College Football - Week 1

College Football - Week 1

College Football - Week 1 Predictions
(Sports Network)

Below is a compilation of The Sports Network's predictions for the top games in Week 1 of the college football season. (Detailed previews for each game can be found by following the "Top 25 scoreboard" link within the FBS college football section of sportsnetwork.com)

Buffalo (0-0) at (16) Rutgers (0-0), Thursday, 7 pm

The Knights are far more talented from top to bottom and behind the power running of Rice, they should have no trouble getting past the Bulls at home.


Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Rutgers 35, Buffalo 6

Murray State (0-0) at (10) Louisville (0-0), Thursday, 7:30 pm

The Cardinals are clearly the selection here, as they are the far superior team in every aspect. This one could be out of reach by halftime.


Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Louisville 51, Murray State 0

(2) L-S-U (0-0) at Mississippi State (0-0), Thursday, 8:00 pm

Will Mississippi State take a step forward this season? Possibly, but LSU is clearly the superior team in this opener and will cruise to victory. Tigers' linebacker Derrick Odom III was arrested this past week and indefinitely suspended, but that situation will not have an impact on this opener or the season.


Sports Network Predicted Outcome: LSU 31, Mississippi State 10

Weber State (0-0) at (24) Boise State (0-0), Thursday, 9:05 pm

While this may not be the same team that went unscathed through all of 2006, the Broncos are still more than talented enough to shrug off Weber State without much effort at home.


Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Boise State 42, Weber State 13

Youngstown State (0-0) at (11) Ohio State (0-0), Saturday, 12:00 pm

While this may be an intriguing matchup for the fans of Ohio football, it probably won't amount to a competitive game. OSU may be rebuilding in several key areas, but this team is still full of talent. The Buckeyes are the bigger, faster and more athletic team here and that will be evident this Saturday.


Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Ohio State 45, Youngstown State 10

Florida International (0-0) at (17) Penn State (0-0), Saturday, 12:00 pm

There is no reason to expect this game to be close. Penn State is far superior to FIU and will win in easy fashion.


Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Penn State 41, Florida International 6

East Carolina (0-0) at (9) Virginia Tech (0-0), Saturday, 12:00 pm


Emotions will be running high in Blacksburg this weekend and for the entire season, for that matter. This is a team that has the ability to not only win the ACC, but the national title as well. The Hokies should get off to a fast start with a big win over the Pirates.


Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Virginia Tech 37, East Carolina 10

Appalachian State (0-0) at (5) Michigan (0-0), Saturday, 12:00 pm

Appalachian State will not be intimidated on Saturday, but an upset victory over Michigan is unlikely. The combo of Chad Henne, Mario Manningham and Mike Hart will simply be too much for the Mountaineers to handle.


Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Michigan 34, Appalachian State 17

Western Kentucky (0-0) at (6) Florida (0-0), Saturday, 12:30 pm

Florida has plenty to prove, as many key contributors from the title team are gone. But if we have learned anything over the past few years, doubting Urban Meyer is just not smart.


Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Florida 37, Western Kentucky 6

Western Michigan (0-0) at (3) West Virginia (0-0), Saturday, 3:30 pm

WMU was outstanding against the run last season, but it may be in for a long day versus WVU's unstoppable ground attack. Pat White and Steve Slaton should be able to use their speed to exploit the Broncos, as the Mountaineers run away with this one.


Sports Network Predicted Outcome: West Virginia 42, Western Michigan 16

Nevada (0-0) at (20) Nebraska (0-0), Saturday, 3:30 pm

The Huskers ranked 17th in the nation last year with 30.6 ppg, but unless you go inside the numbers, you wouldn't know that a huge portion of those points came against Nicholls State and Troy, both of which were slammed for 56 points. Chances are Nebraska will not start out as strong this time around, but a victory should still be in the cards nonetheless.


Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Nebraska 24, Nevada 20

(14) U-C-L-A (0-0) at Stanford (0-0), Saturday, 3:30 pm

Jim Harbaugh has done a lot of talking since taking over the Stanford program, and while the team certainly needs an identity and some confidence, there isn't enough talent currently on the roster to deliver on the coach's promises just yet. UCLA will win this opener on the road.


Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UCLA 31, Stanford 14

Washington State (0-0) at (7) Wisconsin (0-0), Saturday, 3:30 pm

The home team is the clear choice in this clash. Wisconsin is experienced, talented and confident, and while Joe Thomas and John Stocco will be missed, don't expect the Badgers to miss a beat.


Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Wisconsin 41, Washington State 17

Baylor (0-0) at (22) T-C-U (0-0), Saturday, 6:00 pm

The Horned Frogs can ill-afford to overlook Baylor, or any opponent for that matter. But with that 11-man wrecking crew otherwise referred to as "the defense," it's unlikely the Horned Frogs would come out flat in this opener. Expect plenty of three-and-outs by Baylor, a lot of hard hitting by TCU, and no shortage of hype leading up to next weekend's date between the Horned Frogs and Texas Longhorns.


Sports Network Predicted Outcome: TCU 38, Baylor 0

Oklahoma State (0-0) at (13) Georgia (0-0), Saturday, 6:45 pm

Expect a fairly close game, as Oklahoma State is not a pushover by any means. Still, the edge clearly has to go to the Bulldogs, as they have the advantage of playing at home. If quarterback Matthew Stafford can make a major leap forward, and he certainly has the talent to do so, Georgia can regain its stature as an elite power in the SEC.


Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Georgia 27, Oklahoma State 17

North Texas (0-0) at (8) Oklahoma (0-0), Saturday, 7:00 pm

All eyes will be on Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford, and he will benefit from facing a mediocre opponent in his first game. Expect Bob Stoops to afford his rookie quarterback plenty of chances to air it out, and don't be surprised to see him toss multiple touchdown passes.


Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Oklahoma 41, North Texas 9

Arkansas State (0-0) at (4) Texas (0-0), Saturday, 7:00 pm

The Longhorns may rely heavily on the ground attack against Arkansas State with wideouts Limas Sweed and Billy Pittman sidelined. Running back Jamaal Charles can carry the load, and the Indians aren't likely to do much scoring against the Indians' defense.


Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Texas 50, Arkansas State 6

Montana State (0-0) at (25) Texas A&M (0-0), Saturday, 7:00 pm

Behind their explosive and powerful ground attack, the Aggies should have no trouble running past a much smaller MSU club, much to the delight of the hometown faithful in College Station.


Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Texas A&M 40, Montana State 7

Troy (0-0) at (21) Arkansas (0-0), Saturday, 7:00 pm

Watching Darren McFadden is a joy, as he is clearly the nation's best football player. With an unmatched combination of speed and power, NFL teams are salivating over the thoughts of drafting him in April. Until then, he will continue to terrorize collegiate opponents, and Troy will feel the wrath first.


Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Arkansas 38, Troy 17

Kansas State (0-0) at (18) Auburn (0-0), Saturday,7:45 pm

The home team is the choice in this matchup, as Auburn has a veteran quarterback, Brandon Cox, and a stingy defense. The SEC is packed with standout squads as usual, but Auburn has what it takes to compete with the best.


Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Auburn 34, Kansas State 20

(15) Tennessee (0-0) at (12) California (0-0), Saturday, 8:00 pm

The Volunteers took the wind out of California's sails last year with a dominant performance in Neyland Stadium. It is the Golden Bears who have the homefield advantage this time around. That, coupled with more talent on both sides of the ball, should sway this game in Cal's favor.


Sports Network Predicted Outcome: California 27, Tennessee 20

Idaho (0-0) at (1) U-S-C (0-0), Saturday, 10:15 pm

The Vandals are in way over their heads. Robb Akey couldn't have started his tenure in Moscow with a more unwinnable game. The Trojans have the ability to run the table this season and will have no problem acclimating the new personnel to the speed of the game, with a rout of Idaho here.


Sports Network Predicted Outcome: USC 51, Idaho 3

Northern Colorado (0-0) at (23) Hawaii (0-0), Saturday, 11:59 pm

Seeing as how Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan sat out the fourth quarter in nearly half the team's games a season ago, he might be getting the entire second half off in the opener if the offense performs the way it should versus the Bears.


Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Hawaii 65, Northern Colorado 10

(19) Florida State (0-0) at Clemson (0-0), Monday, 8 pm

The Seminoles have certainly come back to the pack after reigning atop the ACC for a long time. That being said, expect FSU to rebound this season and compete for the Atlantic Division crown. Winning in Death Valley though, is not easy and Clemson's lethal ground attack may just neutralize anything FSU is able to get going.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Clemson 24, Florida State 20

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Oklahoma RB Patrick has sprained ankle
August 29, 2007

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) -Tailback Allen Patrick went through about half of Oklahoma's practice on Wednesday and may be able to start Saturday against North Texas.
   
Patrick missed more than two weeks of practice and had been wearing a protective boot on his right foot while recovering from a sprained ankle.

``He said he feels better than he did when he played on it last year,'' Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. ``Again, he's getting better and we're working him toward playing.''

Patrick, the expected replacement for star Adrian Peterson, also sprained his right ankle last season and missed two games before returning to run for 163 yards and a touchdown in the regular season finale against Oklahoma State.

His backup, Chris Brown, was suspended for the North Texas game. Senior Jacob Gutierrez, who ran for 173 yards as a third-stringer in a double-overtime win over Baylor two years ago, and freshmen DeMarco Murray and Mossis Madu could see playing time.

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X-ray finds break in Ainge's pinky
August 29, 2007

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -Tennessee quarterback Erik Ainge has a broken pinkie on his throwing hand, but is expected to play Saturday at No. 12 California.

``He's thrown a bit, and it looks like he's going to throw fine,'' coach Phillip Fulmer said Wednesday. ``But I appreciate his toughness getting back out there.''

The senior jammed the right pinkie taking snaps on Monday and an X-ray on Wednesday revealed the break. Fulmer said he expected it would take three to four weeks for Ainge's finger to be back to 100 percent.

Fulmer said sophomore backup quarterback Jonathan Crompton was prepared to take over for Ainge if he struggles in the 15th-ranked Vols' season opener.

``If it doesn't work out Jonathan will have to be ready to go, and I have the utmost confidence in Jonathan,'' Fulmer said.

As a junior, Ainge set a single-season school record for pass completions with 233, hitting on 67 percent of his passes with 19 touchdowns.

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Vols' Ainge expected to play despite broken pinkie
August 29th, 2007

Knoxville, TN (Sports Network) - University of Tennessee quarterback Erik Ainge is expected to play in Saturday's season opener against California despite a broken pinkie on his throwing hand.

Volunteers head coach Phillip Fulmer said Ainge suffered the injury while taking a snap during practice on Monday.

"He is going to play," Fulmer said. "He has thrown and it looks like he's going to be able to throw just fine. I appreciate him showing the toughness to get himself back out there."

Ainge established a Tennessee season record with a completion percentage of 67.0 last season and was second in the SEC in passing yards per game (249.1). He finished the year fifth all-time among UT passers with 5,178 career yards and sixth in total offense at 4,893. In all, Ainge completed 233-of-348 passes for 2,989 yards.

The Vols head into their opener ranked 15th in the nation, while Cal is 12th.

If Ainge can't play, junior Jonathan Crompton would likely get the start at quarterback. Crompton has completed 47 percent of his passes during his collegiate career.

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Tape It Up : chronicles the latest injuries
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BC: Can't Hide Them Much Longer

Head coach Jeff Jagodzinski has been put through the ringer in his first weeks in Chestnut Hill, watching player after player go down with injuries of varying degrees, but he's insisting that everyone will be ready for Saturday's game. On the injury front, the first-year coach is happy to discuss Brian Toal's status, as the linebacker is taking a medical redshirt after undergoing shoulder surgery, but other than that, it's on us to figure out exactly who among the ailling will be pacing the sidelines on Saturday. And the list isn't particularly short.

Florida: Oh Captain, No Captain

Phil Trautwein, a senior captain who started every game for the Gators in 2006, has another stress fracture in his foot, which is nothing new for the experienced offensive lineman. What is new is the possibility that this one may take him out of the entire season. He's definitely out for this wekeend's opener against Western Kentucky and despite coach Urban Meyer's reassurances that the defending national champions have plenty of depth at O line, they have got to be feeling a certain sense of dread with one of the team's top leaders a big fat question mark for the entire 2007 season.

Tennessee: Little Finger Is No Big Deal

Tennessee quarterback Erik Ainge broke the pinkie finger on his throwing hand this week, but that won't keep him from starting on Saturday at Cal. This is the first time the senior has broken a finger playing football, but if you're going to break one, the pinkie is a good one to choose - it probably has the least impact on a player's throwing motion, as it is usually tucked into the palm while the thumb, pointer and middle fingers grip the ball. The problem is that the pinkie is vital to the handoff process, and that's exactly how Ainge injured it on Monday, taking snaps from the center during practice.

Oklahoma: No Peterson and No Patrick Could be a Problem

The big talk coming out of Oklahoma this preseason has been simple - we don't need Adrian Peterson; sure he was super-human and could carry the ball for weeks at a time, but we played better without him! And truth be told, they had a point - in games played without the star running back, Oklahoma averaged more rush yards than when he was suiting up. The big name replacing Peterson's production was tailback Allen Patrick, but with the senior still battling an ankle sprain, the run game in Norman has come under some duress.

Arkansas: Monk Under the Knife, Again

Arkansas receiver Marcus Monk hasn't slept much recently. The Razorbacks' leading receiver already knew that he'd be out for the season opener against Troy this Saturday, but things have gone from bad to worse. After the pain in his knee wouldn't go away on Monday night and he couldn't straighten his leg early Tuesday morning, the school's all-time leader in TD receptions underwent his second arthroscopic surgery in the last 30 days on his right knee, which sets him back at least another game - he'll most likely watch the Alabama matchup from the sideline.

USC: Time To Hit Someone Else

High-intensity pre-game workouts are one thing, but knocking out your teammates days before the season opener is quite another. USC would do well to learn the difference, as two key players were injured in Tuesday's practice, shining the haze of doubt on their ability to take the field on Saturday against Idaho. In Southern California, it's definitely time for the Trojans to start hitting someone else, so that they can stop hitting each other.

In or Out?

The official kickoff of the 2007 season is a mere three days away and injured players are now forced to answer a key question - are you in, or are you out? Texas wide receiver Limas Sweed is in, despite what official school reports say, while teammate Billy Pittman must sit out. Wake Forest defensive end Matt Robinson is in, the elusive Florida cornerback Markihe Anderson is questionable, and Michigan State tackle Mike Gyetvai is out.

Florida State: Deal With It

Week one is officially upon us and that means no more excuses, especially when you're playing for Bobby Bowden. Florida State's head coach isn't particularly interested in hearing the details of his star running back's toe injury - junior Antone Smith has been running a bit slower recently, hampered by a nagging toe pain - and the coach has made clear that it's time for everyone to step up and get ready to play.

Maryland: Hurting All Over

The field was rather bare during Maryland's final summer scrimmage this week, as nearly 20 Terps sat out the exercise with various injuries. By far the position hit hardest by the mounting losses is linebacker, where four players are out. But the receiving corps is not far behind - head coach Ralph Friedgen has reported that the Terps' top three receivers all missed the final scrimmage. As if by some cruel joke, that practice actually made matters worse, as another linebacker left the field with an injury.

Miami: Not a Word (or a Picture)

While some professional players are busy faking injuries (see Bettis, Jerome), the University of Miami is trying to keep theirs as quiet as possible. Head coach Randy Shannon has told press that his most experienced tailback, senior Charlie Jones, will miss the first three games of the season, but he won't reveal any details on the injury or if surgery is required. If you found an unauthorized person with a video camera in your practice area, you might be tight-lipped, too.

Tennessee: Heating the Sibling Rivalry

The sibling rivalry between Tennesse senior Brad Cottam and sophomore Jeff Cottam has just increased exponentially. The brothers are both listed at the tight end position and after Tuesday night, the younger Cottam has a chance to show up his older brother. Brad will miss most of the season after injuring his left wrist in a team scrimmage earlier this week, sidelining him at least until late October. In his absence, Jeff should see a lot more playing time.

