Top 25 Preview Capsules Print
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Thursday, 28 August 2008 14:02
NCAAF Headline News

 Georgia Southern at No. 1 Georgia, 12:30 p.m.
Line: No line.
Series record: Georgia leads 3-0.
Last meeting: 2004, Georgia 48-28
What's at Stake
Georgia puts its first preseason No. 1 ranking on the line. Georgia Southern will try to trump fellow Southern Conference member Appalachian State's upset of Michigan last year.
Key Matchup
Georgia QB Matthew Stafford will be throwing against a Georgia Southern defense that has interceptions in 25 of the last 33 games. DB Chris Covington led the secondary with four interceptions last year.
Players to watch
Georgia Southern: QBs Lee Chapple, a freshman, and Ohio State transfer Antonio Henton are expected to share snaps as coach Chris Hatcher looks to replace Walter Payton Award winner Jayson Foster.
Georgia: TB Knowshon Moreno rushed for 1,333 yards and 14 touchdowns as a freshman last year but was held out of some preseason contact with a bruised shoulder. RG Cordy Glenn won a starting job as a freshman.
Figures
Georgia is 30-2 against non-conference opponents under coach Mark Richt, including 20-0 at Sanford Stadium. ... Georgia Southern was No. 17 in the Football Championship Subdivision coaches preseason poll. ... Georgia Southern had 28 playoff wins and six national championships, each the highest totals among FCS teams. ... The Eagles rushed for 294 yards in their loss at Georgia to open the 2004 season.
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Youngstown State at No. 2 Ohio State, noon (Big Ten Network)
Line: Ohio State by 34.
Series record: Ohio State leads 1-0
Last meeting: 2007, Ohio State, 38-6
What's at Stake
Ohio State won by more than four touchdowns but wasn't pleased with how it played a year ago against coach Jim Tressel's old school. Youngstown State gets $650,000 and hopes to avoid any major medical costs.
Key Matchup
Youngstown State's new offense vs. Ohio State's defense. The Penguins have transitioned to a spread attack, but their top two quarterbacks have completed a total of one pass at Youngstown State.
Players to watch
Youngstown State: WR Ferlando Williams, who may line up anywhere to get his hands on the ball. QBs Todd Rowan and Brandon Summers may both see action trying to move the ball against the Buckeyes' vaunted D.
Ohio State: TB Chris ``Beanie'' Wells is still upset he only gained 46 yards on 16 carries last year against YSU, and will want to prove himself this time.
Figures
Buckeyes have won last 29 home openers, dating to a 17-0 loss to Penn State in 1979 in Art Schlichter's freshman debut. ... Their most heralded QB recruit since Schlichter, Terrelle Pryor, figures to see action early. ... YSU head coach Jon Heacock is the brother of OSU defensive coordinator Jim Heacock. ... YSU playing its opener 12 days after the sudden death of video coordinator Shawn Coin. ... Penguins ranked 12th in both major FCS preseason polls. ... Tressel was head coach at YSU for 15 years before moving to Ohio State in 2001.
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No. 3 Southern California at Virginia, 3:30 p.m. (ABC-ESPN2)
Line: Southern Cal by 19 1/2.
Series record: first meeting.
What's at Stake
For the Trojans, every game has national championship implications, and this long trip and the Sept. 13 date against Ohio State will quickly show where they stand. For Virginia, it's perhaps the biggest challenge in program history.
Key Matchup
Virginia's defense vs. the Trojans offense. Mark Sanchez is expected to start at QB for USC after an injury abbreviated his preseason. Virginia is relying on LB Clint Sintim to lead a rebuilt defense whose losses include DE Chris Long (No. 2 pick overall in NFL Draft).
Players to watch
USC: Sanchez. He was 2-1 as a starter last season, losing at then-No. 5 Oregon, and assumes the top spot this year from John David Booty, who was 20-3 as a starter.
