Archive for the ‘Football’ Category

The NFL schedule has been released today and the NFL Draft is next week. There’s hardly a day that doesn’t involve some type of NFL news.

Here is the 2012 Green Bay Packers NFL schedule:

Week 1 vs. San Francisco, 3:15-a great offense vs. a great defense, but don’t count out the 49ers offense or Packers defense. Aaron Rodgers vs. Alex Smith, two first round picks that were selected in 2005. Clay Matthews vs. Patrick Willis. Great matchup in Week One.

Week 2 vs. Chicago Bears, Thursday, 7:20 NFL Network-two historics teams playing a rivalry game. Two offenses that should score a lot, Rodgers and Packers, and now Marshall reuniting with Jay Cutler.

Week 3 at Seattle, MNF at 7:30-Matt Flynn vs Aaron Rodgers. Seems like Seattle is a similar place for Green Bay quarterbacks, first Hasselbeck and now Flynn in Seattle.

Week 4 vs. New Orleans, 3:15-great quarterback matchup, Rodgers vs. Brees and rematch of great Week One game last week where Packers won 42-34.

Week 5 at Colts, noon-Rodgers vs. Luck

Week 6 at Houston, 7:20, SNF-should be a high scoring affair with two explosive offenses, and Clay Matthews plays against former college teammate Brian Cushing.

Week 7 at St. Louis, noon-interesting matchup, Rodgers vs. Bradford; can Bradford step out of a sophomore slump and injuries?

Week 8 vs. Jacksonville, noon-Rodgers vs. Gabbert; how will Gabbert fare in his second year in NFL?

Week 9 vs. Arizona, noon-wide receivers/cornerbacks match-ups catch my eye; Jennings, Nelson, Cobb vs. Patrick Peterson, and Larry Fitzgerald vs. Charles Woodson.

Week 10-BYE

Week 11 at Detroit, noon-Lions made the playoffs last year and will look to challenge for NFC North title. Packers won both meetings last year.

Week 12 at NY Giants, SNF, 7:20-Packers play at Meadowlands hoping to beat the Giants after they ousted them from playoffs last year.

Week 13 vs. Minnesota, noon-The Packers and Vikings play later in the season, always a tough game. Green Bay leads series 53-48-1.

Week 14 vs. Detroit, SNF, 7:20-Lions and Packers in primetime; should be an high scoring affair, remember the last game of last season, Green Bay winning 45-41 and a 1,000 yards of total offense combined.

Week 15 at Chicago, noon-could this match-up decide the NFC North title?

Week 16 vs. Tennessee, noon-former Packers quarterback Matt Hasselbeck plays his old team or will Jake Locker be the quarterback?

Week 17 at Minnesota, noon-finishing the season at the Vikings, an old rival, there is nothing better.

It’s a tough schedule, but with a good draft, re-signing Jermichael Finley and signing Jeff Saturday, the Packers should be back at the top in 2012.

127888253_crop_650x440

John Grieshop/Getty Images

Can you believe it is Week 5 already in the NFL?

Who thought teams like the Buffalo Bills, Detroit Lions, Washington Redskins, Tennessee Titans and San Francisco 49ers would all have winning records at the quarter mark of the season?

The season has had many surprises: the Philadelphia Eagles and the Carolina Panthers being 1-3; the Pittsburgh Steelers, Atlanta Falcons and the Oakland Raiders at 2-2 and the St. Louis Rams at 0-4.

The Houston Texans and New York Giants are playing under the radar at 3-1.

The Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, Kansas City Chiefs, Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks and Indianapolis Colts are just plain bad.

Lastly, we have the usual teams on top. The Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints and San Diego Chargers are just good.

Here are five underdogs that will win outright in Week 5.

Arizona Cardinals At Minnesota Vikings

Both these teams have been major disappointments. Minnesota is favored despite a worse record, perhaps because they are at home.

Arizona is the better team, though. The Cardinals actually have a passing game: Kevin Kolb has 1,049 yards; Donovan McNabb has 680.

The Cardinals have better receivers; Larry Fitzgerald leads them with 361 yards receiving. The Vikings best receiver, Michael Jenkins, has 144—less than half Fitzgerald’s total.

The Cardinals’ run game has been increasingly better.  That happens to be the only positive of the Vikings offense.

Beanie Wells, now the feature back in Arizona, went over 100 yards last week and is giving the Cardinals a balanced attack.

Philadelphia Eagles At Buffalo Bills

The Buffalo Bills beat the New England Patriots, so why not Philadelphia? Philadelphia has the line by three, but I say the Bills can squeak this one out.

It’s at Buffalo, so that plays to the Bills’ advantage. The Eagles secondary has been struggling, too. Ryan Fitzpatrick has been thriving in the air game, except for an off game last week in their loss to Cincinnati.

Buffalo has a balanced attack as well, as Fred Jackson is running the ball well (369 yards for the season). Stevie Johnson has given Fitzpatrick a solid deep threat.

The Bills defense is also much improved, especially their pass rush.

