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Week 1 Fearless Predictions - MW, Part 1
Posted Aug 30, 2013

Week 1 Fearless Predictions - MW, Part 1 Eastern Illinois-SDSU & More

Colgate (0-0) at Air Force (0-0) Aug. 31, 3:00

Why You Should Give A Hoot: If Lehigh isn’t the class of the Patriot League, Colgate is. The Raiders got to the FCS playoffs last season but were dropped by Wagner, and now they return loaded with a dangerous offense that finished third in the FCS in scoring and fourth in yards. Colgate likes to run the ball, and, of course, so does Air Force, which is trying to revamp and adjust after finishing second in the nation behind Army in rushing. The Falcons lost four of their final five games, including a drubbing of a bowl defeat against Rice, and this won’t be a layup. Colgate is good enough to win this game, but it’s going to take something special.
Why Colgate Might Win: Run, run and run the ball some more. Gavin McCarney is one of the nation’s best running quarterbacks, finishing 12th in the FCS averaging 117 yards per game. Like Air Force wants to do, Colgate will try to control the clock and the tempo by grinding out drive after drive. Basically, Colgate will try to do what Air Force will do, and it can do it.
Why Air Force Might Win: Yes, Colgate can run the ball, but it can’t stop the run. The Raider offensive line needs to undergo a little bit of revamping, and the Air Force defensive front should be able to take advantage. However, the big key will be the Falcon ground game that shouldn’t have too much of a problem getting going against a Colgate line that doesn’t make plays in the backfield.

Who To Watch Out For: Colgate might have a Walter Payton Award finalist in McCarney, but Air Force’s Kale Pearson has to be his equal. The new Falcon starter is a 5-9, 175-pound runner who stepped in at garbage time and rushed for 49 yards with two scores. He struggled with the passing attack completing just 41% of his throws with no scoring throws and four picks. He fits the Falcon quarterback mold, and while he’s not going to push the ball deep, he’ll run well. Very smart and very tough, he’ll take a beating and will keep on rolling.
What Will Happen: The game will be over in about 68 minutes. The two teams will combine to run for over 600 yards, and while Colgate will take its cuts and will have some positive moments, Air Force’s offense will be too efficient and effective against a shaky line.
Prediction: Air Force 34 … Colgate 20
Line: Air Force -27
Must See Rating: (5 Hard Knocks – 1 ‘N Sync on the VMAs) … 2

Eastern Illinois (0-0) at San Diego State (0-0) Aug. 31, 8:00,

Why You Should Give A Hoot: Boise State and Fresno State are getting all of the attention in the Mountain West, but San Diego State is a co-champion. The Aztecs have a dangerous team returning after rolling to seven straight wins to close out the regular season, highlighted by a thrilling win over Boise State. Head coach Rocky Long might need to get more out of his passing game, but his defense should be among the best in the Mountain West. With Ohio State coming up next week, the Aztecs have to use this game as a tune-up. However, Eastern Illinois isn’t going to be a normal pushover. With the talent and experience to be one of the favorites to win the Ohio Valley Conference, the Panthers are explosive and dangerous. San Diego State can’t just show up and expect a win.
Why Eastern Illinois Might Win: The Aztec secondary needs to be ready to be bombed on. EIU has one of the best pitch-catch combinations in the FCS with Walter Payton Award finalists Jimmy Garoppolo and receiver Eric Lora as effective as any the SDSU will face all season long. Lora led the FCS with over 11 catches per game making 136 grabs on the year, while Garoppolo threw for 3,823 yards on the way to a huge season. The Aztecs have to be ready for a firefight.
Why San Diego State Might Win: Oh yeah, the defense. EIU can bomb away with the best of them, but the defense gives up yards just as quickly. The pass rush wasn’t bad, and it’s an active line that will get into the backfield, but the Aztecs should be able to control the clock a bit by grinding it out, while also being able to crank up the passing attack on a regular basis. The Aztecs didn’t throw a whole bunch last year, finishing 103rd in the nation, but …

Who To Watch Out For: Adam Dingwell has to come up with a big performance. Running the ball won’t be a problem this year for the Aztecs, but Dingwell has to use his experience to kickstart the passing game. The 6-4, 210-pounder was good for a pick a game late finishing the season with seven with eight touchdown passes, while completing 58% of his throws for 939 yards, but he has the size, mobility and arm to do a little bit of everything for the Aztec attack.
What Will Happen: Get ready for a fun and wild shootout. The offensive balance will help the Aztecs get by, but EIU will get its shots in. There will be just enough home runs hit from the Panthers to keep this interesting for a full four quarters.
Prediction: San Diego State 45 … Eastern Illinois 23
Line: San Diego State -14
Must See Rating: (5 Hard Knocks – 1 ‘N Sync on the VMAs) … 2

UTSA (0-0) at New Mexico (0-0) Aug. 31, 8:00

Why You Should Give A Hoot: It’s the start of Bob Davie’s second year in Albuquerque, and expectations are slowly getting higher. New Mexico surprised in 2012 by winning four games, but maintaining momentum won’t be easy now that so many key veterans have graduated. The Lobos might take a step in reverse this year before going forward again in 2014. These are heady times for UTSA, which has gone from its infancy two years ago to Conference USA in 2013. Like Davie, Roadrunners head coach Larry Coker is reinventing himself at a smaller Southwest program. Coker went 8-4 last season as a member of the WAC.
Why UTSA Might Win: The Roadrunners have the ingredients of an improving offense this fall. Senior Eric Soza is a sparkplug-type player from behind center, and David Glasco and Evans Okotcha are both capable of carrying the load on the ground. A seasoned O-line will enjoy an edge on a New Mexico defense that’s basically starting over from the ground floor.
Why New Mexico Might Win: The Lobos have the best player in this one, senior RB Kasey Carrier. Davie wants to run the ball, and he should be successful against a smallish UTSA front seven. Carrier ran for 1,469 yards, and QB Cole Gautsche is one of the Mountain West’s most athletic all-around quarterbacks. Oh, and C Dillon Farrell, LG LaMar Bratton and LT Darryl Johnson lead an assertive line that will create space for the New Mexico ground game.
Who To Watch Out For:
- LB Dallas Bollema and NT Jacori Greer are the only indispensable players on the New Mexico D. They’ll need plenty of help this year, especially in a secondary lacking an anchor.
- Davie and Coker in the same building gives this contest the best Week 1 matchup between coaches among all of the off-the-radar games.
- Gautsche’s growth as a passer will dictate whether or not New Mexico can win four games again this year. He needs to mine a go-to receiver, while avoiding ball-hawking UTSA FS Triston Wade.
- Expect more of New Mexico RB Jhurell Pressley this season. He impressed as a rookie in 2012, and Carrier’s size will encourage the staff to give him more blows in 2013.
What Will Happen: Getting off to a fast start is of the utmost importance for both programs and staffs. The New Mexico rushing attack will be the most effective unit on either side of the ball Saturday night. Carrier is the bell cow, but the Lobos can wear down UTSA with numerous options. The Lobos will pull away in the second-half from a plucky bunch of Roadrunners.
Prediction: New Mexico 33 … UTSA 24 …
Line: New Mexico -3 o/u: 56
Must See Rating: (5 Hard Knocks – 1 ‘N Sync on the VMAs) … 1.5