2016 CFB Week 1: Saturday Gameday Morning
What are you doing this Labor Day weekend? Barbecues, maybe the off-chance of a wedding? (If the latter, my apologies, no sports for you.) The answer should be football, as this is the first college football Saturday of the year.
Oh, how we have missed thee, dear, sweet football. Park your keister in front of ESPN Goal Line, open the adult beverage of your choice, and settle in for the long haul.
If you can’t find a game worth watching, you’re not really trying. We found five that are especially worth your attention.
(Please note: once again, the editor of The Bracket Yard is a Boston College alumnus, so he will suggest that you should watch the Eagles face the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in Ireland early in the morning, but it is not required viewing.)
For our against-the-spread picks on a few of these games, please see our Pick Six for this week.
Oklahoma at Houston
Bob Stoops takes his highly-ranked team down to the Gulf Coast of Texas to face Houston in one of the early games.
The Cougars are very good, and believed to be good enough that they are ranked #15. After all, they went 13-1 last season and are back for more. At the outset, some consider them to be the best Group of 5 team and a dark horse playoff contender.
They might prove the former even with a loss, but if the latter is to mean anything, they have to take down the Sooners. Houston faces a few more good teams after this, but they need a resume win like knocking out the #3 team in the country. It just happens to come in Week 1.
Oklahoma, being the elite team that they are, will not willingly acquiesce.
UCLA at Texas A&M
The Aggies do not have the same je ne sais quoi as when Johnny Manziel regularly performed late-night misdeeds in College Station, but they are a tough out under Kevin Sumlin.
UCLA now boasts their own sassy quarterback, one Josh Rosen. He has the look of someone who will be a very, very good college football player. He also seems like someone who would irritate Texas A&M’s fans at Kyle Field, particularly because he did.
Expect an extra-loud stadium and a fun football game.
Georgia vs. North Carolina
A new chapter at UGA begins with the start of the Kirby Smart era. They face a stiff early test against the UNC Tar Heels in Atlanta.
North Carolina is replacing some starters on offense, but they did not miss the playoff by a lot last year, and seem to be poised for another good year on that side of the ball. Meanwhile, Nick Chubb returns at running back for Georgia, and it could get ugly for the UNC defense if they are not prepared.
Might this be a slugfest? Fans with no investment in either team probably hope so.
USC vs. Alabama
Two elite programs meet in neutral ground, and for Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide, it’s business as usual. #1 Alabama expects to win, and that is not due to their 11.5-point favorite status in Vegas. The culture of winning is real in Tuscaloosa.
Said culture is still very much a thing in Los Angeles for the Trojans, even though they are eight years removed from big-time bowl games and have been through four coaches since Pete Carroll skipped town. Beating Alabama would be a program-reorienting event.
Will they? Probably not, but we’ll see.
Clemson at Auburn
Clemson comes off one of its best seasons in decades, still planning to play for a national championship in January. Auburn has had a few mediocre seasons since losing to Jameis Winston and Florida State, but they get another crack at an ACC school to start 2016.
The (Auburn) Tigers did not beat a ranked team at Jordan-Hare last season, but it is still a tough place to win as a road team. Even the #2 team in the country should beware, despite being a touchdown favorite.