Here’s a look at the Top 25 and SEC games for Week 1 of the college football season, which begins Thursday night at 7 Eastern. I’ll have the weekly schedule like this every week with five games featured each week with a prediction on each game.
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Week 1 Schedule (All Times Eastern)
*My predicted winners
*#9 South Carolina at Vanderbilt
###Texas A&M vs. Louisiana Tech (in Shreveport, LA – postponed until Oct. 13)
*Tennessee vs. North Carolina State (in Atlanta, GA)
#24 Boise State at #13 Michigan State*
San Jose State at #21 Stanford*
Buffalo at #6 Georgia*
Marshall at #11 West Virginia*
Miami (Ohio) at #18 Ohio State*
Northern Iowa at #12 Wisconsin*
Southern Miss at #17 Nebraska*
Bowling Green at #23 Florida*
Murray State at #7 Florida State*
North Texas at #3 LSU*
Jacksonville State at #10 Arkansas*
#14 Clemson vs. Auburn* (in Atlanta, GA)
Savannah State at #19 Oklahoma State*
Southeastern Louisiana at Missouri*
Central Arkansas at Ole Miss*
Jackson State at Mississippi State*
Missouri State at #22 Kansas State*
Hawaii at #1 USC*
#8 Michigan vs. #2 Alabama* (in Arlington, TX)
Wyoming at #15 Texas*
*#4 Oklahoma at UTEP
Arkansas State at #5 Oregon*
Kentucky at #25 Louisville*
Georgia Tech at #16 Virginia Tech*
Ferrara’s Feature Five
#8 Michigan vs. #2 Alabama (in Arlington, TX)
There’s no doubting what the marquee game of the first week is. Nick Saban likened Michigan QB Denard Robinson to Cam Newton. On the surface, Robinson isn’t like Cammy Cam in stature or ability, but Saban’s comparison is fair because “shoelace” has the ability to control a game and make great plays even when your defense does all the right things. Michigan has had more personnel issues and questions coming into this game than Alabama. Bama’s questions are the youth on defense and the health of RB Eddie Lacy. I don’t think there’s a more physically gifted 1-85 roster in the country than the Crimson Tide. There may be some breakdowns in this game but Alabama’s 9 scholarship seniors and dominant offensive line will be too much for the very game Wolverines.
#24 Boise State at #13 Michigan State
Would it surprise anyone if Chris Petersen gets great play from new Broncos nobody’s ever heard of? Nope. It shouldn’t at least. This isn’t on the blue turf or neutral site, this is in East Lansing. The Spartans will be better in some areas (defense) and less experienced in others (quarterback.) I like Dantonio’s guys with an off-season to prepare for Boise.
Winner: Michigan State
#14 Clemson vs. Auburn (in Atlanta, GA)
Talk about a game with lots of unknowns. Auburn (in standard fashion under Gene Chizik) has barely allowed the media to see a thing in camp. Chizik and players have been tight-lipped on team progress. The team has had plenty of departures and suspensions. Both teams had coordinator changes with new philosophies. Clemson is without spectacular WR Sammy Watkins due to suspension. Clemson will have a great offense. Auburn should be very good on defense. The team that gets the better of the Auburn new offense vs. Clemson new defense match-up will win this game. I think Auburn’s coordinator changes and young talent on defense will overcome an inexperienced offensive line and young QB.
#9 South Carolina at Vanderbilt
Steve Spurrier has been frisky in dropping jabs at opponents in the off-season, which typically means he likes his team a lot. The Gamecocks have lost of their 5-back deep group of running backs to injury. How good will Marcus Lattimore be for SC? Will Vandy’s experienced offense and good skill position players be able to have success against a stout South Carolina defense without injured starting CB Akeem Auguste? Will Connor Shaw show improvement throwing the football? I think SC’s defensive line will terrorize Jordan Rodgers all night.
Winner: South Carolina
Tennessee vs. North Carolina State (in Atlanta, GA)
I will be in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta for this one. It’s the first of two games there for the Chick-fil-A Kickoff two-day doubleheader. This might just be the most entertaining game of the first weekend. Even without talented but immature WR Da’Rick Rogers (suspended then transferred to Tennessee Tech,) the Vols offense has the potential to be prolific, especially in the passing game. NC State has a gunslinging QB, Mike Glennon, and talented skill players also. The Wolfpack won’t have Sr. CB CJ Wilson (eligibility issue) for the game. Both teams have questions and unknowns but both should put up lots of points. I think Tennessee’s improvement at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball should give UT a slight edge over four quarters. This looks like a game in the 30s.
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