If you watched Thursday night's game between NC State and South Carolina, I am not sure you have seen college football this season. I was one of those that thought the Wolfpack would be a much improved team in 2009 and boy was I wrong. Give credit to Steve Spurrier and his boys. It was an ugly win, but I would rather win ugly than lose pretty. Enough about what has been let's take a look at what will be:
Jacksonville State at Georgia Tech (1 PM kickoff in Atlanta)
This is the second year in a row that the Yellow jackets have opened with the Gamecocks. In Paul Johnson's debut as Georgia Tech head coach a year ago the Jackets piled up 349 yards on the ground with Jonathan Dwyer getting 112 of those and scoring two touchdowns. Dwyer is back and there is no need to think he won't do the same thing again this season. Georgia Tech prevailed 41-14 last season and there is no reason to think they won't do the same this season. Final score: Georgia Tech 41 Jacksonville State 14
Northeastern at Boston College (2 PM kickoff in Boston)
Frank Spaziani becomes the third head coach in the last four seasons for BC, but he is already 1-0 as the Eagles head coach. Coach Spaz was credited with the 2006 Meinke Car Care Bowl win back in 2006 when the program was transitioning between Tom O'Brien and Jeff Jagodzinski. Unlike Tom O'Brien and Coach Jag before him he does not have a marquee quarterback. He does however have a couple of preseason All-ACC lineman in center Matt Tennant and tackle Anthony Castonzo. These tow teams have not played since 1999 a 33-22 win for the Eagles. All time Boston College is 4-0 against there in town neighbors. Coach Spaz goes to 2-0 with the first of what should be two easy wins. Final score: BC 27 Northeastern 13
Baylor at Wake Forest (3:30 PM kickoff in Winston-Salem)
These two clubs opened the 2008 season in Waco, Tex. and it was all Demon Deacons, 41-14. Art Briles Baylor Bear team is supposed to be much improved. Quarterback Robert Griffin was the Big 12 Freshman of the Year and some will tell you he is the best dual threat QB in college football. For the Deacs, Riley Skinner returns at quarterback to head up the Wake offensive attack for what seems like the tenth year in a row. Skinner has passed for 2,000 yards in each of his first three seasons in Winston Salem and he will be flinging the ball around this season. Skinner lit up the Bears with three touchdown passes last season. This one is shaping up to be an offensive shoot out. Final score: Baylor 35 Wake 31
The Citadel at North Carolina (6 PM kickoff in Chapel Hill)
A battle of two teams sporting Citadel blue. Butch Davis begins his third season in Orange County, N.C. and he returns 16 starters, six on offense and nine defense to go along with one special teamer. The Bulldogs head man, Kevin Higgins, returns 33 letterman from a squad that went 4-8 last year. One of those returnees is wide out Andre Roberts who holds the school receiving yards record with 2,951 so far in his Citadel career. T.J. Yates is back at QB for the Heels with his 131.56 career passing efficiency rating. Yates is third all time in completion percentage (.598), sixth is passing yards (3823) and ninth in touchdowns (25). UNC is 3-0 versus the Bulldogs and there is no reason to think they won't go 4-0.
Final score: North Carolina 41 The Citadel 10
William and Mary at Virginia (6 PM kickoff in Charlottesville)
Bill and Mary versus the most boring head coach in college football, need I say more? Final score: Virginia 24 William & Mary 13.
Richmond at Duke (6 PM kickoff in Durham)
The Richmond Spiders are the defending FCS Champions and has 18 starters back from last year's team. David Cutcliffe went 4-8 in his first season guiding the Blue Devils and has 12 starters back from that team. One of those starters is QB Thaddeus Lewis who is first among active ACC quarterbacks in passing yards with 6735 and touchdown passes with 47. The Spiders have a kid in their defensive secondary by the name of Justin Rogers who picked off seven passes and returned two for TD's last year. Richmond beat the Blue Devils 13-0 n 2006 and they will win again in 2009. Final score: Richmond 24 Duke 20.
Virginia Tech versus Alabama (8 PM kickoff in Atlanta)
An ACC team playing a SEC team in the Georgia Dome. That has not gone well for the ACC boys lately. Frank Beamer's Hokies are expected to be the class of the ACC this season after going 10-4 last season with an Orange Bowl win over Cincinnati. The Hokies have 15 starters back form the 08 team including quarterback Tyrod Taylor. Taylor was great with his feet last season but poor with his arm throwing only three touchdowns passes. I don't think I need to tell you about the Crimson Tides 2008 campaign. Nick Saban has 55 letterman back and nine defensive starters. This is going to be a black and blue type of game. First one to 13 wins. Final score: Virginia Tech 16 Alabama 10
Maryland at California (10 PM kickoff in Berkeley, CA)
Why do I get the feeling most of us are underestimating the Terrapins this season? You may not like Big Ralph, but you have to respect him. Last year his Terps knocked off the Golden Bears 35-27 as Da'Rel Scott rumbled for two touchdowns. Chris Turner returns at quarterback for Maryland and while he has not been spectacular he has been very solid. Jeff Tedford's squad went 9-4 last season and boast one of the most prolific offensive attacks in college football and they are very tough at home. I think this will be an angry bunch of bears and that is not good for a turtle. Final score: Calfironia 38 Maryland 17
Miami at Florida State (8 PM kickoff on Monday in Tallahassee)
Would you have thought that tickets to a Hurricane versus Seminole football game would be so easy to come by? Just goes to show you how far both of these programs have tumbled in recent years. Some of those ins the press would have you think the Canes are on the verge of being back to their elite level and the same goes for the Seminoles. Frankly, I just don't see it. Miami has had all kinds of pre-season issues, including two back-up quarterbacks leaving the program and FSU is more focused on saving Bobby Bowden career victories. Randy Shannon isn't just on the hot seat the torch has been lit and flame has been put to sticks. Much of the same can be said about Bobby Bowden. This is a huge game for both programs and they don't like each other very much. This will be a battle of Miami's Jacory Harris and FSU's Christian Ponder at quarterback. Ponder won last years game 41-39 and he will do it again in 2009. Final Score: FSU 34 Miami 20
Middle Tennessee at Clemson (6 PM kickoff in Death Valley)
There is always excitement when it comes to your favorite team's opener, but I don't know that I have felt this kind of buzz around the Tigers. I think all Tiger fans are excited about the season they just don't know what to expect. Most of the questions revolve around the offensive. What kind of sets will the Tigers run? How many times will C.J. Spiller touch the ball? Who other than Jacoby Ford can catch the ball? Will the Tight End actually see more than one pass per game? Can the offensive line block? Can Kyle Parker handle the presser in his start? On the defensive side of things we do know for sure that Kevin Steele will bring the heat. The question on the defensive side of things is at linebacker. Linebacker won't be a big deal this weekend because the Blue Raiders will show mostly four and five receiver sets. That means look for mostly Nickle and Dime packages from Coach Steele. Rick Stockstill knows all about Clemson, heck most of the staff at one time or another has won the Tigers colors. Coach Stock will have his team ready to go, but so will Dabo Swinney. The difference in this game will be big plays and the tigers will make more of them. Look for number 28 to break two plays for better than 40 yards and for him to rush for more than 100 yards. Final score: Clemson 31 Middle Tennessee 10
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