Sunday, January 22, 2017

Best Opening Games of 2017

We are just barely out of the 2016 season, but we can still look forward to the 2017 by looking at the best the opening week has to offer. Here are my picks for the best opening games of 2017.

Florida State vs. Alabama (at Atlanta)
This is by far the best of the openers for 2017. I have both of these teams in my final 4 at the end of next season, so this could be an incredible preview of what is to come. Florida State is in prime contention to win the ACC, and Alabama, despite their loss to Clemson in the title game, is still Alabama.

Tennessee vs. Georgia Tech
It doesn't seem like a great game on paper, but if Tennessee loses this opener, the heat will be whilte hot on Butch Jones.

Virginia Tech vs. West Virginia (at Landover, MD)
West Virginia is in position to make a run for the Big 12 title in 2017, and Virginia Tech was a huge surprise who will be breaking in a new QB. Still, this is a huge challenge for the Mountaineers, and an early loss will start the doubts about how good they can be.

Temple at Notre Dame
Temple breaks in Geoff Collins as their new head coach, but the bigger story line here will be how the Irish break into a new season after one of their worst seasons in school history. Brian Kelly is on the hot seat in a big way, and a loss to Temple will be crushing.

Tulsa at Oklahoma State
Oklahoma State is in a three team group making a serious run at a Big 12 title and final four birth in 2017, and Tulsa is a dangerous opponent heading in, despite needing to replace Dane Evans at QB. The Cowboys cannot afford to sleep on this one.

Michigan vs. Florida (Arlington, TX)
Michigan needs replacement parts on defense, but the offense is in great shape. The Gators have virtually no offense, but their defense is top shelf, even without Geoff Collins as DC. Both teams are looking for an early bump, and winning here will provide that.

Louisiana Tech at Arkansas
The Razorbacks have a history of losing early season games like this one. Tech should have the firepower to put up numbers here, and Bret Bielema is coming off of a nightmare bowl loss. A loss here would be awful for Arkansas, and would start up the rumor mill.

Alabama A&M at UAB
This is remarkable for the fact that UAB is returning from a two year hiatus. Welcome back Blazers!

Western Michigan at USC
It's the first game for the Broncos without PJ Fleck as head coach, and it begins the Tim Lester era, which could be fascinating. USC is coming off of a major run, ending with a Rose Bowl win over Penn State. USC should win this game, but the story lines should be fun.

LSU vs. BYU (at Houston)
The official Ed Orgeron era begins at LSU, and BYU turns back to Tanner Mangum at QB, as he should have been starting for the entire 2016 season. A loss here for LSU, and the Orgeron doubters get a strong start.

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