2013 NCAAF Week 1 Weekend Preview

August 30, 2013

Although I really enjoy writing the conference previews, I’m honestly glad that I’m finished with them. It’s taken most of the free time that I’ve had in the past week to finish all of them before the season started, and I’m getting to the point where I can’t devote that much time to a hobby.

However, it’s Friday now, and what better way to spend your night than posting another college football article while watching college football? I can’t think of one.

For this year’s Weekend Preview posts, I’ll be inviting a guest each week to serve as a prognosticator that will go head-to-head against me in picking the five games to watch. It worked really well last year, and frankly it was one of the only ways that I could get more people to read my work.

This week, my roommate Trent Gardner will be kicking things off for the guests. You may remember his name from a post last season; he was one of the few guests that I actually managed to beat.

Here is a list of my top five games to watch this weekend, as well as five more to keep an eye on.

5 Games to Pay Attention to This Weekend

Mississippi State at #13 Oklahoma State (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

Just how well will the two quarterback system work for Oklahoma State? We’re going to find out pretty quickly, as the Cowboys welcome a pretty decent Mississippi State team to Stillwater to open the season. The Cowboys have made it clear that both J.W. Walsh and Chris Chelf will see action in this game, which isn’t surprising since both spent time as the starting quarterback in 2012 and both had a considerable amount of success.

The Bulldogs may have a hard time slowing down Oklahoma State’s offense in this game, so it will be up to senior quarterback Tyler Russell to have a big game. Russell will probably account for the bulk of the offense, even with the return of tailback LaDarius Perkins, so if the Cowboys can contain Russell then they will probably be able to stifle Mississippi State’s scoring ability.

Despite the Bulldogs being an SEC opponent, I think that Oklahoma State may have its way with Mississippi State. Chalk up a “W” for Mike Gundy & Co.

My Pick: 35-17 Oklahoma State

Trent’s Take: Oklahoma State will manhandle Mississippi State 35 to 14.

#1 Alabama vs. Virginia Tech [game in Atlanta] (Saturday, 5:30 PM ET)

The No. 1 team in the nation travels to Atlanta for their season opener to take on Frank Beamer and the Virginia Tech Hokies. Beamer’s Hokies are coming off their worst season in 20 years, and what better way to try to regain relevance than to take a shot at the best team in the country? It could be tough sailing for Virginia Tech on Saturday evening, though.

Virginia Tech brings back a lot of pieces from a defense that ranked near the top of the SEC in several team defense statistical categories, and it wouldn’t be surprising if the Hokies give the Crimson Tide a little bit of trouble. But the offense is pretty much entirely new other than Logan Thomas, and Alabama’s defense will once again be one of the best in the nation.

I think this game could be interesting for about a half. But after that, the Crimson Tide offense will begin to flex their muscle against a solid defense and show us why they can go on the road for a season opener and still look strong.

My Pick: 38-14 Alabama

Trent’s Take: Satan has the hot team to go along with his hot daughter…but I’m sure you’re well aware of that… @KBecks_ATC. Bama runs up the score against V Tech to make an early statement 65 to 14.

#5 Georgia at #8 Clemson (Saturday, 8 PM ET)

This is without a doubt the game of the weekend. I’ve been looking forward to this one for months now, and I can’t wait to find out which offense is the real deal. Both of them could be, but obviously after this week one of these teams will have major work to do in order to crawl back into the national title discussion. The winner will be seen as an instant contender.

My love affair with Aaron Murray has been well documented over the past couple of years on this blog, and I’m not ashamed to say that I’ll be rooting for him to do well in this game. But I’m a little concerned that the Bulldogs could have a hard time stopping the other elite quarterback in this game, Tajh Boyd. Boyd and Sammy Watkins are going to give Georgia’s defense all kinds of trouble, and there are a lot of new faces for the Bulldogs on that side of the ball. It’ll be interesting to see whether they come out looking like a team that has prepared for this game all summer or one that is completely shell shocked. If the latter is true, Clemson could be in for a big night offensively.