Virginia: WR Kevin Ogletree. Virginia's leading receiver two years ago (52 catches, 582 yards) returns from a knee injury to give whoever emerges from a three-way battle at quarterback a go-to receiver and deep threat.
Figures
USC has only played one other Virginia school in its history, winning 24-13 in its 2004 opener against Virginia Tech in Landover, Md. ... The Trojans have won 10 opening games in a row, while Virginia has lost its last two - to Pittsburgh at home and at Wyoming. ... The Cavaliers have 10 returning starters and 30 returning lettermen, their lowest total since 1986. ... Virginia has one victory in its history against a team ranked in the top three - 33-28 against No. 2 Florida State on a Thursday night in 1995. It is 2-16-1 overall against teams ranked in the top five. The tie was 13-all against Otto Graham and No. 2 North Carolina Preflight during the 1944 season.
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Chattanooga at No. 4 Oklahoma, 7 p.m. (Pay-per-view)
Line: No line.
Series record: First meeting.
What's at Stake
Oklahoma hopes to avoid a Michigan-style upset at the hands of a FCS. The Mocs can give football fans something to know them for other than producing Terrell Owens.
Key Matchup
CB Raeshon Ball, the brother of former Georgia Tech QB Reggie Ball, and his defensive teammates will have their hands full trying to slow down Sam Bradford, the nation's top-rated passer last season, and the Oklahoma offense.
Players to watch
Oklahoma: Junior college transfer Mike Balogun will make his first career start at linebacker, filling in after Austin Box had knee surgery earlier this month.
Chattanooga: RB Erroll Wynn, the Mocs' second-leading rusher last season, could be thrust into a bigger role after starter Bryan Fitzgerald underwent knee surgery that could end his season.
Figures
Oklahoma's 18-game home winning streak is the longest among FBS teams. ... Chattanooga has seven new assistant coaches. Sooners haven't played Championship Subdivision foe since Stoops' debut in 1999, a 49-0 win against Illinois State. ... Mocs haven't faced a higher-ranked opponent since losing 42-13 to third-ranked Tennessee on Oct. 13, 1951.
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Hawaii at No. 5 Florida, 12:30 p.m. (Raycom Sports)
Line: Florida by 34 1/2.
Series record: First meeting.
What's at Stake
Florida's streak of 18 consecutive season-opening wins. The Gators haven't lost an opener since falling 24-19 to Mississippi in 1989. The last time Florida lost to a non-conference opponent to start the season came two years earlier, a 31-4 drubbing to Miami.
Key Matchup
Florida's defense was the team's biggest weakness last season, failing to stop the run, struggling to pressure quarterbacks and giving up way too many big plays. The Gators believe they will get it turned around this season, and Hawaii will provide the first test.
Players to watch
Hawaii: QB Brent Rausch will start the opener and has the tough task of trying to replace Heisman Trophy finalist Colt Brennan.
Florida: RB Emmanual Moody, a former Parada All-American who transferred from Southern California and sat out last season, will make his debut for the Gators.
Figures
Greg McMackin makes his coaching debut with Hawaii, which has won 22 of its last 24 games. ... The Warriors have won eight straight road games dating back to 2006. ... The Gators are 5-0 in August, outscoring opponents 230-47 in the month. ... Florida is 19-1 at home under Meyer.
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No. 20 Illinois (9-4) vs. No. 6 Missouri (12-2) in St. Louis, 8:30 p.m. Saturday (ESPN).
Line: Missouri by 9.
Series record: Missouri leads 14-7, including 4-1 in St. Louis.
Last Meeting: 2007, Missouri 40-34.
What's at Stake
Early momentum for both schools. Missouri is coming off a school-record 12-win season and has national title aspirations. Illinois' Rose Bowl appearance was its first bowl since 2002.
Key Matchup
Missouri defense has 10 starters back, but might be tested by unit that erased most of 24-point second-half deficit in last year's border rivalry opener. Illinois must replace leading rusher Rashard Mendenhall.
Players to watch
Illinois: Juice Williams holds career school record for rushing yards by QB (1,331) in his first two seasons. CB Vontae Davis had four interceptions and was the only sophomore on the semifinal list for last year's Jim Thorpe Award.
Missouri: WR-KR Jeremy Maclin set NCAA freshman record with 2,776 all-purpose yards, also fifth best all-time. QB Chase Daniel finished fourth in Heisman Trophy balloting with 33 touchdown passes.
Figures
Missouri's preseason ranking is the highest in school history while Illinois is in the Top 25 for its opener for the first time since 2002. ... Missouri was 4-2 against ranked opponents last year. Illinois is the fourth straight ranked opponent Tigers have faced. ... Illinois C Ryan McDonald has made 36 consecutive starts.
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Appalachian St. at No. 7 LSU, 5 p.m. EST (ESPN)
Line: No line.
Series record: LSU leads 1-0.
Last meeting: 2005, LSU 24-0
What's at Stake
If LSU hopes to defend its national title, it can't afford to lose to a team in the NCAA's football championship subdivision, even one as good as the Mountaineers. Appalachian State has nothing to lose and everything to gain as the Mountaineers look to relive the glory of their upset victory at Michigan last season.
Key Matchup
LSU coach Les Miles believes this year's defensive front four is as good as he's ever had, but they'll be challenged to contain fleet-footed quarterback Armanti Edwards, an adept leader of the spread offense.
Players to watch
LSU: QB's Andrew Hatch and Jarrett Lee, who likely will be platooned early in the season until one of them establishes himself as the full-time starter.
Arizona St.: QB Edwards is a running and passing threat who accounted for 3,536 yards and 38 touchdowns last season.
Figures
Appalachian State is ranked No. 1 in the FCS. ... LSU is 81-28-5 in season openers. ... This is the third time that LSU opens a season on Aug. 30. The other two were in 2003 and 2007, and both of those seasons ended with victories in the BCS championship game. ... LSU has won 27 straight Saturday games played in Tiger Stadium, but the Tigers lost their last game in Death Valley last season when they fell to Arkansas in triple overtime on a Friday.
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Villanova (0-0) at No. 8 West Virginia (0-0), 3:30 p.m. Saturday
Line: No line.
Series record: West Virginia leads 5-1.
Last meeting: 1977, Villanova 41-36.
What's at Stake
West Virginia looks for its fifth straight opening-day win and must avoid first-game jitters under new coach Bill Stewart, who wants to make a lasting impression. ... FCS member Villanova is 2-10 against FBS opponents - beating Rutgers in 2002 and Temple in 2003 - and is playing a ranked FBS team for the first time.
Key Matchup
West Virginia averaged 297 rushing yards per game last season and poses a fierce challenge for Villanova LB Osayi Osunde, the top returning tackler, and the rest of a defense that allowed only 134 ypg on the ground.
Players to watch
Villanova: QB Antwon Young (1,192 passing yards, 65 completion percentage, 14 TDs, 4 INTs) started the first six games and returns from a season-ending knee injury.
West Virginia: Senior QB Pat White needs 784 rushing yards to surpass the FBS career record of 4,289 set by Missouri's Brad Smith from 2002-2005. ... RB Noel Devine replaces Steve Slaton, who left for the NFL.
Figures
West Virginia plays at home for the first time since losing to Pittsburgh 13-9, a loss that cost the Mountaineers a berth in the BCS title game. ... West Virginia opens with a top-10 ranking for the third straight season ... The Mountaineers are 14-1 when White surpasses 100 yards rushing.... Villanova has had 17 winning seasons under 24th-year coach Andy Talley ... West Virginia LB Reed Williams plans to start after offseason surgeries in both shoulders.
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No. 9 Clemson vs. No. 24 Alabama at the Georgia Dome, Atlanta, 8 p.m. (ABC)
Line: Clemson by 5.
Series record: Alabama leads 11-3.
Last meeting: 1975, Alabama 56-0.
What's at Stake
For Clemson, shaking any questions about whether it belongs in the top 10. For Alabama, the belief that coach Nick Saban is on the fast track to a championship.
