Opening Week of College Football
From the Jim Hurley Network Staff
Contributing Sportsbook Editor
Okay, so we know that you've circled your handy-dandy desk calender to show what's on tap the first big weekend of this upcoming 2014 NCAA Football Season but here today in this weekend edition of Jim Sez we'll zip 'round the land to blabber about the top five games on the docket for Thursday, Aug. 28th through Monday, Sept. 1st.
THURSDAY, AUGUST 28
TEXAS A&M at SOUTH CAROLINA - No Johnny Manziel here to steal all the headlines and no DE Jadeveon Clowney too but this Aggies versus Gamecocks bash should be a bruiser in always-raucous Columbia. The Gamecocks begin Year 10 of the Steve Spurrier Era with yet another slam-your-mouth defense starring senior defensive tackle J.T. Surratt.
If the Gamecocks can slow down an Aggies attack that likely will count on frosh QB Kyle Allen to provide the rocket power, than it could be a real springboard game for Spurrier's crew that stars WR Shaq Roland who averaged a nifty 18.5 yards per catch and scored five touchdowns a year ago.
Take note that South Carolina hosts Georgia two weeks from here and two SEC wins against ranked foes will go a long way in hurdling the 'Cocks up the charts.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 29
BYU vs. UCONN - Here's an ESPN tilt with some real intersectional feel as visiting BYU flies more than halfway across the land to play a Connecticut team that has Stony Brook and then Boise State all invading the Nutmeg State in the season's first three weeks of play.
The Huskies' new head coach Bob Diaco - the former Notre Dame defensive coordinator - has worked hard to firm up a stop unit that brings back five players from a team that finished just 3-9 SU (straight-up) last season.
On the flip side, BYU storms into Storrs with QB Taysom Hill ready/willing/able to zip in some strikes but it's Cougars' RB Jamaal Williams (1,233 yards rushing last season) who's the prized gem of this BYU attack that scored 35-plus points in six different games in 2013.
SATURDAY, AUGUST 30
UCLA at VIRGINIA - Lots to like about this band of UCLA Bruins following on the heels of last season's 10-3 SU season (and 9-4 against the spread too).
Jim L. Mora's club is favored to get into this year's Pac-12 Championship Game and to lead the way watch for RB/LB star Myles Jack who figures on plenty of double-duty work this year and remember he averaged seven yards a carry and scored seven touchdowns as a backup running back late last season.
If there's something to cling onto with this Virginia squad - one that very much is playing for Mike London's coaching life after last year's shaky 2-10 SU campaign - it's the presence of senior TB Kevin Parks who must be a 25-carry type guy for a Cavaliers team that simply threw way too many interceptions a year ago as QB David Watford, who may or may not win the competition this summer, aired 15 picks last year.
ARKANSAS at AUBURN - Not every year that the SEC plays a dynamite game in the season-opening weekend but here goes from War Eagle land as the visiting Arkansas Razorbacks may not be rated all that highly but Bret Bielema's club could be looking for an upset special behind super soph RB Alex Collins who led the way a year ago with 1,026 yards rushing and four touchdowns.
No need to overhype this Auburn side that came up just three points short in that wild BCS Championship Game against Florida State. The Seminoles' 34-31 win was a bummer for the ?Burn but it showed how much grit that Gus Malzahn-coached club sported and now QB Nick Marshall and the rest of the Tigers will look to hammer out another big conference win with this quick-hitting, spread-option offense. Hey, keep a close eye on top-flight WRs Sammie Coates (902 receiving yards and 7 TDs) and "miracle-catch" guy Riccardo Louis who nabbed that 73-yard catch-and-run score that beat Georgia - remember?
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 1
MIAMI at LOUISVILLE - The annual ESPN Labor Day evening bash is a barnburner from the Bluegrass State where visiting Miami has some instant revenge at work. You'll recall the U of M Hurricanes flubbed badly in a 36-9 loss against Louisville in last year's Russell Athletic Bowl.
No QB Teddy Bridgewater to inflict any pain and suffering on this year's cast of 'Canes but Bobby Petrino's club does boast an All-America type receiver in DeVante Parker for sports 1,800 receiving yards and some 28 touchdowns in his three years with the red-and-white.
Miami, meanwhile, never was the same last year after RB Duke Johnson suffered his broken ankle but all reports are that Johnson's 100 percent after sitting out spring drills and if there's a defender on the Miami side you wish to follow closely than try MLB Denzel Perryman who's gonna do everything in his power to put the 'Canes back on the defensive map after they ranked 89th in total defense among all FBS team a year ago.