- Liberty @ Kent State, 6 PM - Liberty is coached by Turner Gill. Turner Gill's defense will probably be destroyed by Dri Archer, the only RB in 2012 with over 100 EPA.
- North Carolina @ South Carolina, 6 PM:
2012 EPA+ advantages:
UNC pass O (.19) vs. SC pass D (-.23)
UNC rush O (.09) vs. SC rush D (-.13)
SC pass O (.31) vs. UNC pass D (.00)
SC rush O (-.01) vs. UNC rush D (.07)
Last year, South Carolina almost certainly wins this game, with the best offensive and defensive units on the field (both involving passing). SC returns QB tandem Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson, along with 4 offensive linemen and 2 WRs. Much ado has been made over replacing Marcus Lattimore, but last year's run O wasn't particularly efficient anyway. Clowney is back, along with 3 members of the secondary and one fellow DL, so the D should once again be good. How good depends largely on the five new faces in the front seven. Clowney can be shut down - watch every play OTHER than "The Hit" from the Michigan game for reference - but in doing so, the rest of the D is freed up a bit to make plays. Last year they were able to make those plays.
It's hard not to really like what Larry Fedora is building in Chapel Hill, and they return most of the key pieces from the passing game. Only one returning starter on the OL seems worrisome, especially for this game, but that starter is LT James Hurst, a 6-7 305 behemoth with 1st round potential. Clowney isn't a cinch to be in the UNC backfield all day. This is the matchup to watch, though - QB Bryn Renner and the UNC OL against the SC front 7, featuring a combined 9 new starters. Defensively, the Tar Heels return the entire secondary and 3 of the front 7, so improvement is certainly possible on defense.
This game is one of the top matchups to watch in week 1. I think this one will be entertaining, much more so than the 12 point line suggests. The Tar Heels can score, and the matchups could be ripe for an upset bid to start the year.
- Presbyterian @ Wake Forest, 6:30 - Wake struggled with Liberty in last year's opener, but Presbyterian is not as good, losing 59-3 to Georgia Tech last year.
- Indiana State @ Indiana, 7:00 - You should take the chance to watch Tre Roberson, a dynamic passer in Kevin Wilson's better-than-you-think offense. He probably won't be healthy long. That's not the end of the world, as their backup QBs should be capable.
- UNLV @ Minnesota, 7:00 - This, along with the Indiana game, is one of two 7:00 options for the Big Ten Network. Hope that you get Indiana.
- Tulsa @ Bowling Green, 7:00 - Is it ok to just assume Tulsa will have a prolific offense? If so, this could be a good CUSA vs. MAC matchup, because BGSU had a pretty stout defense last year.
- Illinois State @ Ball State, 7:00 - Brady Hoke slowly made Ball State really good, Stan Parrish quickly made them really bad, and now Pete Lembo has quickly made them pretty good. It'll be interesting to see if they can take that next step.
- Akron @ UCF, 7:00 - Terry Bowden vs. George O'Leary, a matchup that reminds me of being a Georgia fan in the 1990's. It wasn't awesome.
- Southern Utah @ South Alabama, 7:30 - Loser has to change the first word in the school's name to match the other.
- Towson @ Connecticut, 7:30 - Towson HC Rob Ambrose was once UConn's OC for 7 years. And you thought there was nothing more to this game than Paul Pasqualoni's mysteriously continued employment.
- Western Carolina @ Middle Tennessee, 7:30 - The NCAA recently said MTSU freshman Steven Rhodes doesn't have to sit out a year because he played some intramural ball while in the Marines. So file this as one the NCAA NEVER SHOULD HAVE HAD TO "GET RIGHT".
- Utah State @ Utah, 8:00 - Lots of intrigue here. It's time for Utah to finally start looking like a Pac-12 school. How will USU look without former HC and program-builder Gary Anderson? And most importantly, how will Fox Sports 1's first CFB broadcast go? Rivalry games with names are cool, and demand to be watched, so that's reason enough to tune in to the Battle of the Brothers. Yeah!