Key Matchup
Clemson's offense is led by the ``Thunder and Lightning'' backfield of James Davis and C.J. Spiller. But there are four new faces on the offensive line for the Tigers. If Alabama's youngish defense can push forward, it could be a struggle for Clemson's runners.
Players to Watch
Clemson: QB Cullen Harper was a revelation as a first-time starter last season, throwing a school record 27 TDs and just six interceptions.
Alabama: WR Julio Jones - sure he's a freshman but there's rarely been a bigger buzz on campus about a talented recruit. Jones is one of several novices expected to see action.
Figures
M in 2005, Florida State in 2007) ... Saban has lost his last two games against Atlantic Coast Conference opponents. .... Clemson coach Tommy Bowden is looking for his 12th victory over a national championship winning coach since 2003.
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No. 10 Auburn vs. Louisiana-Monroe, 6 p.m.
Line: Auburn by 26.
Series record: Auburn leads 6-0.
Last meeting: 2004, Auburn 31-0.
What's at Stake
Auburn fans' ability to sneer at Louisiana-Monroe's upset at Alabama last season. Also the good feelings that have surrounded the Tigers' new spread offense. The WarHawks can prove that win over Tide wasn't a fluke.
Key Matchup
ULM's defense vs. offensive coordinator Tony Franklin's offense. The WarHawks twice faced him during his tenure at Troy and allowed a modest 24 points each time - both losses. That makes them more sure of what to expect than some Auburn fans.
Players to watch
Auburn: QBs Kodi Burns and Chris Todd will both play with aims on trying to put a stranglehold on the starting job. They face a secondary that must replace both starting corners.
ULM: QB Kinsmon Lancaster is a threat to both pass and run and his numbers improved significantly in his second year as a starter.
Figures
ULM is 3-29-1 against current members of the SEC. Auburn has won the previous meetings by an average of 44-12 and is 13-0 against teams from the Sun Belt Conference. ... ULM held opponents to 14 points or less in five of its six victories last season.
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Florida Atlantic at No. 11 Texas, Saturday, 8 p.m.
Line: Texas by 24.
Series record: First meeting.
What's at Stake
Texas trying to avoid a monumental upset by a Sun Belt Conference team and Florida Atlantic trying to pull off the biggest win in the young program's history. The Longhorns struggled in their season-opener as a heavy favorite last year and it set the tone for the first half of the season.
Key Matchup
Florida Atlantic QB Rusty Smith vs. Texas secondary, which starts two freshman, Earl Thomas and Blake Gideon, at safety. Smith was Sun Belt player of the year in 2007. Texas defense ranked No. 109 against the pass last season.
Players to watch
Florida Atlantic: WR Cortez Gent, who had 1,082 yards and nine touchdowns last season.
Texas: DE Brian Orakpo, Texas' best pass rusher who could take pressure off the secondary if he can get to Smith.
Figures
Texas QB Colt McCoy threw 18 interceptions last season .... Texas has been playing football since 1893, Florida Atlantic since 2001. ... Texas coach Mack Brown and FAU's Howard Schnellenberger both have won a national championship. Brown won his in 2005. Schnellenberger's came all the way back in 1983 with Miami at the start of the Hurricanes' dynasty.
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Akron (0-0) at No. 13 Wisconsin (0-0), noon ET (Big Ten Network)
Line: Wisconsin by 26 1-2.
Series Record: Wisconsin leads 1-0.
Last Meeting: 2003, Wisconsin 48-31.
What's at Stake
Wisconsin's reputation, especially on defense. Yes, the Badgers consistently beat their non-conference cupcakes, but it often ends up being more difficult than it should be.
Key Matchup
Wisconsin's running game against an Akron defense that is trying to replace seven starters. All five Badgers offensive line starters weigh more than 300 pounds.
Players to watch
Wisconsin: QB Allan Evridge, a transfer who started a handful of games for Kansas State as a freshman, takes over as the Badgers' new starter.
