Alabama, Florida State Highlight NCAA Football Opening Weekend 0

Each year, the college football season begins with an epic affair and this year’s opener should be a great one. The first weekend of the  season begins with the “Game of the Century,” as evenly matched No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 Florida State  face off in a  contest of titans Saturday night.  That’s not the only big game this weekend.  Here is a breakdown of the games you don’t want to miss.

Michigan vs. Florida

Favored by four, the No. 11 Michigan Wolverines take on the No. 17 Florida Gators in a neutral site game at Cowboys’ Stadium in Dallas. Michigan has one of the best offensive lines in the country and so RB Chris Evans should have a great opportunity to make an early case for the Heisman Trophy. Florida has had a top 10 defense the past three seasons, so this should be a classic offense vs. defense battle. Michigan has had a tendency to come up short when playing top 25 competition (losing to Ohio State in each of the last two seasons, falling to Michigan State two seasons ago, and losing to Florida State last year), so the four-point spread is kind of a surprise. Look for Florida to pull the early mini-upset.

Our Pick: Florida, 28-24

Brigham Young vs. LSU

The No. 13 LSU Tigers open the season without long-time head coach Les Miles, fired in the middle of the 2016 campaign. There is a whole new offense implemented for the Tigers this season, one which should be a whole lot more dynamic than those from years past. However, no one should think that LSU will get away from their bread-n-butter: the run. This is a team with a great set of backs in their corral, led by Lanard Fournette, younger brother of Tigers standout Leonard, who graduated last season and will be playing for the Jacksonville Jaguars this season. They will still run the ball, and likely have a great deal of success against the Cougars. BYU beat Portland State 20-6 to open the season, not a very impressive debut. The Tigers are favored by 14.5 and the game would normally draw a yawn, but the contest was moved to New Orleans from Houston following the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, so that draws it a little attention. Despite this, expect LSU to roll.

Our Pick: LSU, 35-10

Alabama vs. Florida State

This is the marquee matchup, and has all the makings of a great affair as the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide take on the No. 3 Florida State Seminoles at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA. The Crimson Tide have a history of taking on top opponents early in the season and staking a claim for a national title run. Last season they rolled over No. 1o  USC 52-6, and have beaten a top 25 opponent in one of the first two weeks of the season in all but one of the last 10 seasons. Jalen Hurts leads Alabama this season. He is a duel threat QB who went through some growing pains last season, but head coach Nick Saban has great confidence in the sophomore. Florida State has the top defensive player in the country in FS Derwin James, a likely Heisman candidate. He is smart and a big time playmaker who should limit Hurts’ effectiveness. Normally, Florida State would have a good chance in this contest, but Saban has had seven months to prepare for this contest, so expect announcers to be saying “Roll Tide” a whole lot Saturday night.

Our Pick: Alabama, 27-16

Other Games of Note:

No. 5 Clemson vs. Kent State. The returning national champs look to show that last season was no fluke. Poor Kent State will be recipient of a rather unmerciful thrashing. Take Clemson, 52-10.

Maryland vs. No. 23 Texas. All eyes are on the Longhorns to see what kind of showing they can put up under new head coach Tom Herman. Take Texas in a closer than expected contest, 27-20.

Arkon vs. No. 6 Penn State. Following the scandal at the school, Penn State has taken some time to finally rebound into one of the powerhouses of college football. This is a true national contender, so expect a statement to be made right off. Penn State rolls, 63-7.

No. 4 USC vs. Western Michigan. The Trojans have not been close to meeting expectations in every season since head coach Pete Carrol left a decade ago. USC will dominate in this game, 49-13.

No. 22 West Virginia vs. No. 21 Virginia Tech. The rivalry between these two schools has always made for great contests, and this should be a classic. Look for a tight affair with the Hokies pulling it out in the end, 28-27.

Featured Image Courtesy of Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports