What To Expect On Saturday: CFB Week 1 Preview

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What To Expect On Saturday: CFB Week 1 Preview

Is there a better way to celebrate College Football’s return than fireworks over the entire sport’s paradise? I think not.

Is there a better way to celebrate College Football’s return than fireworks over the entire sport’s paradise? I think not.

cityofpasadena.com (text designed by Joey Goodsir)

Is there a better way to celebrate College Football’s return than fireworks over the entire sport’s paradise? I think not.

cityofpasadena.com (text designed by Joey Goodsir)

cityofpasadena.com (text designed by Joey Goodsir)

Is there a better way to celebrate College Football’s return than fireworks over the entire sport’s paradise? I think not.

Joey Goodsir, Editor-In-Chief

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Joey Goodsir, Editor-in-Chief

I get it, school sucks. 

You’ve been passively moving through your schedule all week. You’ve been taking in assignments and spitting them back out completed. You’ve been trying to keep your summer sanity as the walls close in. It’s not the worst thing ever — there are some glimpses of excitement in a new year — but it’s certainly not the best thing ever either. 

Every once in a while you sit back, confused about the fact that summer is actually over, and we’re all here.  

If you clicked on this preview, you’re probably like me in that your moments of confusion over the fact that we’re here has been matched by moments of excitement over the fact that it’s here.

What is it, exactly?

You can feel it in the breeze, you can smell it in the air, and then you have the ever-so-glorious moment once a year when your brain decides that summer is over, and it’s time for the next thing to look forward to. It just clicks in your head, and you smile.

It’s football.

I’m not gonna elaborate further on those pre-season feels, as other greats close to my heart have previously done it better. Enjoy that:

And with that, welcome to College Football 2019. I am some guy who started writing these at the very beginning of my time on this site, gained a lot of new responsibilities around here, and can’t quite give this old one up because it’s just too darn fun.

If you’ve been here before, you know the drill. If not, then here is me-from-the-past describing the ground rules:

These previews are simple: I am here to break down the most important game of each time slot of your Saturday. Although college football is terrible at cooperating with what is on paper, I will try my best to tell you what will happen in each of those games with a score prediction. Outside of those games, just “who I’ve got” in matchups that are worth an honorable mention, distinguished in bold.”

Before we start our first preview of the year, I have to do a short recap of what has already transpired this season. How is that possible if this is Week 1? Let me explain…

 

About Last Week (Because that was a thing) 

Despite feelings that football isn’t really here yet until this weekend, “Week 0” took center stage on the CFB landscape last Saturday. 

Personally, I have mixed feelings about it. Here was the result from a marketing perspective:

My analysis is that a significant chunk of the rating (my screen being one of them) watched the game just simply to get their football fix in now that it is finally available – having little or nothing to do with the specific teams. 

I just don’t love big in-state matchups and the first episode of College GameDay being wasted on this thing. Give smaller teams the spotlight (some MAC-tion maybe?) and I think it would make a lot more sense. Also, as the tweet above says, less boring neutral sites please!

As far as the games themselves, a Miami Hurricanes team under their defensive coordinator (now head coach Manny Diez) proved somewhat mediocre relative to an upward-trending Florida Gators, although they kept the game close:

The late game was a Hawaii Rainbow Warriors (couldn’t waste an opportunity to type that) high-scoring victory over Arizona:

But enough of Week 0, let’s get into the real business shall we? Here is what to watch for on Sa–OH WAIT, there are even more games before that….

 

Thursday/Friday Week One Games of Note (Picks in Bold As Usual)

UCLA @ Cincinnati (Thursday, 6:00 CT, ESPN)

#14 Utah @ BYU (“The Holy War”) (Thursday, 9:15 CT, ESPN)

Georgia Tech @ #1 Clemson (Thursday, 7:00 CT, ACC Network)

 

#19 Wisconsin @ USF (Friday, 6:00 CT, ESPN)

Colorado State vs. Colorado (Friday, 9:00 CT, ESPN)

Oklahoma State @ Oregon State (Friday, 9:30 CT, FS1)

 

Okay, NOW it’s finally time. Let’s do this…

Saturday, August 31

Noon Game of The Week

Buckeyes Wire/USA Today
Former assistant coach Ryan Day takes the helm in Columbus.

Florida Atlantic @ #5 Ohio State

When: 11:00 CT
TV: FOX
Rain (Above 40%)? No. 
Where: Ohio Stadium (Columbus, OH)
Series History: No Previous Matchups!

 

 

After College GameDay gets THE day started in THE morning, THE Ohio State Buckeyes will kick off what is likely their most question-mark filled season since 2011 (Jim Tressel resigned, leaving current Cincinnati head coach and Adam Sandler look-a-like Luke Fickell to lead THE 2011 team to a 6-7 season). 

This isn’t necessarily because THE talent has left them — because it certainly hasn’t. With a five-year average of being third in THE 247Sports recruiting class rankings, you can trust THE Scarlet and Gray to reload and reinforce rather than rebuild. THE issue is THE specific position groups that have THE biggest holes to fill. THE ever-so-crucial offensive line needs to fill four of five spots.