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Saturday's news and notes

Marshall Thundering Herd at Miami Hurricanes (-18, 48)

The Herd are in tough on Saturday: Miami is coming off a tough 2006 campaign and Randy Shannon will want a convincing win to prove he was the right choice for the Canes coaching job.

One thing that won’t bother Marshall players is the heat on a summer afternoon in southern Florida. The Herd have practiced in sweltering temperatures for the last month, with some players even wearing long sleeves during two-a-days.

"(Head) coach (Mark) Snyder did a good job of preparing us," receiver Emmanuel Spann told the Huntington Herald-Dispatch. "Even though it might not have seemed like it to us, he knew what he was doing. With a noon kickoff in Miami, coach Snyder knew what he was doing, having us out there in full pads in the heat.”

Colorado State Rams at Colorado Buffaloes (-2 ½, 45 ½)

The Rams beat the Buffaloes last year 14-10 as 2-point home favorites despite only 15 rushing yards on 34 carries. Expect Colorado State to pound the ball again in Boulder this Saturday despite the measly stats from 2006.

"We need to be able to run the ball and make things happen,” Rams co-offensive coordinator Dave Lay told The Coloradoan. “If we can get some consistent four- and five-yard runs, I'll be excited. The big thing for us is being patient and sticking with it."

The big personnel difference from last year is the return to health of Colorado State’s star running back Kyle Bell. He’s a 230-pound beast as dangerous as any other ball carrier the Buffaloes will face this year.

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Notre Dame Fighting Irish (-1, 45)

Georgia Tech feels it should have won last year’s opener against Notre Dame and is taking measures this year to complete what they start.

"We just didn't finish the game like we were supposed to," running back Tashard Choice told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about the 14-10 home loss to the Irish after leading 10-7 at the half. "It's a symbol of how we finished the season."

The Jackets went on a 9-1 spurt after the loss before dropping their last three games. To a man they’ve vowed to finish games and the season on a more satisfying note in 2007. It starts at Notre Dame Stadium, where a focused Georgia Tech defense has the ability to smother a rebuilding Irish offense.

Baylor Bears at TCU Horned Frogs (-21, 46 ½)

Baylor head coach Guy Morriss has taken indecisive to a new level regarding his new starting quarterback. Neither Blake Szymanski nor Tyler Beatty knew as of mid-week which of them would line up under center at Amon G. Carter Stadium on Saturday.

"It is hard, but we just kind of cope with it and play every down like it's our last," Beatty told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram about the lack of decision.

Neither QB might want the starting assignment this Saturday, considering TCU’s awesome DE tandem of Tommy Blake and Chase Ortiz. On that note, however, Blake has missed practices this week with an undisclosed illness and head coach Gary Patterson admits Blake could be a game-day decision.

Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns at South Carolina Gamecocks (-28 ½, 45 ½)

The Gamecocks have to put a ton of points on the board to cover the spread on Saturday. That could be a challenge considering the Cocks have a huge game in Georgia next week and starting QB Blake Mitchell is suspended for the opener against ULL. Chris Smelley starts this week.

South Carolina’s The State, however, dug up an interesting factoid about backup quarterbacks under the Ol’ Ball Coach. Steve Spurrier has inserted a second-string QB into the starting lineup 13 times in his career as a head coach and his teams have only lost one of those games.

That might not be enough for would-be Gamecocks backers who need a 29-point win on Saturday. Try this, then: the Ragin’ Cajuns have played three BCS conference schools over the last two seasons and lost each of those games by at least 42 points.

Central Michigan Chippewas at Kansas Jayhawks (-7 ½, 52 ½)

It was expected to be a battle of sophomore QBs when this game appeared on the schedule, but it was supposed to be Kerry Meier taking the snaps for KU against CMU’s Dan LeFevour, the MAC’s most dangerous quarterback. In fact, Todd Reesing starts for Kansas after a strong summer of scrimmages.

The potential quarterback mismatch is almost as intriguing as the spread hovering above seven points.

The Jayhawks lost to their only MAC opponent last year, a 37-31 overtime loss in Toledo. The Rockets were only 3-5 in conference play, as opposed to the Chipps, who ran away with the MAC West and smoked Ohio in the conference championship game to finish 8-1 in MAC play. Central Michigan was an underdog against three BCS opponents last year and covered the spread in all three games.

San Jose State Spartans at Arizona State Sun Devils (-15, 49 ½)

There are big expectations on the Sun Devils for Dennis Erickson’s first year as head coach. A constant theme in the talk of improvement is quarterback Rudy Carpenter’s need to revert to his 2005 form, when he threw only two interceptions in 228 pass attempts. He was picked off 17 times in 332 passes last year.

Carpenter could hardly face a stiffer challenge from a non-BCS opponent on Saturday. Dwight Lowery and Chris Owens, the Spartans’ returning cornerbacks, combined for 13 picks last year, more than any other CB combo in the nation. Lowery had nine by himself and was named a Playboy All-American this spring.

"It's going to be good for our wideouts to get a test like that," Carpenter told the Arizona Republic. "If we can have some success, they're going to realize they can be successful against anybody."

Civers.com

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College Football Has Arrived
August 31st, 2007

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - After months of preparation, it's time to put all the hard work into action as the 2007 college football season begins.

Saturdays are made for wagering, but just as important as gambling is making sure to watch as much of the action as possible. The more games viewed, the better chance of catching key plays that might not show up in the box score.

Sometimes statistics can be a gambler's best friend, but other times they can skew the actual results. Last year's Syracuse team is a perfect example of the latter. The Orange finished the season ranked 110th in the country in total offense and 107th in total defense, but was outscored by an average total of just 7.2 points per game (17.4-24.6). The reason? Quarterback Perry Patterson threw only four interceptions in 300 passes and the defense led the Big East with 15 forced turnovers in its eight conference games.

Syracuse was a +8 in turnover margin in its first five games and its record reflected the good fortune with a 3-2 SU and 5-0 ATS start. In games the club failed to gain more turnovers than its opponents, its record was 0-3 both SU and ATS. Overall, the Orange finished 8-1 ATS in the nine games they were on the plus side in TO differential.

WHAT TO DO DURING THE WEEK

If you're not able to watch all the action (and even if you are), I implore all my readers to buy a notebook and keep track of all 119 FBS schools. After each week of the season jot down each club's rushing, passing and turnover statistics, along with its opponents' numbers. More often than not, patterns will begin to form and you'll quickly spot how well each squad is doing in different areas and be able to match it against the next opponent.

A shining example of how effective this can be is Tulsa's 2006 campaign. The season began with a 5-1 SU and ATS record in its first six lined games. The only hiccup came vs. the BYU Cougars, who had a fantastic season in their own right.

Tulsa held North Texas, Southern Miss, East Carolina, and Memphis to under 300 yards each of total offense, with the latter three clubs finishing with 243, 241 and 232 yards respectively.

The Hurricane then defeated UTEP 30-20 at home on October 27, failing to cover the 15-point spread. Steve Kragthorpe's club once again held its opponent under the magical 300-yard mark, but the Miners came close with 293. That game was the first contest since September 9 that Tulsa did not win ATS.

The defense, which had been so solid for most of the season, was beginning to crumble. A trip to Houston came next, and the Cougars offense ripped right through the Hurricane "D" for 471 yards and a 27-10 victory, a game in which Tulsa was actually favored.

Rice followed Houston on the schedule, and for those who had been keeping track of how poorly the Hurricane defense had fared the previous two weeks, this contest was a golden opportunity to fatten the wallet.

The Owls were riding high on a three-game winning streak piling up 421, 420 and 471 yards in the three victories. Tulsa was favored by 14.5-points, but the Owls were in complete control early with a 20-7 halftime advantage. Rice managed to hold on to win in double overtime, 41-38, and gained 356 yards in the process.

It was readily apparent that Tulsa was in free-fall mode, but was still favored on the road at SMU. The Mustangs racked up 369 total yards en route to a 34-24 win and those who wagered against the Golden Hurricane were reaping the rewards.

FOUR GAMES TO WATCH ON SATURDAY

The first week of the season can sometimes present golden opportunities IF you prepared yourself with enough useful information during the summer months. The betting lines on some games might not reflect key suspensions or injuries, and one of those games is Eastern Michigan at Pittsburgh.

