American Athletic Conference Week 1 Game Previews & Fearless Predictions


There might be several games against FCS teams, but it’ll still be an entertaining Week One. Check out the game previews and fearless predictions for all the American Athletic Conference games.


CFN Week 1 Expert Picks

American Athletic Conference Game of the Week

Houston vs. Oklahoma Game Preview & Fearless Prediction
12:00 PM, ABC, NRG Stadium, Houston, TX

Thursday, September 1

Tulane at Wake Forest

7:00 PM, ESPN3, BB&T Field, Winston-Salem, NC

So how quickly will the Willie Fritz offense work at Tulane?

It’s not going to be a repeat of the Georgia Southern running game right away, but the spread-option attack will be a curveball the Demon Deacon defense will have to figure out how to hit.

Here’s Tulane’s big problem. Its offensive line is going to be a weak spot early on as it tries to get the timing of the attack down, while Wake Forest’s defensive front should be the team’s biggest strength. The Demon Deacon offense won’t be anything special, but it’ll be just effective enough to get up early and let the defense take control from there.

Tulane’s offense will have its day, and it’ll eventually work great – like next week against Southern. It’s just not going to be operating at peak efficiency quite yet.

Line: Wake Forest -17
Final Score: Wake Forest 31, Tulane 16
ATS Confidence: 5: Lock of the Century – 1: Move Along … 1.5
Must See Rating: 5: Any Ryan Lochte interview – 1: Bridget Jones’s Baby … 2

Maine at Connecticut

7:00 PM, ESPN3, Rentschler Field, East Hartford, CT

Will either team be able to throw the ball? The UConn offense was a nightmare last season, but the backfield is in place to start running a bit better, while the defense should once again be a brick wall at times. Teams couldn’t throw the ball on the Huskies last year, and they’re not going to do it much this season.

It’s obviously a new year and a new team, but Maine also couldn’t move the ball last season coming up with ten points or fewer in six games and a total of 16 in three of the last four. The Black Bears played some terrific defense, too, and they will again, but the offense won’t be able to move the ball a lick.

Line: No Line
Final Score: Connecticut 27, Maine 11
Must See Rating: 5: Any Ryan Lochte interview – 1: Bridget Jones’s Baby … 1.5

UT Martin at Cincinnati

7:00 PM, ESPN3, Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati, OH

The Skyhawks of UT Martin are going to be okay. Unfortunately, last year’s team was known – by anyone who paid attention – as the one that got obliterated by Ole Miss by 73 in the opener, but it came up with a strong year with a terrific passing game and steady offense. QB Troy Cook is back, but the Cincinnati quarterback situation isn’t so solid.

Hayden Moore, not Gunner Kiel, got the call for the Bearcat starting gig, and now he’s got to show he’s ready to make the offense explode before having to go to Purdue next week. He will.

The Bearcats will give up a few yards and some big plays, but the offense will roll at will in a layup of a win.

Line: No Line
Final Score: Cincinnati 52, UT Martin 17
Must See Rating: 5: Any Ryan Lochte interview – 1: Bridget Jones’s Baby … 1.5

Friday, September 2

Army at Temple

7:00 PM CBSSN Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA

If Temple Is back to being Temple, this game will be a big, big problem for Army.

The Black Knights should have their best defense yet under head coach Todd Monken, but the option offense will have a hard time getting anything going against an Owl defense that’s still a killer. It doesn’t have Tyler Matakevich around at linebacker anymore, but the line’s going to be among the best in the American Athletic Conference again, and the remaining linebackers aren’t that bad.

Temple’s offense won’t be bad, either, with RB Jahad Thomas pacing the attack and keeping Phillip Walker from having to force any deep throws. This will be a simple-formula type of game for the Owls. Force Army into third-and-long, go on a few long scoring drives, don’t turn it over. It should work without a problem.

