It’s getting close. The kickoff of the 2015 college football season is just a few weeks away with a full weekend lineup of games beginning Thursday, August 29, and continuing through Monday, Labor Day, September 2. Here’s a look at some of the match ups.
Thursday, August 29
North Carolina @ South Carolina
The nation’s best defensive player, Jadaveon Clowney, will win a few games on his own for the Gamecocks. ‘Ole Ball Coach will use two QBs again, but it won’t matter in the opener. It’s year two of Larry Fedora at UNC and they will be better, but they won’t win this one…South Carolina 27, UNC 14.
Mississippi @ Vanderbilt
Head coach Hugh Freeze took ‘Ole Miss to a bowl game last year, and there are many who believe the Rebels can be a top ten team in 2013. James Franklin has worked his magic at Vanderbilt and is coming off a 9-win season, the school’s first since 1915. It’s a tough pick but…’Ole Miss 38, Vanderbilt 28.
Friday, August 30
Western Michigan @ Michigan State
Michigan State will have one of the nation’s best defenses. P.J. Fleck takes over at Western Michigan and must face a Big Ten heavyweight right off the bat. The Broncos may be better than they were a year ago, but they won’t win in week one…Michigan State 49, Western Michigan 7.
Texas Tech @ SMU
Kliff Kingsbury takes over at his alma mater while SMU must replace four-year starter Zach Line at RB. The Mustangs’ run-and-shoot offense will square off against Kingsbury’s fast-paced, no-huddle operation…Texas Tech 28, SMU 27.
Saturday, August 31
Buffalo @ Ohio State
The Buckeyes are coming off a 12-0 season and could challenge the SEC’s dominance in the BCS. At the Horseshoe, the Bulls just don’t have much of a chance. OSU QB Braxton Miller won’t play in the second half…Ohio State 63, Buffalo 0.
Toledo @ Florida
Florida will be a power in the SEC again. The Gators will have a top ten defense once again and return three of four starters in the secondary. Toledo is fun to watch and went 10-4 last year, it’s first under Matt Campbell, one of the youngest head coaches in the FBS. The Rockets cannot pull of the upset…Florida 27, Toledo 10.
Central Michigan @ Michigan
Another MAC vs. Big Ten matchup, Michigan is just too talented for the Chippewas. The Wolverines return QB Devin Gardner, RB Fitzgerald Touissaint, and massive OT Taylor Lewan to an offense that averaged 30 points a game last year. Too much for CMU to handle…Michigan 55, CMU 14.
Temple @ Notre Dame
Temple has a new coach, again, and has to face the nation’s runner-up from a year ago. Brian Kelly will go with Tommy Rees at QB. Last year’s starter Everett Golson is not at ND this year for academic reasons. It won’t matter in this one…Notre Dame 35, Temple 13.
Penn State vs. Syracuse (East Rutherford, NJ)
An old Eastern rivalry rekindles as Penn State takes on the Orange in Giants Stadium. PSU must replace QB Matt McGloin on offense and LB Michael Mauti on defense. Syracuse is in a similar boat having to replace QB Ryan Nassib. The Orange were pretty average on defense last year…Penn State 24, Syracuse 17.
Mississippi State vs. Oklahoma State (Houston, TX)
Mississippi State started 7-0 a year ago and then won just one of their last six games. Oklahoma State returns 14 starters (7 on offense, 7 on defense) and should contend for a Big 12 title.
Washington State @ Auburn
The Gus Malzahn era begins while it’s year two of Mike Leach and the Wazzu. Two high-flying offenses will go toe-to-toe, but the SEC will prevail…Auburn 34, Washington State 21.
Louisiana-Monroe vs. Oklahoma
ULM pulled one of the great upsets last year in knocking off then No. 8-ranked Arkansas early in the season. It won’t happen this year in Norman…Oklahoma 38, ULM 13.
Nicholls State vs. Oregon
It’s an early season tune up for new head coach Mark Helfrich. The high-powered Ducks’ offense led by QB Marcus Mariota will get another scrimmage opportunity in this money game for Nicholls State…Oregon 70, Nicholls State 13.
Georgia @ Clemson
An early season doozie features two preseason top ten teams. Georgia is loaded with senior QB Aaron Murray while Clemson has Heisman hopeful Tajh Boyd running Chad Morris’ high-powered offense. Give the home team a slight edge…Clemson 37, Georgia 35.
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LSU vs. TCU (Arlington, TX)
This kickoff classic will feature some serious defense. Gary Patterson’s Horned Frogs are well-known for their defensive prowess as is Les Miles’ Tigers’ squad. TCU will get QB Casey Pachall back to go with the nine defensive starters. It will be enough to pull a mild upset…TCU 23, LSU 17.
Rice @ Texas A&M
Last year’s Heisman winner, Johnny Manziel, gets an early season tune-up with a much-improved Rice squad. The Owls went 6-1 to finish the year last season but the Aggies are too talented…Texas A&M 45, Rice 20.
Alabama vs. Virginia Tech
It’s the beginning of the quest for championship No. 3. The Crimson Tide will reload with 14 starters back, seven on a defense that will surely be the nation’s best again. Virginia Tech is looking to improve on their worst season in a decade. They won’t win the opener…Alabama 24, Virginia Tech 14.
Sunday, September 1
Colorado vs. Colorado State (Denver, CO)
It’s the annual in-state clash at the beginning of the season. Colorado was easily the worst team in the Pac-12 last season but has a new coach in Mike MacIntyre. Colorado State went 4-8 under new coach Jim McElwain last year. The Rams are better…Colorado State 17, Colorado 14.
Monday, September 2
Florida State @ Pittsburgh
The Panthers lost RB Rushel Shell, who transferred to West Virginia, and get to entertain Florida State in week one. The Seminoles lose QB E.J. Manuel but return four of five starters on the offensive line and the running back duo of Devonta Freeman and James Wilder Jr. Enough said…Florida State 34, Pittsburgh 20.