The Panthers are favored by 20 points, which is extremely high considering how poorly Pittsburgh has played under Dave Wannstedt. Pitt had a wild preseason with prized freshman quarterback Pat Bostick leaving school due to personal problems before returning the second week of camp. Top wide receiver Derek Kinder will miss the season with a torn ACL, and their most experienced offensive lineman, Mike McGlynn, still hasn't fully recovered from off-season shoulder surgery.

The Panthers, just 2-2 in their last four tries against the MAC, begin the season with a new quarterback (Bill Stull) and must move forward without its top three tacklers from a year ago. They also lost their last five games in '06 and have an 11-12 record in Wannstedt's two years after five straight bowl appearances under Walt Harris.

Eastern Michigan comes into Heinz Field after winning just one of its 12 games last year. However, the Eagles finished the season covering five of its last seven, including three straight on the road. They lost only nine of 48 lettermen (19%) and over the course of the last three years, 23 of the 28 teams that returned at least 80% of their lettermen improved their records the following season. They also have zero injuries to speak of, which bodes well for this opening week matchup.

Tailback Pierre Walker started just five games the last two years, and sophomore QB Andy Schmitt, who has a half-year of experience under center, gained valuable experience watching from the sidelines during spring practices while recuperating from shoulder surgery. Both are 100% healthy and ready to go.

The defense, which held four of its last six opponents under 20 points, should be even better in '07. The unit loses just two of its top 20 tacklers and will improve against the run as defensive tacklers Jason Jones and Josh Hunt are among the best in the MAC.

This has all the makings of a close, low scoring contest with the Panthers pulling out a 20-10 victory at home.

Take Eastern Michigan and the under.

Another MAC squad that has a chance to pull off an upset is Bowling Green. The Falcons travel to Minnesota to take on the Golden Gophers, a team in transition heading into week one of the season.

Minnesota will change from a very successful run-based attack to a spread formation, and the modification will take a few weeks to be fine-tuned. The defense dominated the offense throughout most of the scrimmages, which is not a good sign considering the Gophers have never been known for holding down an opponent. Add onto all this the suspension of cornerback Dominic James, and you have a team ripe for the taking.

The Falcons will exploit Minnesota's secondary as they return to a pass-based offense so successful earlier in the decade. Tyler Sheehan replaces Anthony Turner at quarterback in hopes of igniting the attack, and he'll have a host of weapons to throw to including Corey Partridge and Freddie Barnes.

Bowling Green won only four games last year and some of the ineptitude was due to poor special teams. Alonso Rojas had four punts blocked and his overall net average was 27.7, while kicker Sean Ellis missed more field goals than he made. The Falcons have brought in two junior college players to fix the problems and both replacements have head coach Gregg Brandon smiling.

Minnesota is favored by two touchdowns and Bowling Green has a chance to win the game outright.

Take the Falcons and the points.

Miami-Florida has named Kirby Freeman its starting quarterback over Kyle Wright in its game vs. Marshall, but it really doesn't matter who starts against a Thundering Herd defense decimated by injuries.

Marshall ranked 102nd in the nation last year allowing 29 ppg and 101st in total defense, giving up over 390 yards per game. Those numbers will be even higher with Albert McClellan and Zearrick Matthews on the sidelines. (McClellan will miss the season with a torn ACL and Matthews is out for a few weeks with a broken arm.) McClellan's injury leaves the Herd extremely weak against the run.

This is a huge game for the Hurricanes who will want to immediately erase the images of a 7-6 season, so look for them to come out fighting from the outset. On the other hand, Marshall's big game is not at Miami, but next week at home against in-state rival, West Virginia.

Miami is favored by 18 points and will blow the Herd back to Huntington.

Take the 'Canes minus the points.

Army and Akron hook up in Cleveland, Ohio on Saturday night and neither team might be able to muster 10 points. Akron's strength is its defense, with eight returning starters coming back from a unit that held its final three opponents last year to a combined 50 points.

The Zips offense is a different story. Both quarterbacks, Chris Jacquemain and Carlton Jackson (one career attempt combined) will play in the opener. In addition, most of last year's receiving threats are no longer on the team. Look for RB Dennis Kennedy to be the focal point of the offense, which will play right into Army's hands.

The Black Knight's run defense, which finished 115th in the nation last year, will be much improved in '07. The front seven will hold Kennedy in check and force Akron's quarterbacks to throw much more than they would like to.

Army also might go with two quarterbacks, as both David Pevoto and Carson Williams have demonstrated a decent ability to run the offense during scrimmages. The running game is solid, but must move forward with an inexperienced offensive line.

I'm surprised Akron is favored by almost a touchdown and that the over/under is in the 40s. This game is definitely not going to be a one-sided affair, and neither club will be able to score at an efficient pace to warrant that high an over/under number.

Take the UNDER, and the Cadets plus the points.

During the summer, I mentioned three first-week contests that are sure-fire victories: Georgia Tech over Notre Dame, Central Florida plus the points against N.C. State, and Troy plus the points vs. Arkansas. All three remain solid week one plays.

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Boston College DT B.J. Raji ineligible for Eagles' opener vs. Wake Forest
August 31, 2007

BOSTON (AP) -Boston College defensive tackle B.J. Raji is ineligible for Saturday's opener against Wake Forest because of an academics issue.
   
Jerry Willette is expected to start in the senior's place, head coach Jeff Jagodzinski said Friday.

It was uncertain when Raji would return to the team.

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Texas WR Pittman suspended 3 games for borrowing friend's car
ASSOCIATED PRESS

AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas suspended wide receiver Billy Pittman for three games Friday after learning he broke NCAA amateurism rules by borrowing a friend's car this summer.

In a statement, the Longhorns did not identify the friend but said the person had no connections to the school.

Pittman, a senior, was already going to miss Saturday's game for No. 4 Texas against Arkansas State with a shoulder injury. He will be eligible to return Sept. 22 against Rice.

''I want everyone to know I'm really sorry,'' Pittman said. ''It was an honest mistake and I'll do everything I can to make up for it.''

Pittman has 69 catches for 1,206 yards and nine touchdowns over the last two seasons.

He's the latest Texas player suspended for off-field issues this summer. Linebacker Sergio Kindle and defensive end Henry Melton are also suspended three games after both were charged with drunken driving.

A third player, freshman linebacker Dre Jones, was suspended indefinitely after being charged with aggravated robbery. A fourth player, former safety Robert Joseph, was charged in the same incident. Joseph had already left the team after being arrested in a separate incident over the summer.

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Starting USC center Spanos tears triceps muscle
ASSOCIATED PRESS

LOS ANGELES -- Southern California center Matt Spanos has a torn right triceps and won't play Saturday night when the top-ranked Trojans open their season against Idaho.

That means that Spanos, a fifth-year senior, will have to wait before making his first career start. He will be replaced by Jeff Byers, who will move to center from left guard. Alatini Malu probably will start at left guard.

Spanos, who was academically ineligible last season, had an impressive camp as the successor to three-year starting center Ryan Kalil. Spanos was injured Tuesday in a collision with nose tackle Sedrick Ellis and Byers.

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LT Trautwein out for opener, maybe longer
Associated Press

No. 6 Florida will be without left tackle Phil Trautwein for Saturday's season opener against Western Kentucky, and he might be out for the season.

Trautwein, a senior captain who started every game for the national champions last season, has a stress fracture in his right foot that could require season-ending surgery.

"A big loss, huge loss," coach Urban Meyer said Wednesday. "The good thing is it's an area where there's a little bit of depth and a little bit of competition."

Trautwein moved from left tackle to right tackle in the spring to protect left-handed quarterback Tim Tebow's blind side. He hurt his foot in early August and recently moved back to the left side in hopes of protecting the injury.

But the foot didn't get better, and tests revealed a stress fracture — a recurring problem for Trautwein since high school.

"You lose one of your very finest off linemen. That doesn't happen every day," offensive line coach Steve Addazio said. "But in the same breath, we've been preparing really hard to prepare No. 6, No. 7, No. 8 and No. 9, and that's what football is all about. It's our job to make sure we have the next guy ready to go, and we do."

To replace Trautwein, right tackle Jason Watkins moved to the left side, guard Carlton Medder switched to right tackle and freshman Maurkice Pouncey stepped in at right guard.