Line: Temple -17
Final Score: Temple 31, Army 16
ATS Confidence: 5: Lock of the Century – 1: Move Along … 2
Must See Rating: 5: Any Ryan Lochte interview – 1: Bridget Jones’s Baby … 2

Saturday, September 3

Fordham at Navy

12:00 PM, CBSSN, Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, MD

Be very, very, very afraid, Navy.

Fordham might be replacing head coach Joe Moorhead, but former offensive coordinator Andrew Breiner knows what he’s doing with a fantastic attack that should be the best in the Patriot League. Last year the Rams had the second-most efficient passing game in the FCS, and the O should be every bit as strong and every bit as dangerous this year.

Fordham’s early defensive issue will be dealing with big passing teams – that’s obviously lot Navy. The Midshipmen will show that there’s life after Keenan Reynolds, and the offense will control the ball and the clock enough to keep Fordham’s firepower off the field for long stretches, but this will be a thriller. It’s just the push Navy will need before dealing with UConn’s run defense next week.

Line: No Line
Final Score: Navy 27, Fordham 20
Must See Rating: 5: Any Ryan Lochte interview – 1: Bridget Jones’s Baby … 3

Western Carolina at East Carolina

6:00 PM, ESPN3, Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, Greenville, NC

How will the Pirates look under Scottie Montgomery? Former Minnesota Golden Gopher Philip Nelson is getting the call at quarterback, and he’d better be terrific with NC State coming up next.

The Catamounts of Western Carolina aren’t going to throw enough defense at the Pirates to slow down the fun once it gets going after a sluggish first few drives, but the offense should be able to be just efficient enough and balanced enough to make this a little bit of a game.

East Carolina will win, but it’ll be more than just a light scrimmage. As long as Nelson is sharp, the Pirates will get what they want.

Line: No Line
Final Score: East Carolina 40, Western Carolina 17
ATS Confidence: 5: Lock of the Century – 1: Move Along … 1.5
Must See Rating: 5: Any Ryan Lochte interview – 1: Bridget Jones’s Baby … 1.5

San Jose State at Tulsa

7:00 PM, CBSSN, Chapman Stadium, Tulsa, OK

Get ready for a wild offensive shootout.

Tulsa’s offense should wing it all around the yard with a fantastic passing attack with QB Dane Evans and his tremendous receiving corps about to crank it up against a San Jose State pass defense that was among the best in the country last year – statistically. It was okay overall, but that’s because everyone spent so much time running the ball.

The Spartans are retooling a bit offensively, but they’ve got a good receiving corps and good tools to play around with – along with a solid linebacking corps on the other side – but they won’t have the pop to keep up the pace. Both teams will get their shots in, but Evans won’t be pressured on the way to a massive passing day.

Line: Tulsa -4
Final Score: Tulsa 47, San Jose State 37
ATS Confidence: 5: Lock of the Century – 1: Move Along … 3
Must See Rating: 5: Any Ryan Lochte interview – 1: Bridget Jones’s Baby … 2.5

SMU at North Texas

7:00 PM American Mean Green Stadium, Denton, TX

Can SMU finally start having a little bit of success? For one week – before having to go to Baylor – the Mustangs should look the part of a real, live college football program again against a North Texas team that’s in a rebuilding mode.

The Mustangs couldn’t do much defensively last year, but they stuffed the Mean Green in a 31-13 win. It didn’t get better from there for a UNT offense that had a nightmare of a time throwing the ball or getting the attack moving. Enter new head coach Seth Littrell, who’s essentially in the same spot Chad Morris was last year at this time when he took over SMU.

The Mean Green will try to move quickly and with a faster tempo, and it’ll work at times, but SMU’s offense will be more potent. Forget the 63-0 loss to Memphis to end last year – the Mustangs will build off the offensive success over the second half of last season.

