, and he won’t get any breaks against an Oregon defense that has one of the best cornerback tandems in college football. The sophomore doesn’t need to throw for 300 yards but avoiding turnovers, while making plays with his legs will be crucial to Virginia’s upset hopes.
ACC Week 2 Predictions
|Game||David Fox||Braden Gall||Steven Lassan||Mitch Light|
|Wake Forest (+3) at Boston College||BC 24-14||Wake Forest 24-21||Wake Forest 27-24||BC 20-17|
|Florida (-3) at Miami||Florida 28-24||Florida 27-21||Florida 24-20||Florida 24-20|
|SC State (+52.5) at Clemson||Clemson 52-7||Clemson 38-10||Clemson 62-3||Clemson 48-0|
|MTSU (+17.5) at North Carolina||UNC 38-14||UNC 45-24||UNC 45-20||UNC 38-20|
|Western Carolina (+42) at Va. Tech||Va. Tech 21-10||Va. Tech 38-3||Va. Tech 48-7||Va. Tech 37-10|
|Oregon (-22) at Virginia||Oregon 49-14||Oregon 45-17||Oregon 41-20||Oregon 28-6|
|Old Dominion (+18) at Maryland||Maryland 31-17||Maryland 40-17||Maryland 45-24||Maryland 41-24|
|Duke (-6) at Memphis||Memphis 21-17||Duke 31-20||Duke 31-17||Memphis 21-20|
|Syracuse (+12) at Northwestern||NW 35-14||NW 34-24||NW 34-20||NW 33-24|
|Richmond (+23) at NC State||NC State 28-14||NC State 41-13||NC State 38-20||NC State 30-13|
USC opened the season with a 30-13 victory over Hawaii, but the Trojans struggled to get anything going through the air. And it appears the quarterback battle will continue into Week 2. All reports out of Los Angeles this week seem to signal Cody Kessler will get the start this Saturday, but Max Wittek is expected to play.
Kessler started at quarterback and completed 10 of 19 throws for 95 yards and one touchdown. However, he also tossed one pick.
Wittek played in relief, completing 5 of 10 throws for 77 yards. The sophomore also averaged more yards per attempt (7.7).
Although neither took a step forward in the quarterback battle, USC can win a lot of games this year without a dynamic passing attack. The defense was solid in the opener and will get better with more time to adjust to new coordinator Clancy Pendergast’s system. Also, the team can lean on a deep group of running backs to carry the offense until a quarterback emerges.
USC faces an improving Washington State team this Saturday, which should provide a good test for Kessler and Wittek as the quarterback battle continues to play out for the Trojans.
After a tough loss to Fresno State in Week 1, Rutgers returns home to play Norfolk State. The Scarlet Knights are a heavy favorite and should have no trouble erasing the bad memories from last week’s loss.
Rutgers will also break out a new helmet this week, changing from the gray chrome scheme to a white variation.
Pretty sharp look for the Scarlet Knights.
One day closer to games.
Contact us on twitter with a link or a tip we should include each day. (@AthlonSteven)
College Football's Must-Read Stories Around the Web for Wednesday, September 4th
Here's a weird story: NCAA players are not allowed to have game balls until their eligibility has expired.
LSU coach Les Miles isn't saying much about the status of running back Jeremy Hill.
Matt Hayes goes around the nation in his weekly first-and-10 column.
Steven Godfrey of SB Nation spent some time with the Mississippi State coaching staff before and after the Oklahoma State loss.
What is Mississippi State's identity as a football program?
Kentucky coach Mark Stoops is already considering a few changes to his defense.
Will Devonte Fields play for TCU this weekend?
Rutgers' defensive line is dealing with a handful of issues so far.
Bucky's 5th Quarter takes a look at Wisconsin's offensive line and special teams.
Matt Brown of Sports on Earth takes a look at whether or not it's time to panic or show patience on a few teams after Week 1.
Auburn's coaching staff is planning to open up the offense a little more this week.
Alabama will spend the bye week addressing fundamental issues.
Freshman Derrick Green is now Michigan's No. 2 running back.
California coach Sonny Dykes has a solution for the fake injury concerns.
LSU running back Alfred Blue was effective, but tenative against TCU on Saturday night.
UCLA's young offensive line had a solid debut against Nevada.
Linebacker Curt Maggitt is close to returning for Tennessee.
Week 1 of the 2013 college football season is in the books, and a few coaches are feeling the pressure after their opening week performance.
Connecticut’s Paul Pasqualoni takes the top spot in Athlon’s hot seat rankings after Week 1. The Huskies turned in an awful performance against Towson, losing to the FCS opponent on Thursday night. Considering Connecticut had very little margin for error to earn a winning record, losing to Towson might seal Pasqualoni’s fate.
UNLV’s Bobby Hauck topped Athlon’s preseason rankings, but he slides to the No. 2 spot after Connecticut’s awful loss.
USC had a so-so debut at Hawaii, and coach Lane Kiffin still has a quarterback question mark. Is it Max Wittek or Cody Kessler? The Trojans have a key Pac-12 game against Washington State this Saturday.
Rounding out the top five for the post-week 1 rankings is Miami (Ohio)’s Don Treadwell and Illinois’ Tim Beckman.
Ranking all 125 coaches when it comes to hot seat/pressure surrounding the program is an impossible task. Keep in mind, just because a coach ranks high on the list doesn’t mean we think he will be fired at the end of the year. Also, there’s really no separation from No. 28-100 on this list. So don’t get too caught up in the No. 55 or No. 76 ranked coach.