"We've been switching up lines throughout two-a-days, so a bunch of guys can play different positions," center Drew Miller said. "I think we've got a solid backup at every position."

Meyer said Trautwein could take a medical redshirt and return next season.

Also Wednesday, Meyer said freshman running back Bo Williams will be out six weeks because of a dislocated ankle.

Former USC running back Emmanuel Moody attended practice Wednesday, but Meyer could not talk about him because he had not completed the enrollment process.

Moody was Southern California's second-leading rusher last season. He gained 458 yards on 79 carries before missing the final four games because of a sprained ankle.

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College Football Power Rankings: The Ferringo 15
by Robert Ferringo

Polls. Our culture is permeated by swarm of focus-group happy vagrants who value style over substance. And in the sports world there is no area where this plague is more rampant than college football.

My former sports editor back in New York used to say that college football is nothing more than a glorified beauty pageant. He was right. Public Perception is valued more than performance in many instances and as a result the watered-down and sterilized sport is ruled by a cesspool of back-alley conspirators, imbeciles, and Beano Cook. The Polls are King, and they have as much of an impact on what happens on the field as popular intangibles like the fans or the weather.

Polls are evil. At least in the mind of a bleeding heart liberal they are. But when it comes to wagering on the enraged amateurs that assemble each week on the gridiron, polls and rankings can be your best friend. They set the general consensus on how strong a certain team is, regardless of Truth, and that makes a poll or power ranking a tool for exploiting a misinformed betting public. That's now what I'm going after here. We have enough rampant speculation across the nation so I set out to provide my faithful readers with some info that will enrich their gambling lives. The result: the Ferringo 15.

The Ferringo 15 is my Profit-Power Rankings, a ladder or hierarchy based on which teams are the most profitable on the field. I'm not trying to give you some other nonsensical, random, speculative power rankings based on my own biases and conjecture. So instead of Ohio State moving up or down the polls on the basis of how badly they blew out Northwestern the previous Saturday, I'm going to rank each team based on past, present, and projected future achievement against the spread.

This initial ranking was definitely the hardest. Below I've listed a random group of teams that I think will function particularly well for bettors this season. In a way, I suppose you could consider this a glorified "sleeper" list since it is more of a prediction at the moment. That means that unlike the Top 25 polls I could have an entirely new list of 15 teams next week, or the week after. But soon enough, after we've had a few weeks to get the lay of the land, these rankings will be buttressed by actual, visceral performance. For now it is merely conjecture. Anyway, here goes:

1) South Carolina (0-0) - In the SEC, where sacred cows like Alabama and Auburn wrestle with neo-fascists like Florida and Arkansas, South Carolina is still treated with kid gloves by the oddsmakers. Yet, this season they are one of the powerhouses of the conference and I wouldn't be shocked if The Ol' Ball Coach could weasel his way into the SEC Title Game in Atlanta this December. The best part (for us, not them) is that their toughest tests are on the road this season. They are at Georgia, at LSU, and at Tennessee. They should be a dog in all three games and, because of USC's narrow Q-rating, they should be fetching more points than they deserve. I think the Cocks will be explosive this year (pun-tastic) and I think that they could match last year's 9-3 ATS mark.

2) New Mexico State
(0-0) - The Aggies are exactly what Boise State was about five years ago - that team out West that no one but you and your buddies know about that hangs 40+ points up every other week. They brought back 17 starters from a team that covered five of its last seven last year. They have their top 10 offensive players back, including quarterback Chase Holbrook and four of five linemen. This team is soft enough to get hit with double-digit cushions and explosive enough to sneak in a lot of backdoors. If the defense can improve just a little bit they have enough firepower to roll with some of the big boys.

3) South Florida (0-0) - The Bulls are Everyone's Sleeper right now and I think that the cat is out of the proverbial bag. Regardless, most of the general (see: dumb) betting public won't recognize the name so they likely won't give much love at the window. Big mistake. The Bulls almost freight-trained The Rutgers Happy Parade with an upset win in Fla. and this year they get West Virginia and Louisville at home. We're going to learn a lot about this team in Week 2 at Auburn, but regardless, this is a team that can earn all season long.

4) Purdue (0-0) - Right now everyone is drinking the Juice - as in Illinois Juice Williams - and a lot of prognosticators have tabbed the Illini as this year's Big 10 sleeper. Sign me up for Purdue. The Boilermakers brought back 18 starters and the most experience of any Big 10 program. They get Notre Dame and Ohio State at home in back-to-back weeks and I think they win one of those games outright. Curtis Painter and Co. is lethal and I think this could end up as a double-digit ATS team.

5) Virginia (0-0) - I know, I'm shocked too. The Cavaliers were two completely different teams last year. Version 1.0 got piss-pounded by Pitt and East Carolina while starting 1-5 ATS. Version 2.0 closed out the year on a 4-1-1 ATS run capped by an upset win over Miami and a tough push at Va. Tech. They return 19 starters and if they get competent play from Jameel Sewell (which may be a lot to ask) these guys could be an ATM machine. They may have the top combination of offensive and defensive line strength in the league - and that includes Miami, Florida Stat and VT.

6) Anyone Playing Notre Dame (0-0) - The Irish are still a big draw at the window. As if a wager on the Golden Dome is an offering of alms or a tithe to the Almighty. The Irish play one of the roughest and rangiest schedules in the country and will be living off Brady Quinn's dreaminess for at least the first month of the season. Or at least until USC comes in to South Bend and hangs 60 on them.

7) Memphis (0-0) - The Tigers are one of the most experienced teams in the country this year with 39 of the 44 players on their two-deep back in uniform. They have a steady senior quarterback and some potentially explosive wideouts to bolster an up-and-coming defense. The Tigers have a significantly easier schedule this season and also lost FIVE games by a total of 17 points last year! Revenge, experience, and some better luck could lead to a lot of paydays for Memphis backers.

8) Iowa (0-0) - After two down years at the window and on the field I think that the Hawkeyes are a sleeper to win the Big 10. Much like Wisconsin last year, Iowa is blessed with a candy ass conference schedule. They avoid Ohio State and Michigan and have only three games in which they could actually lose. Their front four is as good as any in the nation and Albert Young is on the list of The 10 Best Running Backs You Don't Know About.

9) Hawaii (0-0) - I know that they are on the national radar because of Colt Brennan but these guys are that good. I am interested to see how the loss of Jerry Glanville affects the improving defense but I think they made enough strides last year (eight returning starters) to keep them legit. They will be shackled with some gargantuan numbers, but I still think that they'll be able to cover just about anything on the island. They know that in order to crash the BCS party like Boise State did last year they not only have to win, but win big.

10) New Mexico (0-0) - Ten defensive starters, a strong running game, two All-MWC offensive skill players, and a cagey veteran coach could all add up to cash. The Lobos were 8-3-1 ATS last year and have a chance to match that this time around. Against UTEP, Arizona, Wyoming, San Diego State, TCU, Colorado State and Utah the Lobos have trends that add up to a combined 31-6 ATS. Cha-ching!

11) Illinois (0-0) - This is an all-or-nothing squad. If they play up to their billing this team could be outstanding. Or the walls of increasing expectations could come crumbling down on them. The talent is there, but you have to remember that Ron Zook is a poor game coach. They get Penn State, Wisconsin and Michigan at home and this season will be defined by the stretch of those games sandwiched around a trip to Iowa.

12) Oklahoma (0-0) - The Sooners are the only Top 10 team on this list for one reason: Bob Stoops. The Sooners faced six lines of -14 or more last year - and covered all six of them. Oklahoma finished 10-4 ATS last season and may be even better this year. I think they have a chip on their shoulder after some of the beats they took last year and that could lead to some serious maimings this time around.

13) UCLA (0-0) - Let me get this straight: the Bruins brought back 20 starters (compared to USC's 16), have the better pure quarterback, and have an easier schedule (USC plays at Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oregon and Cal) yet they are ranked 14 slots lower and are much more of a longshot to win the Pac-10 or the national title than the Trojans? Wait, this is the UCLA that beat USC last year, right? I thought so.