Line: SMU -9.5
Final Score: SMU 37, North Texas 27
ATS Confidence: 5: Lock of the Century – 1: Move Along … 2
Must See Rating: 5: Any Ryan Lochte interview – 1: Bridget Jones’s Baby … 2

SE Missouri State at Memphis

7:00 PM, ESPN3, Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, TN

Everyone’s going to want to see how the Memphis offense rolls under new head coach Mike Norvell, but the Tigers will put this away easily on defense.

The Redhawks of SE Missouri State won’t make a whole slew of mistakes, and they should be able to come up with a little bit of a ground game, but the offense isn’t going to get rolling. Coming up with decent drives for SEMO will be like pulling teeth.

The upperclassmen-laden defensive front seven will dominate for the Tigers, and along the way, new starting quarterback – Tennessee transfer Riley Ferguson – will come up with a terrific game. He’s not going to be Paxton Lynch, but for one game at least, Memphis will look like the transition of power was an easy one.

Line: No Line
Final Score: Memphis 41, SE Missouri State 10
Must See Rating: 5: Any Ryan Lochte interview – 1: Bridget Jones’s Baby … 1.5

South Carolina State at UCF

7:00 PM, ESPN3, Bright House Networks Stadium, Orlando, FL

Finally, UCF will get a win again. After a horrendous 2015 without any fun, the Scott Frost era should get off to a bang, even if it’s not exactly a smooth start.

The Bulldogs led the FCS in pass efficiency defense last year and allowed just 15 points per game, but they didn’t have to go against anyone from the big leagues. The D will be good again, but this will be a cathartic moment for the Knights. It’ll take a little while to get going, but UCF will start to look like UCF again in the second quarter and beyond thanks to several drive-killing stops from the veteran defensive front seven.

Line: No Line
Final Score: UCF 37, South Carolina State 15
Must See Rating: 5: Any Ryan Lochte interview – 1: Bridget Jones’s Baby … 2

Towson at South Florida

7:00 PM ESPN3 Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL

Can this be a bit of a defensive slugfest? The Tigers will have enough of a run D to keep this close against a USF offense that should be better, but isn’t going to be blowing up the scoreboard quite yet.

This was a Towson team that last year pushed East Carolina in a 28-20 loss, and while it won’t be able to get by the Bulls, it’ll make it a battle.

Line: No Line
Final Score: South Florida 34, Towson 17
Must See Rating: 5: Any Ryan Lochte interview – 1: Bridget Jones’s Baby … 2


Source: College Football News

Five things to know about Georgia football this week …

Playing time for Jacob Eason (10) and Sony Michel are big questions heading into Saturday's season opener against North Carolina. JOSHUA L. JONES / SPECIAL

ATHENS — Game week. Finally.

The Kirby Smart Era officially gets under way in five days. The Georgia Bulldogs will open the 2016 season on Saturday against North Carolina in the Georgia Dome in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game (5:30 p.m., ESPN).

Preparations will continue with Monday’s afternoon practice — UGA’s 25th of the preseason — but first the Bulldogs will conduct their weekly news conference. Smart addresses the media for 20 minutes beginning at noon, followed by player interviews. As always, DawgNation will be there to provide instant coverage and analysis.

Here’s what Georgia fans need to know heading into this week. …

1. QB announcement awaits

By all accounts, Georgia’s quarterback competition has been resolved. Over the last week, freshman Jacob Eason has been under center for every snap with the No. 1 offense in which the media was present. Reportedly, he was also the main man on Saturday when the Bulldogs practiced at the Georgia Dome. But all of that remains speculation until UGA announces it or Eason actually takes the field first against North Carolina, whichever comes first.

Georgia is holding its first weekly news conference of the season on Monday at the Butts-Mehre football complex. So the stage is set for Smart to make an announcement if he so chooses. Whether he will or not is uncertain. Last week Smart said both that Georgia will run the same offense regardless of who is quarterback, but also that he wasn’t interested in telling the Tar Heels what they most want to know.

Either way, it should make for some compelling back and forth for Monday’s noon presser.