- Jackson State @ Tulane, 8:00 - I'd have no reason to watch Tulane play football, but Phil Steele thinks they'll be bowl eligible this year. That I've gotta see.
- Ole Miss @ Vanderbilt, 9:15 - Drinking game for this matchup: Do a shot each time a cutaway interview shows James Franklin almost believably talking about how there's nowhere he'd rather coach than Vandy. Do a shot if Ole Miss accidentally commits a recruiting violation on the field. If still awake at halftime, drink until you're confident in your ability to pronounce Nkemdiche. If serious about watching this game, watch the QBs. Vandy breaks in a new one, Austyn Carta-Samuels, and Ole Miss features the 4th best returning QB in the SEC, Bo Wallace.
- Sacramento State @ San Jose State, 10:00 - David Fales is really good. What kept him from being awesome last year was his propensity for lost yards on sacks. He has 4 returning starters on the OL, so he could be awesome. In this game, he most certainly should be.
- Rutgers @ Fresno State, 10:30 - Derek Carr is an NFL draft candidate that's getting a lot of love in the preseason. I think he's good, but I know Rutgers had a really good D last year. They only return 4 starters, but it's not like they lost a bunch of first round picks either. Kyle Flood has been better than expected, mostly thanks to Dave Cohen's defense. Seeing what they look like against an NFL prospect like Carr should give us an idea of how they'll carry the Knights this season.
- USC @ Hawaii, 11:00 - Lane Kiffin hasn't named a starting QB, but it doesn't matter. They could win with Monte Kiffin behind center.
- Morgan State @ Army, 7:00 - Option football!
- Samford @ Georgia State, 7:00 - Gotta love an NFL stadium that's 15% full.
- Western Michigan @ Michigan State, 8:00 - PJ Fleck, age 32, makes his coaching debut against a team that hates its QBs.
- Florida Atlantic @ Miami, 8:00 - If my copy of NCAA 14 is to be trusted, the Canes should be on upset alert.
- Texas Tech @ SMU, 8:00 - This game looks like a lot of fun. Kliff Kingsbury + June Jones + Hal Mumme + Friday night on ESPN = EXPLODING SCOREBOARD. Hopefully.
- Southern @ Houston, 8:30 - I've seen some predictions that Houston will make some noise in the AAC this year, but I remain skeptical of Tony Levine for no reason other than his lack of coordinator experience.
- NDSU @ Kansas Sate, 8:30 - I've seen no love for KSU in the preseason chatter, but as far as I can tell, Bill Snyder's wizardry is what made them an 11-2 team last year, and he didn't graduate.
- N. Arizona @ Arizona, 10:00 - Here's hoping RichRod plays all 6 quarterbacks.
- Elon @ Georgia Tech, 12:00 - Option football!
- Villanova @ Boston College, 12:00 - I did this post simply so I could be reminded that teams like Boston College do still exist.
- Murray State @ Missouri - Catch a healthy James Franklin while you can.
- Buffalo @ Ohio State, 12:00 - Braxton Miller may be the most overrated QB in the country, but he's more than enough to dispatch the Bulls.
- Massachusetts @ Wisconsin, 12:00 - Interested to see how Wisconsin looks different under Anderson, but this might not be the game to find out.
- William & Mary @ West Virginia, 12:00 - WVU's defense might be better this year, and W&M is an FCS team, so scoring on WVU won't be quite as easy as you might think. Mountaineers win 59-42.
- S. Illinois @ Illinois, 12:00 - I could lie and pretend to be interested in this game, but I like our readers way too much for that.
- Purdue @ Cincinnati, 12:00 - Two new coaches debut, with Darrell Hazell taking over the Boilermakers and Tommy Tuberville coaching the Bearcats. Eventually, this could be a good matchup, but for now, Cincy has too much of a talent advantage.
