Five Intriguing Games This Weekend – From the Bird’s Nest
College football season actually opens Thursday night with a slew of games, but for the most part, all eyes will focus on Saturday when the season kicks into full gear.
Frequently, the first weekend doesn't offer much. But, with the proliferation of games made for TV and the edict of some leagues to make sure teams from power five leagues play each other in non conference, the opening weekend has so many interesting matchups it's hard to narrow the list down to five.
So, after plenty of elimination, here is what I'm keeping an eye on...
(11) MICHIGAN VS.(17) FLORIDA (+5) --Saturday, 2:30, ABC, Arlington, TX.: Florida has suspended a dozen players for the opener for various violations of team rules. Frequently a coach will wait until his team is playing a cupcake but not this time. So, here's the question: does that mean Michigan has an advantage or does it mean Florida will come together as a team more than they might have without the suspensions? Don't be surprised if it's the latter.
APPALACHIAN STATE AT (15) GEORGIA (-14')--Saturday, 5:15 ESPN: Georgia is (again) the trendy pick in the SEC East and most who follow the game feel as though they'll be much better in Kirby Smart's second year. The Mountaineers could give them a test right out of the box. The veteran team from Boone uses a stout defense and a solid running game and they've been successful doing it. Ten years ago, App pulled off one of the startling upsets in College Football history. This one, if it happens, won't be nearly as monumental. But maybe just as important.
(3) FLORIDA STATE vs. (1) ALABAMA (-7) Saturday, 7:00pm, Atlanta, GA, ABC--The best in the SEC vs. the best in the ACC to start off the season. These teams really get after opponents defensively. In fact, they might be the two best defenses in America. The loser isn't out of the race for the College Football Playoff, especially the Seminoles, who play as difficult a schedule as anyone in the country.
BYU vs. (13) LSU (-14')--Saturday, 8:30pm, New Orleans, LA, ESPN: Moved to New Orleans after Hurricane Harvey ravaged Houston, LSU gets a defacto home game out of the deal. Not that they'll really need that advantage. The Tigers will be missing a couple of key figures for this one, but should get through it fine. The intriguing part here is the unveiling of Matt Canada's offense. Will it put some pizazz into what has been a relatively pedestrian offense the last few seasons?
TEXAS A&M at UCLA (-3')--Sunday, 6:30 pm FOX--Kevin Sumlin starts the season sitting firmly on the hot seat. While this game won't make or break his fate, it can't hurt to start the season with a win on the road against a Power 5 team. The Aggies can make an early statement here about what kind of team they're going to be this season.