2. Risky proposition

If Eason is indeed named the starter for the season opener, he must’ve really turned it on in practice the last week or so. Throughout preseason camp and heading into last week’s practices, Smart claimed that none of the three quarterbacks had emerged to the point of deserving to be designated the starter. In an even competition, it would follow that Greyson Lambert’s 28 games of college football experience would tilt the decision. But that’s not the way the information is flowing at the moment. One can only assume that the 6-foot-6, 242-pound Eason must’ve stood up well to every test once he was given a chance pilot the No. 1 unit, which was the case a week ago Saturday.

There are inherent risks in going with an inexperienced quarterback not only in a first game, but for the season. Matthew Stafford was the No. 1 recruiting prospect in the country when he came to UGA in 2006 and the No. 1 player drafted into the NFL when he left in 2009.  However, he did not start right out of the gate. In fact, he struggled his first season (7 TDs, 13 INTs).

Nevertheless, it’s not that uncommon anymore to see SEC teams start freshmen at quarterback. In fact, 38 freshmen have started games at football’s marquee position since 2000, according to survey done by NOLA.com early last season. According to CBSSports.com examination, 15 QBs started more than half their teams’ games in a season since 1996. Their teams’ average record: 7-6.

There was Jamelle Holieway at Oklahoma, however. With Jim Donnan acting as offensive coordinator, Holieway replaced the injured Troy Aikman in the fourth game and led the Sooners to the national championship in 1985. He remains the only true freshman quarterback to lead a major college team to a national title.

3. Tailback teases

Also unconfirmed at this point is whether or not Nick Chubb will play in Saturday’s game. But, of course, that’s the worst-kept secret in the history of football. Anybody who has been paying attention these last four weeks knows not only has the junior tailback been present, accounted for and fully participating in all 24 of Georgia’s practices to date, he’s even being tackled. Chubb, who tore three knee ligaments last October, has actually reduced his protective wear with each passing week per the preseason. He has gone from a bulky brace on his left knee to smaller brace to a protective sleeve to, this past week, nothing at all. Even Chubb chuckles now when he claims he doesn’t know if doctors and coaches will allow him to play on Saturday. But he “wants to,” he adds.

Chubb will play. A lot.

4. What about No. 1?

No the real mystery — and where there could be a real strategic advantage for the Bulldogs — is in regards to the availability of fellow tailback Sony Michel. Georgia’s leading rusher from last season (1,161 yards) still has not been medically cleared to play since breaking two bones in his left forearm in early July. However, he has been extremely active and involved in the Bulldogs’ practices and preparations, just not subjected to contact.

Saturday will represent eight weeks since Michel suffered the injury in an ATV accident near Atlanta. That’s right on the number commonly referenced as needed to recover from a surgically-repaired broken arm bone. Of course, Georgia’s staff has to weigh the potential benefits of springing Michel on UNC on Saturday against erring on the side of caution. Conceivably, he could have two more weeks to heal — he won’t be needed against Nicholls State — and then you could break him out at Missouri in the Sept. 17 SEC opener.

Unquestionably, Georgia will make this decision based on Michel’s long-term physical and mental well-being. But a backfield with both Chubb and Michel in it would certainly be much more problematic for the Tar Heels and defensive coordinator Gene Chizik.

5. Dogs like Dome opener

After four weeks of preseason camp, the Bulldogs will be happy to hit anything not wearing red and black. But the fact they get to face a North Carolina team that won 11 games a year ago has their juices really pumping, especially in comparison to last year’s opening tilt against Louisiana-Monroe.

“Oh, yeah, everybody’s getting them butterflies in their stomachs,” junior outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter said Friday. “Game week is upon us. It’s hard to say you’re not excited, but you have to control it. It’s the first game week, so finally getting to go out and play somebody other than your teammates is exciting.”

This will be Georgia’s first game in the Georgia Dome since 2012, when they came up five yards short in a 32-28 loss to SEC and eventual national champion Alabama. It’s the Bulldogs’ first regular-season matchup in the Dome since 2011, when they lost to Boise State 34-21 in alternative uniforms.

