Week 1 Preview

The 2017 season is finally upon us. We have been waiting for this for almost 8 months, but it is finally here! This year we start off with a doozy of a week. Several top 25 match-ups of big time programs and of course what is being dubbed the GOAT (Greatest Opener of All Time). That is Florida State v Alabama. Which quite possibly could end up being a preview of the National Championship game (in the exact same location).

The SEC and ACC have quite a few match-ups this week that will set the tone for the season for both conferences (3 against each other). So get your chips & dip, and Meat of choice, sit on the couch and be prepared for some good football this Saturday!

#9 Michigan v #16 Florida

Both Michigan and Florida boasted great defenses last year, with offenses that were inconsistent at best. Florida still does not have a starter at QB and Wilson Spieght is back under center for the Wolverines. Michigan lost every defensive starter from a year ago, but has a few returning that played significant minutes last year and has a lot of talent on its roster (which still hasn’t been released). Florida has a decent amount returning from a year ago, but is going to be without 6 players for this game, including star receiver Antonio Callaway.  I don’t see either team moving the ball much in this game, but without Callaway I just don’t see much offense coming from the Gators. Look for a low scoring, defensive battle. Florida has more mistakes on offense that Michigan capitalizes on.

Michigan 21 – Florida 10


#20 West Virginia v #22 Virginia Tech

You might see these names and immediately think offensive explosion. However last year both offenses struggled and the defenses lead the team. Virginia Tech has more returning than West Virginia does, but the big difference should be on the lines. Virginia Tech should be able to control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball and in both aspects (Run/Pass). That is where I give Virginia Tech the advantage.

Virginia Tech 31 – West Virginia 21


#24 Tennessee v Georgia Tech

Here is the first of 3 match-ups featuring SEC v ACC this week. Both teams are about equally experience (experience can make a big difference in week 1, diminishing throughout the season). Both teams struggled mightily in defending the run last year and both teams were top 25 run offenses (by any standard) last year. So look for both teams to be able to run the ball with ease. If one of the defenses is able to control the line of scrimmage and stop the other, you could end up seeing a blow-out. But I expect both to be able to rack up a lot of rushing yards. I’ll give Tennessee the advantage here based on a better passing attack (neither were particularly good at stopping opposition offenses from throwing the ball, but not terrible).

Tennessee 42 – Georgia Tech 31 (SEC 1 – ACC 0)


Texas A&M @ UCLA

Both of these high profile programs and coaches are on the hot seat to begin the season. Both could get a big boost to their seasons and confidence of their teams with a win this weekend. UCLA features one of the top NFL prospects at QB and has very good talent everywhere else on its roster. Texas A&M also has very good talent. Both coaches have been able to recruit very well, but have not had the same success on the season. This is a game that will feature quite a few future NFL players, without either team in the top 25. Really this game and this season for UCLA is going to hinge on Josh Rosen. If he is inconsistent like he was last year (at best) then it will be an up and down season. If he plays up to his talent level, then UCLA could be a surprise playoff contender. TAMU’s pass defense was sub-par last year, as was their run defense. I think Rosen will have a good start to the season, giving him some confidence. UCLA’s defense was pretty good last year and TAMU has been pretty inconsistent on offense since Johnny Football left for the NFL. I’m going with UCLA here in a close game.

UCLA 31 – Texas A&M 28


North Carolina St @ South Carolina

South Carolina did better than expected last year, but still was not a good football team. North Carolina St has one of the top defensive front 7’s in the nation. They performed that way last year, and return almost everyone, so they should be even better. I expect South Carolina’s defense to be improved this year and to be a good unit (kind of Coach Muschamp’s thing). However NC State has a lot returning on both sides including at QB. They will be able to control the line of scrimmage on both sides and have the advantage at QB. Will be a low scoring game, but NC St will win going away despite playing on the road.

NC State 24 – South Carolina 14 (SEC 1 – ACC 1)


#1 Alabama v #3 Florida State

This is the one we have all been waiting for. Both rosters are loaded with NFL talent on all levels (potentially 75%+ of the players you will see on Saturday will be in the NFL in 2-3 years…no exaggeration), 2 of the top coaches in the nation (who happen to have coached together for many years at LSU), 2 potential Heisman Candidates at QB, and 2 of the marquee/biggest draws in college football for the last decade plus. This dear readers is as good as it gets in College Football. It is being dubbed as the Greatest Opener of All Time. I fully think this game will live up to that hype. You will see good Offensive play, good Defensive play, hard hits, big runs, pretty much all you can think of for a football game, you’ll get. Both teams are very evenly matched. Both have good offensive lines (Alabama slightly better), both have extremely good defensive lines (FSU slightly better). Both have excellent skill position players on offense (Alabama slightly better…based on previous years production, but FSU is extremely talented), and both have excellent skill position players on defense (FSU slightly better).

Florida State has a great run blocking Offensive line and perhaps the deepest pool of RBs in the nation (going 6 deep of Power 5 starting caliber RBs), Alabama had one of the great run stuffing defenses last year (of all time), but lost a significant portion of that defensive front 7. They are still loaded with talent there however. But FSU should be able to run on Alabama better than anyone has in the last few years, although I wouldn’t expect anything crazy, Alabama will still have the slight upper hand here. On the other side Alabama also has a great run blocking offensive line and a few beasts at Running back (only school that can really rival FSU at RB depth). FSU has one of if not the best Defensive lines in the nation (returning 6 of top 7 from a year ago). Do not expect Alabama to run all over FSU like they do many. But don’t expect FSU to shut down Alabama either. It will be a very close battle in the trenches. Both teams will be looking to keep the other team from breaking open long runs and preventing the RBs from getting past the 2nd level. If they can do that, consider it a win.

Both Offensive lines have struggled pass blocking the last few seasons and both defenses have been very good at rushing the passer. FSU has been better though. That shouldn’t change this year. Expect both teams to be able to generate pressure on the Quarterback. The key here will be keeping both QBs in the pocket as both are deadly on the run and for the QBs to be able to hold up under the pressure. Francois is likely to have the advantage here, as he grew quite accustomed to being under fire last season, so he won’t be seeing much that he hasn’t seen before. Alabama hasn’t faced a pass rush on the level of FSU, so this could be something new for Jalen Hurts here (and he is in a new system). However the biggest difference in the passing attacks will be the play of the defensive backs. This is where FSU I think has an advantage with 2 All-Americans (McFadden and James) as well as a host of talented individuals and future NFL players. Not to knock Alabama’s secondary as they may be the 2nd best in the nation. But FSU has the clear advantage here (pretty much unanimous #1 Defensive backfield). I think that will end up being the difference in the game as FSU should be able to put pressure on Hurts and force a few errant throws that FSU is able to convert into INTs. The play of the Quarterbacks and the play of Derwin James will be the difference here. I’ll take Francois over Hurts. I’ll take FSU in a very close game.

Florida State 28 – Alabama 27 (ACC 2 – SEC 1)


Other notable games:

Colorado over Colorado St (close)

Texas over Maryland

Iowa over Wyoming (closer than many will think)

UNC big over California

Boise St over Troy

USC close over Western Mich

UGA barely escapes the upset bid by Appalachian State

LSU escapes BYU upset bid



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