College Football Week 1 Schedule: Georgia vs. Clemson Will Set Tone For the 2013 Season
Each week I'll sort through college football contests coast-to-coast, highlighting the games worthy of your attention. And just like Johnny Manziel's autograph, these college football cliff notes are free of charge.
Casual Fan Game of the Week
Saturday - ABC - 8 p.m ET
#5 Georgia @ #8 Clemson
Georgia fans will be making the 90-minute drive up I-85 to take in this once-proud regional rivalry. The two schools haven't met since 2003 but the series has featured college legends like Herschel Walker, William "The Refrigerator" Perry and David Pollack. This year's contest is the first piece in the final BCS puzzle. A win for Georgia would validate Aaron Murray who, despite posting gaudy numbers under center last season, still needs a big-time win on his résumé. A win for Clemson would not only do wonders for its reputation, but embolden every team in the country that is not a member of the SEC. The game itself should be a free-for-all, as both teams feature explosive offenses and leaky defenses. Clemson's offensive coordinator Chad Morris will give his senior quarterback, Tajh Boyd, every opportunity to exploit a porous Georgia secondary. No huddle offenses are all the rage but no one east of Oregon runs their offense faster than the Tigers. Georgia may go with a more convention look offensively but they'll be just as effective with a big play threat at wide receiver by the name of Malcolm Mitchell. The old cliché may prove to be true in this one, "last team with the ball wins."
Todd Gurley (UGA, RB) - The big boy from the Tar Heel State is a real throwback but don't be fooled by his large frame, he can run away from the competition if he finds a crease.
Sammy Watkins (CU, WR) - After a sophomore slump the electric receiver/return man is ready to torch an inexperienced Georgia secondary.
Insider Game of the Week
Saturday - ESPN2 - 10:30 p.m. ET
#22 Northwestern @ California
Two of the last three years, a team outside of the preseason top-20 has played in the BCS championship game (Notre Dame, Auburn). Northwestern, like Auburn in 2010, is ranked 22nd in the AP poll entering the season. The Wildcats have a favorable early schedule and a season-opening road trip like this is a perfect test to gauge where they are as a team. Northwestern returns 15 starters from last year's 10-win squad, including a devastating backfield combo of QB Kain Kolter and RB Venric Mark. If their offensive line, which is breaking in three new starters, gels early on, this offense could be special. Cal could pose a threat to the Wildcats if their true freshman under center can handle the big stage. Jared Goff, an Elite 11 recruit, has a bevy of playmakers at his disposal and two offensive masterminds pulling the strings from the sideline. Sonny Dyke's offensive coordinator, Tony Franklin, was able to turn Louisiana Tech into an juggernaut last season in Rustin. His skill position players are significantly better in Berkeley, so watch out if Goff is able to hit the ground running in his first start.
Brendan Bigelow (Cal, RB) - California's high-speed rail project won't be complete until 2029, so fans will have to settle for the 5'10" blur out of Fresno.
Chi Chi Ariguzo (NU, LB) - His head coach, Pat Fitzgerald, is a former linebacker and he takes pride in the way Chi Chi blows up plays.
Northern Illinois @ Iowa (Saturday - B1G Ten Network - 3:30 p.m. ET)
Jordan Lynch (NIU, QB)
Lynch became the first player in FBS history to run for more than 1,500 yards while also exceeding 3,000 yards through the air. He's the best one-man show outside of College Station.
William & Mary @ West Virginia (Saturday - Fox Sports 1 - Noon ET)
Charles Sims (WVU, RB)
The Houston transfer should remind you of Marshall Faulk. Like Faulk, Sims elevates his play in the passing game, proving to be a mismatch for any linebacker.
Louisiana Lafayette @ Arkansas (Saturday - ESPN3 - 4 p.m. ET)
Terrance Broadway (ULL, QB)
The second Houston transfer on the list, Broadway is a special player with the ball in his hands. Down the stretch last season the junior dual threat found the end zone nine times in his final four games while posting a QBR of 87.5. For some perspective, Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel posted a QBR of 88.7 in his final four games.