Georgia will be wearing their traditional home-game garb, by the way, with red jerseys and “silver britches.” North Carolina will also wear its home uniform with the sky blue jerseys.

“It feels good, just knowing we’re going to be in Atlanta,” junior safety Dominick Sanders said. “For us, it’s like home. But just knowing you’re going to be in Atlanta and going be in the Dome and not be in fall camp striking each other — we get to strike another opponent — that’s the main thing: getting to hit another color.”

By the way, tickets are sold out and so are most of the downtown hotels. And if you can get into one of the premier properties, expect to pay $350 t0 $550 a night. The In the Life Atlanta Black Pride parade and Dragoncon are both being held downtown this weekend.

 

 

The post Five things to know about Georgia football this week … appeared first on DawgNation.


Source: Dawg Nation

College Football Rankings 2016: Predictions for Week 1 NCAA Standings

College football season is finally upon us.

The Hawaii Rainbow Warriors and California Golden Bears kicked the year off in Australia last week, giving us a quick taste of what’s to come.

In anticipation of what should be one of the most exciting opening weekends in college football history, here’s a look at the preseason polls, followed by a breakdown and predictions for a few of the best matchups:

             

No. 3 Oklahoma (-10) vs. No. 15 Houston

This could be the biggest game in school history for Houston, which hopes to become the first Group of Five school to crash the College Football Playoff party. 

Led by Heisman Trophy candidate Baker Mayfield at quarterback, Oklahoma is the clear favorite in this game, but that shouldn’t faze Houston. Over the past two seasons, the Cougars are 6-0 against the spread as underdogs, according to ScoresandOdds.com.

For Oklahoma to avoid an upset Saturday, it will need to find a way to contain Houston’s dual-threat quarterback, Greg Ward.

The Sooners struggled with the top dual-threat quarterbacks they faced a season ago, notably Clemson’s Deshaun Watson in the first round of the playoffs. Watson ran for 145 yards and a touchdown against Oklahoma.

If Ward can keep the Sooners defense off balance, he’ll have a chance to keep the Cougars’ playoff hopes alive.

Prediction: Houston 45, Oklahoma 42

                      

No. 5 LSU (-10) vs. Wisconsin

LSU and Wisconsin’s contest at Lambeau Field is sure to be decided on the ground, as both teams feature dominant rushing attacks.

The key for Wisconsin will be its ability to limit LSU running back Leonard Fournette and prevent him from breaking off any long runs. Wisconsin should put a heavy emphasis on stacking the box in an effort to make quarterback Brandon Harris beat the defense with his arm. 

Harris struggled for much of 2015, but he does have two future NFL wide receivers, Travin Dural and Malachi Dupre, to help him out. 

The biggest question mark for Wisconsin is at quarterback, where fifth-year senior Bart Houston is taking over this season.

For Wisconsin to pull off the upset, Houston will need to make at least a few big throws against a tough LSU secondary led by cornerback Tre’Davious White. 

Prediction: LSU 27, Wisconsin 10

           

No. 20 USC vs. No. 1 Alabama (-10.5)

Asking a quarterback to make his first career start against Alabama head coach Nick Saban‘s defense is a tough task. But that’s what Southern California quarterback Max Browne will face in Arlington, Texas, on Saturday. 

Fortunately for Browne, he’s equipped with JuJu Smith-Schuster, arguably the nation’s most dangerous wide receiver. Smith-Schuster will have an opportunity to go up against a young Alabama secondary that struggled at times in 2015.

If Alabama can slow Browne and the USC passing attack, however, it could be smooth sailing for the Crimson Tide. USC will likely struggle to move the ball on the ground against an Alabama defensive line that is returning multiple future NFL prospects, including potential first-round pick Jonathan Allen.

Prediction: Alabama 31, USC 20

                     

All spreads are from Odds Shark.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com


Source: Bleacher Report-CFB News