Dwayne Haskins is also no more. Perhaps THE biggest story of OSU’s offseason was THE pickup of Justin Fields, a five-star transfer quarterback who was limited at Georgia while backing up Jake Fromm. Fields will be THE attempt to fill that void, and while hype surrounds, question marks remain due to limited exposure to his play in recent times. He looked great in his playing time at Georgia, but our most full recent look at him — his performance in Ohio State’s Spring Game this year — was, at best, a work in progress.

Regardless, J.K. Dobbins returns this year, now in THE role as THE star workhorse running back. THE defensive front seems stacked with some developed players. THE secondary is positioning themselves for a strong season with stars returning at cornerback. 

Beyond THE players though, there is obviously a far bigger story that leads into THE narrative of question marks.

With a Rose Bowl win and a positive moment, legendary coach Urban Meyer put his career to rest. His replacement is Ryan Day, Meyer’s offensive coordinator (2017-2018). During Urban Meyer’s suspension last year, Day led Ohio State to a perfect 3-0 as interim head coach to start THE season.

Besides those two pieces of information, there is not much else supporting THE hire. If this wasn’t an internal hire, it certainly wouldn’t have happened. Day will have to work hard to prove throughout this season that he is capable of coaching at one of THE highest levels in THE sport. He has a recently reworked coaching staff to lean on along THE way as well, most notably snatching rival Michigan’s Greg Mattison and Al Washington to work as co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach, respectively. Scheme-wise, things will probably simplify to start THE new coaching era.

THE Bucks face Florida Atlantic, a Conference USA program coached by former NFL/NCAA head coach and Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin.

THE man spoke THE unfiltered truth this week about THE Owls’ motivations going into THE Shoe:

Regardless, Florida Atlantic is expected to run Kiffin’s full-force spread offense and a new hybrid defense to improve upon their team-defining weaknesses from last year. FAU went 11-3 last year, winning THE Boca Raton Bowl to finish THE season. They are certainly taking a shot for THE Conference USA championship this year.

Lane Kiffin’s answer above is really convincing me to cut off THE FAU preview right there, so I will.

This game will start slow as Ohio State gets into THE rhythm of things. Worst case scenario is a “closer than it should be” halftime score. In THE second half THE Buckeyes will roll to put their Week 1 to bed. 

Ohio State Wins, 52-21

If you didn’t get “THE” joke, here was one of THE more outrageous stories over THE offseason. I’ll stop now. Don’t worry.

 

Other Noon Games of Note

Northern Iowa @ #21 Iowa State (FS1)

Akron @ Illinois (BTN)

Ole Miss @ Memphis (ABC)

 

Afternoon Game of The Week

chick-fil-akickoffgame.com
The Chick-Fil-A-Kickoff-Game-at-boring-bland-indoor-NFL-stadium-extravaganza is the Achilles heel for college football’s health, but I digress.

Duke vs. #2 Alabama

When: 2:30 CT
TV: ABC
Rain (Above 40%)? Indoors, so it doesn’t matter.
Where: Mercedes-Benz Stadium (Atlanta, GA)
Series History: 2-1 (Last Time: 2010, Alabama won 62-13 in Durham)

 

While the first few weeks of the season can consist of a lot of big teams eating “cupcakes”, there are a couple matchups between power five programs that are quite interesting. This is one of them.

Regardless of the fast that they are not defending champions this year, the Alabama Crimson Tide play real college football like it is EA NCAA Football at this point (please bring that video game back). It’s not even funny and I don’t have to explain it. Recruiting: second to none. Reloading: second to none. Leadership: second to none. Coaching: second to none. If you have established a program reputation that requires national championships to avoid disappointment, then you have made your era the stuff of all-time legend. Nick Saban has done that.

So, rather than giving Bama any more praise I’m just going to list their potential struggles (I almost say that sarcastically)…

  • Steve Sarkisian is the new offensive coordinator, along with many other first-year staff members (this is so common at this point each year for them that it really isn’t even a concern after getting adjusted into the systems)

And that’s pretty much it!

Duke’s football program has been on a quiet rise over the last ten years or so, leaving Duke basketball haters grabbing for their remotes to change the channel.

(I can't not bring light to this every time Duke Football gets brought up)

This is head coach David Cutcliffe’s 11th season, and his established stability grants him great flexibility year to year – with a pass-first mentality likely to experience a radical change toward moving the ball on the ground as a result of personnel changes.

Speaking of personnel changes, that is exactly what cuts any momentum for the Blue Devils in 2019. A first round quarterback: gone. Three crucial receivers: gone. Star linebacker tag team: gone.

Duke held their strengths on defense under coordinator Jim Knowles for years. Unfortunately, Mike Gundy at Oklahoma State noticed their successes and offered a better deal. This leaves a lot to question for the way the defense is guided this year.

