Ladies and gentlemen — we have arrived at our destination.
After that long annual layoff, the college football season is finally upon us. The 2016 season is as wide open as any in recent memory, and it all kicks off with a weekend that has had many asking whether or not it's the greatest opening weekend ever. Contenders and defending conference champions are squaring off all over the country during Week 1, and the results of these matchups are going to drive a large part of the narrative throughout the season.
As you gorge yourself on all that is college football glory this holiday weekend, be on the lookout for the outrageous to occur.
Outrageous College Football Predictions for Week 1 of 2016
USC soundly defeats Alabama
If you've been following along, you know I've had the Trojans winning this game all summer. Alabama is as talented as teams come but, like every year, the Crimson Tide have had a lot of turnover. That means a starting lineup littered with youth and inexperience. They'll be better in November than in September — a lot better. This weekend, however, they are a young team heading into a neutral-site battle with one of the most talented and experienced squads in the country. USC comes into this one as heavy underdogs, so there's no pressure as Clay Helton's team plays with house money. I like the Trojans to jump out early and sustain the lead over an Alabama team not built to come from behind.
Kansas State takes down Stanford
Bill Snyder and the Wildcats are always game. There aren't many people expecting much from Kansas State this season, and that's just the way the Wildcats like it. Look for Jesse Ertz to pick the Cardinal defense apart through the air and with his legs. On the other side of the ball, I expect Snyder to demonstrate to the rest of the country just how much this Stanford team is going to rely on Christian McCaffrey throughout the year. There's plenty of tape on McCaffrey, and Snyder is one of the best when it comes to breaking down film. He'll find a way to bottle up the Heisman Trophy favorite — sans one or two big plays — and the Wildcats will shock the world in a close one.
Bowling Green takes Ohio State to overtime
I'm not calling for an upset, but this one may surprise you. Like Alabama, Ohio State is young and inexperienced compared to the rosters the Buckeyes have marched out in recent years. New Bowling Green head coach Mike Jinks isn't expected to stray too far from the high-octane offense installed by Dino Babers. Jinks will have a senior quarterback with 13 previous starts operating the offense and a dynamic duo of receivers keeping the Buckeye secondary busy all day. I also like the experienced Bowling Green linebackers and corners to frustrate J.T. Barrett early on. The Buckeyes should get out of this one alive, but only by a sliver.
Myles Garrett sets the single-game sack record
Garrett and Texas A&M host UCLA — an overrated team that will live and die with the pass. That means plenty of opportunities for the best pass rusher in college football to get after the quarterback. Look for Kevin Sumlin to move his defensive star around the field in order to take advantage of a very green Bruin offensive line. Josh Rosen is going to be on the ground all day, and Garrett will be the primary reason why.
Appalachian State does it again
We'll never forget when the Mountaineers took down Michigan in the Big House to open the 2007 season. This weekend, another talented Appalachian State team — favored by many to win the Sun Belt — will conquer Rocky Top. The Volunteers have more preseason hype than any program in the country, and I expect them to be looking past the likes of Mountaineer running back Marcus Cox and quarterback Taylor Lamb — instead focusing on their high-profile game against Virginia Tech the following week. By the time Tennessee's defense figures out what to do with that dynamic and largely underrated duo, it will be too late, and the Vols will be the lead story of the weekend for all the wrong reasons.
— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.