Akron: Returners Bryan Williams and Andre Johnson. Williams ranked second in the NCAA in kick return average (31.9 yards) last season, while Jones ranked 11th in the NCAA in punt returns (14.5 yards).
Figures
Akron has an all-time record of 1-16 against current members of the Big Ten, including losses at Ohio State and Indiana last season. ... Akron's only defeat of a Big Ten school came against Ohio State - in 1894. ... The Zips did come close to an upset of Wisconsin at Camp Randall in 2003, narrowing the Badgers' lead to three with 11 minutes to go before giving up two late scores.
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Florida International (0-0) at No. 14 Kansas (0-0) 6 p.m.
Line: Kansas by 36.
Series record: Kansas leads 1-0.
Last Meeting: 2007, Kansas 55-3
What's at Stake
A quick getaway to what Kansas hopes will be another banner season and BCS bowl bid. For Florida International, a chance to make up for last year's embarrassing 52-point loss.
Key Matchup
Last year, Todd Reesing accounted for 415 yards of total offense and is now established as one of the Big 12's most dangerous passers. Florida International's young defense must find a way to slow him down.
Players to watch
Kansas: Reesing is coming off the greatest passer season in school history but has two redshirt freshman tackles to protect him and is missing a terrific tight end in Derek Fine; RB Jocques Crawford, a heralded JUCO transfer, makes his debut.
FIU: RB Julian Reams needs 79 yards to become the third Golden Panther to rush for more than 1,000 in a career. LB Scott Bryant is back for his junior season after leading team with 91 tackles in 2007.
Figures
Kansas' Mark Mangino is the first man to be honored as both assistant coach of the year and head coach of the year. ... Kansas will be playing in Memorial Stadium for the 88th straight year, making it the seventh-oldest facility in Division I. ... Mario Cristobal begins second year as FIU head coach.
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Northern Arizona (0-0) at No. 15 Arizona St. (0-0), 7 p.m.
Line: No line.
Series record: Arizona St. leads 18-14-4.
Last meeting: 2006, Arizona St. 35-14.
What's at Stake
For the Sun Devils, it's a chance to improve their rebuilt offensive line, which yielded 55 sacks a year ago. The Lumberjacks will aim for one of the bigger upsets in school history.
Key Matchup
The Sun Devils front line, which has a size advantage, will try to open up holes for running backs Dimitri Nance and Keegan Herring.
Players to watch
Northern Arizona: TB Alex Henderson, the 2006 Big Sky Newcomer of the Year, has rushed for 1,913 yards in two seasons, 10th on the school's all-time list.
Arizona St.: QB Rudy Carpenter is 22-9 as a starter, the fourth-most victories in school history. Carpenter needs nine victories to pass the legendary Danny White, who won 30 games in three seasons.
Figures
Since joining the Pac-10 in 1978, ASU has been ranked in the preseason top 15 only three times. Twice it finished unranked, and the third time it dropped six spots in the final poll. ... The Lumberjacks' last victory in the series came in 1938. They are 0-10-1 since, with the tie coming in 1946. ... The schools are about 160 miles apart, but this is only their third meeting since 1950.
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N. Iowa at No. 16 BYU, 6 p.m. (The Mtn.)
Line: No line.
Series record: First meeting.
What's at Stake
BYU's first preseason ranking since 1997 and the Cougars' 10-game winning streak, the longest in the nation. For Northern Iowa, a chance to score another upset for the Championship Subdivision against a ranked team.
Key Matchup
Northern Iowa's defense against BYU's offense. The Panthers will be the first team to try to stop QB Max Hall and nine other offensive starters returning from last year, when BYU averaged 443 yards of offense and 30 points per game.
Players to watch
BYU: Hall, who passed for 3,848 yards and 26 touchdowns in his first college season. Hall has the potential to be one of the best QBs to play at BYU - an impressive list.
