Fearless Predictions Week One - FAU @ UAB
During pre-conference play it is usually difficult to find attractive games that include SBC teams. However, it is week one and we already have some games that look to be interesting match-ups.
The game of the week for Owl fans will be on Thursday night as FAU visits UAB. The series is split at 1-1 with FAU seeking revenge after a 56-29 loss in 2009.
9/2 FAU @ UAB
Both teams have some serious questions coming into this game. FAU's biggest question is the offensive line. Between finding new starters and battling injuries it could be a challenge for the Owls to bring 5 capable O-linemen to Birmingham, AL. UAB faces the challenge of replacing QB Joe Webb. Webb was the Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year in 2009. Even with 6 returning starters on offense the loss of Webb is significant. The UAB defense finished last nationally in pass defense and 114th in total defense in 2009. 7 starters return from the 2009 defensive unit so we should expect to see some improvement. FAU comes into this game with SBC rushing leader Alfred Morris at RB and returning starter Jeff Van Camp at QB. Van Camp came in for an injured Rusty Smith and totaled over 1300 yards passing with 12 tds to only 2 ints. The FAU defense is largely intact and that experience should lead to an improvement from last year. If the FAU offensive line holds up the Owls should return to South Florida with a 1-0 record. If not, it could be a long day for Van Camp and company. All signs point to a high scoring affair after a 49-34 final in 2008 and a 56-29 final in 2009. The talent on the FAU offense coupled with a more experienced defense should be too much for UAB.
9/2 MTSU vs. Minnesota
Keep your eyes on this game. MTSU has Minnesota in Murfreesboro and it provides the SBC with an early season chance to notch a win over a BCS opponent. Coming off of a 10-3 season in 2009 all signs pointed to an MTSU win until QB Dwight Dasher decided to visit the VA hospital for financial assistance. Dasher faces a lengthy suspension as a result. Now that Dasher is out MTSU has to scramble to find a replacement for their top player. Minnesota has experienced the frustration of losing to an SBC team after visiting FAU in 2007. Coming off of a 6-7 campaign last year and with nine startes returning including QB Adam Weber, Minnesota looks to get off to winning start at MTSU. On defense Minnesota is facing an almost complete overhaul with 9 new starters facing off against MTSU. However, Minnesota's defense will be sure to benefit from the absence of Dasher. This had all the makings of a high scoring affair with MTSU coming out on top. However, the replacement of Dasher will impact MTSU's ability to take advantage of a rebuilt Minnesota defense.
9/4 Troy vs. Bowling Green
Troy looks to build on a 9-4 record in 2009 and make a run at the SBC title in 2010. The season starts with a very winnable game against MAC opponent Bowling Green. Troy returns 5 starters on offense and only 3 on defense. Bowling Green returns 3 and 2 respectively. The biggest challenge for Bowling Green will be at the QB position. RS Freshman Matt Schilz makes the start for the Falcons. RS Junior Jamie Hampton will start for Troy after playing in 2008 and redshirting in 2009. He has two senior receivers in Jernigan and Teblarus Gill. Jernigan was an 1100 yards receiver in 2009 and Gill totaled over 500 yards receiving. Expect Troy to test a BGSU secondary that has three new starters. This game looks to be Troy's game to lose. Troy will be up when the marching band hits the field and they will roll in the second half.
Bowling Green 17
9/4 Notre Dame vs. Purdue
Even if this is not the most enticing game of the weekend it will tell us something about coach Brian Kelly and Notre Dame. The Irish finished with 4 straight losses in 2009 and the most storied program in college football is looking for redemption. A new coach, a new QB, and a new mentality will be on display when the Irish host rival Purdue. The Boiler Makers look to improve on a 5-7 season and a win against Notre Dame would set the pace for 2010. This will probably be a low scoring affair as both teams settle in to new QBs while returning the majority of their starters on the defensive side of the ball. Notre Dame will be playing under the shadow of the Golden Dome and welcoming new coach Brian Kelly. That will be enough for the Irish to pull the W against a gritty Purdue team.
Notre Dame 24
There are numerous great non-SBC games this week, but a few are especially worth mentioning. One has BCS implications written all over it and the other could mark the return to respectability for a storied program.
9/6 Boise State vs. Virginia Tech
What a way to end Labor Day Weekend. The BCS buster against one of the most consistently dominant programs of the last decade. This is going to be a must watch game. Both teams are ranked among the preseason top 10 in just about every ranking with some having BSU as high as #2 and VT as high as #5. For all intensive purposes this is a home game for VT. It is technically in Maryland, but realistically the stands will be 70% Hokie fans. Virginia Tech went 10-3 last year and the Hokies return standout QB Tyrod Taylor along with starting RB Ryan Williams and starting WRs Jarrett Boykin and Danny Coale. On defense Virginia Tech will be fast and strong as always and we shouldn't expect anything less. Boise State has found the shoe that fits, but still has not been invited to the dance. Coming off of a 14-0 season and with 22 returning starters the Broncos are looking to make a run this season. Junior Kellen Moore leads the Broncos and he has accumulated a 26-1 record as a starter. I am going with history on this one. Boise State wins big games and they need to win against Virginia Tech if they want to be in consideration for the National Title. Boise State does just enough to take this game.
Boise State 24
Virginia Tech 21
It should be a great start to the 2010 season. Lots of good games from Thursday through Monday. Enjoy Labor Day Weekend, a cold beverage, and the start of another season of college football!!!
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