Ranking All 125 CFB Coaches on Hot Seat/Pressure on Program to Win in 2013
|1||Paul Pasqualoni||0-1||Moves to No. 1 after bad loss to Towson.|
|2||Bobby Hauck||0-1||Rebels are improving but need more wins.|
|3||Don Treadwell||0-1||RedHawks dominated in loss to Marshall.|
|4||Lane Kiffin||1-0||Can Kiffin find a quarterback?|
|5||Tim Beckman||1-0||A win...but too close for comfort against Southern Illinois.|
|6||Dan Enos||0-1||Chippewas simply overwhelmed against Michigan.|
|7||Ron English||1-0||A good start to the season for EMU.|
|8||Kirk Ferentz||0-1||Huge contract, so he's not going anywhere.|
|9||Tony Levine||1-0||Good test for Houston at Temple this Saturday.|
|10||Mack Brown||1-0||'Horns impressive, but better test against BYU this week.|
|11||Norm Chow||0-1||Schedule not going to get any easier for Warriors.|
|12||Jeff Quinn||0-1||Bulls will be a factor in the MAC East.|
|13||Gary Pinkel||1-0||Pinkel's old job (Toledo) visits Columbia this Saturday.|
|15||Joey Jones||0-1||Bad loss for South Alabama on Thursday night.|
|16||Carl Pelini||0-1||On fourth down, you aren't supposed to spike the ball.|
|22||Dave Christensen||0-1||Cowboys had good showing in Nebraska.|
|24||Steve Sarkisian||1-0||Washington had one of Week 1's most impressive wins.|
|25||Randy Edsall||1-0||FIU is bad - but Terrapins impressive in Week 1.|
|28||Bo Pelini||1-0||Cornhuskers still trying to find the right pieces on defense.|
|30||Dan Mullen||0-1||Mullen looking for answers on offense this week.|
|34||David Bailiff||0-1||Owls played well in loss to Texas A&M.|
|35||Kevin Wilson||1-0||Hoosiers impressive in win over Indiana State.|
|38||Kyle Flood||0-1||Rutgers-Fresno State one of the best games for Week 1.|
|40||Rocky Long||0-1||Disappointing loss for Aztecs against Eastern Illinois.|
|41||Mike Riley||0-1||Has lost two FCS games in three years.|
|50||Bobby Petrino||1-0||Can Petrino make it two in a row over the SEC this week?|
|51||Mark Helfrich||1-0||So far, so good for Helfrich.|
|52||Rod Carey||1-0||Big win for NIU against Iowa.|
|53||Dave Clawson||1-0||Impressive showing against Tulsa.|
|70||Dabo Swinney||1-0||Swinney continues to elevate the program.|
|71||Jimbo Fisher||1-0||Jameis Winston: He's the real deal.|
|77||Darrell Hazell||0-1||Boilermakers will get better.|
|78||Willie Taggart||0-1||Bad debut, but plenty of time to turn things around.|
|79||Mark Stoops||0-1||Needs to keep recruiting class together as losses pile up.|
|92||Sonny Dykes||0-1||Impressive even in losing effort.|
|94||Mike MacIntyre||1-0||MacIntyre will make a big difference this year.|
Related College Football Content
Post-Week 1 ACC Power Rankings
Post-Week 1 Big Ten Power Rankings
Post-Week 1 Big 12 Power Rankings
Post-Week 1 Pac-12 Power Rankings
Post-Week 1 SEC Power Rankings
College Football Post-Week 1 Recap
9 Amazing Stats from Week 1
National Awards for Week 1
|New Mexico||Dec. 21||Pac-12 vs. MWC||Washington vs. Air Force|
|Famous Idaho Potato||Dec. 21||MAC vs. MWC||Nevada vs. Bowling Green|
|Las Vegas||Dec. 21||Pac-12 vs. MWC||Oregon State vs. Fresno State|
|New Orleans Bowl||Dec. 21||Sun Belt vs. CUSA||Louisiana-Lafayette vs. MTSU|
|Beef 'O' Brady's||Dec. 23||American vs. CUSA||Pittsburgh* vs. Louisiana Tech|
|Hawaii||Dec. 24||MWC vs. CUSA||San Jose State vs. East Carolina|
|Little Caesars Pizza||Dec. 26||MAC vs. Big Ten||Northern Illinois vs. Minnesota|
|Poinsettia||Dec. 26||Army vs. MWC||Arizona* vs. San Diego State|
|Military||Dec. 27||CUSA vs. ACC||Marshall vs. Maryland|
|Texas||Dec. 27||Big 12 vs. Big Ten||TCU vs. Indiana|
|Kraft Fight Hunger||Dec. 27||BYU vs. Pac-12||BYU vs. USC|
|Pinstripe||Dec. 28||American vs. Big 12||Rutgers vs. West Virginia|
|Belk||Dec. 28||American vs. ACC||North Carolina vs. USF|
|Russell Athletic||Dec. 28||American vs. ACC||Cincinnati vs. Miami|
|Buffalo Wild Wings||Dec. 28||Big 12 vs. Big Ten||Baylor vs. Northwestern|
|Armed Forces||Dec. 30||MWC vs. Navy||Navy vs. Utah State|
|Music City||Dec. 30||ACC vs. SEC||Ole Miss vs. Georgia Tech|
|Alamo||Dec. 30||Big 12 vs. Pac-12||Stanford vs. Oklahoma|
|Holiday||Dec. 30||Pac-12 vs. Big 12||Arizona State vs. Kansas State|
|AdvoCare V100||Dec. 31||ACC vs. SEC||NC State vs. Auburn|
|Sun||Dec. 31||Pac-12 vs. ACC||Virginia Tech vs. UCLA|
|Liberty||Dec. 31||SEC vs. CUSA||Tulsa vs. Tennessee|
|Chick-fil-A||Dec. 31||ACC vs. SEC||South Carolina vs. Florida State|
|Gator||Jan. 1||SEC vs. Big Ten||Vanderbilt vs. Michigan State|
|Heart of Dallas||Jan. 1||Big Ten vs. CUSA||Rice vs. Texas Tech*|
|Capital One||Jan. 1||SEC vs. Big Ten||Texas A&M vs. Wisconsin|
|Outback||Jan. 1||SEC vs. Big Ten||Florida vs. Nebraska|
|Rose||Jan. 1||BCS vs. BCS||Oregon vs. Michigan|
|Fiesta||Jan. 1||BCS vs. BCS||Oklahoma State vs. Boise State|
|Sugar||Jan. 2||BCS vs. BCS||Georgia vs. Louisville|
|Cotton||Jan. 3||SEC vs. Big 12||Texas vs. LSU|
|Orange||Jan. 3||BCS vs. BCS||Clemson vs. Notre Dame|
|BBVA Compass||Jan. 4||SEC vs. American||Mississippi State vs. UCF|
|GoDaddy||Jan. 5||MAC vs. Sun Belt||ULM vs. Ball State|
|National Title||Jan. 6||BCS vs. BCS||Alabama vs. Ohio State|
Plenty of news from the first weekend of the season.
Contact us on twitter with a link or a tip we should include each day. (@AthlonSteven)
College Football's Must-Read Stories Around the Web for Tuesday, September 3rd
Mississippi State quarterback Tyler Russell is not expected to play in Week 2 due to a concussion. Here's an interesting look at the Bulldogs' offenses under coach Dan Mullen.
Saturday Down South takes a look at what happened in the SEC in Week 1.
