Big Story After Week 1 Will Be
TQ: the Big Storyline After Week One
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We’re all going to either be talking about the rise of the ACC or the sheer and utter dominance of the SEC.
If Michigan beats Alabama, then the entire season gets thrown for a loop just one week in with the Wolverines suddenly getting the call to the adult table when it comes to BCS championship discussion. However, if everything goes for form and the Tide wins, it will be business as usual and everyone will be counting the days until the Tide gets properly challenged by Arkansas two weeks later.
But Alabama being powerful is hardly going on a limb. If Auburn beats Clemson and Tennessee beats NC State, then the ACC would suffer a major body blow making Florida State and the Virginia Tech/Georgia Tech winner the only hopes to generate any sort of a buzz. Auburn and Tennessee could make the SEC’s midsection look tremendous, and if that’s the perception going forward, then the conference champion will look even stronger. Considering the SEC has all the juice and all the respect as is, why does this matter? It’s my Storyline Of 2012: can there be a BCS championship that anyone takes seriously without an SEC team in it?
Of course, if NC State and Clemson win their respective showdowns, then all of a sudden the shift in the season’s focus goes to the ACC. Is this the season the ACC finally becomes a national player? Is this when everything comes together and the league fights back after being met with a collective national yawn for so many seasons? It could be the narrative over the first half of the season and two big wins would bring the season-long spotlight on the league.
What if there’s a split in the opening weekend ACC-SEC challenge? If Auburn beats Clemson and Tennessee loses to NC State, then the West looks all the more brutal and the East goes further into the backseat. If the Vols win and Auburn loses, then the September 15th game against Florida and the September 29th date at Georgia become must-see matchups.
The defending national champs will still look like the team to beat in college football.
Alabama lost a slew of defensive talent to the NFL, and one pretty talented running back, and will be breaking in a new offensive coordinator in Arlington, Tex. Big whoop. While many of the country’s elite will be bullying vastly inferior opponents in Week 1, the Tide will use its much-anticipated meeting with Michigan to show the country that any drop-off from 2011 will be imperceptible on this night.
Nick Saban has turned ‘Bama into a machine, the kind that reloads instead of rebuilds, and is constructed to make a run at the SEC and BCS title in 2012. The Wolverines are trending north under Brady Hoke, but are liable to get ushered back to the Rich Rodriguez era for at least this one weekend. An entire offseason is way too much time for Saban and defensive coordinator Kirby Smart to prepare for an offense prone to being somewhat one-dimensional. Yeah, that one-dimension, QB Denard Robinson, is special, but he’ll need to be otherworldly to confuse this opponent. A lot of the defensive faces covered in crimson helmets will be new to casual observers of the program, but the results will be very much the same as in recent years. Plus, the offense might be more potent than a year ago now that QB AJ McCarron is a season older, and the O-line is poised to dominate.
Alabama is going to make a statement Saturday night with a lopsided victory over a pretty good ranked opponent. The season is new. So, too, are many of the Tide starters. The results, though, will be eerily similar to last fall.
By Matt Zemek
It will be the steadily improving identity of Michigan State football. The Spartans used to stand on fragile footing because their gameday mentality was so shaky. Quarterback Kirk Cousins produced a solid career in East Lansing, but he still endured his share of wobbly moments. If indeed Michigan State can fend off what should be a bold challenge from Boise State on Friday night, it will build off the momentum it created with its precedent-shattering, SEC-muting Outback Bowl win over Georgia in January.
Michigan State – if not for a questionable running-into-the-punter call in the Big Ten Championship Game – could have won its second straight Big Ten title in 2011. (It won the 2010 crown but received no love from the Big Ten's tiebreaker system.) This is a program on the rise, and if it beats Chris Petersen in the kind of contest Boise State has handled so well over the past three years, it will move yet another notch up the ladder in the estimation of many college football pundits.
By Russ Mitchell
The big storyline following week one will be that Michigan didn't belong on the field with Alabama. Once again, the B1G will prove anything but.
