With the college football season kicking off this week – notably tomorrow – and so to get rolling I’ve been thinking about a couple of games this weekend.
Of course I’ve been thinking about the Huskers’ opener against Western Michigan … but I’ve touched that subject enough in other posts. So right now I’m going to talk about a couple of other teams, and a couple games to look out for this weekend.
First lets touch base with a couple of important teams in the Big XII – Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech.
My – and every other journalist’s – favorite to win the Big XII this season. They have all the talent to get the job done. They return record setting sophomore QB Sam Bradford – who last season lead the nation in passer efficiency – and have a stable of young talented running backs. That doesn’t even mention the fact that they still have Head Coach Bob Stoops – whose defenses are always among the nation’s best. This team is poised for a very good season, and at this point in time I see them in the National Championship Game.
This Missouri Tigers team returns a core of very talented players in Chase Daniel, Chase Coffman and Jeremy Maclin. They are poised to be the Big XII North champions – at least pre-season – and have the talent to contend nationally. These Tigers pack a pretty wicked bite … and teams will find this out pretty quickly – if they can get past a tough test in Illinois this Saturday.
I added Texas to this list because they are always good. It’s a stupid decision to every count the Longhorns out of the Big XII and national scene. Colt McCoy returns for a third year at the helm of the offense – and all reports are that he is better than ever. The real question for the Longhorn’s offense is who do they find to replace Limas Sweed and Nate Jones? Yes they still have Quan Cosby, but he’s been injured and will be defense’s focus. And for that matter who is going to replace Jamaal Charles? Sure, Texas has the cream of the crop in recruiting so there is someone waiting in the wings, but McCoy better hope they develop fast.
Kansas was the surprise team of the 2007 season finishing an amazing 11-1 – their only loss was to Missouri – and winning the Fiesta Bowl. However, they lost their leading rusher and receiver and must try to catch lightning in a bottle again, and quite frankly I don’t think they’ll do it. Don’t get me wrong, they are a very talented team and will be good, but no one should expect much more than a 9-4 season. Todd Reesing will put up his numbers and will be a great player out on the field, but expect some losses and maybe an upset or two…
Who would I be to not jump on the TTech bandwagon here at the beginning of the season? This team will flat out score points. With the return of QB Graham Harrell and All-World WR Michael Crabtree this team has two legit Heisman candidates in their starting line up. The question mark for this team is improved defensive play. Last season they started poorly on the defensive side of the ball, but finished strong under a new Defensive Coordinator – who will lead them from the start this year. If this team can play defense – and not just out score every opponent – they will be sitting in a good spot come the last weekend of the season when they play Oklahoma – maybe for the Big XII South crown.
Anyway, those were some short capsules on the five major players in the Big XII before the season starts. Anything can happen at any time … however, look for those five teams come November to be pushing for great bowl bids.
This weeks games to watch
Thursday: #23 Wake Forrest at Baylor 6 p.m.
Unfortunately this game won’t be televised … at all. But I believe it is the most intruiging matchup on paper. You have a nationally ranked Wake Forrest squad traveling to face an improved Baylor team. First upset of the season?
Saturday: #3 USC at Virginia, 2:30 p.m. ABC
Will USC dominate opponents like they have in the past? Or is there a crack for someone to exploit? Don’t look for Virginia to be the team to exploit any cracks, but it could be interesting to see how USC starts this season.
Saturday: Appalachian State at #7 LSU, 4 p.m. ESPN
Can Appalachian State repeat what they did opening weekend last season? Is LSU the next Michigan? Probably not, but Appalachian State is about as talented a team as you’ll ever find in the FCS, and they might test Tiger team that is breaking in a new, very inexperienced quarterback.
Saturday: #24 Alabama at #9 Clemson, 7 p.m. ABC
Can Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide beat Clemson on the road? This will be a great game, and if for nothing else than we get to watch Clemson RBs James Davis and C.J. Spiller…
Monday: #18 Tennessee at UCLA, 7 p.m. ESPN
What progress will be shown by UCLA under new coach Rick Neuheisel? Not enough to beat Tennessee, but it could be fun to watch. That and we get to find out what UCLA will do without a No. 1 QB.
And finally, the Game of the Week…
Saturday: #20 Illinois vs. #6 Missouri, 7 p.m. ESPN (Held in St. Louis)
I think that this will be the most entertaining game on the slate this weekend. Missouri comes in with all the hype, and Illinois is just an after thought after going to the Rose Bowl last season. Illinois returns QB Juice Williams and this could be an upset in the making. How big of a story would it be in Columbia, Missouri if the Tigers returned 0-1 after all the off-season hype.