Lost Lettermen has a look at the top 10 biggest hits in college football history. And why it's time for replacements on ESPN's College Gameday.
Receiver Kenny Bell has decided to leave Alabama.
CBS Sports' Bruce Feldman has an excellent recap of Week 1.
Ole Miss linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche and guard Aaron Morris are dealing with injuries suffered in the Week 1 win over Vanderbilt.
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly has a new contract.
Oklahoma State is searching for an identity on offense.
Auburn expects have defensive end Dee Ford in a couple of weeks.
Washington State quarterback Connor Halliday wasn't impressed with Auburn's Nick Marshall.
Tajh Boyd, Sammy Watkins and Jadeveon Clowney are among the players on the watch list for the award going to the collegiate best player in South Carolina or player from the state playing at another university.
Purdue cornerback Ricardo Allen may have a high ankle sprain.
Kent State running back Dri Archer plans on playing this week after suffering an ankle injury against Liberty.
After one game, Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy is making a change at quarterback. Clint Chelf has been benched in favor of J.W. Walsh.
In Saturday’s win over Mississippi State, Walsh was the better quarterback, throwing for 135 yards and adding 125 yards and one score on the ground.
Chelf closed out 2012 on a tear but struggled to find his rhythm in the opener and was just 3 of 6 for 11 yards.
Although Walsh has passed Chelf on the depth chart, don’t be surprised if both quarterbacks see action. Walsh isn’t as polished as a passer, and Chelf’s arm could be needed once Big 12 play arrives.
Dave Doeren’s debut at NC State was impressive, as the Wolfpack steamrolled Louisiana Tech 40-14.
NC State is back at home this Saturday, hosting FCS opponent Richmond.
The Wolfpack will have a new helmet for this weekend’s game, unveiling a white scheme with a red, white and blue NC State logo.
Considering the bad losses suffered by some of the other BCS leagues, Week 1 was a solid debut for the ACC in 2013.
Clemson scored a huge victory against Georgia, which should propel the Tigers into a top-five spot in most weekly polls. Clemson should be unbeaten when Florida State comes to Death Valley in October.
As expected, Miami and Georgia Tech had no trouble with their Week 1 competition. And Virginia Tech and North Carolina struggled to hang with their SEC opponents. The Hokies still need to work on their passing attack, while the Tar Heels clearly have some issues on defense.
At the bottom of the conference, Wake Forest, Boston College and Duke were solid this week. And Syracuse hung tough against Penn State in a neutral site matchup.
More Post-Week 1 Power Rankings: Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC
ACC Post-Week 1 Power Rankings
|1||1||Clemson (1-0, 0-0): The Tigers claimed the ACC’s best victory of Week 1, edging Georgia 38-35. Quarterback Tajh Boyd made an early Heisman statement with 312 total yards and five scores. Clemson’s defense gave up 545 yards, but the Bulldogs’ offense is one of the best in the nation, and there were a few positives for coordinator Brent Venables to build on this week. The Tigers shouldn’t be tested over the next few weeks, with their next big game coming on Oct. 19 in Death Valley against Florida State. Next Week: South Carolina State|
|2||2||Florida State (1-0, 1-0): All of the offseason talk in Tallahassee centered on redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston. And after Monday night’s debut in the Steel City, it’s clear Winston is already one of the ACC’s best quarterbacks. Winston completed 25 of 27 throws for 356 yards and four scores, while adding 25 yards and one touchdown on the ground. A rebuilt defense gave up 10 points in the first half but held the Panthers to just one field goal in the final two quarters. Even though there’s a lot of new faces in the lineup, Florida State is going to be the thick of the national championship hunt.|
|3||3||Miami (1-0, 0-0): With a huge matchup against Florida next week, FAU was the perfect tune-up for the Hurricanes. After ranking as one of the worst in the ACC last year, Miami’s defense is under the spotlight in 2013. So far, the Hurricanes appear to be better on that side of the ball. FAU managed only two field goals and averaged just 3.3 yards per play. Of course, the Owls aren’t the best competition, but Miami should have some confidence going into Week 2. Next Week: Florida|
|4||5||Georgia Tech (1-0, 0-0): As expected, the Yellow Jackets rolled to an easy 70-0 victory over Elon. There’s not a ton for coach Paul Johnson to glean from this matchup, but the defensive effort is something to build on for the rest of the year. Georgia Tech allowed just 253 yards and scored two defensive touchdowns. Six different players scored rushing touchdowns against the Phoenix, and quarterback Vad Lee threw for 189 yards and two scores. The Yellow Jackets first real test of the season won’t occur until Sept. 14 against Duke. Next Week: Bye|
|5||4||Virginia Tech (0-1, 0-0): Yes, the Hokies were manhandled in Week 1, but let’s not penalize them too much for losing to the No. 1 team in the nation. There’s no question Virginia Tech’s defense is among the best in the ACC. However, the offense still left a lot to be desired on Saturday. Quarterback Logan Thomas completed only five passes, and if you take away Trey Edmunds’ 77-yard touchdown run, the Hokies managed only 135 yards of total offense. Week 1 was rough, but we will get a better idea about Virginia Tech’s offense in future weeks. Next Week: Western Carolina|
|6||6||North Carolina (0-1, 0-0): Just as we mentioned with Virginia Tech, it’s tough to penalize the Tar Heels for losing a game most didn’t give them a chance to win. South Carolina’s advantage in the trenches was simply too much for North Carolina, while the defense remains a work in progress. The Gamecocks recorded 406 total yards and gashed the Tar Heels for 228 yards on the ground. With Georgia Tech coming up on Sept. 21, addressing the defense is a top priority for coach Larry Fedora. Next Week: MTSU|
|7||8||Maryland (1-0, 0-0): The Terrapins were one of the ACC’s most-impressive teams in Week 1. Of course, we don’t want to overreact too much to a bad FIU team, but there were plenty of signs for optimism for coach Randy Edsall. Quarterback C.J. Brown recorded 386 total yards and five scores in his return from a torn ACL, and junior college recruit Deon Long was impressive (nine receptions). After nearly losing to William & Mary in last year’s opener, this is a much better start for Edsall’s team. Next Week: Old Dominion|
|8||9||NC State (1-0, 0-0): Dave Doeren’s debut in Raleigh was a success. The Wolfpack easily dispatched Louisiana Tech (40-14), and there was plenty to success on both sides of the ball. However, the mood was dampened with the injury to quarterback Brandon Mitchell. The senior was a good fit for NC State’s spread attack, but he will miss at least four weeks with a foot injury. With Mitchell out, Pete Thomas is expected to start. Not having Mitchell is a huge blow, but the Wolfpack play only one conference game the rest of September. Next Week: Richmond|
