Early Predictions for the Top 50 Games, 41-50

Posted Jul 2, 2007

The season is still almost two months away, but it's not too early to start looking at the biggest games of the year. Here's part one of our quick, thumbnail predictions of the top 50 games of the 2007 season, starting off with No. 41 though 50, including Penn State's battle with Notre Dame.

Quick Predictions for the Biggest Games of 2007

Early picks for the season's most important, must-see battles

Here's a countdown of the biggest, most important, most interesting games going into the 2007 season, and the early July calls for each. Some predictions will change by game time, but until then, here are our off-the-cuff, very rudimentary picks with the season starting up in two weeks. Some are obvious rivalry games that everyone looks forward to each season, and some are new matchups with good storylines. In any event, these are the games you'll care about.  The detailed predictions and breakdowns will come over the course of the year.

50 Biggest Game Predictions
- No. 1 to 10 | No. 11 to 20 | No. 21 to 30 | No. 31 to 40

50. Florida State at Colorado, Sept. 15
A key non-conference showdown for two teams, the Buffs will already have faced battles with Colorado State and Arizona State, while the Noles will know how good they are after facing a trip to Clemson in the opener. The CU passing game that was so off last year might have problems against a loaded FSU secondary, but the Nole offense will have several problems of its own. CU will see this as a statement game, but the Seminole defense will come up with just enough big plays to pull off a tough, close win.
Predicted score in July: Florida State 20 ... Colorado 13

49. Utah at Louisville, Oct. 6

In the past this might have been seen as a nice matchup of top mid-major programs, but each has been to the BCS in the last few seasons, and Louisville has established itself as a Big East superpower with national title aspirations. It'll be a battle of quarterbacks with the return of Brian Johnson giving the Utes an offense every bit as potent as Louisville's with Brian Brohm leading the way. However, this is Louisville at home, and it'll put up points in bunches in one of the more exciting non-conference October games. It might be a case of the team with the ball last coming up with the win.
Predicted score in July: Louisville 45 ... Utah 31

48. Kansas State at Auburn, Sept. 1
How far has Kansas State come since getting blown out 37-10 by Rutgers in the Texas Bowl? This is still a young team with players who need more time, more seasoning, and more experience in big games. Playing at Auburn is big, and the Tigers will be sure to be fired up for the season opener with an oppressive defensive performance forcing several turnovers. While the Wildcat defense will have its moments, and will do a good job of keeping the game close, Auburn will stop the KSU offense cold.
Predicted score in July: Auburn 23 ... Kansas State 9

47. Maryland at Rutgers, Sept. 29

This is a far bigger game than it might appear to most. Maryland will have already hosted West Virginia and will have played its ACC opener at Wake Forest, while Rutgers' will have faced Buffalo, Navy and Norfolk State. With all due respect to Big East teams like Cincinnati and South Florida, the Terps might represent the biggest obstacle for the Scarlet Knights before facing West Virginia in late October. They'll come through with a tough win thanks to a running game that'll pound the ball on the good, but not great, Maryland defensive front seven. The inexperience at quarterback will do Maryland in.
Predicted score in July: Rutgers 27 ... Maryland 14

46. Louisville at Kentucky, Sept. 15

There are statement games, and then there are ones that can change around an entire program. Kentucky's been pantsed by Louisville over the last four years losing by a combined score of 158 to 76, but now it has the firepower to keep up in what should be an emotionally charged shootout. Louisville's Brian Brohm might be considered the best pro quarterback prospect in college football, but Kentucky's Andre Woodson isn't far behind, and he'll torch the Cardinal secondary for at least 300 yards. Brohm will be just a little bit better.
Predicted score in July: Louisville 38 ... Kentucky 34

45. Boston College at Notre Dame, Oct. 13

Will Notre Dame still be alive at this point? After facing Georgia Tech, road trips to Penn State and Michigan, Michigan State, and road trips to Purdue and UCLA, this might be a must-win to get the season rolling before dealing with USC the following week. If nothing else, the Irish will be seasoned. With a very good Boston College team likely to be fresh after playing Army, UMass and Bowling Green, it should be ready to win the battle of the Catholics. It'll take a steady, seasoned quarterback to pull off this road win, and Matt Ryan will be just that.
Predicted score in July: Boston College 31 ... Notre Dame 28

44. South Florida at Auburn, Sept. 8

Auburn had better be very, very careful. South Florida has an athletic enough defense to give the Tiger offense fits, and if gets a little bit of momentum early could pull off the stunner. It's a sandwich game for Auburn coming off the opener against Kansas State and the SEC opener against Mississippi State. South Florida will have had a preseason warmup game against Elon and should come out roaring. The Auburn defense will do just enough to pull it off, but not without suffering a huge scare.
Predicted score in July: Auburn 24 ... South Florida 20

43. West Virginia at Maryland, Sept. 13

Maryland was a thorn in West Virginia's side for a while, and now the tables have turned with the Mountaineers winning three straight. This year's Terp team is the better than the last three and will challenge for the ACC Atlantic Division title. Will it have the run defense to stop the Mountaineer running game? Yes, only because the West Virginia offensive line won't be fully jelled yet, while the Terp attack should be able to run well on the Mountaineer defensive front seven. In the end, the Pat White and Steve Slaton will be a bit too much in the fourth quarter, and Maryland won't get enough out of quarterback Jordan Steffy in crunch time.
Predicted score in July: West Virginia 31 ... Maryland 20

42. Notre Dame at Penn State, Sept. 8

Revenge time. The Irish ripped apart the Nittany Lions 41-17 last year, and now the tables will be turned in Happy Valley. The Anthony Morelli led Penn State offense will bomb away, yes, bomb away, on the still-not-fixed Irish secondary, while the Nittany Lion linebacking corps will stop the Irish running game cold. Brady Quinn was nearly perfect in last year's win, throwing for 287 yards and three touchdown passes. He won't be there to make things hum this time around against a better Penn State team.
Predicted score in July: Penn State 38 ... Notre Dame 14

41. Clemson at South Carolina, Nov. 24

One of the nastiest rivalries that isn't quite on the national radar, Clemson owned the Gamecocks for four years until Steve Spurrier's crew came up with a 31-28 win in Death Valley. Clemson is the better team going into the season, but by late November, this will be the best South Carolina team in years, with an offense that should finally start to hum like Spurrier was hoping it could when he took over. USC will have had two weeks off after a brutal stretch at Tennessee, Arkansas and at home against Florida, while the Tigers won't get a break after a likely pivotal battle with Boston College. The extra rest and time to prepare, along with Jasper Brinkley and the Gamecock linebacking corps slowing down the Tiger ground game, will be enough to pull out a second straight close win.
Predicted score in July: South Carolina 20 ... Clemson 17


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