Cincinnati Bengals At Jacksonville Jaguars

The battle of rookie quarterbacks. Cincinnati is 2-2; Jacksonville is 1-3 and favored.

Cincinnati is the better team, though. Dalton has had a better season and has more offensive weapons than Blaine Gabbert.

Dalton has 868 yards, where Gabbert has 367 on the season.

Both running games are about equal, but the Bengals can air it out more with the versatile A.J. Green, who has had a spectacular rookie season with 19 catches for 312 yards and two touchdowns on the year.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers At San Francisco 49ers

The San Francisco 49ers are favored to win this game at home. They have a hot hand, but Tampa Bay is the better team.

San Francisco has the better defense, but Tampa Bay has the better offense and so far this season, offenses have trumped defenses.

Josh Freeman had a great Monday night game against Indianapolis and has 969 passing yards on the season. The Buccaneers win because they have the better quarterback.

Both teams’ receiving games are up and down; both have solid running games.

Oakland Raiders At Houston Texans

This may be bold, but the Oakland Raiders might win this game despite being on the road and underdogs.

Houston will miss Andre Johnson, so we could see the running game really flourish in this game.

Oakland has the better run game now. Darren McFadden is having a breakout 2011 season with 468 yards and three touchdowns on the year.

Oakland’s passing game isn’t all that bad, especially with rookie speedster Denarius Moore having a breakout 2011 season.

I’d say it comes down to who can run the ball better. If Arian Foster can be effective, he and Matt Schaub may pull it out against the Raiders.

127297039_crop_650x440The Green Bay Packers have been great to start the 2011 season.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Green Bay Packers are off to a 4-0 start and tied atop the NFC North division with the Detroit Lions. Here are the winners and losers for the Green Bay Packers at the season’s quarter mark:

The Packers have been great so far this season as it is has been hard not to be impressed with the undefeated start for the team.

However, there has been some hiccups for the team. Injuries, and perhaps the lack of offseason workouts, hurt the defense so they could get the right chemistry.

Winners: 

Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers has been one of the best quarterbacks in the NFLthis season.

Rodgers has a league-leading 73.1 completion percentage, 1,325 passing yards, a 12-2 touchdown-interception ratio and a 124.6 passer rating. Not to mention he averages 331 passing yards a game.

On Sunday he set a new NFL record, becoming the first quarterback to throw for 400 yards, pass for four touchdowns and rush for two more.

That’s incredible.

Rodgers has the playmaking mentality in him, along with his leadership and clutch performance.

Charles Woodson

Charles Woodson isn’t playing like he is 34 years old.

Yesterday, Woodson had an interception for a touchdown, along with four tackles and a pass defense.

This season, Woodson has played with an energy that won him the Defensive Player of the Year two years ago.

Woodson already has three interceptions, one touchdown, four pass defenses and 14 tackles on the year.

Green Bay Packers Wide Receivers

The Green Bay Packers wide receivers are about as good and young as any team in the NFL this season.

Just about everyone has caught passes from Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers hit nine in his first two games, seven two weeks ago and eight last Sunday.

Greg Jennings has been Rodgers go-to receiver. Jennings has 25 receptions for 366 yards and three touchdowns.

Jordy Nelson has caught 15 passes for 292 yards and three touchdowns.

James Jones has nine catches for 88 yards and a touchdown. Donald Drivers has eight grabs for 71 yards and a touchdown.

The youngster Randall Cobb has seven grabs for 148 yards and a touchdown.

Perhaps Rodgers biggest target, Jermichael Finley has 18 catches for 234 yards and three touchdowns. All of his touchdowns came against Chicago.

Green Bay Packers Rush Defense: 

The Green Bay Packers rush defense has been the most solid while the offense isn’t on the field.

They gave up their first 100-yard rushing game last week to theDenver Broncos, allowing 119 yards. In the previous three weeks, they gave up 81, 71 and 13 rushing yards.

On the season, they are giving up 77 yards per game on the ground and averaging 3.7 yards per rush to opposing running backs.

The Packers defense has also recorded seven sacks on the season.

Losers: 

Green Bay Packers Secondary: 

It was a bummer losing Nick Collins for the season due to a neck injury.

The Green Bay Packers secondary has been relatively weak this season, outside of Charles Woodson and Morgan Burnett.

They gave up 265 yards and 384 total yards yesterday. The defense had given up 403.3 yards in the first three games. The Packers rank 28th in the league in yards allowed.

Last year, the Packers gave up 320 yards in six of their first eight games of the season, they only allowed that once in their final eight games. (Green Bay Press Gazette).

Perhaps they start to defend the pass better as the season goes on.

To be honest, the Green Bay Packers linebackers haven’t been that bad. They are getting pressure and blitzing the quarterback, and are attacking the run, but perhaps they should help the secondary stop the pass in the future more.

This linebackers have combined for 4.5 sacks.

Desmond Bishop leads the team in tackles with 36 total tackles.

Clay Matthews is off to a slow start with 14 tackles and just one sack. Matthews has been solid in the pass rush, teams are just blocking him.

The Packers linebackers will only continue to get better. It just takes time.