- Toledo @ Florida, 12:21 - SEC fans tend to treat MAC opponents as one homogeneous entity, and the results do usually skew that way. However, last year Florida struggled out of the gate against Bowling Green - a pretty good MAC team. Toledo is a better MAC team, so there is the temptation to think Toledo could pull an upset. It's certainly possible, but I think BGSU matched up better. The Falcons were a defensive team, and could keep it close while waiting for mistakes to open doors. Toledo is all offense, no defense. They won't as easily hold the Gator O in check as BGSU did last year, and while they will score some points, I think the Gator D is too good for Toledo to have a serious shot at winning this game. Still, this is worth tuning in to, moreso than some casual fans might realize.
- FIU @ Maryland, 12:30 - FIU's firing of Mario Cristobal was one of the most puzzling decisions of the offseason, and now we get to see what the Ron Turner era will look like. I predict it starts looking like a loss.
- Louisiana Tech @ NC State, 12:30 - A tough one to predict. Two pretty good coaches, Skip Holtz and Dave Doeren, make their debuts with new teams. Tech was an offensive juggernaut last year, dropping 57 points on Texas A&M. How much of that was Sonny Dykes? I believe the answer is 'most', but we'll see. Tech debuts a new QB, and while they return Kenneth Dixon and his 27 TDs (as a Freshman!), I like NC State in this one.
- Rice @ Texas A&M, 1:00 - Johnny Manziel is certainly worth watching, so tune in around 2:30 or so.
- Colgate @ Air Force, 3:00 - Option football!
- Temple @ Notre Dame, 3:30 - What seems like the 7th Tommy Rees era begins at Notre Dame, and many are predicting a severe drop in the standings for the Irish. Golson wasn't really a Heisman caliber player, though, and they still have the foundations of the defense that made them special.
- Central Michigan @ Michigan, 3:30 - Did it hurt Dan Enos' feelings when he became the first CMU coach in centuries to not get the Cincinnati job when it became open? Tune in to this game to not find out the answer.
- Penn State vs. Syracuse, 3:30 - This game is receiving very little national attention, but I think it could be one of the better games on the opening slate. Watch it!
- Mississippi State vs. Oklahoma State, 3:30 - Ok, if you'd rather watch this one, that's fine too. Yet another game that is receiving little national attention, which is unfortunate.
- BYU @ Virginia, 3:30 - BYU had a really good defense last year, and the Cavs break in a new QB.
- Northern Illinois @ Iowa, 3:30 - NIU lost their head coach to NC State, but they return their Heisman candidate QB Jordan Lynch and many of his weapons, so I don't see the Huskies having much of a drop-off from the '12 edition. Of course, the '12 edition did lose to Iowa.
- UL-Lafayette @ Arkansas, 4:00 - The hubris of SEC fans is on full display on some message boards, where the theory that Bret Bielema can't win at Arkansas runs rampant. I'm not sure exactly what he does, but the results show that he's a good coach. He gets a pass for this season as he rebuilds a wrecked program, but I think he'll have them competitive soon.
- NC Central @ Duke, 4:00 - I nervously pick Duke to win this game.
- Nicholls State @ Oregon, 4:00 - This one made my DVR slate for the weekend. It's not that a close, exciting game is expected; it's that Oregon's offense is so much fun to watch, I'd tune in even to a scrimmage.
- Alabama vs. Virginia Tech, 5:00 - The Chick-Fil-A kickoff in Atlanta. I'm holding hope that VT's new OC, Scot Loeffler, can revive Logan Thomas' disappointing career fast enough to turn this into an interesting game.
- Eastern Washington @ Oregon State, 6:00 - Remember how Oregon State was ranked #7 at one point last year? No, really, that happened.
- Howard @ Eastern Michigan, 6:00 - I know nothing about Howard, but I think they've got a chance. That's because I do know something about Eastern Michigan, and that something is how bad they are.
- Austin Peay @ Tennessee, 6:00 - Butch Davis will be the coach that gets Tennessee back to the point where, when they hire their next coach, men at Oklahoma State and Louisville won't say no.
- Washington State @ Auburn, 7:00 - A sneaky-good matchup with two great offensive minds, Mike Leach and Gus Malzahn, opposing one another. Advantage Malzahn, because he hired one of the country's best defensive coordinators in Ellis Johnson.