|9||10||Virginia (1-0, 0-0): Coach Mike London was feeling a little pressure after a disappointing 2012 season, but the Cavaliers responded with a huge win over BYU in Week 1. Inclement weather delayed this game for over two hours, and the sloppy conditions contributed to some of the struggles for both offenses. Virginia’s defense allowed the Cougars to record 362 yards but a late interception put the offense in position to record the game-winning score with less than three minutes to play. Although the Cavaliers did just enough to beat BYU, they need a better effort on both sides of the ball to knock off Oregon. Next Week: Oregon|
|10||7||Pittsburgh (0-1, 0-1): The Panthers ran into a buzzsaw named Jameis Winston on Monday night, losing 41-13 to Florida State. Pittsburgh has plenty to work on for both sides of the ball after the loss. Quarterback Tom Savage played well early, but the offense sputtered in the second half. Although the defense struggled to contain Winston and the Seminoles’ receiving corps, most teams will struggle to stop that combination in 2013. Losing the ACC opener isn’t what Pittsburgh fans wanted, but this team should improve as the season progresses.|
|11||11||Wake Forest (1-0, 0-0): As with most FBS-FCS matchups, it’s hard to glean much from Wake Forest’s win on Thursday night. But the Demon Deacons held Presbyterian to just two first downs and only 151 total yards – a good sign for a defense that returns eight starters. Also, the offensive line gave up only one sack, and with top receiver Michael Campanaro sidelined, Jonathan Williams stepped up with five receptions and 143 yards. There were plenty of positive signs in the opener for Wake Forest, but the rest of the ACC will find out more about coach Jim Grobe’s team after Week 2. Next Week: at Boston College (Friday)|
|12||13||Syracuse (0-1, 0-0): Scott Shafer was the only first-year ACC coach to lose in Week 1, but Saturday’s loss to Penn State certainly wasn’t an embarrassing effort. With a new staff and quarterback, getting to a bowl game isn’t going to be easy. Making his first career start, quarterback Drew Allen showed promise (189 yards), and the defense forced four turnovers. The Orange has plenty of work to do, but there are positives to build on going into Week 2. Next Week: at Northwestern|
|13||12||Duke (1-0, 0-0): The Blue Devils snapped a five-game losing streak with an easy 45-0 victory over North Carolina Central. Quarterback Anthony Boone was sharp in his second start, and the defense has plenty to build on after holding N.C. Central to just 184 yards and zero points. The Blue Devils will face tougher competition the rest of September, starting with a road date against Memphis and continuing with ACC games against Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh. Next Week: at Memphis|
|14||14||Boston College (1-0, 0-0): The Steve Addazio era in Chestnut Hill opened with a 24-14 win over pesky FCS opponent Villanova. The Eagles had to sweat a bit in the first half but took control in the second half. There were plenty of positives for Addazio to build on, especially with an efficient effort from quarterback Chase Rettig (285 yards) and running back Andre Williams (114 yards). And the defense was aggressive under new coordinator Don Brown (four sacks). There’s a lot to like after Addazio’s debut, but Friday’s matchup against Wake Forest will give us a better idea of how Boston College shapes up with the rest of the ACC. Next Week: Wake Forest (Friday)|
ACC Week 1 Awards
Offensive Player of the Week: Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
Boyd was the catalyst for Clemson’s 38-35 victory over Georgia. The senior quarterback took advantage of a rebuilt Bulldogs’ secondary, throwing for 270 yards and three touchdowns on 18 completions. Boyd also added 42 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. With Boyd at the controls, Clemson’s offense is one of the nation’s best. And the senior quarterback should be near the top of the Heisman watchlist after his Week 1 performance.
Defensive Player of the Week: Anthony Harris, SS, Virginia
Harris was everywhere in Virginia’s 19-16 win over BYU on Saturday afternoon. The junior recorded 11 tackles and one sack, but those numbers didn’t represent his impact on the game. Harris blocked a punt early in the third quarter and recorded a key interception with the Cavaliers leading 16-12 with just three minutes to play. After Harris’ picked off BYU quarterback Taysom Hill, he tossed the ball to Henry Coley, who ran 27 yards to put Virginia in prime scoring position.
Team of the Week: Clemson
The Tigers scored the best victory of Week 1, defeating Georgia 38-35 behind a raucous home crowd in Death Valley. Quarterback Tajh Boyd threw for 270 yards and three touchdowns, running back Roderick McDowell chipped in 132 yards on the ground, and receiver Sammy Watkins grabbed six passes for 127 yards and one touchdown. The defense also stepped up in the second half, harassing quarterback Aaron Murray and limiting the Bulldogs to 14 points after scoring 21 in the first half. Clemson was picked by most to win the ACC, and outside of matchups against Georgia Tech and Florida State, there are few landmines for the Tigers on the schedule. It’s only Week 1, but Clemson’s win over Georgia could loom large in the national title discussion.
Coordinator of the Week: Mike Locksley, Maryland
Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris called a terrific game on Saturday night, but let’s spread the wealth a bit and give a tip of the cap to Locksley. The Terrapins recorded 576 yards and averaged 8.1 yards per play in the 43-10 win over FIU. Quarterback C.J. Brown shredded the Panthers’ defense for 281 yards and three touchdowns through the air and another 105 yards and two scores on the ground. Maryland would like to see its production from the running backs increase over the next few weeks, but Saturday’s game was a good sign for offense.
Freshman of the Week: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
The offseason hype certainly lived up to Winston’s debut. The redshirt freshman was nearly flawless in his debut, completing 25 of 27 passes (and one of the incompletions was debatable) for 356 yards and four touchdowns. Winston also added 25 yards and one score on the ground. The Alabama native was incredibly poised in his first start, and his emergence will make Florida State a factor in the national championship picture.
• NC State quarterback Brandon Mitchell suffered a foot injury in the first half against Louisiana Tech. He is expected to miss four to six weeks.
• Georgia Tech returned two interceptions for touchdowns against Elon. The Yellow Jackets 70-point win was the biggest margin of victory for an ACC school since Florida State beat Western Carolina 69-0 in 2008.
• Wake Forest played 10 freshmen against Presbyterian on Thursday night. Prior to the season opener, coach Jim Grobe had played just 22 true freshman in his 12 seasons in Winston-Salem.
