Welcome to Week One of The Lowe Down. In the famous words of Elvis Presley: one for the money, two for the show, three to get ready now go, cat, go … Ah, yes, football is here. No more preseason talk, no more preseason hype. All that can be brushed aside. Now, it’s on to the real thing. We have changed the look of our website this year, and that has shaken up the way we do our college picks. I will still bring The Lowe Down to you, but sometimes it may be more abbreviated than others. So sit back, relax and enjoy the show, and maybe I can give you some solid info on what will go down this season. Hey, that’s what I’m supposed to do right? Good luck to everyones team this year! And for all of Lindy’s staff picks, click here: http://lindyssports.com/college-football To the games we go …
Friday, Aug. 31
Tennessee vs. NC State (Atlanta) 6:30 pm. CT
Although they aren’t getting a lot of preseason play, the Vols have a chance to surprise in 2012. Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray returns to lead an offense that has playmakers and experience, and the addition of new defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri is a major upgrade over former coordinator Justin Wilcox. NC State returns a number of starters from a team that went 8-5 a year ago, including stud passer Mike Glennon and the nation’s leading interceptor a year ago, David Amerson, but they’ll be challenged by Tennessee’s team speed. And that may be the difference in a game that could go down to the wire.
The Lowe Down: Tennessee 31, NC State 24
No. 24 Boise State at No. 13 Michigan State 7:00 p.m. CT
This has the potential to be one of the better games of the weekend. Gone are record-setting QBs Kellen Moore and Kirk Cousins, but that doesn’t mean playmakers aren’t ready to step up for both teams. Junior Andrew Maxwell will get the call for the Spartans at quarterback, and Joe Southwick will attempt to fill the big shoes left by Moore, the best quarterback in Broncos history. It’s a tall task for both signal-callers, but Maxwell has a great offensive line and a powerful tailback to help his progression. Southwick won’t have Doug Martin (Tampa Bay’s starting RB) to hand off to, but he also has a good line in front of him. That means this game could come down to which team plays better defense and commits the fewest turnovers. Considering the Spartans appear to have the better D, I’ll roll with MSU at home.
The Lowe Down: Michigan State 20, Boise State 14
In other Friday games:
San Jose State 10 at No. 21 Stanford 38
Saturday, Sept. 1
Notre Dame vs. Navy (Dublin, Ireland) 9:00 a.m.
Hey, if you’re a Notre Dame or Navy fan — or Irish for that matter — the cold beer may start flowing early when these two lock horns on Saturday morning. Notre Dame tailback Cierre Wood will not play due to a suspension, and head coach Brian Kelly made some noise when he announced that Everett Golson would be the team’s starting quarterback. Golson has no game experience but he reportedly threw only one interception in 126 passes in fall camp. If he can continue that trend during the regular season, Notre Dame has the defense, and talent, to be a really good team. The only thing with the Irish though is that brutal schedule. If you want to check that out, click here: http://lindyssports.com/college-football/independents/notre-dame
The Lowe Down: Notre Dame 33, Navy 17
Marshall at No. 11 West Virginia 12:00 p.m. CT
If you know college football, then you know this is a rivalry game. But, will that make a difference when these two hook up in Morgantown? It could, but I have a funny feeling that the Mountaineers will want to make a statement playing their first game as a member of the Big 12. West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith is a star, as are mighty mite receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey, but a major key for Dana Holgorsen’s team this season will be the defense. The Mountaineers lost much of their defensive staff in the offseason and it will be interesting to see how the transition goes to new coordinators Joe DeForest and Keith Patterson. If the Mountaineers can play solid defense, then they may be a sleeper title contender.
The Lowe Down: West Virginia 38, Marshall 17
Bowling Green at No. 23 Florida 3:30 p.m. CT
Yeah, I know, a real doozy eh? Well, there aren’t a lot of great Week One matchups so why not give a little ink to the Falcons, who possess one of the best punters in all of college football. Yep, that’s right. Get used to him Gator fans. You will see him all day long Saturday afternoon. Who is he? Try Brain Schmiedebusch. The 6-4, 214-pound junior averaged 45.3 yards per punt a year ago (fifth-best nationally) and boomed 19 punts over 50 yards. He will likely be Bowling Green’s player of the game considering the talent on Florida’s defensive unit. Also, keep an eye on the Gators offense. It will be interesting who emerges at quarterback between Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett. If Florida can generate more offense than it did a year ago, it will be a tough team to beat on a week-in, week-out basis.
