THE LSU TIGERS INVADE LAMBEAU FIELD ON SATURDAY, which is one of many high-caliber games in the opening week of the 2016 college football season. Losing a game in week one can dash the hopes of a team that hopes to reach the college football playoff. All top five teams are in action this weekend and facing stiff competition, and all five of these schools open either on the road, or at a neutral site. Each week, I will be writing up some of the big games of the week and making my fearless predictions.
THE GAMES I’LL BE WATCHING
OREGON STATE AT MINNESOTA I’ll actually be in attendance for this one. I’m dubbing this the “Rodent Bowl”. The only two FBS schools with rodents for a mascot. Beaver head coach Gary Anderson is 2-0 straight up versus the Gophers. However the last two times the Beavers have traveled to BIG 10 country they have been destroyed 35-0 and 35-7. Quarterback Darell Garretson will be a big upgrade for the Beavers this season. The Gophers have a big edge on defense and will have a fired up home crowd. That will be the difference here. GOPHERS PADDLE BEAVERS 27-20.
No.5 LSU VS. WISCONSIN Lambeau Field will be the setting for this big game. The LSU fans will be well represented here. I love this LSU squad, and picked them to win the SEC championship! Heisman hopeful Leonard Fournette should have a big day, while quarterback Brandon Harris attempts to balance the offense with a solid passing game. The big key to this game for me is Dave Aranda. He is the new LSU defensive coordinator, and he held the same position at Wisconsin last season. I’m guessing he will know how to exploit his former team. The Badgers are breaking in many new players on both sides of the ball. I will also be in the stands for this one. TIGERS DINE ON, BRATS, CHEESE AND BADGERS 34-13.
No.20 USC VS. No.1 ALABAMA (ARLINGTON) Both teams are breaking in new quarterbacks. Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban has said he will go with two quarterbacks for the opener. The Trojans are going with Max Browne under center. He will have a talented cast around him, as everyone else returns on offense from last season. Tailback Ronald Jones rushed for over 1,000 yards last season, while JuJu Smith-Schuster had 1,454 yards receiving. The Tide is loaded on both sides of the ball, and will have a big defensive edge. The crowd will also be revved up for this, with thousands of Alabama fans making the trek. The Trojans will be in the mix for a PAC -12 title, but will fall short in this one. TIDE ROLLS 26-20.
No.11 OLE MISS VS. No.4 FLORIDA STATE (ORLANDO) This is my favorite game of the weekend. A loss by either school in this game could be devastating for National Championship hopes. These teams last met in 1961. Rebel Quarterback Chad Kelly could be the best in the SEC. I question just how good the offensive line is going to be, having to replace three starters. The Rebels also have questions at running back, and linebacker. The Seminoles also have questions to be answered. Quarterback Sean Maguire will miss this game to injury, paving the way for super-recruit Deandre Francois. Francois has all the tools and has been compared to Jameis Winston. The rest of the offense returns. inclluding Dalvin Cook, a Heisman hopeful. The Seminoles will enjoy a solid defensive edge, and should have the crowd edge as well. SEMINOLES RELY ON THE DEFENSE, 22-17.
No.10 NOTRE DAME AT TEXAS Another great game to sit back and watch on Sunday night. The Irish blasted the Longhorns 38-3 in last seasons opener, but the Fighting Irish have been hit with all kinds of distractions the past two weeks, with several players involved in various questionable behavior. Prior to that, I would have thought Notre Dame would win rather easily. Quarterback DeShone Kizer gives the Irish a huge edge in this game. Texas has yet to announce who will be under center. It’s possible the Longhorns will use three different quarterbacks in the game. The Longhorns should have several advantages on defense. I’m just not sure the offense will be able to generate enough points for a victory. SLUGFEST GOES TO NOTRE DAME 18-15.
No.16 UCLA AT TEXAS A&M The second PAC-12 versus SEC matchup. UCLA head coach Jim Mora, is changing the offense from the spread to a Pro-style attack, to better suit the skillset of quarterback Josh Rosen. The Bruins also have a much improved defense, that I think will take them to a PAC-12 championship. The Aggies season, could well rest on the shoulders of two Oklahoma transfers. Quarterback Trevor Knight and running back Keith ford should both be impact newcomers. Knight will have one of the best receiving groups in the country to work with. Quarterback play has been a real bugaboo in College Station the past two years. This game should go to the final minutes. The Bruins win it with a last-minute drive by Rosen! PAC-12 over SEC 31-28.
SUPER SIX PACK: SIX GAMES, SIX WORDS, SIX PICKS
BYU VS. ARIZONA Quarterback Taysom Hill is back! CATFIGHT GOES TO COUGARS 31-27.
No.2 CLEMSON AT AUBURN Watson, best player on the field. CLEMSON WINS BATTLE OF TIGERS 34-20.
KANSAS STATE AT No. 8 STANFORD Cardinal have won eight straight home openers. MAKE IT NINE 38-20.
No. 3 OKLAHOMA AT No. 15 HOUSTON Sooners outlast upstart Cougars. OKLAHOMA 43-38.
No. 2 CLEMSON AT AUBURN Battle of Tigers, goes to Clemson. ACC 38 SEC 24.
No. 22 NORTH CAROLINA VS. No. 18 GEROGIA Defense makes the Difference. UGA, TAKES BITE OUT OF HEELS 18-13.
MY SEPTEMBER SCHEDULE
September 1 Oregon State at Minnesota
September 3 LSU at Wisconsin
September 10 North Carolina at Illinois
September 15 Houston at Cincinnati
September 17 Akron at Marshall
THE September 24 Mississippi State at UMASS