• Oklahoma transfer Drew Allen started at quarterback for Syracuse in the opener against Penn State. Allen threw for 189 yards on 16 completions but also tossed two picks.
• Duke recorded its first shutout since 1989 with a 45-0 victory over North Carolina Central on Saturday night.
There was plenty of good news for the Pac-12 in Week 1. But there was one bad loss that won’t be easy to forget for some time – at least in Corvallis, Ore.
Oregon easily handled Nicholls State in the debut of coach Mark Helfrich, while Washington scored a huge victory over Washington. UCLA was impressive in its victory over Nevada, and USC was just too much for Hawaii – even with a struggling quarterback situation.
Week 1 of the 2013 season certainly won’t be forgotten at Oregon State anytime soon. The Beavers were shredded by FCS opponent Eastern Washington and lost 49-46. Although Oregon State should eventually get on track, it’s a bad moment for a program that was ranked in the top 25 by some this preseason.
Pac-12 Post-Week 1 Power Rankings
|1||1||Oregon (1-0, 0-0): Chip Kelly is gone, but there wasn’t much of a difference in the Ducks’ performance – at least through Week 1. Against an overmatched Nicholls State squad, Oregon recorded 772 yards and 66 points. Those totals are even more impressive when you consider the Ducks held the ball for just 19:46. Touted true freshman running back Thomas Tyner did not play in Week 1 due to injury, but he is expected to return to the field soon. Next Week: at Virginia|
|2||2||Stanford (0-0, 0-0): Stanford began the 2013 season with a bye week. The Cardinal have few glaring holes, but the extra week should have allowed the team to work on the passing game. Quarterback Kevin Hogan is expected to emerge as one of the Pac-12’s top quarterbacks, but the sophomore needs more help from his receiving corps: Next Week: San Jose State|
|3||7||Washington (1-0, 0-0): The Huskies secured the Pac-12’s best victory of Week 1, dominating Boise State 38-6. Both sides of the ball delivered in the opening of new Husky Stadium. The defense held Boise State to six points and just 175 passing yards, while the offense recorded 592 yards and 33 first downs. Quarterback Keith Price appears to be regaining his form of 2011, as he threw for 324 yards and two scores against the Broncos. For a program that has finished 7-6 for three straight seasons, Washington needed to win the opener to get over seven victories in 2013. Next Week: Bye|
|4||3||Arizona State (0-0, 0-0): The Sun Devils had a bye week on Saturday and will hit the field on Thursday night for their first game. Coach Todd Graham’s team is Athlon’s pick to win the Pac-12 title in 2013. Next Week: Sacramento State (Thursday)|
|5||6||UCLA (1-0, 0-0): The Bruins opened their Pac-12 South title defense with a convincing 58-20 victory over Nevada. 41 of UCLA’s 58 points came in the second half, including five rushing touchdowns. Quarterback Brett Hundley had an efficient performance, while Jordon James clearly emerged as the Bruins’ No. 1 running back with 155 yards and one touchdown on 21 attempts. UCLA’s secondary was a huge concern going into the season, but Nevada quarterback Cody Fajardo managed just 164 passing yards. Next Week: at Nebraska (Sept. 14)|
|6||5||USC (1-0, 0-0): It wasn’t pretty, but USC left Hawaii with a 1-0 record. The quarterback battle between Cody Kessler and Max Wittek will continue into Week 2, as neither passer was able to move the ball consistently through the air. Although the passing game is a work in progress, the offensive line might be a bigger concern. USC allowed three sacks to Hawaii and struggled to get its rushing game on track in the first half. The defense was a bright spot for coach Lane Kiffin, as the Trojans recorded seven sacks against the Warriors. Next Week: Washington State|
|7||8||Arizona (1-0, 0-0): The Wildcats didn’t have to sweat much in their opening, beating Northern Arizona 35-0. Star running back Ka’Deem Carey was suspended for the opener, but he wasn’t needed as backup Daniel Jenkins had 139 rushing yards on 12 carries. B.J. Denker got the start at quarterback and had a solid performance, while backup Javelle Allen had a 61-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Next Week: at UNLV|
|8||9||California (0-1, 0-0): Even in a losing effort, the Golden Bears were one of the Pac-12’s most impressive teams in Week 1. True freshman quarterback Jared Goff turned heads with his performance, throwing for 445 yards and two touchdowns on 63 attempts. Receivers Bryce Treggs and Chris Harper each caught over 10 passes, while the defense held Northwestern to just one offensive touchdown in the second half. Although Dykes and his staff would prefer to open the season with the win, there’s nothing for California to be ashamed about. And this team will be a handful for the rest of the Pac-12 in 2013. Next Week: Portland State|
|9||10||Utah (1-0, 0-0): Even though the Utes have played only one game this year, it’s clear the hire of Dennis Erickson as offensive coordinator should pay dividends. Quarterback Travis Wilson threw for 302 yards and two scores against Utah State’s defense, while three running backs had 10 carries or more, resulting in 148 overall rushing yards for the Utes. After missing out on a bowl game last year, Utah needed to get 2013 off to a good start. With Weber State up next, the Utes should be 2-0 going into a key conference matchup against Oregon State on Sept. 14. Next Week: Weber State|
|10||11||Washington State (0-1, 0-0 ACC): The Cougars lost their Week 1 non-conference matchup against Auburn, but coach Mike Leach has to be pleased with the progress of his team. Washington State found a rushing attack (120 yards), and quarterback Connor Halliday seemed to have a better grasp of the offense (344 yards). The defense also held Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall to just 99 passing yards. Washington State’s offensive line will get another tough test against an active USC front on Saturday. Next Week: at USC|
|11||12||Colorado (1-0, 0-0): What a difference a coaching staff makes. Colorado made one of the offseason’s top coaching hires by pulling Mike MacIntyre away from San Jose State. And MacIntyre and his staff showed just how much this team will be improved this year with a 41-27 win over Colorado State in the opener. MacIntyre and coordinator Brian Lindgren turned Connor Wood from a struggling quarterback into one of Week 1’s top performers, throwing for 400 yards and three scores. Receiver Paul Richardson showed no rust from missing all of last season with a torn ACL, catching 10 passes for 208 yards and two scores. The competition gets tougher, but the Buffaloes will be more competitive in the Pac-12 this year. Next Week: Central Arkansas|
|12||4||Oregon State (0-1, 0-0): The Beavers are better than this ranking, but there’s simply no excuse losing to a FCS team – even a good one like Eastern Washington. Oregon State’s offense certainly wasn’t the problem on Saturday, as quarterback Sean Mannion was outstanding (422 yards and three touchdowns), while receiver Brandin Cooks grabbed 13 receptions. But there were major breakdowns on defense. Oregon State allowed Eastern Washington to record 625 yards and 49 points. The Beavers will rebound, but this was a disappointing performance for a team with top-25 aspirations. Next Week: Hawaii|
Pac-12 Week 1 Awards
Compiled by Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
Offensive Player of the Week: Marcus Mariota, Oregon
The Oregon quarterback might be the most enjoyable player to watch in the enitre nation. He is simply effortless in all that he does. Yes, Keith Price and Travis Wilson posted equally impressive numbers against tougher competition, but Mariota is the leader of the Pac-12 frontrunner and he was brilliant on Saturday. He completed 12-of-21 passes for 234 yards and a touchdown while rushing five times for 113 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. That's a 22.6 yards per carry average. His offense totalled 772 yards and scoreed 66 points for Mark Helfrich in his head coaching debut. Also, a tip of the cap in this section needs to go to Colorado receiver Paul Richardson for his monster performance against Colorado State.
