Congratulations football fans! You’ve made it through one of the most insane offseasons in NCAA football history. They’ve had it all from lying coaches, to strip clubs, yachts, tattoos, and free gear. Finally, it’s time to talk about the product on the field. The Pac-12 has a ton of quarterbacks ready to unleash an unprecedented air assault. The SEC has their usual collection of national title ready teams. The Big East will continue to try and stay relevant, while the ACC and Big 12 try and hold onto their teams with the other conference vultures circle above them. With the start of each season, come bold predictions that are sure to go wrong. Let’s get into the first edition of the Sickness Five!
3 Oregon Ducks at 4 LSU Tigers.
Rarely do you get a matchup of two top 5 teams on the first weekend of college football. Luckily, Jerry Jones opened up the Taj Ma-Dallas to host this highly anticipated matchup. Both teams have had their share of off-season distractions. The Ducks had their recruiting practices questioned, while the Tigers suffered a bigger loss when starting quarterback Jordan Jefferson got himself suspended after a bar fight. Don’t worry, though. There is still plenty of talent on both teams to give us a solid football game. The key to the game will be the ability of the LSU defense to slow down the high-powered Oregon offense. Last year, the Ducks averaged 47 points per game, while LSU only gave up 18. Something will have to give. LSU has a large defensive line which will allow them to put some pressure on Darron Thomas, similar to what Auburn did in the national title game. What they don’t have is an offense that can score like Auburn could. Throw in the fact that they will be relying on Jarrett Lee, who has been inconsistent to say the least in his career, and I can’t see them hanging for 4 quarters. Teams wear down against the Ducks when they’re in game shape. This is game one, so expect to see some hands on the pads early from LSU’s D after chasing LaMichael James sideline to sideline. Oregon 34 LSU 21.
5 Boise State Broncos at 19 Georgia Bulldogs
2005 was the last time that Boise State visited the Peach State to start the regular season. The Bulldogs bucked the Broncos in that one, 48-13. I doubt we’ll see a replay of that on Saturday night. For one, Kellen Moore wasn’t the quarterback then, and what he has turned this Broncos program into makes other college football fans jealous. As a starter, Moore is 26-1. But when you’ve been in school that long, you start to lose some of your security blankets. Two of those were on the outside in Austin Pettis and Titus Young. Replacing 142 catches, 1900 yards and 24 touchdowns is going to be a hard task, and one they’ll need to figure out quickly. They do have a strong run game to lean on. Doug Martin is a load to bring down and knows where the paint is. He had almost 1300 yards on the ground, so Georgia will need to be aware of him if they are going to hang in this one. Don’t cry for Georgia, though. They have a very good quarterback of their own in Aaron Murray, but he won’t be able to beat Boise on his own. He’ll need a big contribution for all everything freshman tailback, Isaiah Crowell. Coach Richt would love to get this win under his belt to hold off the unhappy Georgia faithful, but I can’t see it here. Chris Petersen is tough to beat, especially with an off-season to prepare. Just ask Virginia Tech and Oregon. Boise St 31 Georgia 28
UNLV Rebels at 11 Wisconsin Badgers
If this game was on the hardwood, it might not be such a mismatch. Over the last few years, Wisconsin has had one major piece missing in their quest to win a title… a playmaker at the QB position. Enter Russell Wilson. He comes in from N.C. State with a proven track record, and his job will be that much easier with running backs like Montee Ball and James White behind him. If Nick Toon can get healthy again, their offense is downright potent. Last year, Wisconsin rolled into Vegas and laid 41 on the ‘Rebs, running for more yards (278) than they gave up total (217). Expect more of the same in Madison. Wisconsin 44 UNLV 17.
South Florida Bulls at 16 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
It’s been a long time since there has been a Holtz running out of the tunnel in Notre Dame Stadium. USF coach Skip Holtz leads his team against his alma-mater with mixed emotions I’m sure. B.J. Daniels is the key to any success that the Bulls will have. Last year, they were 101st in passing and 105th overall, offensively. Notre Dame’s defense is lead by All-American linebacker, Manti Te’o, so Daniels will have to know where #5 is at all times. Turnovers will be huge in this one. If Daniels can take care of the ball, USF will have a chance to keep it close. They don’t need to give Cierre Wood, Michael Floyd, and Dayne Crist anymore of an advantage than they already have. This could be a trap game for the Irish, with the Michigan Wolverines on the horizon, but Brian Kelly will have them ready. Notre Dame 27 USF 13.
UCLA Bruins at Houston Cougars
Game 1 of Rick Neuheisel’s redemption tour will be down in the heat of Texas. Last season, the Bruins handled the Cougars 31-13 after knocking out Case Keenum from the game. You can bet that the Cougars have been drooling at the thought of revenge. Keenum has the chance to set all kinds of passing records this season, and their Air-Raid offense will give him every opportunity. The problem for the ‘Cougs is defensively. They were atrocious last year against the run (114th). That’s bad news when you consider the strength of the Bruins is Jonathan Franklin and the rushing attack. If Houston can’t slow it down, and I don’t think they can, Keenum won’t be on the field enough to make a difference. In the 95 degree heat, the Bruins will wear down the Cougars’ defense, and then let the dogs loose on the Cougars’ offense on the way to an opening win. UCLA 34 Houston 17.