Boise St at Michigan St Aug. 31. First meeting. BSU will open the season vs a ranked BCS tm for a 4th str yr. Boise is 8-1 S/'06 vs BCS schools (only loss at Wash in '07). They are also 21-1 the L/4 yrs in true road gms. However, Boise is one of the least exp'd tms in the country with just 7 st'rs back replacing 6 NFL DC's and QB Kellen Moore. MSU has 13 ret st'rs but just 21% of their off yds returning while Boise has 36%. MSU will field one of the best D's in the country, with a top notch RB corps and OL going against a Boise front 7 that returns 0 st'rs. My computer calls for MSU to have a 195-50 rush yd edge, a 227-196 pass edge (422-246 overall) and projects a 30-18 Spartan victory. With Boise's young team making their first road trip I'll go with MSU 30-20 for my forecast!
Michigan vs Alabama Sept. 1 - Dallas, TX Cowboys Stadium. Since 1999 the National Champ from the previous year is 13-0 with an avg win of 45-13 in the season opener. This will be the first reg ssn gm between the two tms as the prior 3 have all come in bowls. UM won the L/gm ('99 Orange Bowl) 35-34. Bama did not face a dual threat QB like Denard Robinson LY and has just 5 ret sts from the best D in CFB LY but they still have my #3 rated D. UM is a veteran tm with 13 ret st'rs. The biggest matchup edge is Bama's #1 rated OL vs a rebuilt UM DL with 1 ret st'r. UM only faced 2 ranked tms away from home LY and were outgained 710-434 in those but got a fortunate win over VT in the bowl. They have just just 2 Top 10 tms last 2 yrs and lost by a comb 85-35. My Computer forecast for Bama/Mich calls for Bama to have a 196-155 rush edge, a 245-182 pass edge and outgaining the Wolves by 104 yards (441-337) with a 31-21 proj score. Only once all yr in 2012 did Bama's D give up 2 TD's vs an FBS foe but that might happen here. Still games like this are won up front at the LOS and Bama has the edges. Roll Tide 31-17!
Clemson at Florida St Sept. 22. LY Clemson was in a great situation. They were off a big win vs Auburn but were home a 2nd str wk while FSU had just faced #1 Oklahoma in their game of the ssn and came up short while also losing their QB Manuel. Bkp QB Clint Trickett got the start and the Noles WR corps was also banged up. With all of that Clemson still only won by 5. FSU opens this year with a pair of FCS foes and despite coming off a revenge gm vs WF this game is clearly circled for them. Clem QB Boyd is a diff QB away from home (63% home, 55% away) and now lines up behind OL with 3 new st’rs and 7 underclassmen in the 2-deep facing the top DL in country on the road. My computer calls for FSU to have a 168-78 rush yd edge, a 313-230 pass yd edge (481-308 overall) with the Noles cruising to a 41-23 victory. I think it will be closer than that but still FSU has the matchup edge and playing with revenge will play their “A” game here and win 34-24!
Michigan at Notre Dame Sept. 22 There have been ELEVEN upsets in this series in the L/16 gms! LY UM was at home in the first night gm ever at Michigan Stadium. ND appeared to have it won numerous times. At half ND led 17-7 with a 15-3 FD edge with UM's only score being a 45-yd drive after an int and ND was also int'd at the 2. ND led 24-7 after 3Q's. ND fumbled at the UM7 with 6:08 left and UM took the lead with 1:12 left on a 21 yd TD pass. ND drove 60 yds and got a 29 yd TD pass with :30 left to apparently re-pull out the win but UM got a 64 yd pass to the 16 and then opted to go for the td and got it with :02 left. ND has blown 4Q leads in this series each of the L/3 yrs allowing UM to score a TD with :30 left or less remaining in each one. UM is off AF and UMass while ND is on 3rd str B10 gm. However, ND now gets this gm at home and at night (UM 4-8-1 at ND S/'80). My computer says UM has a 173-155 rush edge while ND has a 288-214 pass edge (ND 443-387 overall) and projects a 32-23 Irish victory. I say this one comes down to the wire yet again but this time ND pulls it out 27-24.
