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. 41 to 50
40. Boston College at Georgia Tech, Sept. 15
Don't be shocked if this is a preview of
the 2007 ACC Championship game. This might be Chan Gailey's best Georgia
Tech team yet, while new Boston College head coach Jeff Jagodzinski
inherits a loaded team led by the ACC's best quarterback, Matt Ryan.
It'll be a battle between the great Yellow Jacket offensive line against
the tremendous BC defensive front seven, led by a pair of 300-pound
tackles. This will be the breakout game for Tech QB Taylor Bennett, who
won't outplay Ryan, but will be effective enough to come away with the
Predicted score in July: Georgia Tech 23
... Boston College 17
39. Alabama vs. Florida State (in Jacksonville), Sept. 29
Easily one of the most intriguing non-conference games of the
season, the two storied programs meet for the first time since the Tide
beat the Seminoles 8-7 in 1973. That Florida State team went 1-10, while
Alabama went 11-1. New Tide head coach Nick Saban will already have
undergone major scrutiny in SEC battles against Arkansas and Georgia,
while the Noles will have already played at Clemson and Colorado. This
will be the game for FSU's secondary to shine. The Bama ground game
should be relatively effective thanks to the offensive line, but John
Parker Wilson and the Tide passing attack will struggle against Myron
Rolle and the speedy, talented Seminole defensive backs. This will be
more of a defensive battle than many might expect. FSU's will be a bit
Predicted score in July: Florida State 16
... Alabama 10
38. Notre Dame at UCLA, Oct. 6
The Bruins were just this close to pulling off the upset in South
Bend last season before the Irish offense went into a max protect
blocking scheme to keep Brady Quinn upright for the first time all day.
He led the way to a 20-17 last-second win, but he's not around anymore,
and UCLA is better. The Bruin defense should hang out in the Irish
backfield for a second straight season, while the Bruin secondary will
shut everything down through the air. 0-3 all-time against the Irish,
UCLA will get the win before getting two weeks off to prepare for the
showdown against California.
Predicted score in July: UCLA 38 ... Notre
37. Miami at Florida State, Oct. 20
It should say something about the state of the two superpowers that
it's not one of the biggest of the big games of the year, but they'll
have to earn their former lofty status. On the plus side, they play
midseason when they should be fully jelled, so there probably won't be
the brutally ugly slugfests of the last three years when they played in
the season opener. Miami has the better team with a better defense, but
will the offense have shown up by mid-October? Not really, but the
running game will rumble against the above-average Seminole defensive
front. The Canes will have played in a few interesting, big games before
going to Tallahassee, but this will be the one that officially kicks off
the Randy Shannon era.
Predicted score in July: Miami 20 ...
Florida State 17
36. Oregon at Michigan, Sept. 8
The last time these two met, Oregon hung on to pull
off a wild 31-27 win in Autzen Stadium. Four years later, the Wolverines
get the Ducks in the Big House, with a chance to beat a Pac 10 team for
the first time since a win over Washington in the 2002 season opener. A
win for Oregon could put the team on the map after a disastrous end to
the 2006 season, but it won't happen. The Duck offense will get its
licks in, coming up with enough big plays to make it interesting, but
the Wolverine offensive line will dominate. Mike Hart and the Michigan
ground game will take over in the fourth quarter.
Predicted score in July:
Michigan 45 ... Oregon 23
35. Georgia Tech at Notre Dame, Sept. 1
Georgia Tech had them. It had the Irish beaten in the 2006 season
opener, but Calvin Johnson didn't get the ball enough, and Brady Quinn
fought back after getting the tar beaten out of him to pull off the
14-10 win. This year, the Irish offensive line will be great over the
course of the season, but it'll hardly be ready for primetime in the
opener. The defensive front seven will be the bigger problem, and will
get hammered on over and over and over again by the loaded Tech
offensive line. Notre Dame would probably win this game if it was played
in late October, but it won't be ready yet. The home field advantage
will keep it from being ugly.
Predicted score in July: Georgia Tech 24
... Notre Dame 10
34. Georgia at Georgia Tech, Nov. 24
In what's been one of the most interesting rivalry
games over the last few years, the last three have been decided by a
touchdown or less. All were Georgia wins with the Bulldogs winning the
last six. Will all of Georgia's potential problems (secondary, receiving
corps, young offensive line) be sorted out by the end of the year? Yes,
no, and a big-time yes. Georgia Tech will have the better team, but
even though it'll have the home field advantage, Georgia has the hex over its rival. If
this game was played early in the year, the Yellow Jackets will win.
It's not, and they won't.
Predicted score in July: Georgia 17 ...
Georgia Tech 14
33. Florida State at Florida, Nov. 24
Florida has beaten its in-state rival four of the last six seasons, and
one of those losses (2003) came on a late miracle. Seminole fans won't
look at 2007 as a bit of a rebuilding and reloading year, but as far as
being in the national title chase, that's what it might be before a
likely huge 2008. Nothing would get the wheels in motion faster than a
win over the defending national champions. It won't happen. All of
Florida's possible kinks should be worked out by the end of the year,
with a layup against Florida Atlantic the week before to tune up. The
Noles will be finishing a brutal stretch with road trips to Boston
College and Virginia Tech, and a date with a good Maryland team, before
going to Gainesville.
Predicted score in July: Florida 28 ...
Florida State 16
32. Notre Dame at Michigan, Sept. 15
Notre Dame might have won two of the last three and
three of the last five in the legendary series, but Michigan exposed
mediocre Irish defenses in the two wins (2006 and 2003). Make it two in
a row for a Wolverine offense that should rip apart the Irish secondary
like it's standing still. The Irish defensive front won't be remotely
close to being ready to handle a running game like Michigan's, while the
offensive firepower won't be there to keep up with the Michigan attack
for the full sixty minutes. This will be the game that gets Irish fans
Predicted score in July: Michigan 40 ...
Notre Dame 23
31. Georgia at Tennessee, Oct. 6
This showdown is always one of the key pieces to the SEC puzzle. By this point in the
year, Georgia will have faced South Carolina and Alabama, while
Tennessee will have traveled to Florida. If the Volunteers pull off the
win in The Swamp, and considering the toughest conference road game left
will be at Alabama, this might effectively cinch the SEC East
championship. The two teams are eerily similar in strengths and
weaknesses with good backfields, shaky secondaries, and questionable
receiving corps. Last year, Tennessee won by blowing the doors off the
Dawgs 51-33 with a strange second half run. Now it'll be Georgia's turn
to return the favor. The road team has won four straight in the series.
Make it six, with Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford outplaying
Tennessee's Erik Ainge, and the Dawg secondary and receiving corps to
show by early October that they're just ahead of Tennessee's.
Predicted score in July: Georgia 31 ...