Defensive Player of the Week: Dion Bailey, USC
Dion Bailey moved from undersized linebacker to head-hunting safety this offseason and the move paid off in a big way in week one. New coordinator Clancy Pendergast watched his unit stifle former USC coordinator Norm Chow's offense all night led in large part by Bailey. He led the Trojans in tackles with seven and added both a sack and an interception to his stat sheet. The Trojans allowed just 231 yards of offense and only 32 yards rushing in the 30-13 win over Hawaii.
Team of the Week: Washington
Many thought Washington could pull the slight upset over the ranked Broncos but few saw this type of domination coming for the Huskies. As new Husky Stadium was christened in style by handing Boise State their worst loss since 2005 (48-13, Georgia). Both sides of the ball looked excellent as Keith Price threw for over 300 yards, while Bishop Sankey rushed for 161, each scoring two touchdowns along the way. The defense held Boise State to three points in each half and kept the Broncos out of the endzone all night long. This might have been the most impressive win nationally (other than maybe Clemson) and it could not have come at a more critical time for Steve Sarkisian.
Coordinator of the Week: Justin Wilcox, Washington
Chris Petersen doesn't know what the Woodshed looks like but he found out in a large way against one of his own. Wilcox coached under Petersen as the defensive coordinator of the Broncos from 2006-09 before moving to Seattle by way of Tennessee. Well, the pupil taught the master a few things late on Saturday night as the Huskies defense dominated the game. The six points were the fewest scored by Boise State since being shutout in 1997 by Washington State and it was just the third time since that blanking that Boise State failed to reach at least 10 points in a game. Needless to say, what Wilcox accomplished Saturday night doesn't happen very often.
Freshman of the Week: Addison Gillam, LB, Colorado
The Buffaloes scored a huge win over in-state rival Colorado State on Sunday, and Gillam was a key piece in defense’s performance. He recorded 14 stops (with two tackles as a loss), along with two sacks and one pass breakup. Gillam was a big reason why Colorado State managed just 94 rushing yards.
How times does any team on any level produce over 500 yards of offense, convert on 50-percent of third downs, not turn the ball over a single time and get beat? That is what happened to Oregon State this weekend when it lost in heart-breaking fashion to lower-tier power Eastern Washington. To fans outside of Corvallis, it was a game to remember featuring six lead changes in the final 20 minutes of game time. A big tip of the cap to EWU starting quarterback Vernon Adams who had the game of his life. He threw for 411 yards and four touchdowns while running for 107 yards and two more touchdowns. Those numbers would be sick against lower level competition but in Reser Stadium against a Top 25 opponent? Oregon State has some flaws it needs to work through and after one weekend, it appears Washington might be the top challenger to Oregon/Stanford Pac-12 North supremacy, not the Beavers.
Not only did Georgia lose Saturday’s game to Clemson, it was costly in the health department.
Running back Todd Gurley suffered a thigh injury against the Tigers, and receiver Malcolm Mitchell is lost for the year due to a torn ACL. In bizarre fashion, Mitchell suffered the injury celebrating Gurley’s 75-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.
Mitchell’s loss is a huge setback for Georgia’s offense, but the Bulldogs aren’t without playmakers at receiver. Michael Bennett caught five passes in his return from a season-ending knee injury in 2012, while Justin Scott-Wesley grabbed four passes and Chris Conley nabbed three receptions. And although tight end Arthur Lynch was quiet (one reception), he’s a potential All-American tight end.
Georgia’s offense will miss Mitchell, but the passing attack shouldn’t suffer much, especially with senior quarterback Aaron Murray at the controls.
Villanova emptied the playbook on Saturday, as it attempted to pull off an FCS over FBCS upset. The Wildcats were unsuccessful, but they gave Boston College a good fight.
But the best part of Saturday’s game was Villanova’s fake punt early in the first quarter. The Wildcats not only fooled the defense but also faked out the camera crew.
Check out Villanova’s perfectly executed fake punt:
Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel spent the first half of Saturday’s game on the sidelines due to a suspension from the offseason autograph scandal. However, Manziel didn’t let that slow him down against Rice, completing 6 of 8 passes for 94 yards and three touchdowns in the second half.
But the postgame chatter about Manziel wasn’t due to his performance. Instead, the sophomore was in the spotlight due to his money gestures after scoring a touchdown, an unsportsmanlike penalty and his jabs with Rice defenders while making an autograph gesture. Coach Kevin Sumlin wasn't happy with Manziel after the game, as the sophomore did not play after his penalty in the fourth quarter.
Check out the reaction from the web compiled in storify by @DavidFox615:
NC State opened the Dave Doeren era with an impressive 40-14 win over Louisiana Tech. However, victory came at a heavy price. Quarterback Brandon Mitchell suffered a foot fracture against the Bulldogs and will be out four to six weeks.
Mitchell transferred to NC State from Arkansas this offseason and was off to a good start, throwing for 93 yards on three completions.
With Mitchell out, NC State will turn to Colorado State transfer Pete Thomas. Against Louisiana Tech, Thomas threw for 212 yards on 15 completions.
Although Mitchell will miss at least four weeks, NC State has favorable matchups against Central Michigan and Richmond in September. Assuming the Wolfpack loses to Clemson, they should be 3-1 in case Mitchell returns to play Wake Forest on Oct. 5.
Michigan State defensive back Kurtis Drummond had quite the game in the opener against Western Michigan. Drummond returned an interception 21 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter and later followed up that play with a crazy one-handed interception.
