Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Week One Story Lines

Here are some story lines to look out for during the first week of the 2014 season by conference:

BYU at U Conn
The Huskies start the new Bob Diaco era at home. Let's hope for Husky fan that it works out one hell of a lot better than the Pasqualoni era ended up.

UTSA at Houston
Houston could be one of the surprise teams in the country, but UTSA could ruin the start of what could be a solid run by the Cougars. This game has in-state implications, and UTSA could use it to boost a run of their own.

UCF vs. Penn State at Dublin, Ireland
No idea why this game is being played in Ireland, but UCF may have Penn State's number. A win here without Blake Bortles would be huge.

UCLA at Virginia
The Bruins are ranked in the top ten, and everyone is still trying to figure out how UVA's Mike London made it back for another season. UCLA is a 23 point favorite heading in.

Clemson at Georgia
Both teams are in the top 25, though I'm not sure either team should be this early. Too many questions on both sides of the ball here, and that's why both sides need the win so badly. Either way, traditionally, this is a rare big time early season game for either school.

Florida State vs. Oklahoma State at Dallas
The Seminoles enter this contest ranked number one, but this is a virtual home game for Okie State. They will have the fan base there, but FSU should win this one easily. That said, stranger things have happened.

Miami at Louisville
The Canes start a freshman at QB, and Louisville moves on from both the Charlie Strong and Teddy Bridgewater era. Plenty of drama will be played out here.

Big 12
North Dakota State at Iowa State
NDSU lost some personnel and head coach Criag Bohl, but this is not a hopeless situation for the Bison, and this could be their second consecutive season opener win over a Big 12 squad.

Big 10
Ohio State at Navy
The Buckeyes go into the season without Braxton Miller, and Navy has super weapon Keenan Reynolds. The Middies barely missed out on an upset in Columbus last meeting, but do they miss again?

Appalachian State at Michigan
The return brings none of the drama from 2007. Lightning won't strike twice. This game only makes the list for obvious reasons.

California at Northwestern
This game makes the list because everyone wants to see if the union issue becomes a distraction right out of the gate for the Wildcats. Otherwise, a fairly entertaining game between two not so great teams.

Wisconsin vs. LSU at Houston
The Badgers could get a statement win down in what should be basically home territory for the slipping Tigers. The Badgers are being coy about who starts at QB, but LSU will play two QBs. Both teams need it.

Conference USA
Bethune-Cookman at FIU
On paper, not much to be interested in here, but Bethune-Cookman is an emerging power in the MEAC and in the FBS ranks. FIU is a struggling entity. If the Wildcats win on the road, it could be the biggest win in school history, and it's a possibility.

Ohio at Kent State
Ohio should be a favorite here, but this is an opener with a dark cloud for the Golden Flashes, as they play after the passing of their starting Center. This will be an emotional opener.

New Hampshire at Toledo
Toledo will be the favorite here, but UNH always brings their A game against FBS competition. The Rockets have to be on guard from an upset attempt here.

Mountain West
Boise State vs. Ole Miss at Atlanta
The Bryan Harsin era begins at Boise State, and they have a tough challenge. Ole Miss is supposed to be much improved, and is a 10 point favorite. The caveat is that Boise has always played very well in these east coast/deep south openers. Ole Miss has to be on guard.

Colorado State vs. Colorado at Denver
If the buffaloes want to show that they can be a player this year, it has to start in Denver against their arch rivals. A win for the Rams would show that they are serious about being a big time player in the MWC. Both sides have much to gain, and much to lose.

Montana at Wyoming
Craig Bohl takes a leap by heading off to Laramie, and there is no bigger challenge to his early career here than facing regional and national FCS power Montana right out of the gate. This is an underrated big time opener.

Fresno State at USC
The Bulldogs don't have David Carr anymore, but how messed up will that USC secondary be after the debacle that was the Josh Shaw story this week. The Bulldogs have an opportunity against what will surely be a distracted USC squad. Revenge from that Las Vegas drubbing will be at hand as well.

Utah State at Tennessee
The last time that the Aggies went down south for an opener, they almost knocked off Auburn. Tennessee isn't very good. Chuckie Keeton has a chance to pull off a major stunner.

Portland State at Oregon State
Do I have to remind anyone at how inept the Beavers are against Big Sky opponents in season openers the last couple of seasons? Didn't think so.

Texas A&M at South Carolina
No more Johnny Football, so we finally get to concentrate on the Aggie team and staff for a change. How refreshing. South Carolina needs to turn a corner and has an opportunity to win an SEC title this season, so falling flat to the Aggies at home to open would just be terrible.

Temple at Vanderbilt
Not a huge game overall, but this will mark the beginning of the Derek Mason era as head coach at Vandy, and that's a big story. Can he follow in the successful footsteps of James Franklin.

West Virginia vs. Alabama at Atlanta
Alabama should cruise here, but what will be interesting is who will be under center, Blake Sims or Jacob Coker. Nobody will know until the offense trots out for the Tide.

Sun Belt
Wake Forest at UL-Monroe
I guess if I had to pick one game here, it's this one. ULM needs a win in the post Kolton Browning era to start, and Wake Forest is coming off of an awful season with new head coach Dave Clawson. Could be a quality shot at a power five conference win for the Warhawks.

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