Five Intriguing Games This Weekend – From the Bird’s Nest
Each week again this season, I’ll take a look at five games that I have a special interest in. (Cajuns games are excluded). Opening weekend in college football has some interesting matchups. While many of the schools from the “Big Five” conferences open against cupcakes, others are stepping right out.
Those are the ones worth looking at.
OLE MISS AT VANDERBILT–Thursday 8:15, ESPN
Nothing like a conference game to get things started. Ole Miss is a bit of a trendy pick this year with many suggesting the Rebels might be better than they have in quite some time. Hugh Freeze enters his second season as head coach at Ole Miss and expectations are much higher in Oxford than they were a year ago. Vandy has been a much improved program the last couple of years under James Franklin. Both teams are a bit under the microscope. There’s been some rumbling about Freeze’s recruiting practices and Franklin’s squad is minus four players accused of rape during the off season. Should be a good one in Nashville.
KENTUCKY VS. WESTERN KENTUCKY–Saturday, 6pm ESPNEWS
Another game in Nashville and this one has layers of intrigue. Bobby Petrino makes his debut as coach of the Hilltoppers and he’s got plenty to work with. There are issues at quarterback, but Antonio Andrews, WKU’s workhorse running back, is there to lead the offense. Kentucky has a new coach as well wtih Mark Stoops taking over for Joker Phillips. Although neither coach was around for the game last year, most of the players were, as WKU scored a two point conversion in overtime to win the game.
GEORGIA AT CLEMSON (Saturday, 7pm, ABC)
Now THIS is the way to start a season! Two teams ranked in the Top Ten. Two teams picked to finish among the elite in their respective conferences. Two coaches who have had some success. ACC vs. SEC. This one could be the matchup of the weekend. Georgia has slightly better talent but the game is in Death Valley. No, not that one. The other Death Valley. Tajh Boyd will have all eyes on him as Clemson tries to protect its home turf.
LSU vs. TCU Saturday, 8pm, ESPN
Another matchup of preseason top 25 teams pits the Horned Frogs and the Fighting Tigers. All eyes are on Zach Mettenberger’s improvement as a quarterback as the season begins. He’ll get a pretty good test tonight against TCU defense that’s perennially in the upper echelons of defensive statistics. Of course the side story is Jeremy Hill. Will Les Miles play him? And, if he does, how loud will the criticism be?
NORTHWESTERN AT CALIFORNIA Saturday, 9:30 ESPN2
Sonny Dykes makes his Cal debut after leading Louisiana Tech to a solid season a year ago. He’ll try to revive a program that has sagged the last few years. Well, the schedule makers didn’t do him any favors. Northwestern might be the third or fourth best team in the Big 10. They’re don’t have Ohio State’s name but this is a very good football team. Dykes’ team will have to play really well to not start 0-1.
Finally. It’s college football season. Enjoy the games, everyone.