By Stewart Mandel
September 04, 2009
College Football Pickoff: Week 1
Saturday, September 5
(5) Alabama (7) Virginia Tech 8 p.m. ET (ABC)
Both teams boast fast, veteran defenses, but both have serious questions on offense. At least Alabama boasts one legit playmaker in WR Julio Jones, who can exploit man coverage. With Virginia Tech's running game in limbo following the loss of Darren Evans, look for Nick Saban's defense to come after turnover-prone QB Tyrod Taylor.
(13) Georgia (9) Oklahoma St. 3:30 p.m. ET (ABC)
Fun fact No. 1: Georgia coach Mark Richt is 34-3 in non-conference games (including bowls). Fun fact No. 2: His teams have also gone 30-4 on the road. Fun fact No. 3: Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy may be "a man," but he's a man with a less-than-glowing 1-11 record against teams that finished the previous year in the top 20.
(3) Oklahoma (20) BYU 7 p.m. ET (ESPN)
It's unlikely Oklahoma will come close to replicating its 51.1-point scoring average from 2008. It also won't be necessary. The Sooners return nine starters from a defense that allowed an average 22.5 points in the Big 12 and BCS title games, and BYU's offensive line struggled against TCU's and Utah's speedy defenses last year.
(11) LSU Washington 10:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)
LSU's 2,000-plus mile trek to Seattle will mark the longest road trip in school history. The inevitable horde of purple-and-gold-clad supporters gathering in the stands should make the Tigers' trek a little easier, though ... as should the fact they're facing a team that failed to win a game in 2008.
Maryland (12) Cal 10 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Remember last year's game, when the Bears -- who kicked off at 9 a.m. on their Pacific body clocks -- fell into a 21-3 hole early en route to a 35-27 loss? This year's rematch could present a similar problem for the Terps. By about 1 a.m. Terp Time, electric Cal RB Jahvid Best should be wearing down sleepy Maryland defenders.
Nevada (23) Notre Dame 3:30 p.m. ET (NBC)
The Wolf Pack bring a high-octane offense to South Bend, led by excellent QB Colin Kaepernick, but their defense has allowed an average 46.8 points in its past five games against BCS-conference foes. Plus, Irish defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta's confusing blitz schemes should slow down Kaepernick.
Missouri Illinois 3:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)
The teams' past two meetings were offensive shootouts that wound up in the Tigers' favor (40-34 in 2007, 52-42 in '08). But while Missouri's offense figures to take a step back without Chase Daniel and Jeremy Maclin, Illini QB Juice Williams -- who threw for 451 yards in last year's game -- should be more potent.
Baylor Wake Forest 3:30 p.m. ET (ABC)
Upset Special: Yes, the Deacons have played in three straight bowl games. And yes, Baylor hasn't been to any bowl since 1994. But star Baylor QB Robert Griffin is poised to end that drought this season, and he'll do it in part by taking advantage of a Wake defense that's without departed All-Americas Aaron Curry and Alphonso Smith.
Monday, September 7
Cincinnati Rutgers 4 p.m. ET (ESPN)
The Big East is wasting no time getting into the thick of its conference title race. While it's true Rutgers is breaking in a new starting quarterback (most likely senior Dom Natale), the defending champion Bearcats are breaking in 10 new defensive starters. Cincy really could have used a couple tune-up games.
Miami (18) Florida State 8 p.m. ET (ESPN)
This has been a tough game to predict in recent years. For one thing, the visiting team has won the past three meetings. Plus, you never know exactly what to expect from Miami's young roster. But Mickey Andrews' defense is usually tough against opposing passers, which could spell trouble for Miami's Jacory Harris.

You May Like