Let’s have a
closer look at the four most important games of Week 1:
Wolverines vs. Alabama Crimson Tide
prestigious programs with enduring brand names will lock horns in the Lone Star
State. Michigan might have had a fighting chance when this game was announced, but the Wolverines have lost players to both injuries and suspensions. One
player who has been suspended for this game is running back Fitz Toussaint,
whom head coach Brady Hoke has not said much about over the past few days. It
might seem that Toussaint will play, but it’s very hard to see Hoke giving him
just doesn’t have the precision in the passing game needed to beat Alabama.
Quarterback Denard Robinson is a gifted scrambler but he’ll be physically
punished if he tries to run the ball in the middle of the field against the Crimson
Tide’s imposing front seven.
secondary is vulnerable, having lost multiple players to the NFL this past
offseason, but Robinson is not a polished downfield thrower and that hurts
Michigan a lot.
might be close for a full half, but Alabama should be able to lean on Michigan
with its depth and power. Expect the Tide to wear down Michigan and pull away
in the third quarter.
Tigers vs Auburn Tigers (neutral-site game in Atlanta)
In 2011, the
Clemson Tigers changed their image and the ways in which national journalists
perceive them. They finally won the ACC championship, something the program had
not done in more than 20 years, and shed their underachiever label.
thrived because head coach Dabo Swinney hired new offensive coordinator Chad
Morris, a man who unlocked the talent that was located in the Tigers’
skill position players. Clemson fielded a lethal offense last season, powered
by its passing game and, in particular, the connection between quarterback Tajh
Boyd and receiver Sammy Watkins. That combo returns in 2012, although Watkins
will be suspended for the opener.
Auburn last year, so Auburn wants revenge. Is the foe from the Southeastern
Conference potent enough to knock off the ACC champions? It’s not likely.
Auburn’s defense has to force multiple turnovers from Clemson’s offense just to
have a chance. In the end, unless Auburn can do something to neutralize Clemson’s
firepower, the ACC Tigers will beat the SEC Tigers.
Michigan State Spartans vs. Boise State Broncos
Michigan State -7
For the past
three years, the Broncos have had one of the great college quarterbacks of all
time, Kellen Moore, steer them through adversity -– including early-season
non-conference clashes like this. That led to wins over Oregon, Virginia Tech
game, they’ll trot out a new quarterback, Joe Southwick, who will have to
endure the pressure of succeeding Moore while also handling a hostile crowd in
East Lansing, Michigan.
State will also send a new quarterback to the gridiron, as Andrew Maxwell takes
over for longtime (now graduated) starter Kirk Cousins. Can Boise State
continue its winning ways with fresh faces? If the Broncos pull this off, they’ll
be the biggest non-Alabama story of week one.
difference here is that Boise State has far more to replace than just a
quarterback. They also lost their starting running back, top four defensive
linemen from last season and top three linebackers. That may be too much to
overcome on the road for a new group of players.
Virginia Tech Hokies vs. Georgia Tech
Virginia Tech -7
realize that the University of Miami and the University of North Carolina are
both sitting under the dark cloud of impending or already-existing NCAA sanctions, the ACC Coastal Division becomes a three-team race. The
three horses involved are Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and Virginia.
With that in
mind, the winner in this game will become the clear and undisputed favorite in
the ACC Coastal.
Tech hosts Virginia at the end of the season, so a Hokie win would especially
cement coach Frank Beamer‘s team as the class of the division. This is a
high-stakes game in Week 1.
Thumbnail photo via Facebook/Michigan Football