Friday, September 2, 2011
Last year in Fort Worth, it got ugly in a hurry for the Bears as the Horned Frogs rolled 45-10. This is a new year (duh) and TCU looks vulnerable on paper with no Andy Dalton, no Jake Kirkpatrick and no Marcus Cannon. However, TCU's defense returns a ton of experience, especially up front and that could be the great equalizer facing dynamic Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin. The junior from Copperas Cove is seemingly 100% healthy two years after tearing his ACL in 2009. He seemed to lack that, "Man, that guy's fast!" speed that he displayed as a freshman. But, if Griffin is even close to that freshman form, the Bears have a great shot to make some noise offensively in the Big 12. The problem is that the Bears have struggled to stop nearly every team it's faced and the last team this defense faced was an Illinois offense in the Texas Bowl that is similar to TCU in a number of ways. Expect a ton of Ed Wesley and Matthew Tucker in this one such that Casey Paschall can work and learn at his own pace. It'll be tougher than last year, but the result will be the same.
TCU – 31 vs. Baylor - 21
Saturday, September 3, 2011
On paper, with everyone healthy (and that's the key here, so just hold on that note) this one is quite intriguing. Northwestern QB Dan Persa is one of the most underrated playmakers in the nation. BUT, it's not a lock that he's 100% recovered from his Achilles tendon injury he suffered against Iowa last season. In typical Persa fashion, he injured it on a game winning touchdown throw. IF he plays, Northwestern has a chance to beat anyone on its schedule. Boston College will go as RB Montel Harris takes them. BUT, he's definitely out for the opener and that puts the onus on QB Chase Rettig to become more game-changer and less game-manager. Regardless, two defensive stars in this game could be major factors in this game. Northwestern DE Vince Browne is one of the best pass rushers in the Big 10, while Boston College LB Luke Kuechly is, arguably, the best college defender in the nation. He's not imposing and he's not a physical specimen, but he reads well and flies to the football. I'm rolling the dice that Persa will get on the field and that's going to be the key for the Wildcats. Going with Northwestern on the road to kick start a solid season for the Big 10.
Northwestern – 28 vs. Boston College - 24
Saturday, September 3, 2011
I'm always intrigued by games that include a first year head coach, especially those coaches that take over traditional powers. As such, I can't wait to see the impact that Brady Hoke has on the Michigan Wolverines. On the offensive side of the ball, QB Denard Robinson will be in charge, yet again, one of the most dynamic play makers in the country. However, he's transitioning out of an offense that was tailor-made for his skills into an offense that'll require him to be more accurate as a thrower, before he starts sprinting out of the pocket. Seeing what he does and how he handles that transition to Al Borges' offense is intriguing. But, as with most people, I can't wait to see the Greg Mattison led defense in Ann Arbor. Western Michigan can throw it around the yard a little bit. QB Alex Carder and WR Jordan White, a 1,300+ yard receiver, return for the Broncos. That combination can be a major thorn in the side of Mattison's defense. But, in the end, the Hoke era just has to start with a win and Robinson and the offense will save the day as the defense takes some small steps.
Michigan – 38 vs. Western Michigan - 23
Sunday, September 4, 2011
Expectation. It's a word Texas A&M head coach Mike Sherman doesn't need to hear. He knows. The Aggies all know. There are expectations for this program that A&M hasn't faced in quite some time. But, they're warranted. A returning QB who could end up the season as a surprise first round draft pick. A receiving corps led by freakish stud Jeff Fuller. A 1-2 combination at running back that would make any team envious. OL experience. A talented defensive line. A secondary that is finally coming into its own. Add it all up and this matchup with SMU is tricky as can be. Say WHAAAA? With all of those players and it's a tricky matchup? Yeah, right. Well, believe what you will, but this SMU team has similar attributes as A&M. Loads of experience. A top notch 1,300 yard rusher. Lots of playmaking candidates on defense. Plus, it's the type of team that A&M could overlook very easily, especially with Oklahoma State and Arkansas on the horizon. SMU QB Kyle Padron will go to the quick passing game early and often, finding receivers to catch and run in space. Texas A&M's linebackers will be put to the test, tackling out on the perimeter, which can be tough given it's the first week of the season. Regardless, A&M will eventually wear down SMU's defensive front with a lot of Cyrus Gray and Christine Michael, who makes his return after missing most of the 2010 season with an injury. This one will be closer than most people believe.
Texas A&M – 35 vs. SMU - 24
Labor Day—Monday, September 5, 2011
Shock the world. That's was the GOAT's mantra when, ironically enough, in Miami back in 1964 he prepped for the fight of his life. Muhammad Ali shouted it from the rooftops for months before his fight against Sonny Liston. Now, no one will mistake Maryland for Sonny Liston, but plenty have made the comparison between the brash Ali and the proud Miami Hurricanes. With all that has gone down in Coral Gables over the last few weeks, a win on the road for the shorthanded Hurricanes would certainly shock the world. The Hurricanes will be without a handful of impact players for this opener, the first game in the Miami tenure of Al Golden, and a win over Maryland appears highly improbable without Jacory Harris et al. But, there's precedent, in a way. We saw North Carolina play its guts out against LSU last year after UNC's defensive stars were ruled ineligible for that opener (and then some). Miami is going to do the same and in previous years, when Maryland wasn't nearly as talented it might have been enough to win. But, this is the most talented team, overall, that Maryland has had in five or six years. QB Danny O'Brien is the key. His progress over the last 10 games of the 2010 season was telling and the story it told was that Maryland has a chance to make some noise in the ACC this season. This is also the first game for the Terps under new coach Randy Edsall and at home with Miami on the ropes so to speak, expect the Terps to come out and land haymakers along the way. The Terps better hope that Miami isn't applying the rope-a-dope on Labor Day. It'll be equal parts, physical, fast moving and ugly, but the home team Terps will come out of the chute with a much needed W.
Maryland – 20 vs. Miami - 14