The wait is almost over. College Football 2011 officially kicks off at 6:00 PM Eastern with Murray State at Louisville. And this new column in Knox Vegas Vols will showcase what I believe to be the twenty most relevant games each week, with me offering my predictions for each game.
Relevant, of course, means that this is opinionated. I will choose the twenty games based on a few things.
First, I have a tendency to select geographically relevant games. For example, MTSU vs. Purdue makes the cut this week because it is a southeastern team playing a big name opponent.
Second, I lean heavily toward games that are televised (especially nationally). I understand that almost every game ends up on TV somewhere, but again, I am looking for games that will be watched by our local audiences or that are shown nationwide.
Third, I show favoritism to teams from BCS conferences. How else would I end up with Wake Forest vs. Syracuse?
Fourth, I include as many games as possible that involve ranked teams, unless of course, their opponent is a total patsy. After all, I don’t just want to load up my predictions schedule with gimmies just to boost my record (or do I?).
Fifth, I almost never include games that involve FCS schools. Sorry Tennessee, you’ll be on here next week. (For the record, or rather, not for the record, I’m taking the Vols 49-17).
Ok, enough intro. The lineup please…
Thursday, September 1
UNLV at #11 Wisconsin – Last season, Wisconsin was #5 in the country in scoring offense. UNLV was #116 in scoring defense. Badgers 58-22
#20 Mississippi State at Memphis – These two programs are going in opposite directions. Bulldogs 45-16
Wake Forest at Syracuse – ‘Cuse won a controversial bowl game last season and has a strong offense returning. The Deacs might be the worst team in the ACC. Orange 29-20
Kentucky vs. Western Kentucky – Makes total sense that two teams from the Bluegrass State would play a neutral site opener in Nashville, right? Wildcats 52-21
Friday September 2
#14 TCU at Baylor – Big in-state game featuring a strong offense against a juggernaut defense. Toads 35-21
Saturday, September 3
Akron at #18 Ohio State – Is it true that the backups at a perennial powerhouse are better than the starters at other places? It is in this one. Buckeyes 37-14
Utah State at #23 Auburn – USU scared Oklahoma in last season’s opener and pounded BYU. Auburn is down, but not that down. Tigers 38-23
Northwestern at Boston College – A decent opener considering both teams went to bowl games and had winning records in 2010. Eagles 25-24
Middle Tennessee at Purdue – As usual, MTSU’s non-conference slate is unkind. Next week the Raiders get Georgia Tech at home. They play at Tennessee in November. Boilermakers 30-27
Kent State at #2 Alabama – This will be a good break-in game for whoever starts at QB for Alabama. Tide 34-13
South Florida at #16 Notre Dame – On paper, this is the best Irish team in several years. In a side note, Skip Holtz visits the school that made his dad famous. UND 26-20
Minnesota at #25 USC – This one for sure won’t be a Rose Bowl preview. Get it? USC’s ineligible. Oh, and the Gophers aren’t very good either. Trojans 31-24
Western Michigan at Michigan – Remember a few years back when Michigan brought in a coach to run a system that didn’t fit his players? Yeah, they did that again. Wolverines 37-30
BYU at Ole Miss – Almost any SEC team would be favored playing BYU at home. Not Ole Miss. Cougars 29-21
Tulsa at #1 Oklahoma – This one could provide some offensive fireworks from both sides. Sooners 38-20
#3 Oregon vs. #4 LSU – The last time we saw the Ducks, fell just short of an SEC West power known as the Tigers. And call me crazy, but losing Jordan Jefferson isn’t the worst thing in the world for LSU. Bengal Tigers 28-27
#5 Boise State vs. #19 Georgia – This is one of those seasons where Boise would be favored to win the SEC East. Broncos 34-24
Colorado at Hawaii – UC now plays in the Pac 12, and routed Hawaii at home last season. But a change of venue should mean a change of result this time around. Hawaii 35-23
Sunday, September 4
Marshall at #24 West Virginia – The Mountaineer offense should be strong. The defense won’t be as good, but it won’t matter in this one. WV 27-16
Monday, September 5
Miami (Fl) at Maryland – Seems a little early for a conference game, but maybe this way Miami will have some players still eligible. Big chance for new Terps’ coach Randy Edsall to shine early. Maryland 26-23