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. 21 to 30
No. 31 to 40
No. 41 to 50
College at Virginia Tech, Oct. 25
In a possible ACC title preview, Virginia Tech will look to avenge
an ugly 22-3 loss lowlighted by a general team meltdown. As bad as the
loss was, the Hokies rallied to win six straight thanks to a stifling
defense, before losing to Georgia in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. The key here
will be rest and time to prepare. Both teams will get two weeks off, but
BC will be coming off a trip to Notre Dame while Tech will have a
relative layup against Duke. BC is really, really good, but the Hokie
defense will be a brick wall, led by a secondary that'll all but
shutdown Matt Ryan and the Eagle passing game. Tech might not get much
going offensively, but it won't have to.
Predicted score in July: Virginia Tech 19
... Boston College 10
19. Texas at Texas A&M, Nov. 23
Texas owned the rivalry with six wins in a row, and then A&M dealt
a crushing blow to the Longhorn faithful with a stunning 12-7 win to
give Oklahoma the 2006 Big 12 South title. Now the Aggie fans want more,
and they want the first home win over Texas since 1999. Each team will
have had two weeks off to prepare with the hype certainly to be growing
over the course of the season after what happened last year. A&M will
make it two in a row for the first time since 1993 and 1994, the old
Southwest Conference days, as the Aggie offensive line will pave the way
for just enough of a running game, and the defense will do just enough
to keep the Texas receiving corps under wraps, to save what'll likely be
a disappointing season (look at the schedule).
Predicted score in July: Texas A&M 20 ...
18. Penn State at Michigan, Sept. 22
These two have played a pair of whoppers over the last two years
with Michigan beating Penn State 17-10 last season and 27-25 in an
all-timer in 2005. The Wolverines have owned the series with eight
straight wins going back to 1996, and it'll be nine in a row in what
should be a wildly fun shootout. Penn State might have one of the best
defenses in the Big Ten, but it'll have a hard time handling the
Michigan ground game. The Nittany Lion offense will get its licks in,
with a few big pass plays to burn the Wolverine secondary, but it'll
come down to the Michigan offensive line vs. the Penn State defensive
line. Michigan will win that battle.
Predicted score in July: Michigan 27 ...
Penn State 23
17. Florida vs. Georgia, Oct. 27
Georgia has been tremendous under head coach Mark Richt, but the
program hasn't been able to figure out Florida on a regular basis losing
eight of the last nine cocktail-don't-call-it-a-cocktail party. For
Urban Meyer's club, the Georgia rivalry represents the end of a brutal
stretch playing Tennessee, at Ole Miss, Auburn, at LSU and at Kentucky.
On the flip side, Georgia will get two weeks off after playing at
Vanderbilt. Each team will have played Tennessee, and Georgia will have
played South Carolina, so this might determine the SEC East champion.
Florida might be a bit beat up at this point, but you never screw with a
streak. In a battle of two of the nation's most promising, exciting
quarterbacks, Tim Tebow will get the better of Matthew Stafford with his
arm, and not necessarily his legs. The Bulldog secondary should have the
holes patched by this point, but it won't be able to handle the Gator
Predicted score in July: Florida 23 ...
16. West Virginia at Rutgers, Oct. 27
A banged up West Virginia team broke Rutgers' heart with a 41-39
win in the regular season finale to send Louisville to the Orange Bowl
instead of the Scarlet Knights. This year's team will be just as vital
to the Big East title chase, and the national championship hunt. Rutgers
has tough home games against Maryland and South Florida, while West
Virginia has to go on the road to play those two, but even so, this
might be a battle of unbeatens. If Rutgers is 7-0 and pulls off the
victory, the national championship talk will star with relative road
breathers against Connecticut and Army to deal with before closing out
with Pitt and Louisville. It'll be every bit the thriller of last year's
game with it likely to come down to the team with the ball last getting
the win. Rutgers won't outrush the Mountaineers, but it'll come up with
just enough balance, and get just enough of a push from the home crowd,
to pull it off.
Predicted score in July: Rutgers 38 ...