14) Georgia Tech (0-0) - The Sports Guy refers to this as the Ewing Theory. It states that some teams actually perform better the year after a leader and marquee player, a guy that was suspect in the clutch, leaves the team. Reggie Ball had a checkered past at Tech, and steadier play from the quarterback coupled with Tashard Choice and a rock solid defense could lead to a surprising repeat by the defending Coastal champion.

15) Kansas State (0-0) - Coach Ron Prince wisely decided to mail it in last year after getting shellacked by Louisville. They'll reap the benefits this year as most of the young players gained valuable experience. K-State has gone just 16-19 SU over the past three years, which has depressed their value. But with 53 lettermen back and a coach that's got this program pointed in the right direction I think that the Wildcats could be a diamond in the rough.

Others receiving votes: Vanderbilt, Oregon, Boston College, TCU, Central Florida, Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Florida Atlantic, Arizona, Toledo.

docsports.com

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mvbski wrote:



6) Anyone Playing Notre Dame (0-0) - The Irish are still a big draw at the window. As if a wager on the Golden Dome is an offering of alms or a tithe to the Almighty. The Irish play one of the roughest and rangiest schedules in the country and will be living off Brady Quinn's dreaminess for at least the first month of the season. Or at least until USC comes in to South Bend and hangs 60 on them.

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Around the nation in college football

Game of the week

Tennessee at California


Right out of the chute we get an idea whether either team is a real deal for a major bowl. It’s a statement game for players such as Tennessee quarterback Erik Ainge and Cal wide receiver/return specialist DeSean Jackson. Speed to burn in this game and more pressure on the home team to win it. Tennessee came through in this spot last year.

Upset special

Duke (plus-4) over Connecticut


The Blue Devils avenge their 2004 national semifinal loss as Jim Calhoun’s lads went on to the national championship. . . .Oh, wrong sport. On the gridiron, a 20-game losing streak is riding Duke, and it’s been three years since the Devils have defeated a Division I-A opponent. These Huskies should be better than last year’s four-victory team, but now is the time for Duke, which returns all 11 starters on offense.

Also worth watching

ACC showdowns


The hoops league gets down to business with two intriguing opening bids. Wake Forest seeks to prove that last year’s league crown was no fluke when it visits Boston College. The Eagles have the ACC’s most accomplished quarterback in Matt Ryan but are breaking in a new coach, Jeff Jagodzinski.

On Monday, Florida State travels to Clemson in a Bowden Bowl showdown that’s taken a decided Tiger turn recently with three Clemson triumphs in the last four years. The Seminoles shook up their staff but went to a standby at quarterback. Drew Weatherford will start for the third straight year.

East Carolina at Virginia Tech


The numbness has worn off in Blacksburg after last spring’s shooting tragedy, but hearts with be the Hokies. “Tech people are looking for something to rally around,” Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said.

Arizona at BYU


Mike Stoops needs a big season, and a triumph here would be a strong indication the program is moving in the right direction. The Wildcats hired Texas Tech’s Sonny Dykes to put a Red Raiderslike charge into the offense. BYU has its sights set on a BCS bowl.

Georgia Tech at Notre Dame

Big for the Ramblin’ Wreck, but much bigger for Notre Dame. Coach Charlie Weis is keeping Tech and everybody else guessing about the quarterback. Will it be Evan Sharpley, Demetrius Jones or Jimmy Clausen? But the element of surprise might not be enough for the Irish against what may be Chan Gailey’s best Yellow Jackets team.

On the horizon

Sept. 8

>> Virginia Tech at LSU. With these defenses, the game might end 3-2.

>> Miami at Oklahoma. Will Boz show up on the sideline in a headband?

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College football: Saturday's top games

Wake Forest at Boston College— It's the season opener for both teams and the debut of new BC head coach Jeff Jagodzinski, who takes over for Tom O'Brien, now at North Carolina State. Jagodzinski was an assistant with the Green Bay Packers. BC is led by quarterback Matt Ryan, who had a career highs of 40 completions and 402 yards passing last year against Wake Forest. Running back Andre Callender enters the season 22 yards shy of 2,000 career yards. Wake Forest's big guns are QB Riley Skinner, last season's ACC rookie of the year), and wide receiver Kenny Moore, back at his natural position after switching to running back late last season

Holy Cross at UMass — UMass is coming off a conference title, a school-record 13 wins and runner-up in the national championship game. Holy Cross was 7-4 in 2006. This is the renewal of a rivalry. The last time the teams met was 1996, a UMass 28-10 victory.

Washington State at No. 7 Wisconsin — Wisconsin, on a nine-game winning streak, is trying to prove that last season's 12-1 record was no fluke. The Cougars are hoping to gain momentum and become a factor in the Pacific 10 Conference race.

Oklahoma State at No. 13 Georgia — Oklahoma State lost five games by a total of 26 points last season and could be a factor in the Big 12 Conference. It's also a litmus test for Georgia, which hopes to contend in the Southeastern Conference

No. 15 Tennessee at No. 12 California— This is the only Week 1 matchup of top 25 teams and is a rematch of Tennessee's 35-18 season-opening victory that haunted Cal all last season.

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Mike Jensen's COLLEGE FOOTBALL REPORT

TOP 10 TOPICS


1. The Eagles finished their exhibition games . . .

Now, the Nittany Lions have one. Sports Illustrated and Athlon both had Florida International, today's visitor to Happy Valley, ranked 119th of 119 Division 1-A teams.

2. Notre Dame's starting quarterback will be . . .

. . . unveiled today against Georgia Tech. Does the Jimmy Clausen era begin immediately? Or do the Irish use a different scheme with multidimensional Demetrius Jones?

. . . Does Charlie Weis have to take some serious early lumps? That's probably not the game plan, but the retooling Irish, with a new defensive coordinator, get no early breaks from the schedule, with three top-30 opponents out of the gate. (Georgia Tech, at Penn State, at Michigan).

3. Temple's opener last night.

In the first half, penalties stopped Temple's first two drives more than Navy did, while the Midshipmen scored on their first two. But Owls freshman Daryl Robinson was as good as advertised, immediately. His first touch was for a first down, but it was called back by a holding penalty on a Temple lineman. On his first official touch, Robinson caught a screen pass and went 18 yards untouched (or at least un-hit) for Temple's first touchdown.

4. A dud first week.

When the marquee national matchup of the season's first Saturday - shown on prime time on ABC - is between a team picked second in the Pac-10 (California) and a school picked third in the East Division of the Southeastern Conference (Tennessee), most fans can enjoy their Labor Day weekend and skip right to Week 2.

This weekend, no other ranked teams play each other, and UCLA is the only other ranked school to play on the road, at Stanford. Even the big Monday night matchup isn't much: Florida State at Clemson. All that will prove is which Bowden has the most heat on him early this season.

5. Other rankings from Athlon for today's opponents.

These aren't games so much as financial transactions.

USC plays Idaho, ranked 113th.

Nebraska hosts No. 84 Nevada.

Virginia Tech has 86th-ranked East Carolina.

Arkansas takes on No. 82 Troy.

Oklahoma pays off No. 114 North Texas.

Texas brings in No. 104 Arkansas State.

6. Michigan has 1-AA Appalachian State. At least the Mountaineers are the two-time defending 1-AA champions.

7. On the other side of the coin, Villanova has a rough opener.

We know the 1-AA Wildcats got a lot of money from Maryland for tonight's game, and they'll earn it.

8. The Steve Slaton/Pat White show gets started.

West Virginia opens against Western Michigan. For Heisman favorites, these first games are about accumulating numbers (as Ray Rice of Rutgers did Thursday against Buffalo, rushing for 184 yards and three touchdowns) and maybe getting a SportsCenter highlight.

9. Best local performance.

Thursday night, Delaware running back Omar Cuff tied a 1-AA record by scoring seven times, six rushing and one receiving. Cuff ran for 244 yards in Delaware's 49-31 victory over William and Mary.

The Blue Hens are favored in the Colonial Athletic Association South.

10. The real top 10.
1. USC. 2. West Virginia. 3. Florida. 4. LSU. 5. Michigan. 6. Virginia Tech. 7. Wisconsin. 8. Texas. 9. Louisville. 10. Ohio State.

