Friday, August 29, 2014

Top Games of the Weekend

Its here. Thank God, football has finally returned. It has been a few dreadful with only baseball to keep us entertained after the World Cup, but as always the first week of football provides top quality games that have season altering implications. There's also a ton of games that you aren't going to care about, so this is all about helping you weed through the dregs. I try and fit a schedule of roughly three to three and a half hour slots. So there might be some gaps or overlaps, but this will be your guide to premier college football.

Noon Game
No. 5 Ohio State Buckeyes @ Navy Midshipmen

The noon slot is a little bare this week, but this is an intriguing match up as Ohio State will be testing out a redshirt freshman at quarterback. JT Barrett has drawn a good amount of praise in the short amount of time, but he will be without some key players from last year. Ohio State brings back only one starter at receiver, is starting over at running back, and has four new offensive lineman. The Buckeyes will also have to keep Navy's triple option in check. Their defense struggled last year and they will have three new starters in the secondary which was already a weakness. No one really knows what to expect out of Ohio State this year now that Braxton is out for the season. Urban is a fantastic coach who knows how to harness young, raw talent as well as anyone in the country. He had another top five recruiting class this year, and there are several freshman that he has been hyping up and seem to be ready to start this game. I don't think Ohio State will lose this game, but I think it might be closer than people think.

Afternoon Game (3:30)
West Virginia Mountaineers vs. No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide
Game played in Georgia Dome

Alabama comes in at number two from the preseason, but there are a decent amount of questions regarding experience this year. Alabama is used to losing a lot of players per year, but they return only seven starters from last year. Like Ohio State, they have to start a new quarterback after losing a veteran, but the job is likely to go to Jacob Coker who transferred after losing out to Jameis Winston last season. Alabama does boast the most impressive group of running backs in the country and will probably run for close the 300 yards in this game while they break in their new quarterback. West Virginia could put up a fight in this game and capitalize on inexperience, but I just don't think they have enough fire power to pull out a victory. Their own quarterback situation is shaky, they lost leading rusher Charles Sims to the draft, and their porous defense hasn't shown enough improvement. I think Alabama wins this one pretty handily, 38-17.

Evening Game (5:30)
No. 16 Clemson Tigers @ No. 12 Georgia Bulldogs

Like I said, there will be a bit of overlap with the games. But since Alabama vs. West Virginia has a good chance to be over by the third quarter, definitely turn your attention towards this game. This game has a good amount of intrigue as both of these teams are starting over at quarterback after four years of stability and great success. Clemson is likely to roll out true freshman and highly touted prospect Deshaun Watson, while Georgia continues with Hutson Mason who started a few games last year due to Aaron Murray's ACL injury. Georgia should also have both of their star running backs at full strength, which I believe will be the difference in this game. Clemson has some questions on defense, but they do return dominant edge rusher Vic Beasley who can cause a lot of disruption in the passing game. Yet with Georgia's defense returning so many play makers, I think Watson will have a bit of difficulty in his first game. Georgia wins this one, 28-20, and takes control of the SEC East with South Carolina getting smacked by A&M. 

Night Game (9:00)
No. 14 Wisconsin Badgers vs. No. 13 LSU Tigers
Game played in Houston, Texas

This is easily the best game of the day, especially considering that it is being played at a neutral site so there really is no advantage to either team. There is also a lot of intrigue in this game because of the quarterback situation for both teams. LSU has a tremendous incoming freshman, Brandon Harris, who Les Miles has stated will get some playing time in this game. Wisconsin has also rolled the dice by replacing last year's starter with converted safety, Tanner McEvoy. But the real attraction to this game will be the running backs. LSU will likely play Leonard Fournette, a local product who has become one of the most hyped running backs in recent memory. Wisconsin has a Heisman hopeful of their own in Melvin Gordon, a blazing fast back who averaged a staggering 7.9 yards per carry last year and 12 rushing touchdowns. Each team has also has to replace players all over the defense. This is a tough game to match because of all the early questions that we haven't had a chance to see any sort of answer too. LSU probably has more talent, but something I think that Wisconsin's defense is more built to handle this ground and pound LSU offense. I think the Badgers barley win this one 28-27.

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