UNI: WR Johnnie Gray, a 5-foot-9 speedster who caught 70 passes for 910 yards last season. BYU's defense has eight new starters and could be vulnerable to a big play.
Figures
BYU is 3-0 against teams from the FCS, formerly Div. I-AA. ... The Cougars have won 12 straight at home. ... UNI's offense was more productive last year than even BYU. The Panthers averaged 457 yards and 36 points while going 12-1 last season.
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No. 17 Virginia Tech vs. East Carolina at Charlotte, N.C., Noon (ESPN)
Line: Virginia Tech by 9 1/2.
Series record: Virginia Tech leads 9-4.
Last meeting: 2007, Virginia Tech 17-7.
What's at Stake
The Hokies have many new faces and need to start fast to live up to their billing as overwhelming favorites in the ACC Coastal Division. The Pirates would love to pull even with the Hokies in the second meeting of a series that will continue through the 2015 season.
Key Matchup
Hokies QB Sean Glennon vs. Pirates defense. Glennon won the job during a prolonged summer battle with sophomore Tyrod Taylor, who will redshirt. Glennon was brutal in the Hokies' opener last year, and that team also wore some purple - eventual national champ LSU.
Players to watch
Virginia Tech: CB Victor ``Macho'' Harris, who tipped last year's game the Hokies way with a 17-yard interception return for a TD and could see some action on offense this year, too.
East Carolina: QB Patrick Pinckney, who shared the job last season with Rob Kass but won it this spring and would benefit from getting off to a solid start with Kass looking on.
Figures
The Pirates were the opponent last year for an emotional opener in Blacksburg, Va., the first football game at Virginia Tech after the campus shootings left 33 dead. ... The Hokies have scored just five points in each of their last two games in Charlotte, but both were played more than 100 years ago. ... Virginia Tech is one of two teams in the country to have won 10 or more games during the regular season for the last four years. Southern California is the other. ... East Carolina has finished the last two seasons in bowl games and has had consecutive winning seasons for the first time since the 1999 and 2000 seasons.
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Tennessee-Martin (0-0) at No. 19 South Florida (0-0), 7 p.m.
Line: No line.
Series record: First meeting.
What's At Stake
USF is ranked in the preseason poll for the first time and is eager to erase memories of last season's ugly bowl loss to Oregon.
Key Matchup
USF's Matt Grothe is one of the top duel-threat quarterbacks in the nation. His running is as important to the Bulls' offense as his passing. To have a chance, the Skyhawks have to force Grothe to make bad decisions with the football and find a way to contain disruptive USF All-America defensive end George Selvie, who was second in the nation in tackles for losses last season.
Players to watch
Tennessee-Martin: QBs Cade Thompson and Dexter Anoka both threw for more than 1,000 yards in 2007. Roren Thomas is the Skyhawks' top returning receiver after catching 39 passes for 553 yards and six touchdowns a year ago.
USF: Selvie had four sacks and six tackles for loss in last year's opener against Elon, setting the tone for a monster season. In 26 games, Grothe has 30 TD passes, as well as 19 rushing TDs, one shy of the school career mark for a quarterback.
Figures
Since moving up to the Football Bowl Subdivision in 2001, USF is 10-0 against Football Championship Subdivision opponents. ... The Bulls led the nation in turnovers forced last year. ... Tennessee-Martin coach Jason Simpson is entering his third season. The Skyhawks were 4-7 and finished sixth in the Ohio Valley Conference a year ago.
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Washington at No. 21 Oregon, 10 p.m. (FSN)
Line: Oregon by 13 1/2.
Series record: Washington leads 58-37-5.
Last meeting: 2007, Oregon 55-34.
What's at Stake
Northwest supremacy. For Oregon, it's a chance to prove they'll be just fine offensively in the post-Dennis Dixon and Jonathan Stewart era. A stunning upset for the Huskies could be critical in helping the psyche of a team counting on so many sophomores and freshmen to make contributions and take a little heat off coach Tyrone Willingham.