The Lowe Down: Florida 42, Bowling Green 7
No. 14 Clemson vs. Auburn (Atlanta) 6:00 p.m. CT
If this game is anything like the previous two meetings between these two teams, then this will be one heck of a ballgame. Although both squads will be without key contributors on offense due to suspensions (Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins and Auburn center Reese Dismukes), there is still enough talent remaining for both teams to put up some points. The Tigers of South Carolina probably have a slight edge over the Tigers from Alabama in that area, but Auburn has a lot of young talent (RBs Tre Mason, Mike Blakely, WR Trovon Reed) that could emerge at any time. One major factor in this game will be the rushing attacks. Clemson has revamped its defensive front seven due to graduation, but Auburn’s basically returns intact. Whichever team wins the rushing war, will likely win the game.
The Lowe Down: Auburn 27, Clemson 24
No. 8 Michigan vs. No. 2 Alabama (Arlington) 7:00 p.m. CT
We all know that this is the marquee matchup of the weekend, but when the horn sounds Saturday night it will be another win for Alabama. No matter how it’s dissected, Michigan will have a tough time dealing with the Crimson Tide’s size and speed, which will likely be evident from the get-go. Although he is one of the top playmakers in the country, Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson can be a liability as a passer. And when playing Alabama’s defense, you have to be able to throw the football to loosen up Bama’s rugged front seven. All the attention is focused on Robinson in this game, but don’t be surprised if AJ McCarron steals the spotlight from his QB counterpart. McCarron will be working behind the best offensive line in college football, and he showed in last season’s BCS title game that he has the poise and moxie to be a really good signal-caller.
The Lowe Down: Alabama 27, Michigan 10
In other Saturday games:
Miami of Ohio 10 at No. 18 Ohio State 34
Buffalo 7 at No. 6 Georgia 59
Troy 26 at UAB 23
Southern Miss 24 at Nebraska 42
Colorado State 22 at Colorado 27
North Texas 0 at No. 3 LSU 49
Arkansas State 20 at No. 5 Oregon 63
Hawaii 10 at No. 1 USC 52
Wyoming 16 at No. 15 Texas 34
Sunday, Sept. 2
Kentucky at No. 25 Louisville 2:30 p.m. CT
The Wildcats play a brutal schedule this season so the importance of winning this game is heightened two-fold. Kentucky recently named Maxwell Smith its starting quarterback and all eyes will be on the 6-4, 230-pound sophomore to make some plays. Smith gave the team a spark last season when he replaced injured starter Morgan Newton and played well. He should be even better with a year of seasoning under his belt. With Louisville, it all starts with the slender but athletic Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback. Bridgewater was thrown into the fire last year as a freshman and played great. How he plays against a Kentucky team starving for a win will likely determine who wins this game.
The Lowe Down: Louisville 23-17
Monday, Sept. 3
Georgia Tech at No. 16 Virginia Tech 7:00 p.m.
Trying to pick ACC games is like trying to find your pair of Costa Del Mar sunglasses that just fell into the lake (yes, that’s happened to me on occasion). It is almost impossible, unless you’re in 3 feet of water. And in that case, it can still be down-right trying. With that being said, Virginia Tech should have the advantage at home, but the Hokies return only two starters on offense (QB Logan Thomas and center Andrew Miller), which could be problematic facing an experienced Georgia Tech defense. On the other hand, VT’s defense returns virtually intact, with the exception of star secondary players Jayron Hosley and Eddie Whitley, and it has always done a solid job defending Georgia Tech’s triple-option. But too many offensive starters have left the Hokies for this not to be a close game.
The Lowe Down: Virginia Tech 20, Georgia Tech 17
Matt can be followed on Twitter @MattLowe777 or @Lindyssportsmag