This might be the deepest week 1 in awhile. We get a top five matchup, two ranked Big Ten matchups, a couple high profile ACC matchups, and a few other ranked teams that should be on upset alert. Even if these games end up being duds, it feels good to be back talking football and wall to wall football from Wednesday through Sunday.
5. #16 LSU @ UCLA
I’ve been on this one for awhile. Last week, UCLA showed that the real Chip Kelly is back with his types of guys. He’s ready to put his name back near the top as one of the best coaches in all of college football. He has an experienced QB to go up against the worst secondary in the Power 5 last year. Dorian Thompson-Robinson has to be a little better than he was a week ago, but he has proven he can do it the past few years. If that offensive line is able to step up and move people like they did against Hawaii, they won’t even need him to do much.
On the other side, a lot of people are saying that last year was a fluke. That defense was pretty bad and I’m not sure if you can . On the other side, You have a lot of question marks at every skill position. They couldn’t run the ball at the level they wanted to last year, you’re already down to your second choice at QB, and your top pass catcher is gone. I think this game opens some people’s eyes and Coach O’s seat gets a little warm.
4. #9 Notre Dame @ Florida State
Florida State still hasn’t named a starting quarterback but it is looking more and more likely that Jordan Travis will be the guy. Mackenzie Milton came in as a transfer and it has been a battle throughout camp. The coaching staff has raved about Travis having a full offseason to prepare and improve as a passer. If he can be competent throwing the football and take care of it, this game becomes a lot more interesting.
The Notre Dame defense was very good last year but they lose Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. It is nearly impossible to replace his roving and attacking ability so who will be the guy to spy Travis and keep him contained?
The Notre Dame offensive line has some monsters on it. They replace a lot but new 300 pounders just come right in and fill the holes. Florida State only has one guy on the defensive line that matches up pound for pound with any of them. It is going to be a true test of speed vs size in the trenches.
3. #19 Penn State @ #12 Wisconsin
We saw it last night. Conference games, no matter who is playing, will always mean more. Ohio State and Minnesota put on a show to open the season and I think this one has the ability to be just as exciting. Penn State hopes that new offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich can help improve Sean Clifford from where he was at a year ago.
Turnover problems were the issue early on when they jumped out to an 0-5 start. Wisconsin’s defense is a tough first test to see where he is at. They ranked 28th in the country last year in interceptions per game and second in completion percentage. That is where I think Wisconsin will change this game. Creating enough pressure to force him in to bad decisions will happen all night long.
The Badgers should see an improved offense with Graham Mertz healthy. They’ll still rely heavily on running the ball to reduce the number of possessions Penn State has. At the end of the day, I think Wisconsin wins by a touchdown.
2. #1 Alabama @ #14 Miami
This game may have the most question marks of any and that is why it makes it so exciting. What are we going to get from D’eriq King? He is 9 months removed from ACL surgery so I don’t think he is going to be able to get away from the strong pass rush of Alabama. This Crimson Tide defense is the elite group of the team and early on in the season, they’re going to rely on them to carry the load. The offense still has a lot to figure out with all the new pieces so Miami may stick in this one early. Ultimately, I see a low scoring game and an Alabama win.
1. #5 Georgia @ #3 Clemson
Both teams got a good break with their conference schedules so this loses a little bit of excitement. We could still easily see whoever loses this game run the table and make their way into the playoff again. It still is the best game because it is the best showcase of talent. JT Daniels vs DJ Uigalelei at QB. Two elite defenses. Two of the best recruiters in the nation.
Georgia’s secondary is the big question mark after four departures to the NFL. Tykee Smith was expected to fill in after transfering from West Virginia, but he is out with a foot injury. I think the ability of DJ to make plays down the field is going to force Kirby Smart into some zone coverages. It opens up his play with his legs and a Clemson victory.