October 11th (Thursday)
Arizona State at Colorado
If the possibility exists for Connor Wood to transfer to the Sun Devils at the half in exchange for Jon Embree losing his job to Todd Graham, does the player or coach with wandering eyes turn it down first?
October 13th (Saturday)
USC at Washington
Justin Wilcox figures to make the Huskies defense more stingy than the sieve they were under former defensive coordinator Nick Holt. Unfortunately, Matt Barkely reads opposing units in code and Seattle is a lay-over on the way to Miami.
Alabama at Missouri
I’m of the mindset that the Tigers might surprise a little in their first foray in the SEC East. Not here though. Dorial Green-Beckham could catch 7 balls for 120 yards and 2 touchdowns and the Crimson Tide still probably win this game by double-digits.
South Carolina at LSU
The defensive ends employed by both schools are headed for first-round money. So the issue becomes which quarterback of Connor Shaw and Zach Mettenberger avoids pulling a Jordan Jefferson BCS title game performance and which coach sports the better smirk.
Texas v. Oklahoma (Dallas)
Bob Stoops and Mack Brown are old friends, standing at midfield of the Cotton Bowl, quietly making casual conversation while those wearing crimson and burnt orange in the stands indulge in fried Twinkies and profane topics about mothers. A young, statistically-solid Texas defense surrendered 34 of the 55 Oklahoma points in 2011. I imagine Josh Heupel slept well that night while his counterpart, Manny Diaz, did not.
TCU at Baylor
Last year’s Friday opener vaulted Robert Griffin III into Heisman contention and was one of only two losses for the Horned Frogs. Now, a conference tilt, do the injuries and grade casualties and players lost to drug problems prevent TCU from gaining some revenge for their Big 12 exclusion in 1995?
Florida at Vanderbilt
Will Muschamp and Jame Franklin are having no trouble gaining commitments from the 2013 class. Where the two head coaches differ is their security. Franklin could finish 3-9, get caught taking a leak on campus and still ask for another extension. The Florida head coach needs a season to show the Gators ascending as a program or Jeremy Foley is going to wonder whether he picked the right man to clean up the mess Urban Meyer left behind.
North Carolina at Miami
Bowl bans, strippers, professors making a mockery of the education system and Yahoo! Sports investigative team. These two squads have a lot more in common than 6-6 records in 2012.
Stanford at Notre Dame
Andrew Luck isn’t around to torch Brian Kelly’s defense but I’m not sure it matters because the Cardinal are simply more physical than the Irish. It doesn’t help that for every Gunner Kiel-level recruit, an Aaron Lynch won’t stick in South Bend.
Louisville at Pittsburgh
Big East superiority might be on the line in the Steel City. Teddy Bridgewater is getting a lot of breakout year publicity and besting the Panthers may make those writers look prescient.