Breaking Down Alabama-Florida State, Florida-Michigan, LSU-BYU & More Key Matchups
Where did our summer go to so fast? Heck, the springtime, too?
Fall is approaching and that means it is college football time again, which brings the Pigskin Prognosticator out of hibernation (and off the beach; hey it was nice while it lasted) to bring you my unique look and analysis of the key games each week.
The style is modeled after a childhood college football hero of sorts, Leonard Postosties, who used colorful descriptions of games in his “Leonard’s Losers” radio show.
Week 1 has an incredible marquee matchup that involves two teams likely to be in the playoff hunt the entire season. But unlike the past couple of seasons, the rest of the opening-day slate is not enough to really have you looking at your watch every two minutes to plan your escape from a Labor Day festival to get to the nearest bar to watch the games.
So onto this weekend’s games. All times PDT.
Saturday, Sept. 2
• Florida vs. Michigan (12:30 p.m., ABC, Arlington Stadium, Dallas)
The Gators are hoping they finally have some bite on offense so they can chomp, chomp down on defenses. But the Misbehaving McElwains are down seven players, no wait make that eight, no wait, now its 10 – including their best receiver – and seem swamped to come up with a quarterback who will be throwing the ball to whomever is left to catch it.
The Fighting Harbaughs may be this year’s biggest preseason mystery: are they a loaded team ready to explode or a worse offensive team than last year ready to implode? Winner: Florida
• Western Michigan at USC (2:15 p.m., Pac-12 Network)
Troy marches into this game on a high horse, full of expectations of a Heisman Trophy and College Football Playoff appearance. But things may not be as “rosy” as they appear, for the defense was drilled in the Rose Bowl and Sam “The Wonder Boy” Darnold may be asked to do too much, too soon. That won’t matter against the sacrificial Broncos, but Stanford comes to the Coliseum next week. Winner: USC
• Alabama vs. Florida State (5 p.m., ABC, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta)
The most anticipated, most hyped and no doubt most scrutinized game of opening weekend is this “matchup in the Mercedes.” It’s No. 1 vs. No. 3, a kickoff classic if ever there was one. Both teams are more loaded than Steve Sarkisian after a USC game – hey couldn’t help it; low-hanging fruit! – with two coaches as intense and fundamentally sound as you’ll find in the game.
The Pachyderms are downright dynamite on offense and stomping nasty on “D.” The Spears are tomahawk choppers on defense and can sling arrows on offense.
This game could come down to the offensive lines. Alabama has been a bit weak (relatively speaking) the past two years, particularly in pass protection while Florida State allowed its quarterback to get flattened so often last year they should have been nicknamed “the Pancake House.” The Tide defenders will be supplying the syrup in this game as the topper to a rolling start to the season. Winner: Alabama
• BYU vs. LSU (6:30 p.m., ESPN, Superdome, New Orleans, moved from NRG Stadium, Houston)
The Big Os take the field for the first time since Coach O became official and they are out to show they are as feisty on offense as they’ve been on defense. Hurricane Harvey has moved this game to the base of the bayou and that should sit just fine with the boys from Baton Rouge. The mountain cats from Utah will come out scratching but it’s the felines from the flatlands that will come out ahead in this one. Winner: LSU
Sunday, Sept. 3
• West Virginia vs. Virginia Tech (4:30 p.m., ABC, FedEx Field, Washington D.C.)
It’s a high time in Hokieville as there’s optimism heading into the 2017 season and the renewal of this rivalry that stopped in 2005. Frank Beamer is VT’s honorary captain and head Hokie Justin Fuente has defensive coordinator Bud Foster on his side. The Lunchpails will be going after Mountaineer QB Will Grier, who was doing a fine job leading Florida last year until he was caught for taking performance-enhancing drugs (he claimed it was pain pills, naturally), left and wound up under center in Morgantown.
The wild-colored team has more offensive firepower than the Blacksburg crew, but the Prognosticator senses something special from the Hokies for this game. Winner: Virginia Tech
• Texas A&M at UCLA (4:30 p.m., FOX, Rose Bowl)
Jacuzzi Josh has shot off his mouth before the season has even started, so he’s already in mid-season form. At least the Baby Bears have a quarterback; the Cadets may be looking into the stands for a 12th Man if they can’t find someone to run the team by halftime. But, of course, it’s the defense of smug Simlin that’s always the achilles heel of his Aggies.
If Rosen and the overly-paranoid Jim Mora can’t win this one against a team searching for an identity with a coach on a super-hot seat, then it could signal the start of a frigid fall in Westwood. Winner: UCLA
Monday, Sept. 4
• Georgia Tech vs. Tennessee (5 p.m., ESPN, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta)
The orange-clad riflemen come down from ‘ol Rocky Top to attack a swarm of yellow jackets determined to put a sting in Smokey. Stopping that Georgia Tech offense can be as frustrating as trying to squeeze into one of those tight seats at Neyland Stadium and even if the UT players are “champions of life” they may need a beekeeper’s suit to hold off all the offensive attacks.
But just when it may seem the Volunteers are ready to retreat back up to the hills of East Tennessee, they will come out with muskets firing and survive the onslaught. Winner, in a close one: Tennessee