Regardless of who wins this game, I think that there will be a lot of scoring thanks to the caliber of quarterback on both sides. However, I’m a bit more confident in Clemson’s ability to take advantage of Georgia’s defense than I am in Murray & Co. just simply playing lights out in order to outscore the Tigers. This one should be as good as advertised, but I’m going to take the Tigers in a close one.

My Pick: 44-40 Clemson

Trent’s Take: It will be a close game (especially with it being at Clemson), coming down to the wire but Georgia will pull out a dub and keep their national championship hopes alive winning 24 to 21.

#12 LSU at #20 TCU (Saturday, 9 PM ET)

I think that both LSU and TCU aren’t getting enough respect from people, so this should be a very interesting game. It’s one of two games in Week 1 between ranked opponents, so at the very least people will tune into this game just for that reason.

Despite LSU needing to replace a handful of players on defense, it is almost a foregone conclusion that the Tigers will be sound defensively. The Horned Frogs, on the other hand, return almost everyone from the 2012 defense and will almost surely be tough on that side of the ball. LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger will get a chance in the first game of the year that he can produce consistently against strong opponents, and he will have to do so in order for the Tigers to have a chance in this one.

SEC fans should not underestimate Gary Patterson’s squad. This is not a give-me game for LSU by any stretch. However, since I believe LSU is a sleeper BCS team, I’m going to go with the Tigers in a very close, hard fought battle.

My Pick: 17-13 LSU

Trent’s Take: LSU being at TCU has the makings of another close game, but it’s not the year of the Horned Frog last time I checked. LSU wins 28 to 17.

#19 Boise State vs. Washington [game in Seattle] (Saturday, 10 PM ET)

This game is being played in Seattle, but for what it’s worth this will essentially be a home game for the Huskies. Washington will be looking to avenge a bowl loss to the Broncos last year, which came down to a game-winning field goal. Despite having some holes to fill defensively, the Broncos will be looking to start off the year right and keep one last chance at busting the BCS alive.

Washington coach Steve Sarkisian has done a nice job revitalizing the program during his tenure with the Huskies, but at some point you’d think that he would like to get over the proverbial hump with this team. Quarterback Keith Price remains somewhat of an enigma as a senior; he has shown so much potential at certain points in his career, while at other times he looks like he doesn’t know what’s going on. In this game he’ll need to play well. Boise State’s defense was thrashed by Huskies tailback Bishop Sankey, and to think that Chris Petersen won’t have a plan to stop that from happening again would be foolish. In addition to potentially overcompensating to contain Sankey, Boise State’s defense must replace both cornerbacks from last season. Everything appears to be lining up for Price to have a huge day.

If Price plays well, the Huskies have a good chance to upset Boise State. If he doesn’t, this game might look like a replay of last year’s Las Vegas Bowl. While I think this game will be close, I’m going to go with the Broncos thanks to a couple of key turnovers by Price.

My Pick: 24-22 Boise State

Trent’s Take: Boise State wins 21 to 17.

5 More to Flip To

Toledo at #10 Florida (Saturday, 12:20 PM ET)

Toledo’s offense is strong, potentially stronger than Florida’s depending on how well Jeff Driskel plays. This one may be closer than people think.

Rice at #7 Texas A&M (Saturday, 1 PM ET)

Johnny Football probably wouldn’t have played the second half of this game anyway, so how exactly did a half game suspension punish the Aggies?

Penn State at Syracuse (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

Freshman Christian Hackenburg will start for the Nittany Lions in this game. We could be witnessing the first start of the quarterback who will lead Penn State during their first season after the four-year bowl ban.

UL-Monroe at #16 Oklahoma (Saturday, 7 PM ET)

The Warhawks will give Oklahoma some trouble if redshirt freshman Trevor Knight isn’t ready for the starter’s job in Norman.

#22 Northwestern at California (Saturday, 10:30 PM ET)

Northwestern is primed for a very good year, but must avoid a disappointing start to the season against Cal. Travelling across the country is tough no matter who the opponent is.

If you would like to become a guest prognosticator like Trent did this week, please let me know in one of the following ways: email me at kbecks@aroundthecorn.com, send me a message on Around The Corn’s Facebook page, post a comment under this article or send me a tweet @KBecks_ATC. Opportunities to become a guest prognosticator will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Thanks everyone.

– K. Becks

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