Tuesday, July 31, 2012

College Football Week One Marquee Matchups- Part One

by John Huffstetler

Unbelievably, we're just 5 weeks away from College Football season, and 11-on-11 Sports will be comprehensively covering everything College Football from opening week through the National Championship game. In order to whet our collective College Football appetites, here is an early look at the week one marquee matchups:

Thursday August 30th

South Carolina at Vandy- The Gamecocks enter this season with National Title aspirations and another fantastic squad returning. In Connor Shaw, Spurrier has finally stabilized the tenuous QB position, and All-American caliber RB Marcus Lattimore returns from his late season injury. With these two players returning and a potentially stronger offensive line, the offense should improve over their 5.58 yards per play performance last year (59th in nation). The defense lost two key players in big-play LB Melvin Ingram and shut-down CB Stephon Gilmore, but return several highly-touted recruits, including 2011 #1 Recruit DE Jadaveon Clowney. If the pass defense can survive the loss of three starters in the secondary, the Gamecocks defense should be strong as well because to their front seven is loaded with talent.

South Carolina, however, enters a tough spot in the first week of the season against an improved and more experienced Vanderbilt team on the road. Vandy returns 15 starters from a surprisingly competitive squad last season who gave several ranked high-profile teams tight games late in the season. Vandy lost by 5 to UGA, 3 to Ark, 5 at Fla, and 6 in OT at Tenn. They had 4 net close losses last year, which is a strong indicator of improvement for the following season (91.4% have same or better record next year). They return dual-threat QB Jordan Rodgers (Aaron's little bro) and All-SEC RB Zac Stacy to lead an offense that gained dramatically more yards once Rodgers took over mid-season. In last years meeting in Columbia, South Carolina held Vandy to just 77 yards en route to a 21-3 victory in their 4th game of the year; however, this game was prior to Rodgers' entrance in the starting lineup. This year's contest should be tighter with an intense crowd supporting the Commodores on the season's opening night. South Carolina should have enough to win in this difficult spot, but an upset is surely possible. SC 24 Vandy 14

Friday August 31st

Boise St. at Michigan St.- Boise's schedule is once again laughable this year, and this might be the only chance for the entire nation to avoid the ridiculous "they deserve a chance at the national title" nonsense. Both teams' most critical off-season question is how to replace their campus legend QB's in Kellen Moore and Kirk Cousins, respectively. With both teams starting inexperienced QB's, their ability to control the ball on the ground will prove vital. Michigan St. returns starting RB Le'veon Bell and 5 starting offensive lineman (if you count Blake Treadwell who was lost to injury after just 3 starts), while Boise must replace versatile 1st round draft choice RB Doug Martin and two starting offensive lineman from last season. Boise also returns just 2 starters on defense, while the Spartans return 8, including one of the best LB corps in the country. With the majority of their roster in tact from last year (other than major losses at QB and DT), Michigan St. should slaughter this much less experienced 2012 Boise St. squad. Michigan St. 31 Boise St. 13

Week One Part Two (coming soon) includes: Michigan vs. Alabama and  Clemson vs. Auburn

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