It’s only Week 1, but Drummond’s interception might be one of the best defensive plays we see in college football this year.
It’s the first week of the college football season, so coaches and players are bound to have some rust.
However, FAU committed a silly blunder against Miami on Friday night, which is simply the result of not paying attention to the down marker or scoreboard.
With the Owls trying to score late in the fourth quarter, quarterback Jaquez Johnson was tackled around the 26-yard line with 19 seconds left to play on third down. And instead of trying to get one more play, FAU forgets its fourth down and proceeds to spike the ball. The best part? Watching FAU coach Carl Pelini give the spike symbol to his quarterback.
Alabama begins its national title defense with a trip to a familiar destination – Atlanta. The Crimson Tide played and won two out of the last four SEC Championships in the Georgia Dome, including last year’s 32-28 thriller over Georgia.
Nick Saban’s team won’t be playing for a berth in the national championship in this trip to Atlanta, and the hype for this matchup has been a subdued. The Crimson Tide is a listed as a three-touchdown favorite in some locations, and Virginia Tech is dealing with a myriad of issues on offense.
The Hokies are coming off a 7-6 season but needed three wins in overtime to get bowl eligible. As a result of the lackluster record, coach Frank Beamer made some changes to his coaching staff. Former Auburn and Temple assistant Scot Loeffler was hired as Virginia Tech’s offensive coordinator, Aaron Moorhead was brought aboard to coach the receivers and Jeff Grimes was appointed the new offensive line coach.
Virginia Tech and Alabama met in Atlanta to start the 2009 season, with the Crimson Tide earning a 34-24 victory. These two teams have played 12 times, and Alabama holds a commanding 11-1 series edge.
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Three Things to Watch
A fresh start for Logan Thomas
After throwing for 3,013 yards and 19 touchdowns and rushing for 469 yards and 11 scores in 2011, Thomas was supposed to be the ACC’s next standout quarterback. Instead, Thomas regressed as a junior and finished with just 2,976 passing yards, 18 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. The blame for the struggles on Virginia Tech’s offense doesn’t rest solely on Thomas’ shoulders, especially since the rushing attack, receiving corps and offensive line had their own issues. But if the Hokies want to hang around, the senior passer has to have a big game. Mobile quarterbacks have given a few headaches to Nick Saban’s defenses in recent years, and Thomas’ ability to move on the run could be crucial to keeping drives alive. Considering Virginia Tech’s small margin for error, the senior quarterback cannot afford any turnovers.
Alabama’s offensive line against Virginia Tech’s defensive front
If there’s one unit Alabama is concerned about, it has to be the offensive line. With Barrett Jones, D.J. Fluker and Chance Warmack departing, it won’t be easy for the Crimson Tide to dominate opposing defenses like they did last year. However, this group should remain among the best in the nation, as left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio is a future first-round pick, and center Ryan Kelly played well in limited action last year. Virginia Tech’s defensive line is the strength of the team, led by senior end James Gayle and tackles Derrick Hopkins and Luther Maddy. With three new starters on the line, Alabama’s pass protection and run blocking will be tested by Virginia Tech’s active defensive line.
Who steps up at running back and wide receiver for the Hokies?
Although Logan Thomas needs to have a big game for Virginia Tech to pull off the upset, the performance of the running game and receiving corps is just as crucial. Last year’s leading rusher (J.C. Coleman) finished 2012 with just 492 yards and did not make the trip to Atlanta due to injury. With Coleman sidelined, the Hokies will turn to redshirt freshmen Trey Edmunds and Chris Mangus on the ground. Redshirt freshman Joshua Stanford and sophomore Demitri Knowles are listed as the starters at receiver for Saturday’s game and the duo combined for 20 catches last year. Tight end Ryan Malleck was ruled out for the year this week due to a shoulder injury, which puts even more pressure on the three key players in the receiving corps: Knowles, Stanford and senior D.J. Coles.
Key Player: Jonathan McLaughlin, OT, Virginia Tech
Starting a true freshman at left tackle is usually enough to give any coach nightmares throughout game week. However, it’s an even bigger concern against a defense like Alabama. McLaughlin was rated as a three-star recruit by Rivals.com and secured the left tackle job this fall. Not only will the true freshman have his hands full against Alabama’s 3-4 defense, but he is also protecting quarterback Logan Thomas’ blindside.
Even though this game has plenty of appeal in terms of name value, this is a huge mismatch. Virginia Tech just has too many new faces on offense to threaten Alabama. The Hokies could keep this one close in the first half, largely due to their advantage on the defensive line against the Crimson Tide’s offensive line. However, Virginia Tech’s offense will struggle to generate much production on the scoreboard, which allows Alabama to pull away in the second half.
Prediction: Alabama 38, Virginia Tech 13
It’s only Week 1 of the 2013 college football season, but the stakes are high for Georgia and Clemson in Death Valley on Saturday night. Both teams have national title aspirations, and while a loss won’t knock either out of the BCS Championship picture, it would be a pretty significant setback.
Clemson is a heavy favorite to win the ACC title, and the Tigers are coming off back-to-back double-digit win seasons for the first time since 1989-90. Coach Dabo Swinney’s team should be favored in all of its ACC games in 2013, but the success of the season could rest with how the Tigers perform in matchups against the SEC – Georgia (Aug. 31) and at South Carolina (Nov. 30)
Georgia fell just short of playing for the national championship last year, and even with key personnel losses on defense, coach Mark Richt should have the Bulldogs back in the mix to win the SEC.
This is the first meeting between these two schools since 2003. Georgia has a five-game winning streak over Clemson, which includes a 30-0 win over the Tigers in 2003. These two teams have plenty of history on the gridiron, as they have met 62 overall times, with the first meeting in 1897.
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Three Things to Watch
The Bulldogs return only three starters on defense and will have their hands full against Clemson’s offense. Even though the front seven has been revamped and will miss linebacker Jarvis Jones and tackle John Jenkins, the secondary might be the biggest concern. Freshmen Brendan Langley and Tray Matthews are slated to start, while strong safety Connor Norman has played mostly on special teams over the last two years. After starting all 14 games in 2012, junior Damian Swann is the team’s most experienced defensive back and will be crucial to slowing down Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins.
The Tigers averaged 41 points a game and 512.7 yards per contest last season, with the catalyst being senior quarterback (and Heisman Trophy contender) Tajh Boyd. The senior has four offensive line starters at his disposal, and senior Roderick McDowell lining up at running back. With Georgia’s defense in rebuild mode, the opportunity is there for Boyd to make a statement on Saturday night.
Clemson’s run defense against Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall
If you aren’t familiar with Georgia’s backfield, it’s time to take notice. Gurley and Marshall combined for 2,144 yards and 25 scores on the ground last season and will be running behind an offensive line that has all five starters back. Considering the question marks residing on the Bulldogs’ defense, controlling the clock and keeping Boyd on the sidelines might be Georgia’s best chance to win. Clemson allowed 155.9 yards per game on the ground last season. However, six starts are back in the front seven, and the line held their own against LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl win over LSU. It’s impossible to control Gurley and Marshall for the full game. However, Clemson can’t afford to let the Bulldogs control the pace of the game by letting Gurley and Marshall chew up the clock.
The Tigers finished fall practice without a definitive answer at cornerback. The depth chart indicates Garry Peters and Bashaud Breeland will share one spot, with Darius Robinson and Martin Jenkins listed with an or on the other side. Clemson’s secondary ranked ninth in the ACC in pass efficiency defense and allowed 300 or more yards four times last year. Sophomore safety Travis Blanks is a future star, but the Tigers need more consistency from their cornerbacks. And this unit will be under fire on Saturday night, as Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray ranked second nationally in passing efficiency last year and will be throwing to a deep group of weapons, including Malcolm Mitchell and tight end Arthur Lynch.
Key Player: Roderick McDowell, RB, Clemson
Replacing Andre Ellington is no easy task, but Clemson feels confident in McDowell. The senior has waited his turn, spending the last three years as a backup and rushing for 674 yards on 129 carries. McDowell faces a rebuilt Georgia front seven on Saturday night, and with four starters back on Clemson’s offensive line, there should be running lanes for the senior to exploit. The Tigers don’t need 150 yards from McDowell, but with Georgia’s attacking 3-4 defense coming to Death Valley, his presence could be crucial on passes out of the backfield or blocking to keep defenders away from Boyd.
There’s not much separating these two teams. Clemson’s home-field advantage should be a huge asset on Saturday night, but the Bulldogs can lean on the experience of quarterback Aaron Murray to navigate the crowd noise on offense. The Tigers’ passing attack will be tough for Georgia to stop, especially with the injuries the secondary has dealt with this fall. The Bulldogs have to find a way to disrupt Boyd’s timing, which will be difficult with the new faces in the front seven. One x-factor that could come into play is special teams. Georgia kicker Marshall Morgan may not play, which leaves junior Adam Erickson or sophomore Patrick Beless as the No. 1 kicker. And both players have yet to attempt a field goal in a game in their career.
This one is a tossup. But let’s give Georgia a slight edge, as the combination of Gurley and Marshall could be the difference in the fourth quarter.
Georgia 38, Clemson 34
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Top 10 Games of Week 1
Week 1 of the college football season doesn’t have a ton of marquee matchups, but there should be plenty of intrigue when LSU and TCU meet in Arlington, Texas on Saturday night.
Adding to the interest level for Saturday night’s game is a little gamesmanship between the two head coaches. LSU’s Les Miles has refused to indicate whether or not running back Jeremy Hill will be suspended for an off-the-field incident. And after announcing a two-game suspension for defensive end Devonte Fields earlier in the offseason, TCU coach Gary Patterson has indicated he will dress and appear on the sidelines during the game. Fields isn’t expected to play, but the mind games for a huge non-conference matchup were in full effect this week.
For the second time in three years, LSU opens a season with a neutral site affair in Arlington. The Tigers defeated Oregon 40-27 in 2011, which helped to key a run to the national championship.
Three Things to Watch
Casey Pachall’s return to the starting lineup
TCU coach Gary Patterson has remained coy on his choice to start at quarterback on Saturday night, but all signs point to Casey Pachall returning to the lineup. The senior missed most of last year due to a suspension and was pushed by backup Trevone Boykin for the No. 1 spot this offseason. Pachall is the better passer, but Boykin’s mobility could be an asset against LSU’s defense. How rusty will Pachall be in his return to the starting lineup? With plenty of talent at receiver and running back, Pachall doesn’t need to throw for 300 yards. But with a fast and athletic defense like LSU waiting to pounce, the senior has to be smart and efficient in his return to the lineup.
TCU’s pass rush
Although Fields will be on the sidelines for this game, the sophomore is not expected to play. And there’s no question TCU will miss his presence off the edge. Stansly Maponga left for the NFL after 2012, and with Fields suspended, defensive tackles Davion Pierson and Chucky Hunter are the top returning sack men (3.5 last year) for the Horned Frogs. Senior Jon Koontz, junior Matt Anderson and sophomores James McFarland and Josh Carraway will have a lot of pressure on their shoulders as they try to generate a pass rush and replace Fields’ production for the first two games of 2013.
LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger
Mettenberger had his share of ups and downs in 2012, finishing the year with 2,609 passing yards and 12 scores. More is expected out of the senior in 2013, as former NFL coordinator Cam Cameron was brought aboard to improve the offense. Mettenberger showed signs of promise last year when he threw for 298 yards against Alabama but finished the year by throwing for just 120 yards in the bowl loss to Clemson. Mettenberger isn’t short on talent or capable playmakers at receiver, so there’s plenty of pressure on him to deliver in 2013. TCU’s pass rush will miss Fields, but the secondary is one of the nation’s best. Is Mettenberger ready to step up in 2013? Saturday night should give the LSU coaching staff a good idea of just how far along the senior has improved since last year.
Key Player: TCU’s offensive line
We will cheat just a bit here and list an entire unit instead of one player. TCU’s offensive line was shaky at times last year, allowing 2.2 sacks a game. Only two starters are back this season, and starting tackle Tayo Fabuluje decided to leave the team in fall practice. LSU’s defensive line will have four new starters but isn’t short on talent. Tackles Anthony Johnson and Ego Ferguson will be a handful, and ends Jermauria Rasco and Danielle Hunter are athletic and fast off the edge. Can TCU’s offensive line give Pachall time to throw and open up lanes for its running backs?
Despite the new faces stepping into the lineup, LSU is still one of the top 10-15 teams in college football. TCU is one of the frontrunners to win the Big 12, but the Horned Frogs might be a bigger mystery than the Tigers in Week 1. How will Pachall perform? Can the offensive line match up against LSU’s defense line? TCU’s defense will make life difficult for Mettenberger and the rest of the Tigers’ offense. However, LSU does just enough on that side of the ball to edge the Horned Frogs.
Prediction: LSU 27, TCU 20