Although the 2016 season officially kicked off in Sydney, Australia last Friday with Cal outlasting Hawaii 51-31, this weekend carries the anticipation of the full season getting underway. Much has been written about this being the greatest opening weekend in college football history, and while that statement is up for debate, there is no question 2016 ranks at or near the top for sure. Just check out these gems:
The early game at 11AM CT finds #4 Oklahoma traveling to NRG Stadium in Houston for a pivotal game with the #10 Cougars. Playoff hopes for Houston hinge on upsetting the Sooners, catapulting the Cougars into national prominence right out of the gate. A loss to Houston and the Sooners would be hard pressed to work their way into the CFP. It’s not going to be easy for Oklahoma and the game could come down to the wire, but Mayfield and company will survive. Oklahoma 31 Houston 28.
#7 LSU versus #26 Wisconsin in Green Bay. Will Les Miles recapture the magic? This is a great game to start in that direction. Will Leonard Fournette’s ankle injury stop him from running all over Wisconsin? Can the Tigers get production in the passing game? Lots of unanswered questions, but I think the Tigers are out to prove a point on the road. LSU 35 Wisconsin 24.
#21 UCLA at #41 Texas A&M. The PAC 12 needs some big wins opening weekend if they are going to establish themselves as a firm contender for a shot at the national championship. The Bruins have what it takes to win this game, but geez….College Station is a tough environment for an opening road game. Very tough game to pick, but I’m going with my gut and saying UCLA can get it done. UCLA 28 Texas A&M 27
#18 Georgia versus #19 North Carolina in Atlanta. You can’t get more evenly matched than this for an opening contest. Lots of question marks on both sides. New coach for Georgia, lots of lost talent for North Carolina. This is a tossup in the truest since of the word, but hey…..Atlanta is still located in Georgia so I’m going with the Dawgs! Georgia 27 North Carolina 21.
Saturday’s prime time contest in Arlington, Texas finds defending National Champion and current #1 Alabama taking on #33 Southern California.This is another great opportunity for the PAC 12 to make a splash, but I’m not counting on it. I’m not convinced the Tide will be clicking on all cylinders just yet, and the Trojans will be very motivated and may make a contest out of it for 3 quarters, but in the end, Alabama will prevail. Alabama 35 USC 24.
The “Battle of the Tigers” kicks off an hour later as #2 Clemson opens at #32 Auburn. This is a scary opening game for Clemson, a team picked by many to win the national championship. But it’s tough to open in Jordon-Hare Stadium and there is no doubt Auburn will be well prepared for this game. I’m tempted to pick an upset because it’s highly likely…..but how can I not believe Deshuan Watson will find a way? Clemson 38 Auburn 37.
#54 Arizona tangles with #47 Brigham Young in a key game that will set the pace for both programs in 2016, unfortunately no one East of the Rockies will see it…..the game kicks off at 9:30 PM CT. College Football sold it’s soul to television long ago, and the PAC 12 wonders why they get less media coverage and poor national TV ratings….. but I digress. Both teams need this win for a shot at a decent season. BYU plays one of the toughest (if not the toughest) schedules in the nation in 2016. The game is at a neutral site ( Glendale) but these two old rivals are very familiar with one another and need no introduction. This series dates to 1936 and these teams were conference buddies in the WAC through 1977. Close call here, but my gut says BYU by a hair. Brigham Young 28 Arizona 27.
#46 Texas hosts #16 Notre Dame in a rare Sunday Night prime time game. What a treat for college fans to have this game on tap for Sunday night. An expected record crowd will turn out to see if Charlie Strong is making progress in Austin. These teams have given college football some of it’s greatest memories in history. Who can ever forget the 24-11 Irish win against the #1 ranked undefeated Longhorns in the Cotton Bowl after the 1970 season. The loss denied Texas a second straight National Championship. This is a very talented Notre Dame team, well coached and surely well prepared…..but something tells me Texas will play the game of their young Longhorn lives and upset the Irish in a classic. Texas 32 Notre Dame 31.
#3 Florida State tangles with #14 Ole Miss in the Labor Day weekend finale Monday Night. The Seminoles run for a National Championship begins with a bang in 2016 as Florida State takes on an Ole Miss team with dreams of an SEC West title and possible playoff hopes of their own. This game could go either way. If Chad Kelly is in perfect form and on target, I think the Rebels could pull an upset…..but they will have to stop Dalvin Cook and that is a tall order. Seminoles in a squeaker. Florida State 35 Ole Miss 31.
The Week 2 Billingsley Rankings will be posted by Noon on Tuesday September 6.
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