Oklahoma vs Texas Oct. 13. Dallas, TX Cotton Bowl. UT had lost 5 in a row to OU from 2000-2004 incl 3 upsets and many wondered if Mack Brown could beat Bob Stoops. UT then won 4 of the next 5. In '10 OU won a close one 28-20 but LY the Sooners thanks to 3 def TD's turned it into a blowout. OU had the exp'd vet QB & UT was rotating a couple of frosh at QB and UT was -4 TO's in the 55-17 rout. The Sooners in this one may be the fresher tm off a bye while TX is off OkSt and WV. OU has the off edge while TX has the Def edge. Game could come down to special teams play and OU has the adv with my #15 ST's (TX #64). My computer calls for TX to have a 189-141 rush edge but OU with a 292-243 pass edge (433-432 OU total yds) and projects a 31-25 OU win. 11 of the last 14 RRR's have been decided by double digits but I'll agree with my computer and call for a close 31-24 OU win.
Oregon at USC Nov. 3. The Ducks had won 4 in a row in this series but Pete Carroll turned the tide going 4-1 from '02-08 with the 4 wins by an avg of 25.5 ppg. The Ducks won 47-20 in '09 and then in USC's Super Bowl game of 2010 (no bowl) turned a close gm into a 53-32 rout with a 599-377 yd edge. LY UO was at home and still had national title hopes. Barkley threw for 323 yards and USC as a big underdog led 38-14 with 3:28 left in the 3Q and held on to the 38-35 win thanks to a late missed FG. This year both teams are legitimate nat'l title contenders and both should be 8-0 coming into this one. I think UO's D is much improved this yr and the off skill positions shouldn't miss a beat even with new st'rs. USC has the best st'g 22 in the country this year but depth could be an issue down the stretch. My computer calls for Oreg to have the rush yd edge 250-178 but USC with a large pass yd edge 328-138 (506-388 USC overall) and projects a 36-26 USC win. This figures to be the first of two meetings between these two tms this year and I will call for USC to win this matchup in a shootout 38-35.
Alabama at LSU Nov. 3 - Since the BCS started in 1998 no teams involved in the National Title gm played each other the following year but that will change here. LY in the 1st meeting, Bama missed 4 FG's and was int'd at the 1 and despite punting just twice while LSU punted 6 times, the Tide lost at home in OT 9-6. The NC gm was a beat down with Bama having a 384-92 yd edge and 21-5 FD ege. LSU did not even cross midfield until the middle of the 4Q. LSU does have the significant edge off a bye while Tide are on 3rd away gm in 4 gms. LSU is stronger than LY's tm and Bama is a notch below. My computer calls for LSU to have a 152-134 rush yd edge and a 210-194 pass yd edge (362-328 overall) and projects a 26-21 score. I will agree with my computer as Miles moves to 4-3 vs Saban in this rivalry as the Tigers win 26-20!
Michigan at Ohio St Nov. 24 - OSU had an amazing 7 gm win streak in this series from '04-'10. LY was the first time since 1929 that both teams were directed by 1st-yr HC's. Denard Robinson accounted for 5 td's and his counterpart Braxton Miller overthrew 3 passes which likely would have been td's but he did throw for 235 and rushed for 100. A safety put UM up 9-7 LY with 7:41 left in the 1Q and it was their first lead over OSU in 4 yrs. OSU led 24-23 at half with a 214-203 yd edge but lost 40-34. With no Bowl gm to go to this is the Buckeyes' Super Bowl and they are playing with legitimate revenge and UM has dropped their last 2 in Columbus by 30 & 35 pts. My computer calls for the Buckeyes to have a 201-156 rush yd edge and a 207-166 pass yd edge (408-322 overall) and projects a 27-21 Buckeye win! With Meyer/Hoke in charge, this rivalry looks to be really heating up again and I will agree with my computer and call for a 30-23 OSU win.
Florida at Florida St-Nov. 24. These tms have played every yr since 1958. UF was 6-0 before 2010 and amazingly this once close rivalry has been decided by 33, 30, 21, 24 and 14 points the L/5 yrs. From 2007-'09 UF won the 3 gms by an avg of 42.3-14.3 and were +260 ypg. The L2Y UF lost on the road 31-7 but were only outgained 333-276 and LY UF actually had a 184-95 yd edge and 11-7 FD edge but lost 21-7 as UF QB Brantley had the worst game of his career with 3 ints. HC's Fisher and Muschamp are close friends but this rivalry should begin to heat up as both tms are much improved. Both have much better offenses than a yr ago and both have two of the top 5 defenses in the country. Florida is my pick to win the SEC East this yr and haven't dropped 3 str in this series in more than a decade but the Noles are at home and are my pick to win the national title! My computer projects FSU with a 101-67 yd edge and a 275-200 pass yd edge (376-267 overall) and calls for a 25-20 FSU win! I'll go with the Noles 27-17!
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