- McNeese State @ South Florida, 7:00 - I'm a Willie Taggert fan, and he's a great fit for the USF program. His tenure should start off on the right foot with a win.
- Kentucky vs. Western Kentucky, 7:00 - Mark Stoops vs. Bobby Petrino in Nashville. Why?
- Old Dominion @ East Carolina, 7:00 - Old Dominion is FBS now, but they'll still lose like the FCS team East Carolina meant to schedule for the opener.
- UL-Monroe @ Oklahoma, 7:00 - ULM upset Arkansas and took Auburn to OT last September, so they won't fear the Sooners, especially with OU breaking in a new QB. Kolton Browning was 16th in the nation last year in QB EPA, adding 138.8 points for the Warhawks. He's one to watch.
- Idaho @ North Texas, 7:00 - I suppose you could check this out if you wanted to see what Paul Petrino's new team would look like, but for some reason didn't want to see what Bobby Petrino's new team would look like.
- Miami (OH) @ Marshall, 7:00 - Marshall QB Rakeem Cato led the country in passing yards last year, and ranked 15th in EPA with 142.3. EPA is a cumulative stat, however, and no player better illustrates that than Cato. Georgia's Aaron Murray was 14th with 145.2, less than 2 points more than Cato. Murray did it in 445 plays. Cato? A whopping 642. That was 2nd most in the country behind Jordan Lynch, who only had more because he was effectively NIU's running back as well. In other words, this game could take a while, because Cato will throw the ball 50+ times.
- AR-Pine Bluff @ Arkansas State, 7:00 - Bryan Harsin is Arkansas State's 4th coach in 4 years, and if this year is like the last two, he'll leave them looking for #5 while he goes to coach in the SEC West.
- Texas State @ Southern Miss, 7:00 - Todd Monken takes over in Hattiesburg, and Dennis Franchione's Bobcats could be much improved. This could be a good game, if you're into that CUSA - Sun Belt rivalry.
- UAB @ Troy, 7:00 - Troy is a team I always expect to be good and a contender for the Sun Belt. However, they're 8-16 over the last two seasons. Senior QB Corey Robinson is the school's all-time leading passer with over 10,000 yards through the air already. He could easily be in the 13,000 club by December. One of Troy's 5 wins last season came against UAB, but the Blazers played them pretty competitively, outgaining the Trojans. One note on UAB: if you follow me on Twitter, you know that I'm not a fan of whoever writes their coaching bios. Not a fan at all.
- Wofford @ Baylor, 7:30 - I was watching ESPN recently and the following question was posed: Much like Notre Dame in 2012, what team could come from relatively out of nowhere to finish the season in the top 10 in 2013? David Pollack picked Baylor, if I remember correctly, and I think it's an excellent choice. Art Briles is one of the best coaches in the country, and he's ready to prove that Robert Griffin III wasn't solely responsible for the national attention brought to Baylor in recent years. Lache Seastrunk is a nice darkhorse Heisman contender, ranking 24th last season in opponent-adjusted EPA per rush. With a mammoth OL in front of him that averages 312 lbs, that should improve. Nick Florence, the only man not named Manziel to add 200 points last year, did graduate, but I don't think the Bears will miss him as much as the EPA disappearing from the stat sheet might indicate. Bryce Petty should flourish as Florence did and RGIII before him. It's a testament to Briles, and Baylor is an excellent choice to be 2013's 'out of nowhere' team.
- Eastern Illinois @ San Diego State, 8:00 - The Aztecs did a pretty good job of fundamentals last year, performing well in EPA per rush and EPA allowed per rush, and that's why they won 9 games without anything particularly out of this world. RB Adam Muema was 14th in rushing EPA last year, and SDSU returns 9 starters on defense.
- Northern Iowa @ Iowa State, 8:00 - The last time they played, ISU needed a last minute TD to win 20-19. This shouldn't be close, but that game shouldn't have been either.
