Northwestern vs Purdue, 8:00 PM ET, ESPN
Pat Fitzgerald has a lot of talent back, including his quarterback Clayton Thorson. They did lose Justin Jackson, but Jeremy Larkin isn’t a bad option after running for just over 500 yards a year ago. Jeff Brohm is having to replace a lot on defense, which will be tough in the opener against what should be a pretty good Northwestern offense. Purdue is however returning a good amount of their talent from last season on offense. I think this game has the makings of a shootout to open up the season on ESPN.
Prediction: Northwestern wins 38-30
Syracuse vs Western Michigan, 6:00 PM ET, CBS Sports Net
This is an interesting game. Western Michigan might have a better overall team, but Syracuse has the best player in the game with their quarterback Eric Dungey. I actually like Western Michigan to take this win at home because they have the superior defense.
Prediction: Western Michigan wins 31-27
San Diego State vs (13) Stanford, 9:00 PM ET, Fox Sports 1
Last year the Aztecs got Stanford at home 20-17. I don’t think that’ll happen this season as San Diego State has to travel to the farm. They are also playing without Rashaad Penny now and Stanford has Bryce Love back and there’s a thought out there that they will have a better passing game with K.J. Costello being the full-time starter.
Prediction: Stanford wins 27-14
Colorado vs Colorado State, 9:30 PM ET, CBS Sports Net
The annual mile-high rivalry will take place with Colorado State already having a loss under their belt from this past weekend against Hawai’i. Neither team has a great defense so I’m fully expecting some points to be put up in this one, especially with Steven Montez being a solid quarterback for the Buffaloes and KJ Carta-Samuels being solid and having some good options to throw to.
Prediction: Colorado wins 41-31
Ole Miss vs Texas Tech, Noon ET, ESPN
This game should be points galore. Both teams have been rolling on offense the past couple of years and have struggled on defense. The reason I’ll ultimately go with Ole Miss is because I think their starting 22 is a good amount better than Texas Tech’s. This game should be a fun game to wake up to though.
Prediction: Ole Miss wins 48-35
(23) Texas vs Maryland, Noon ET, Fox Sports 1
Last season the Tom Herman era at Texas opened at home with a thud against Maryland. The main reason I’m interested in this game is to see how Maryland plays against a team that many people think can be a surprise team with their coach, D.J. Durkin, still being on administrative leave. Ultimately I think they will be off because of it and Texas is still a better team either way.
Prediction: Texas wins 45-20
(6) Washington vs (9) Auburn, 3:30 PM ET, ABC
This is probably the game of the week in most people’s eyes, and that would be mine included. I can’t wait to see how these two teams match up with each other, especially in the trenches. Auburn has maybe the second-best front seven in college football behind Clemson, but Washington should have a good offensive line, with two tackles that should be NFL players and are very experienced. The strength of the Washington defense is the secondary and seeing Jarrett Stidham go against them should be really interesting. Overall this game has a lot of interesting match-ups, but I think Auburn is better by a slight margin in the trenches and with this game being in Atlanta it’s basically a home game for the Tigers.
Prediction: Auburn wins 23-14
Tennessee vs West Virginia, 3:30 PM ET, CBS
I actually don’t think this game is too interesting because I think West Virginia will be pretty good this season and Tennessee is in a rebuild. It will be interesting though to see how well a team lead by a good defensive mind in Jeremy Pruitt does in their first game against on offense with this many weapons.
Prediction: West Virginia wins 35-17
Washington State vs Wyoming, 3:30 PM ET, CBS Sports Net
Washington State had a pretty rough off season with Mike Leach nearly leaving for Tennessee, defensive coordinator Alex Grinch leaving for Ohio State and of course the tragic suicide of Tyler Hilinski, who was slated to be the teams starting quarterback this season. Washington State will be breaking in a new quarterback in this game against a very good Wyoming defense and I actually think Wyoming will win this game because of their defense and running game.
Prediction: Wyoming wins 24-17
Northern Illinois vs Iowa, 3:30 PM ET, Big Ten Network
Another interesting group of five vs power five match-up. This one is interesting because Northern Illinois has Sutton Smith and the Iowa offensive line is pretty average. Ultimately Iowa will probably have too much and Nate Stanley should be too good.
