Weekend Viewer's Guide - Week 1

Another season of college football commenced Thursday night with only one ranked team in action. This weekend gives us many more ranked teams, but not too many high end games. Florida and Hawaii kick off in what will mercifully be the final season of Raycom SEC broadcasts at 12:30 Eastern, 6:30 Oahu time.

With tropical disturbances Gustav in the Gulf and Hanna looking like it could affect UF's game with Miami, the odds are there will be a lot of Weather Channel time wrapped around your football viewing options this weekend. As such, this week's ratings are named for various personalities associated with the network. As always, all times are Eastern.

STEPHANIE ABRAMS

Alabama vs. Clemson in Atlanta (8, ABC) -
This is the featured game of the week. Clemson has so much skill position strength that the top three vote getters for the ACC preseason Player of the Year were all Tigers. Now the question for Tommy Bowden is whether he can finally win double digit games with all that talent. Bowden has struggled against all SEC teams other than instate rival South Carolina, going 1-5 for his career against the rest of the conference. Nick Saban has been riding high on the laurels for his recruiting class, but that won't matter for long if he doesn't start beating significant teams - or at least Louisiana-Monroe.

Illinois vs. Missouri in St. Louis (8:30, ESPN) - Missouri has to deal with the highest expectations they've had in years, given the return of QB Chase Daniel and do everything star Jeremy Maclin. Illinois brings back a good amount of talent but will really miss Steelers first round pick Rashard Mendenhall at tailback. Can Ron Zook's squad get improved enough quarterback play from talented by inconsistent Juice Williams to make up for the loss?

Tennessee at UCLA (Monday 8, ESPN) - The Volunteers gave up a bye week prior to their meeting with Florida so they could open the year in the featured national spot on the evening of Labor Day. New quarterback Jonathan Crompton will look to show he can run new coordinator Dave Clawon's offense well enough to make Tennessee a factor in the SEC. Injuries and discipline issues have taken a huge bite out of UCLA, who are down to their third quarterback and missing some defensive starters as well. Despite that, Bruins defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker has shown an ability to win some games people wouldn't have anticipated by shutting teams down. Rick Neuheisel's debut as head coach should have the crowd fired up too.

JIM CANTORE

Utah at Michigan (3:30, ABC) -
Rich Rodriguez makes his debut as Michigan head coach. A year after the embarrassment of an opening day defeat by Applachian State, the Wolverines are on upset alert as a good Utah team comes to town. Rodriguez doesn't have a quarterback who's well equipped to run his scheme, meaning the Wolverine defense will have to carry them for now.

Michigan State at Cal ( 8, ABC) - Jeff Tedford has radically restructured his Cal squad, changing quarterbacks and switching to a 3-4 defense. Most importantly he's tried to improve the attitude of a squad that made it as high as number two in the polls last season before crashing to earth. Mark Dantonio has restored discipline to a Michigan State program that was a mess for most of the decade. They need to make up for the loss of star receiver Devin Thomas in the passing game but do have an established quarterback in Brian Hoyer. The Spartans are an underdog but could surprise this season.

Kentucky at Louisville (3:30, ESPN) - This rivalry has produced some surprising results over the years, and this game is extremely difficult to get a handle on. The Wildcats begin life without Andre' Woodson at quarterback or most of their receiving talent from last year. Louisville is looking to regroup after a disastrous first season under Steve Kragthorpe.


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