Key Matchup
Oregon's running game vs. Washington's defensive line. The Huskies defense was the worst in school history last year, and was at its worst against Oregon, giving up 465 yards rushing to the Ducks. Now Washington sends out three new starters on the defensive line against the Ducks' talented running duo of Jeremiah Johnson and LeGarrette Blount.
Players to watch
Oregon: ROV Patrick Chung will make his 39th consecutive start and has been a thorn for Washington in the previous three meetings. He blocked a punt in last year's 55-34 win in Seattle and two years ago in Eugene returned a punt for a touchdown and had an interception in the Ducks' 34-14 win.
Washington: RB Chris Polk becomes the first freshman ever to start a season opener at tailback for Washington. Coaches rave about Polk's playmaking, and what he can do to take some of the pressure off QB Jake Locker will be critical for such a young offense.
Figures
QB Justin Roper gets the start for Oregon after presumptive starter Nate Costa injured his knee in practice last week. Roper was at the helm when Oregon routed South Florida in the Sun Bowl last December. ... Just the second time the rivals have opened the season against each other. Previous time was 1945, a 20-6 Oregon victory. ... Oregon's four straight wins over Washington is the longest win streak over the Huskies since taking four straight between 1928 and 1931.
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Coastal Carolina at No. 22 Penn State, Noon. (Big Ten Network)
Line: No line.
Series record: First meeting.
What's at Stake
Penn State debuts its ``Spread HD'' offense, though coach Joe Paterno likely won't open up the whole playbook against an overmatched Championship Subdivision opponent. Anything other than a blowout loss would boost Coastal Carolina's confidence.
Key Matchup
Coastal Carolina coach David Bennett knows his team is mismatched all over the field. Here's one: They allowed an average of 219 rushing yards per game last season, so Penn State's veteran offensive line could open up huge holes for TBs Evan Royster and Stephfon Green.
Players to watch
Coastal Carolina: Redshirt freshman Jamie Childers won the quarterback job in spring camp but came down with meningitis before preseason started. David Bennett wasn't sure as of Wednesday who would take over between last year's starter, William Richardson, or Wake Forest transfer Zach MacDowell.
Penn State: QB Daryll Clark hopes to impress in his debut as starter. He's proven he can scramble, so all eyes will be on his passing ability.
Facts and Figures
Paterno opens his record 43rd season as head coach. ... The Chanticleers will play their first game against a Bowl Subdivision team. ... Sold-out Beaver Stadium, which seats more than 107,000, is more than 14 times the size of Coastal Carolina's home field, 7,300-seat Brooks Stadium.
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Bowling Green (0-0) at No. 25 Pittsburgh (0-0), Noon (ESPNU)
Line: Pittsburgh by 13.
Series Record: Pittsburgh leads 2-0.
Last Meeting: 2000, Pittsburgh 34, Bowling Green 16.
What's at Stake
Each team wants to build off the end of last year. Pittsburgh hasn't played since its 13-9 upset win cost rival West Virginia an appearance in the national championship game, while Bowling Green finished last season by going 4-0 in November.
Key Matchup
Pitt RB LeSean McCoy, whose 1,328 yards rushing were a Big East freshman record, against a suspect Bowling Green defense that allowed 4.7 yards per carry and 207.8 yards rushing per game last season - and 562 yards in a 63-7 loss to Tulsa in the GMAC Bowl.
Players to watch
Bowling Green: QB Tyler Sheehan could be the latest in a long line of standout QBs from the Mid-American Conference; a fellow named Ben Roethlisberger currently plays Sundays in Heinz Field. Sheehan threw for 3,264 yards and 23 TDS, and he needs to have a big game against a developing Pitt secondary.
Pittsburgh: WR Derek Kinder, the deep-threat receiver who blew out a knee on the first day of training camp last season and was redshirted. Pitt must develop a throwing game to keep defenses from stacking the line of scrimmage against McCoy.