West Virginia 34
15. Wisconsin at Ohio State, Nov. 3
It's the 2006 Big Ten showdown that didn't happen, but everyone
wanted to see. Had Wisconsin pulled off a win at Michigan, this would've
been the 2007 BCS Championship. Now it'll likely determine the Big Ten
championship and set the tone for the Badgers. The schedule isn't all
that bad, and if Bret Bielema's club can get by a trip to Penn State,
it'll likely be 9-0 before facing Ohio State and Michigan in
back-to-back weeks. Ohio State will be coming off a trip to Happy Valley
and might be reeling if it loses. The Badgers might have won three of
the last four in the series and four of the last six, but Ohio State
will end the dream season with a stellar defensive performance that'll
shut down the Wisconsin running game. For the first time all year, the
Badger starting quarterback (whoever that ends up being) won't come
Predicted score in July: Ohio State 23 ...
14. Tennessee at Florida, Sept. 15
Always worth the price of admission, this is Tennessee's chance to show
it's an SEC star again, and it might be a must-win if things don't go
well in the season opener at California. Florida will have had two
warmups against Western Kentucky and Troy to prepare, and that'll make
all the difference. While Tennessee will be battle tested against the
Bears and Southern Miss, it'll also be more beaten up and won't be able
to work on the same things Florida will. In other words, the Gators will
be better tuned up. Home field advantage hasn't always meant much in the
series, but it'll make a difference in the first monster home game since
winning the national title.
Tennessee's issues in the secondary, which will be exposed in
Berkeley, will also be the major problem against the Gator receiver
Predicted score in July: Florida 21 ...
13. Miami at Oklahoma, Sept. 8
Fine, so Miami might not be Miami like it was a few years ago,
but this is still one of the most interesting non-conference matchups of
the year. Considering how good the two programs have been over the last
few decades, it seems like they should've met up in a bowl game or two,
but they haven't met since Miami won the 1988 Orange Bowl. The Canes
have won three in a row over the Sooners, including the classic 1986
Vinny Testaverde game, and a 27-14 battle in 1985, when Miami defensive
star Jerome Brown broke OU quarterback Troy Aikman's leg, leading to the
emergence of option-wizard Jamelle Holieway, who led the team to eight
straight wins and the national title. It'll be a tremendous battle of
the fantastic OU offensive line and the great Miami defensive line, and
the loaded Sooner receiving corps and the great Hurricane secondary, but
it'll be the surprising play of a questionable OU defensive line that'll
win an occasionally sloppy defensive game.
Predicted score in July: Oklahoma 19 ...
12. Tennessee at California, Sept. 1
After a nightmarish 2005, Tennessee announced it was back with a 35-18 win over a great Cal team
in last year's opener. Now the tables are turned, as the Bears can show they belong in the national title hunt, with a win in Berkeley.
Cal finally, finally came up with a real, live big win in a
spotlight game since coming to prominence with the 45-10 destruction of
Texas A&M in the Holiday Bowl, but that barely registered much more than
a yawn nationwide. Now it has to show that it's the real deal, while
Tennessee wants to erase the end of last year, when it lost three of its
final five games. Unfortunately for the Vols, this is a horrible matchup
for them in the season opener. Remember, college teams don't get
preseason games like the NFL teams do, and they don't get a chance to
work the kinks out. Tennessee has issues with its pass rush and
secondary, and if it doesn't get to Cal's Nathan Longshore on a regular
basis, it'll be a long, long day. The Cal speedsters at receiver will go
Predicted score in July: California 28 ...
11. Auburn at LSU, Oct. 20
The last three games between the two West superpowers have been decided by a total of
eight points, and it's not a stretch to suggest the division title will
be decided here. Each team will have played against several superstars
in several national showcase games. LSU will have played Virginia Tech
and Florida, while the Tigers will have traveled to Florida and
Arkansas. This will be the game for Auburn quarterback Brandon Cox to
come through with the performance of his career. LSU will shut down the
Tiger ground game, and the secondary will prevent many big plays, so Cox
will have to be efficient and effective on third downs. He won't be. LSU
will will rattle the senior with consistent pressure with the defensive
line dominating the Auburn O line.
Predicted score in July: LSU 14 ... Auburn