Games of the Week

East Carolina at No. 9 Virginia Tech, noon, ESPN: Last spring's massacre at Virginia Tech will overshadow the game itself.

Florida International at No. 17 Penn State, noon: All eyes will be on Nittany Lions senior quarterback Anthony Morelli. In its five years of existence, Florida International's program has never won a non-conference road game against a 1-A opponent.

Georgia Tech at Notre Dame, 3:30 p.m., NBC10: A new quarterback, new wide receivers, new starting tailback, and a new defensive look for the Irish, who gave up a combined 85 points in their last two games of 2006, to USC and LSU.

Villanova at Maryland, 6 p.m.: The Wildcats were picked to finish fifth in the six-team CAA South, although they won their last four games in 2006, finishing with one-point wins over James Madison and Delaware. Sophomore Antwon Young gets his first start at quarterback, taking over for Marvin Burroughs.

No. 15 Tennessee at No. 12 California, 7:45 p.m., 6ABC: Bears receiver DeSean Jackson, a preseason first-team all-American, is the attraction here.

philly.com

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College Football Week 1: What to Watch For

(Winning team in Bold; all times Eastern)

East Carolina at #9 Virginia Tech, 12 PM (ESPN)

ESPN College Gameday will be in Blacksburg to cover this emotional day, as the Hokies play football dedicated to those who were lost in the April shootings.  The matchup is not as important as the electric atmosphere and inspired football play.  Frank Beamer said this will be a game the players remember for the rest of their lives.  Surely this will be more symbolic, because Tech should dominate.

Colorado State vs. Colorado (in Denver), 12 PM

This rivalry isn’t as significant as it has been in years’ past when both teams were better, but the “Rocky Mountain Showdown” means everything to college football fans in Colorado.  Dan Hawkins and his D1 football squad should rebound from a dreadful 2006 campaign (Hawkins went 2-10 in his first season) with his son, Cody, starting at QB.  CSU running back Kyle Bell may or may not be fully recovered from a knee injury.  With CU’s domination of the head-to-head series (57-19-2), I’m going to go with the Buffaloes.

Marshall at Miami, 12 PM (ESPNU)

Junior QB Kirby Freeman won the starting job over Kyle Wright and will get to showcase his arm (and mobility) against an inferior Marshall squad.  Marshall can keep the game competitive with Conference USA standout running back Ahmad Bradshaw.  But chalk up the first win in the Randy Shannon era.

Washington State at #7 Wisconsin, 3:30 PM (ABC)

After flying relatively under the radar in 2006, Wisconsin will have a target on its chest as it returns 16 starters from a 12-1 team.  Freshman Offensive Player of the Year P.J. Hill returns a little leaner than last year and is poised for another 1,500 yard season.  Fifth-year senior Tyler Donovan will get first crack at replacing three-year starter Tyler Donovan at quarterback.  Washington State quarterback Alex Brink will test his arm against the tough Wisconsin secondary, as the Cougars try to keep pace with the Badgers.  Wisconsin wins by a few touchdowns.

Georgia Tech at Notre Dame, 3:30 PM (NBC)

Charlie Weis has created a cloud of mystery behind the starting quarterback for the season opener, but whoever it is will have to deal with linebacker Philip Wheeler and a swarm of Yellow Jacket defenders.  The Reggie Ball Experiment at Tech is finally over as Taylor Bennett takes over the reigns at quarterback.  Conventional wisdom would have the more experienced Yellow Jackets to win this game, but I’ll pick Notre Dame at home in a mild upset.

Wake Forest at #24 Boston College, 3:30 PM (ABC)

Wake goes 11-3 and wins the ACC Championship, but is getting no national respect in 2007.  I would be one of those people giving the team little respect.  The departures of several players on defense including Josh Gattis and Jon Abbate, as well as an improving ACC Conference, signals that the Demon Decons may not be able to repeat that performance this year.  BC features the preseason offensive player of the year in quarterback Matt Ryan.  In fact, this matchup will be the only ACC game in which two actually good quarterbacks will be on the field at the same time (Riley Skinner of Wake Forest being the other one).  In a bout of evenly talented squads, BC gets the home field advantage nod and wins in a close one.

Illinois vs. Missouri (in St. Louis), 3:30 PM (ESPN2)

The “Arch Rivalry” game between the two features an experienced Mizzou team picked by the media to win the Big 12 North, and an Illinois team looking to return to the upper echelon of the Big 10 after a disappointing 2-10 season last year.  The numbers say this won’t be too close of a game. But Ron Zook has brought in two great recruiting classes—including sophomore quarterback Juice Williams and freshman wide receiver Arrelious Benn—for the Fighting Illini in his short tenure, and the team is ready for a breakout season.  While the Illini have potential, quarterback Chase Daniel, running back Tony Temple, and receivers Chase Coffman and Martin Rucker should lead Missouri’s high-powered offense past Illinois.

Oklahoma State at #14 Georgia, 6:45 PM (ESPN2)

In one of the better games this week, Bobby Reid leads the OK State Cowboys into Athens, GA to face the Bulldogs.  Reid and All-American wide receiver Adarius Bowman have proven to be a deadly combination through the air.  With Georgia missing its top cornerback due to ineligibility, this could be a problem.  Georgia will counter with an improved sophomore quarterback Matt Stafford and a stable of running backs including Thomas Brown and redshirt freshman Knowshon Moreno.  With my upset special pick of the week, Oklahoma State wins in a close one.

#25 Florida State at Clemson, Monday 8:00 PM (ESPN)

Bobby Bowden still leads the Bowden Bowl 5 to 3, but Tommy has won in 3 of the last 4 years.  The speedy C.J. Spiller and powerful James Davis help form a dangerous backfield and should cause some problems for the FSU D.  In his junior season, Drew Weatherford will have to make some strides to prove he belongs as a starter for this program.  Former LSU offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher arrives to help remedy the sputtering Seminole offense.  Florida State has all of the tools it needs to return to the top of the ACC, but it has to be consistent.  While Clemson has two studs at running back and a decent offensive line, many gaps are still there, most visibly at quarterback. Bobby can’t let his son win three games in a row, right? Florida State wins by a touchdown.

Game of the Week:

#19 Tennessee at #12 Cal, 8:00 PM (ABC)


Cal was blown out 35-18 last year at Tennessee and would like to return the hospitality this year.  The Cal defensive backs, which were torched by Erik Ainge and Robert Meachem last year, are a year older.  So is Cal QB Nate Longshore, who threw for over 3,000 yards as a sophomore in 2006.  This opening week game will serve as a showcase for wide receiver/punt returner DeSean Jackson, who has the potential to be a better game-breaker than Ted Ginn was last year.  Erik Ainge should poised for a great senior year, but will need help from the run game and his defensive front.  Cal should get its revenge as it opens up its aerial attack early and often.

Irrelevant Game of the Week:

Connecticut at Duke, 2:00 PM

Duke has lost its last 20 games, with a 0-12 record last year and a 1-11 record in 2005.  This game will be essential to the Blue Devils as they can break the streak and be on pace to go 12-0 for one whole week—of course, before they lose the rest of their games.

D3 Game of the Week:

The #7 UW-La Crosse Eagles travel to Abilene, Texas to face the #11 Hardin-Simmons Cowboys—conceivably a better matchup than Louisville-Murray State, which ended in a fitting 73-10 result.  You mean D3 teams actually play tough out of conference schedules?  And they also have a much-desired playoff system?

At least somebody is doing something right.

bleacherreport.com

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College Football Betting Tailgate Party For Sports Handicappers
Sep 1st, 2007

East Carolina-Virginia Tech

The betting line has gone up at all sportsbooks as gamblers are betting on the emotion of the Hokies. This will be the first game for Hokie Nation after the horrific and senseless mass murder.  There will be ceremonies to honor the innocent victims.

The pointspread winner seems so insignificant, but as Mike Godsey of GodsTips tells us, “So-called intangible players are betting on Virginia Tech’s emotion to be worth six to eight points.”

Arkansas State-Texas

Young Longhorns quarterback Colt McCoy will be without two of his best receivers, Billy Pittman (injury/suspension) and Jordan Shipley, though Shipley has a small chance of playing.