Figures
Sheehan will be challenged by a Pitt defense that was No. 5 nationally last season. ... Pitt has won 10 of its last 11 openers, losing to Notre Dame in 2005. ... Pitt is 25-2 against the MAC, losing at Toledo (2003) and Ohio U. (2005). ... Bowling Green won at Minnesota 32-31 last season. ... Pitt LB Scott McKillop led the nation with an average of 12.6 tackles per game in 2007.
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Other notable games
Utah at Michigan, 3:30 p.m. (ABC, ESPN2)
Line: Michigan by 3 1/2.
Series record: Michigan leads 1-0.
Last meeting: 2002, Michigan 10-7
What's at Stake
A good start for Rich Rodriguez, Michigan's first new coach since Lloyd Carr in 1995. For the Utes, it's a chance to establish themselves an early contender to bust the BCS.
Key Matchup
Michigan's new offense vs. Utah's defense. The Wolverines return just three offensive starters and will be running Rodriguez's spread offense for the first time. Utah was 11th nationally in pass defense last year and No. 5 in scoring defense and has all but one starter back in the secondary.
Players to watch
Utah: QB Brian Johnson had trouble throwing the ball after separating his right shoulder in the season opener, but is healthy again and could keep the Wolverines offguard by running or throwing.
Michigan: The quarterback, whoever it may be. Junior Nick Sheridan and freshman transfer Steven Threet battled for the job in fall camp and both have yet to throw a pass in college.
Figures
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham is 4-3 against teams from BCS conferences. ... The Utes received more points in the AP preseason poll than the Wolverines. ... Michigan's 34-32 upset loss to Appalachian State of the Championship Subdivision was the Wolverines' first in a season opener since 1998.
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Monday
No. 18 Tennessee (0-0) at UCLA (0-0, 8:15 p.m. (ESPN)
Line: Tennessee by 7 1/2.
Series record: Tennessee leads 7-4-2.
Last meeting: 1997, Tennessee 30-24.
What's at Stake
An opening win would be a huge boost for Tennessee, which hopes to build up steam before eventually heading into the tough SEC schedule. A UCLA upset could jump-start the Rick Neuheisel era.
Key Matchup
Offensive lines vs. defensive lines. The Volunteers have all five starters returning on the offensive front, a group that allowed a nation-low four sacks last season. The Bruins' offensive line was inexperienced and thin heading into camp, and the picture has grown bleaker because of injuries.
Players to watch
Tennessee: QB Jonathon Crompton, taking over for the departed Erik Ainge. TB Arian Foster, the SEC's active career leader in carries (519), net rushing yards (2,394) and all-purpose yards (3,144). S Demetrice Morley, back after being academically ineligible last year.
UCLA: QB Kevin Craft, a third-stringer pressed into starting duty by injuries. He started five games for San Diego State in 2006. ... TB Kahlil Bell led the Bruins in rushing last year (795 yards) despite a knee injury in the eighth game. ... CB Alterraun Verner was one of the best defenders in Pac-10 as a sophomore last season.
Figures
The Volunteers are opening on the West Coast for the second year in a row. California beat them 45-31 a year ago. ... Neuheisel was a UCLA assistant when Tennessee beat the Bruins in 1989 and 1991. ... Peyton Manning made a brief appearance, his college debut, as a freshman in a 25-23 loss to the Bruins in 1994. As a senior in 1997, the most recent meeting, he passed for 341 yards and two touchdowns in victory. ... UCLA PK Kai Forbath made 25 of 30 field goal attempts as a redshirt freshman last year, including 5-of-5 from 50 yards and beyond. His long was 54.
 

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#9 206 Tennessee 81%
#10 179 Arkansas 80%
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NCAAFB Futures

NCAA FOOTBALL TEAM BCS CHAMPIONSHIP ODDS CURRENT
FLORIDA STATE 4/1
ALABAMA 5/1
OREGON 7/1
AUBURN 9/1
OKLAHOMA 10/1
UCLA 14/1
GEORGIA 14/1
LSU 22/1
MICHIGAN STATE 22/1
USC 25/1
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