… Early season games to watch.. Coming Fall 2013…
Georgia @ Clemson: This is a huge matchup and ultimately will end National Championship hopes for the losing team. These two programs haven’t played in 10 years, so the aspect of unfamiliarity and great athletes will provide a contest to remember. Players such as QB Aaron Murray, RB Todd Gurley, QB Tajh Boyd and WR Sammy Watkins are the names that should contribute to the majority of story lines leading up to kickoff on August 31st.
Alabama vs. Virginia Tech (Atlanta): The Crimson Tide defense could have a field day with QB Logan Thomas, especially if he is off rhythm early and plays like he did at the end of last season. QB Aaron McCarron will be hitting on all cylinders and the VT secondary will have their hands full will a loaded Alabama receiving core. Ultimately, I don’t see a very close competition here as Virginia Tech simply, won’t be able to keep up with an Alabama team looking to make a national statement early; this is the perfect game to run up a descent opponent and gain comfort on the road.
LSU vs. TCU (Arlington, Texas): Should be an extremely interesting matchup and in my opinion the Horned Frogs have the potential to upset LSU. If Pachall has a monster performance don’t be surprised if a win here, boosts TCU back into the National spotlight. DE Devonte Fields and CB Jason Verrett lead a defense that has more than athletes to put the Tigers offense, led by QB Zack Mettenberger (only tossed 12 TDs in 2012) out of sync; especially after all summer to prepare and home field advantage in Texas.
Notre Dame @ Michigan: This classic matchup between two programs fighting to get back into national acclaim will receive tons of hype, as the Big House in Ann Arbor will be rocking to capacity. I give an edge to Michigan, but ultimately it will be very close; similar to last year both offenses will be trying to find their identities early in the season. This will be a stage for either QB to have a coming out party. Hopefully QB Tommy Rees will be ready.
Florida @ Miami: Always a classic; this rivalry could be on its way to restored glory especially with Miami beginning to find its way behind QB Stephen Morris and RB Duke Johnson. Florida had significant losses on both sides of the ball and cannot overlook Miami here as QB Jeff Driskel will have to use this game to gain confidence in the passing attack before facing tougher opponents. Florida won the last matchup between the schools 28-6 back in 2008.
South Carolina @ Georgia: Another huge contest, the Bulldogs should be out for redemption as a 35-7 loss last season will be fresh in the memories of the 2012 team and will not be acceptable this time around. Aaron Murray was 11 for 31 with 1 interception last year, so this game is marked on his calendar for an opportunity for redemption.
Alabama @ Texas A&M: This game will be a certain college game day special and although, Manziel went on a tear last season, expect the Tide to have a few tricks up their sleeves, as the defense is more than athletic enough to shut down Johnny football. The downfall? This will be Alabama’s second consecutive week on the road.
UCLA @ Nebraska: A great game last year as the Bruins took care of the Cornhuskers 36-30 at home; this time around should be equally exciting. If the Bruins aren’t able to replace former rushing stud Johnathan Franklin, watch out for QB Taylor Martinez to top his 112 yards rushing and 1 TD in 2012 as he should be fully of highlight reel runs during his senior campaign.
Kansas State @ Texas: This is a must win for the Longhorns and by this point they could realistically be 3-0. As Kansas State will be breaking in new QB Daniel Sams, Texas must stop outstanding wide receivers Tyler Lockett and Tramine Thompson. In addition, the Longhorns QB David Ash and RB Johnathan Grey must have great performances (last year Texas lost 42-24, a game that in Texas, is not acceptable to lose). A defense led by Jackson Jeffcoat should be ready to use this game to make national waves.
Michigan State @ Notre Dame: If the Spartans are going to have any chance at having an impact in 2013 this is a must win game, especially for building confidence on the road. Finding someone to replace Le’Veon Bell unfortunately however, will be too big of a challenge to overcome an Irish team that has been nothing but drama since the end of last season. With the leadership of Brian Kelly this will be a big win for ND while they continue to pursue a trip back to the National Championship game.
North Carolina @ Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets beat North Carolina 68-50 this past season and this time around must focus on stopping the run after giving up 380 yards in 2012. QB Bryn Renner should be ready to go, however the Tar Heels must find a replacement for Giovani Bernard. The bottom line both defenses must step it up, as combining for over 100 points is almost unheard of.
LSU @ Georgia: Obviously, this games hype-factor will depend on the outcomes of previous match-ups, however it is very likely that both these teams will be undefeated which could be cause for massive media attention. These two programs havent played since the 2011 SEC Championship game; LSU won 42-10. Playing at home this will have to be a game that Aaron Murray provokes Heisman chatter.
Wisconsin @ Ohio State: This will be yet another year, where the Badgers will struggle against a more athletic and now extremely well coached Buckeye’s team led by Urban Meyer. Having to go on the road to face QB Braxton Miller and a defense led by potential All American LB Ryan Shazier will be a struggle as Wisconsin will have to find the passing game in order to have a chance to keep it close.
Oklahoma @ Notre Dame: Taking a loss in the National spotlight is never good and this game will be no different. Surely, to be televised on ABC the Sooners will be hungry to improve after back to back 10-3 seasons. With both schools breaking in new QBs, Notre Dame by this point most likely will have suffered a loss to either Michigan or Michigan State. If this is the case look for Notre Dame to win close at home behind a defensive squad led by standouts DE Stephon Tuitt and NT Louis Nix III who should find their strides by the midway point.