Virginia-Wyoming

Not only is Virginia traveling quite a distance, but they will face the largest opening day crown in Wyoming history. The game sold out Friday night. According to our Wyoming sources, it is considered the biggest game the Pokes have hosted “in years”.

Alabama Birmingham-Michigan State

The MasterLockLine.com has bar none the biggest sports service play on this game from the Couch Potato. Though each team has a new coach and new starters, UAB lost 28 seniors from a team that went 3-9 straight up.  The Spartans have 13 starters back including special teams. The Blazers lost seven of their leading 10 tacklers. UAB will play both Sam Hunt and Joseph Webb at QB.

Washington State-Wisconsin

Wisconsin’s offensive coordinator Paul Cryst is not afraid to throw downfield and Washington State is breaking in two new starters at linebacker and three in the secondary. With the new rules, note Wisconsin’s kickoff return team struggled.  However returning kicker Taylor Mehlhaff led the Big 10 in touchbacks last season.

Connecticut-Duke

Just as if it were a basketball game between the two, sportsbooks have a high total of 52. That’s in no small part due to the fact the Blue Devils have 11 starters back on offense, but several players with new roles on defense. This is a realistic chance for Duke to end their 20-game losing streak. They take on a UConn team that is off a 4-8 year. Duke is confident having been very competitive in losses last year to Wake Forest, Miami and hated rival North Carolina.

Central Florida-NC State

For those who believes games are won at the point of attack, note that the Golden Knight’s have starters with a combined 110 career starts on the offensive line.  Compare that to the Wolfpack’s 38. Projected starting tackle Jeraill McCuller is suspended indefinitely. Tight end Anthony Hill is out for the year. State’s top defensive tackle DaMario Pressley has been upgraded to probable with a sprained elbow.

Tennessee-California

If California does not cover the spread, it will not be because of lack of motivation.  All sharp sports gamblers know it’s a big revenge game for Cal, but last night on Sporting News Radio, Bears broadcaster Roxy Bernstein said he thinks it’s possibly the biggest home game in California history. Speaking of California, congratulations go out to the California (PA) Vulcans for their 1-0 start in Division II.

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Re: College Football - Week 1

Inside the ACC

ACC QBS

Season opens with a suspect bunch, except for Boston College's Matt Ryan and Wake Forest's Riley Skinner. DOWN

OBSERVATIONS

• Let's just admit it. Two-thirds of today's nine games involving ACC teams should be snoozers.

• Coaches usually like to schedule nonconference games in locations where they recruit. So why on earth is Virginia visiting Wyoming today?

• Villanova, which visits Maryland today, should play the Terrapins every season. In basketball.

• Too bad Marshall's Albert McClellan has suffered a season-ending knee injury. If he would have played against Miami and Calais Campbell, the Orange Bowl would have opened its final season as the Hurricanes' home arena with two of college football's top defensive linemen in the house.

KEY STATS

7


Consecutive 100-yard rushing games for Georgia Tech tailback Tashard Choice.

5-1


North Carolina coach Davis' record in season openers with the Miami Hurricanes.

5

Field goals of 50 or more yards by Wake Forest's Sam Swank in 2006, an ACC season record.

9-1

N.C. State's record in its past 10 openers.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT

DT Vince Oghobaase, Duke


Word is that the talented junior has been unblockable in practice. He needs to have a big game for a suspect defense to give Duke a shot against Connecticut.

QB Brett Clay or Patrick Pinkney, East Carolina

Whoever starts in place of suspended Rob Kass gets a huge opportunity in a nationally televised game at Virginia Tech.

WR James Johnson, Georgia Tech

Virtually every decent receiver Notre Dame played put up huge numbers last season against a horrid secondary. Johnson has a chance to step out of Calvin Johnson's shadow today.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

1 TAR HEELS NEED DISCIPLINED 'D.'


James Madison's offense resembles West Virginia's, with a single-wing-type scheme featuring lots of quarterback runs. If North Carolina's defenders overpursue and don't perform their assignments, the Dukes will make them pay.

2 JACKETS TARGET QB. Coordinator Jon Tenuta's exotic blitzes frustrated Brady Quinn last season, but Notre Dame eked out a 14-10 win at Georgia Tech. Whoever starts for Notre Dame -- Jimmy Clausen, Demetrius Jones or Evan Sharpley -- will be more bewildered than Quinn.

3 GOING DEEP ON DEACS. Boston College's Matt Ryan is expected to throw deep more under first-year coach Jeff Jagodzinski. Wake Forest cornerbacks Alphonso Smith and Kerry Major are each under 6 feet tall and could be vulnerable to deep fade routes.

THEY SAID IT

"When you have a team that hasn't won much, you're like a thirsty man walking through the desert. You're looking for water." -- Duke coach Ted Roof

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Re: College Football - Week 1

Spurrier tabs Mitchell to face 'Dawgs
September 6, 2007

Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- Steve Spurrier finally made it official -- South Carolina senior Blake Mitchell will return to his starting quarterback spot against No. 11 Georgia this weekend.

Spurrier said after Thursday's practice Mitchell, in his fifth season with the Gamecocks (1-0), would be back under center at Sanford Stadium on Saturday evening. Mitchell missed South Carolina's opener last week, a 28-14 victory over Louisiana-Lafayette because of a one-game academic suspension he got for missing too many classes during summer school.

Freshman Chris Smelley and sophomore Tommy Beecher shared playing time against the Ragin' Cajuns, each throwing a touchdown pass in the win.

Spurrier played coy with his quarterback decision all week because he thought it might keep the Bulldogs' staff guessing a few extra days. But the ball coach had few other options heading into the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.

"He's had a lot of good practices," Spurrier said. "He had a lot of good games at the end of last year. He hasn't had one since the Liberty Bowl. So hopefully this will be the first."

Mitchell, a 6-foot-3, 211-pounder from LaGrange, Ga., has started 17 of Spurrier's 25 games at South Carolina. He's thrown 27 TDs during that span compared with a combined three from Smelley and Beecher.

Add to that Smelley's injury -- a sprained right shoulder that will keep him out of this week's game -- and going to Mitchell seems a no-brainer. Beecher will back Mitchell up and freshman Stephen Garcia has been moved up to third string.

It was Mitchell who led the Gamecocks to a rousing finish last season with three consecutive victories -- something that hadn't happened at South Carolina in 33 years.

Mitchell led three second-half scoring drives as South Carolina wiped out a 28-14 deficit at Clemson to win the rivalry game, 31-28. He followed that up with a stellar Liberty Bowl, setting the school's postseason record with four TD passes. He threw for 323 yards and was named the game's MVP.

But Mitchell got himself in hot water this summer by violating the athletic department's class attendance policy.

Mitchell also held out of the first two sessions of summer football camp. "I definitely let them down," Mitchell said of his teammates and coaches back in August. "But they know I've been there at the workouts, working hard, busting it. I know they believe in me and respect that."

It's the second straight season Mitchell's had off-the-field problems. He was briefly suspended after his arrest for his role in a fight with a bar bouncer. The charges against Mitchell were later dropped.

Mitchell was ineffective at the start of last season. Despite completing 16 of 22 passes for 156 yards against the Bulldogs last September, the Gamecocks lost 18-0. The quarterback's arrest came a few days later with Spurrier saying he planned to sit Mitchell in favor of Syvelle Newton anyway.

Mitchell got another chance late in the season. He came in for the second half against Arkansas and nearly rallied the Gamecocks to victory. Mitchell started the final four games and looked as crisp as he ever had, completing better than 69 percent of his throws with 1,254 yards and eight TDs.

Now, Mitchell has the chance to regain that touch "Between the Hedges" as the Gamecocks attempt to end Georgia's five-game series win streak.

Mitchell has worked with the starters this week, ready for the call Spurrier finally made two days before kickoff.

"It's great to be back playing again," Mitchell told reporters after Wednesday's practice. "It's definitely no fun to just out there and watch."

Also on Thursday, Spurrier said that safety Emanuel Cook will play against the Bulldogs if he is cleared by doctors. Cook missed the opener as he recuperated from an appendectomy, but has practiced with the team this week. He's also dealing with his arrest on a weapons charge last month.

"He's a good player, a good tackler, good hustler," Spurrier said. "He's on of our best players, no question about that."

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