This game will be decided in the first quarter, unfortunately. While we wait for a hero to rise up, the ice cold empire will continue to reign — this time, with more stability than ever.

Alabama Wins, 46-10

 

Other Afternoon Games of Note

3:00 CT:

Northwestern @ #25 Stanford (FOX)

 

Night Game of The Week

WordPress
Cam Newton. Chip Kelly. What a time.

#11 Oregon vs. #16 Auburn

When: 6:00 CT
TV: ABC
Rain (Above 40%)? Indoor. It’s stupid, but weather doesn’t matter at least?
Where: AT&T Stadium (Arlington, TX)
Series History: Auburn Won 22-19 in the 2011 BCS Championship

 

 

By far the biggest game of the week (GameDay will obviously be on site for this one), this SEC/PAC12 matchup will serve as the “Cowboy Classic” kickoff game at Jerryworld down in Dallas.

I don’t think a team has gotten more rapid of an increase in preseason hype than the Oregon Ducks, and you don’t have to look far to understand why:

His decision to return for a senior season has projectors praising him as the projected first overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft,  and his name alone is shoving Oregon into the PAC 12 championship race. Despite his solid arm however, the program seems to be running a less Oregon-esque offense – prioritizing control over spread a lot more than they used to. 

It will be interesting to see how Justin Herbert’s talents are used schematically this year, especially with a heavy lack of experience surrounding him. The receiving core will be filled significantly with freshman. Fortunately, Herbert’s protection in front returns entirely this year.

Defense is way shakier. Things were about average last year, but an important defensive coordinator in Jim Leavitt is gone. Andy Avalos replaced him, a former Boise State DC who had a somewhat average run. The track record isn’t too encouraging for a bigger job in Eugene.

Justin Herbert is great and all, but the lack of experience makes me want to hold back on all the hype until we see some football. This big game will be telling.

On the other side of things, the Auburn Tigers have strengths almost everywhere – especially on defense, returning multiple players on the line who will most likely be seeing the NFL. The uncertainty really lies in the QB spot currently, as even the rest of the offense looks solid.

Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn often has a bad wrap for the roller coaster ride that Tiger fans are on each year, but a good portion of that can be credited to the SEC West being one of the toughest divisions around.  This year will be a big identifier as to what the rest of his career will look like.

I don’t fully get the Oregon hype yet this year, and I think Auburn’s defensive strength and leadership will handle Herbert, leaving Oregon powerless.

Auburn Wins, 33-24

 

Other Night Games of Note

6:00 CT:

Boise State @ Florida State (ESPN)

6:30 CT:

#3 Georgia @ Vanderbilt (SEC Network)

Middle Tennessee @ #7 Michigan (BTN) 

(Michael Raupp is back to give his Michigan picks, just like last year!)

 

Late Game of The Week

Tyler Tjomsland/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW
A national treasure.

New Mexico State @ #23 Washington State

When: 9:00 CT
TV: PAC12 Network
Rain (Above 40%)? Nope.
Where: Martin Stadium (Pullman, WA)
Series History: No Previous Matchups!

 

 

If you’re a College Football fan, there are few things better than staying up late to watch Wazzu’s air raid offense in a high-scoring shootout on the west coast. 

The coach behind the pure air raid is a big part of why this game was selected. He’s the guy who says insightfully hilarious stuff every year, and it’s awesome.

My most recent favorite:

What better entertainment for 9:00 on a Saturday night after a day of football, right?

Last year, the Cougars were doomed with the task of replacement on a major level, and they got better. This year, some of the same thing. Gardner Minshew (the QB with the mustache) successfully replaced a quarterback who seemed to have thrown for multiple miles in one season. Now Minshew is gone, and obviously this opens up a new quarterback race. Leach has stocked the group with elusive arms, and senior Anthony Gordon seems to be the frontrunner. Maybe he’ll have a hard time replacing Minshew, but who knows? It wasn’t a problem for Minshew when he was faced with the same paradigm.

On defense, Washington State has established a recent reputation of being committed to aggressive, risk-taking defense. This seems to be a plan that is developing into tradition. 6 starters are gone from the backfield, but transfers helped ease the pain of those losses.

I think Washington State might have another good season. The question is if it is gonna be another great one like last year. I’m not entirely sure, but recent history shows that the Cougars are fueled on that doubt.

On the other side of things, New Mexico State has some of their own experience in the passing game, with a veteran QB and receiving core. The Aggies will keep their chances up if they just simply use that experience to avoid mistakes. Turnovers would end the game for them.

Washington State Wins, 45-35

 

There are some games that have been pushed later into this Labor Day weekend…

 

Bonus Picks For Later Week 1 Games

Houston @ #4 Oklahoma (Sunday, 6:30 CT, ABC)

#9 Notre Dame @ Louisville (Monday, 7:00 CT, ESPN)

 

I’m excited to be back to pick games randomly right and horribly wrong once again! Until next week…

Enjoy the first Saturday, everyone!