Prediction: Iowa wins 31-20
Marshall vs Miami (OH), 3:30 PM ET, ESPN+
This is a great group of five game. Both teams are very good across the board and should match-up pretty well with each other. I think ultimately Marshall will win because the Miami (OH) secondary is a little bit weak compared to the rest of their team and that will make the difference in the game.
Prediction: Marshall wins 27-21
North Carolina vs Cal, 4:00 PM ET, FOX
This was a season-opener a year ago and it could be an interesting game again this year. Justin Wilcox did a good job of laying a good foundation last season and is returning a good amount. North Carolina should be better than they were last season but I think Cal is a good amount better than UNC and will win by more than the seven-point spread.
Prediction: Cal wins 38-21
(22) Boise State vs Troy, 6:00 PM ET, ESPN News
Two of the best group of five teams will be going at in this one. Boise State is the better team and could very well be the best group of five team. They are returning 10 starters on defense and are bringing back quarterback Brett Rypien. The big thing Troy has in their favor is they are playing at home, but ultimately I think Boise State has too much.
Prediction: Boise State wins 34-24
Cincinnati vs UCLA, 7:00 PM ET, ESPN
The Chip Kelly era in Westwood gets started in this one and while I think they are in for somewhat of a rough year I think this one should go fine for them. It’ll be interesting to see who starts at quarterback and how they perform, but they also need to play good across the board because Cincinnati is capable of winning this game.
Prediction: UCLA wins 31-20
(14) Michigan vs (12) Notre Dame, 7:30 PM ET, NBC
The other game of the week, and the setting of ESPN’s College Gameday, will be this one. I think both teams are primed for pretty good years with Michigan having Shea Patterson and Notre Dame having a good amount of talent back, especially on a defense that only allowed 21.5 points per game last season. The loss of Josh Adams will certainly hurt, and I think it will show right off the bat against a defense the caliber of Michigan’s and the Wolverines will pickup a huge season-opening win on the road.
Prediction: Michigan wins 20-13
Louisville vs (1) Alabama, 8:00 PM ET, ABC
This is an interesting game in name only. Louisville lost a good amount, including Lamar Jackson, who was of course their best player and one of the best players in the nation over the past couple of years. Alabama will likely dominate this game in most facets and the most interesting part will be how they deal with the quarterback situation of Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa.
Prediction: Alabama wins 41-17
BYU vs Arizona, 10:45 PM ET, ESPN
This game is intriguing because it’s the first game of the Kevin Sumlin era at Arizona. They should definitely be able to handle a BYU team that is coming off of a pretty bad season and I’d imagine they will put up some offensive numbers in this one as Khalil Tate will want to make a week one case for the Heisman,
Prediction: Arizona wins 45-21
Navy vs Hawai’i, 11:00 PM ET, CBS Sports Net
I didn’t have any big predictions for Hawai’i coming into the season, but they played a really solid game in their win at Colorado State last week. The defense struggled to hold on a little bit in the second half as the game got uncomfortable, but they did hold on. It’ll be interesting to see them go against a solid Navy defensive front, but even more so, go against a team that runs the triple option and plays such a different style of play. I think some points will be put up in this one.
Prediction: Navy wins 48-42
(8) Miami vs (25) LSU, 7:30 PM ET, ABC
Ed Orgeron has some pressure coming into this season and this game will go a long way in setting the tone for the season for LSU. Joe Burrow will be getting the start for the Bayou Bengals and it’ll be interesting to see him go against such a good defense, and even more so, secondary. This game has low-scoring defensive battle written all over it, but I ultimately think Miami will have too much and will be able to win this game in the end.
Prediction: Miami wins 23-17
(20) Virginia Tech vs (19) Florida State, 8:00 PM ET, ESPN
Willie Taggart will be making his Florida State debut in this one and Virginia Tech will be seeing how well they were able to put together their defense after some unexpected departures this off season. Deondre Francois is back for the Seminoles, and the importance of that can’t be understated. I think having him back will make all of the difference against a Virginia Tech defense that has some questions, plus the Seminoles are at home and Doak Campbell Stadium will probably be pretty loud with it being Taggart’s debut.
Prediction: Florida State wins 35-24