With a beleaguered and rebuilding defensive front seven facing in the Crimson Tide perhaps college football's best 2012 offensive line, the Wolverines will find themselves over-matched in the trenches. Expect to watch Alabama break off big run after big run by the fourth quarter, as this inexperienced, undersized, patchwork defensive line wears down under a relentless Tide ground attack.
On offense, Alabama's secondary is a work in progress, but there's more than enough talent to stop the relative passing efficiency of Michigan's quarterback, Denard Robinson. As for Robinson buying time with his legs, he's about to butt heads with the fastest, most athletic linebacker corps he will face in his college career.
This is the "good" outcome for Michigan. There's a "worse" outcome...go back and watch the tape of LSU v. Oregon in last season's Cowboys Classic.
Michigan has taken a step forward under second year head coach Brady Hoke. Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide are about to show them just how much work still remains.
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHarrisonCFN
Welcome back College Football weekends! There will be plenty of storylines after week one (as there always are), but undoubtedly the biggest story around the water cooler, smoke pit, and obnoxiously big whiteboard will be something observed from the biggest game of the weekend--Alabama vs. Michigan.
Many would have you believe that Michigan has about as good of a chance of hanging with the defending national champions as Mitt Romney does of releasing more tax information. Zip, zilch, zero? And they all would be wrong. At the end of the week, folks from Eastport, Maine to Honolulu, Hawaii will be discussing Denard Robinson as a Heisman favorite because of his electric play against the big, bad SEC.
Look, nobody is ready to shout from the mountaintops that the Wolverines are going to run roughshod over a still very talented Alabama team, but slowly and surely the best teams in the SEC have gotten closer to the play of a Big Ten team of yesteryear than anyone will admit. Gone are the wide open offenses and unpredictable playcalling. Instead, the Alabamas and LSUs of the world would rather lineup and beat you into oblivion with hard-nosed defense and a solid running attack.
And that’s good news for the guy they call “Shoelace.”
The SEC’s cup runneth over with supreme athletes, but make no mistake, Robinson will be the quickest and most dynamic quarterback any defense--including SEC defenses--will face this year. He’ll make plays against the Tide--lots of ‘em. He’ll also make good on some big plays through the air as well as the defense has to worry too much about the threat on the ground. The style of play, specifically coming from under center from the winged helmets will be enough of a changeup to give the ‘Bama defense fits. It’ll be enough to give many a highlight reel fits too.
So, let’s play Monday morning quarterback before Monday morning and look forward to the display that Denard Robinson will put on in Big D Saturday night. Shoelace may not do quite enough to pull out the upset, but he’ll be dynamic enough to thread the first lace through a Heisman campaign.
Laces out everybody.....
By Terry Johnson
Please follow me on Twitter @TPJCollFootball
While the Alabama - Michigan game will capture most of the nation's attention, the biggest storyline after week 1 will be the rise of the ACC.
Yes, I'm talking about football, not basketball.
After a difficult offseason in which the league teetered on the brink of irrelevance, the ACC has a chance to take big step forward with two pivotal games in the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Classic.
It will capitalize on this rare opportunity by recording two victories against the SEC.
NC State will set the tone for the season on Friday night. Even though the Volunteers return an experienced roster, the team only averaged 2.5 yards per carry, and lost its top receiver with the dismissal of Da'Rick Rogers. Without him, the Tennessee offense simply does not have enough firepower to keep up with Mike Glennon and the Wolfpack offense, which averaged over 41 points per game in its last three contests.
Clemson will take things a step further on Saturday night with a win against Auburn, who many project to finish towards the top of the SEC West. Yes, Dabo Swinney's team won't have Sammy Watkins for this game, but his squad won't have any trouble moving the ball against a porous Tiger defense that allowed 624 yards of total offense in last season's contest. Clemson's new-look defense should do well against new Auburn QB Kiehl Frazier, who will be making his first start in front of a somewhat hostile crowd.
These victories would send shockwaves throughout the landscape of college football. NC State's win over Tennessee would put the Wolfpack in position to win ten games for the first time since 2002. By the same token, a Clemson triumph would prove that the Tigers are no one-hit wonder and are capable of competing for the national championship again this season.
More importantly, two head-to-head victories against the SEC would put the conference champion in a better position to play for the national championship.
When was the last time that happened?