Boise State @ Florida State - Can the Broncos make a push for ‘Group of Five’ and end UCF’s two-year run? - 12pm ET ESPN
Boise State, otherwise known as “Dallas Cowboys University”, will have a big test this weekend though the Seminoles are not the same threat they used to be in the ACC. A win over an ACC opponent will still be a powerful bargaining chip in their bids to be this year’s Group Of Five participant in the New Year’s Six. In order for the Broncos to get a big win, they will be relying a true-freshman at quarterback:
It was an epic QB battle in fall camp, but those riding the #TeamHank bandwagon can now securely fasten their safety belts. After last weekend’s scrimmage, Coach Harsin announced (in a roundabout way) that they were going with the true frosh to kick off the season (and presumably for the rest of it too, knock on wood). What was lost was just how much history that little announcement made. The Broncos haven’t rolled with a true freshman QB in their opener since...well, ever. Tom Scott (of slant fame) was able to put the true freshman starters in a small grouping: Hazsen Choates, Tony Hilde, and Brett Rypien...but none of those frosh started the opener (much less against a college football blue blood), so Hank gets the coveted asterisk next to his name in the history books, win or lose. Should he win on Saturday, however...there will be overreactions. Prepare yourselves.
Prediction: Broncos by a field goal for the win in a steamy Tallahassee afternoon
Northwestern @ #25 Stanford - Can Northwestern turn back the clock to four-years prior and upset the Cardinal again? 4pm ET FOX
This is the battle between the AP Poll’s 25th ranked Stanford and the Coach’s Poll 25th ranked Northwestern. In 2015, Northwestern was able to pull off the upset win over the Cardinal but David Shaw has this Stanford team ready for battle. In order for Northwestern to pull it off here, they’re going to need a heavy dose of running back Isaiah Bower:
Isaiah Bowser proved to be the missing link when pertaining to Northwestern’s offense in the second half of last season. In fact, Northwestern went 6-1 in games that Bowser was given the ball at least 18 times. In those games, he averaged about 115 yards per game with a crucial 165 yards coming in the Big Ten West clinching away game at Iowa. Long story short, give Bowser the ball and good things will happen.
Prediction: The Cardinal win by seven as they edge out Northwestern in most categories including quarterback.
#11 Oregon @ #16 Auburn - Week one main event matchup could vault either Ducks or Tigers into Top-10 - 7:30pm ET ABC
The big story for the Ducks is the return of future NFL hopeful QB Justin Herbert and the Tigers are excited about their young arm talent, Bo Nix. Though quarterbacks are always bringing the fan fare, this heavyweight title fight is about the lines. The Ducks have one of the most talented offensive linemen going up against three of the best defensive linemen in the country on the Tigers side of things. If the Ducks cannot protect Herbert, this season is going to start off on the wrong foot, coach Mario Cristobal understands the task at hand:
Cristobal said he can’t recall a defensive line as good as Auburn’s in a “long, long time.” And it’s not as if he doesn’t have a wealth of experience to draw from when you consider the fact that he spent four seasons as an assistant at powerhouse Alabama.
”Aside from the fact that they’re massive human beings, they’re very explosive and they’re very, very technically sound,” he said. “I mean, they understand blocking schemes. They understand down blocks, they understand reach blocks, they understand double-teams on gap schemes vs. double-teams on zone schemes. They get it. And they play off each other really well.”
For Auburn, there’s no doubt that the more it can get into Oregon’s backfield, the better. The Ducks allowed 22 sacks last season, which ranked 33rd nationally and fourth in the Pac-12.
Prediction: Herbert does just enough, edging out Auburn by four points
Louisiana Tech @ #10 Texas - Tom Herman’s Longhorns can’t afford opening at 0-1 for third-straight year - 8pm ET LHN
For the past two year’s in a row, the Longhorns have opened up facing Maryland and they have lost both times. After last year’s surprising return to the big time, Texas won their Sugar Bowl game against the Georgia Bulldogs 28-21. This Texas team cannot afford a letdown as they open up in the Top-10 against an experienced LA Tech team:
Experience,” Texas defensive coordinator Todd Orlando said of what stands out about Louisiana Tech. “You go through their two-deep and I think everybody on the offensive side has been redshirted. They’ve got all these older guys and that’s how you run a program.”
Orlando’s sentiments are most evident throughout the entire offense.
The Bulldogs boast a tremendously experienced offensive line, with redshirt senior Ethan Reed(40 career starts) and redshirt senior Drew Kirkpatrick returning to their roles as starters at left and right guard, respectively, as does redshirt junior Kody Russey, who’s tallied 26 starts at center throughout the previous two seasons. The Bulldogs do replace both tackles, but even those stepping in are well-qualified. Former four-star LSU offensive tackle Willie Allen, who made two starts in 11 appearances last season, now mans the left tackle spot, while 6’8, 320-pound redshirt senior Gewhite Stallworth will anchor the right side of the line after missing the majority of the 2018 season due to injury.
Prediction: Longhorns roll by double-digit margin of victory