- Georgia @ Clemson, 8:00 - After reading Scott's statistical reviews of both teams, I've become more confident that Georgia will win this game. Clemson's achilles heel last season was allowing big plays, and no team was much better at making big plays happen than Georgia. Georgia breaks in a lot of new names on defense, but these names, unlike most of the departing guys, were hand-picked for Todd Grantham's defense. That's not to say the men they're replacing weren't good, and that's something I have seen suggested in this preseason. That couldn't be further from the truth. Georgia's defense ranked in the top 20 last year in both opponent-adjusted EPA/pass and EPA/rush - along with Florida, Alabama, Stanford, LSU, South Carolina, Michigan State, Notre Dame, TCU, and Florida State. Defensively, that's good company to be in. Georgia has restocked the D with talent, although there are the usual opening game suspensions. If this game comes down to a field goal, I can't help but think Clemson has the advantage - Georgia's Marshall Morgan, who wasn't particularly good to start with, is suspended. It's on Aaron Murray, Todd Gurley, and what should be an elite offense to make sure that doesn't happen. They should get it done.
- Wyoming @ Nebraska, 8:00 - Has Taylor Martinez been granted some kind of 'play forever' status from the NCAA?
- UTSA @ New Mexico, 8:00 - Larry Coker vs. Bob Davie, a pretty good coaching matchup. In 2001.
- New Mexico State @ Texas, 8:00 - David Ash ranked in our top 25 in opponent-adjusted QB EPA last year, and was top 20 when you take rushing out of the equation. In short, he's a good QB, and as he enters his junior season, he's primed to be even better.
- LSU vs. TCU, 9:00 - Scott asked in LSU's statistical review how LSU wasn't a more explosive team. I don't have an answer, but I think they will be more explosive in 2013, if for no other reason than they have to be. There's simply too much talent for that offense to remain so sluggish. This should be a good battle, but the outcome is easy to predict - LSU will win a close one. Les Miles isn't going to let that convenient team vote go to waste, is he?
- Nevada @ UCLA, 10:00 - Nevada enters their third post-Chris Ault era. The first wasn't bad - Jeff Horton went 7-4 in 1993, finishing 2nd in the Big West. The second was bad - Jeff Tisdel and Chris Tormey combined to go 39-53 from 1996-2003. It's hard to have any idea of what to expect from Brian Polian, but given his total of zero years coordinating offense or defense, I can't really expect anything too positive. I remain somewhat skeptical of UCLA, but not in this game.
- Boise State @ Washington, 10:00 - A rematch of the last game either team played, the 2012 Las Vegas Bowl, which was an entertaining 28-26 Boise State win. Last year was a bit of an off-year for the Broncos. Don't be surprised if the Huskies missed their chance to beat the Broncos. Keith Price may be an experienced QB, but he hasn't been a particularly effective one.
- Northwestern @ California, 10:30 - Sonny Dykes was a great hire for Cal, and he'll make the Bears competitive at some point. Saturday is not that point. I'm not a betting man, but if I were, I'd jump all over Northwestern's -6 in a game against a rebuilding team with a true freshman QB.
- Ohio @ Louisville, 3:30 - The people just penciling in a 12-0 season for Louisville could be disappointed on the opening weekend. Ohio is not a generic MAC team that will roll over in the face of a bigger level team. The Bobcats won at Penn State last year and have been competitive on the road at Ohio State, Northwestern, Tennessee, and Rutgers in the last 5 years. Sr QB Tyler Tettleton is already the school's all-time leading passer, and while RB Beau Blankenship may not be the most efficient runner (.060 EPA/rush), Ohio batters the opposition with him enough to make him useful. Frank Solich is a very good coach, and Ohio will be ready for this game. Louisville should be as well, but if they're not, they'll lose.
- Colorado @ Colorado State, 6:00 - The Rocky Mountain Showdown! Despite neither team striking me as an interesting team to watch, I still love rivalry games.
- Florida State @ Pittsburgh, 8:00 - A primetime welcome to the ACC for Pitt. FSU's Jameis Winston makes his debut, and Pitt debuts Tom Savage, a former Rutgers QB.
Brent Blackwell compiles the EPA rankings for cfbtn.com. Follow Brent on Twitter by mashing the pretty button below. Follow @brentblackwell