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College Football Preview: Week 1

by Dan Gunderson

Here we go again! On our own? Not really. There are several million fans of college football that have been itching for this week to start. The week were we can look at the amateur football being played in our meccas that are college football stadiums.

Yes. This is tongue-in-check.

As far as college football fans are concerned, they don't come any bigger than me. This is the office I work in everyday.

It is a part of my Saturday's and has been for years and will continue to be for years to come. It doesn't matter if it is Abilene Christian at Georgia Southern or LSU at Alabama. I want to watch it because it is college football.

Forgive me for being a Nebraska Huskers fan. I have no idea how it happened but Eric Crouch forever. Go Big Red.

I am starting a week-by-week preview of college football, that will come out the Thursday morning of that week. (Sorry MACtion. You can play your games on Wednesdays in Jupiter. We still aren't paying attention.)

I will follow that up with a week in review, recapping what has taken place the previous week in the world of college football.

To be fair, there are well over 100 teams at the FBS and FCS levels. You and I are not going to watch all of them. So, instead of going through every game, I will only pick the top five games I find interesting. Why five and why only my interest? Because I love lists and I'm selfish.

Within these five, I will put my special UPSET ALERT! This is the game I have designated as their being a possibility of an upset. That way, if there is an upset, I can tell you I told you so. If there isn't one, I never said it was going to happen so you can't put that voodoo on me.

Get excited!

College football is here!

#21 Texas A&M @ #9 South Carolina Thursday, August 28 5:00 p.m. (SEC Network)

This game is the shiny toy the new ESPN's SEC Network is going to share with us to open up the season. Of course, most people will look at this game as Johnny Manziel's former team versus Jadeveon Clowney's former team. It is more than that.

The Gamecocks (best nickname in college) have one of the best returning running backs in the SEC in Mike Davis. The Aggies (most boring nickname in college) lost their top two rushers and receivers and will be relying on sophomore quarterback Kenny Hill to provide the spark offensively.

Texas A&M was awful last season defensively. The were 96th in points per game allowed last season and 103rd in points allowed. It might be another year where they hope the offense can outscore everybody. They probably won't get the chance on Thursday.

The one thing we are going to find out is how good is South Carolina. Being ranked 9th early on, and four of their first five games at home, the Gamecocks could vault up the rankings if they get past this week, Week 3 against #12 Georgia and Week 5 past #24 Missouri.

#7 UCLA @ Virginia Saturday, August 30 11:00 a.m. (ESPN)

Did you know that the Bruins were in the top 10? I didn't know that UCLA was in the top 10. I'm certain that UCLA has to keep reminding themselves of this fact.

"Hey. Guys. We are in the top 10."

This comes with a certain amount of responsibilities. Like, not sucking against the University of Virginia. Traveling to the east coast for an early morning game (it will be 10:00 a.m. in Cali) is never easy for those west coast teams.

For the Bruins, they need to come out, bury the Cavaliers by at least 20 points, Brett Hundley needs to throw for 300 plus yards and four scores and it needs to be done in a way that no one will question the fact that UCLA is in the top 10.

(Programming Note: This will become a weekly bit, as in "Yes. UCLA is still in the Top 10." or "No. UCLA is no longer in the top 10."

#16 Clemson @ #12 Georgia Saturday, August 30 4:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Look! It is the ACC's second best team! The Clemson Tigers! Shh. Best we not scare it for it may disappear into the abyss.

Bulldogs' running back Todd Gurley is coming off a 2013 season which saw him spend some considerable time on the sidelines with injuries and will be looking to up his draft stock in 2014. Clemson is coming off a devastating loss to FSU, 51-14, last year that ended their season. Not figuratively. They literally stopped playing after the beat down.

Hey! The Tigers beat Ohio State in the Orange Bowl last year! No. That didn't happen. You dreamed that.

In any case, Clemson needs to come out of the gates strong or else find themselves in the same situation as last year. Games at #1 FSU and at home against #23 North Carolina happen within the first four games for the Tigers.

For the Bulldogs, they must win every non-SEC game. You know that they are good for one, if not two, losses to a good SEC team and another loss to an SEC team that makes you cringe. This game will be fun. We are going to see who deserves the ranking and who is just pretending.

#1 Florida State University vs. Oklahoma State Saturday, August 30 7:00 p.m. (ABC)

The Seminoles have everybody's favorite quarterback ( and Publix customer ) in Jameis Winston. They are also sound in the trenches, with four returning offensive lineman, and running back Karlos Williams, who averaged eight yards per carry last season.

This is not your UPSET ALERT! mainly because FSU will throttle the Cowboys. What it does do for us college football fans is it serves as a preview of what the Seminoles will feature in 2014.

This game is technically on a neutral field, AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, but it is closer to Stillwater than it is to Tallahassee. That won't bother Winston and the boys. The game will still be highly anticipated.

It might also be the third toughest game on FSU's schedule. The have home games against #16 Clemson and #17 Notre Dame later in the season but both of those teams could possibly be out of the top 25 by the time they play FSU.

#14 Wisconsin vs. #13 LSU Saturday, August 30 8:00 p.m. (ESPN)

UPSET ALERT! Here are a couple reasons as to why I'm are putting the LSU Tigers on blast! Or, whatever the kids say.

1) The Tigers haven't lost a season opener since 2002, when they lost at Virginia Tech 26-8. They haven't avoided playing big-time teams either. In 2011, they defeated Oregon 40-27 at a neutral site. Isn't it about time?

2) The Badgers are known for not turning the ball over and running it well. Two things you need in order to pull off the upset. Last year's leading rusher for Wisconsin, Melvin Gordon, and third leading rusher, Corey Clement, are back. Those two combined for 2,156 yards rushing and 19 touchdowns last season. Good luck stopping them.

If Wisconsin wins this, you can almost mark them down for the Big 10 title game. #22 Nebraska is the only remaining ranked team on Wisconsin's schedule and they don't play them until November 15 at Camp Randall Stadium.

And, as always, College Football > NFL