Green Bay Packers Linebackers: 

To be honest, the Green Bay Packers linebackers haven’t been that bad. They are getting pressure and blitzing the quarterback, and are attacking the run, but perhaps they should help the secondary stop the pass in the future more.

This linebackers have combined for 4.5 sacks.

Desmond Bishop leads the team in tackles with 36 total tackles.

Clay Matthews is off to a slow start with 14 tackles and just one sack. Matthews has been solid in the pass rush, teams are just blocking him.

The Packers linebackers will only continue to get better. It just takes time.

The Green Bay Packers are 1-0 heading into the 0-1 Carolina Panthers, and there is high expectations in Green Bay, and hope in Carolina.

Here are five things to watch for in the matchup between the Packers and the Panthers:

The Panthers got a strong, 422 yard outing for Cam Newton, and a strong performance from Steve Smith. However, they lost Jon Beason for the season due to a torn Achilles tendon.

Meanwhile, the Packers offense clicked on all cylinders in their 42-34 rout of theSaints. The defense gave up a lot of points, and certainly will have people’s eyes on them to see if they can be dominant again like last year when they helped Aaron Rodgers win the Super Bowl.

1. Aaron Rodgers 

 The Green Bay Packers offense looked awfully good last Thursday night, especially Aaron Rodgers.  Rodgers threw three touchdowns in the first quarter that gave the Packers a 21-7 lead. The Packers wouldn’t trail in the game. Rodgers finished the game 27 for 35 for 312 yards, three touchdowns, and a 132.1 passer rating.

Rodgers hit nine different receivers. Could this be another special season for the Packers signal caller?

The key for Rodgers is to start fast and never look back again this week.

2. Which running back shines the most? 

In Week one against the Saint, James Starks outperformed Ryan Grant, who started the game. Starks had 12 carries for 57 yards, and a touchdown. Grant had nine carries for 40 yards.

Starks looked like he got bigger and stronger, and was the beast at running back for the Packers.

You can’t forget about John Kuhn, either. Kuhn completes the Packers three-headed running game.

Grant will probably start again this week, but there’s no question that there is running back controversy in Green Bay. However, it is better to have three solid running backs then no running game.

3. Stop Cam Newton

Cam Newton had 422 yards and three touchdowns last week. Two in the air, and the other on the ground.

Did anyone see that coming from the young, emerging star? Perhaps no one but Panther fans, or maybe not even them.

The key is to get pressure on Newton, who was sacked four times last week againstArizona. It will up to Ryan Pickett and B.J. Raji, and the linebackers pass rush they bring. I am sure Dom Capers will bring plenty of it during the course of the game.

4. Will Tramon Williams play?

Tramon Williams bruised his shoulder last week against the Saints, and did not practice on Wednesday or Friday.

Williams is a big time playmaker in the secondary and is key to the Packers pass defense.

If Williams cannot go, Sam Shields will likely start, and that wouldn’t be bad either.

5. Can Clay Matthews get back into beast mode?

After a monstrous rookie and 2010 seasons, Clay Matthews had a rather quiet game. Matthews did have four tackles, and hit the quarterback twice in the game.

The Saints didn’t let Matthews get to Brees. Let’s hope Matthew can get to Newton a few times on Sunday.

ANN ARBOR, MI - SEPTEMBER 10: Denard Robinson #16 of the Michigan Wolverines celebrates the game winning touchdown with Taylor Lewan #77 to beat the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 35-31 at Michigan Stadium on September 10, 2010 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo b

 Michigan is coming off a thrilling win over Notre Dame Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Michigan Wolverines are coming off a thrilling, game-for-the-ages win against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

Denard Robinson brought the Wolverines back from a 24-7 deficit to start the fourth quarter and had fans in Michigan Stadium singing “Victors” in between cheers of “Go Blue” at the top of their lungs.

Next week, the Wolverines play another home game at the Big House against the Eastern Michigan Eagles. Here are five things the Wolverines must do to avoid a letdown against the Eagles.

No. 1: Don’t Forget to Play Defense

The Michigan defense gave up 513 total yards to Notre Dame. This week, the Wolverines are playing against an FBS and in-state team in the Eastern Michigan Eagles.

The Eagles are averaging 419 offensive yards a game. Granted, it’s been against Alabama State and Howard, but it is still impressive.

Greg Mattison and Brady Hoke have to get their defense ready to play explosively and hold the Eagles to a low score.

The Wolverines key should be shutting down the Eagles running game as they run far more than they pass the ball.

  • The Eagles running game has averaged 331 yards over the last two games. Plus they are averaging 7.4 yards a carry.
  • Meanwhile, their passing game is averaging a meager 88 yards a game.

Start off strong and finish the same way should be the defense’s motto going into next Saturday.

No. 2: Let Denard Do His Thing

The Michigan offense was so much more dynamic when it revolved around Denard Robinson. Yes, Al Borges needs to get everyone involved, but let Robinson call the shots.
  • Michigan had 90 yards in the first half and 362 in the second half. It scored seven points through three quarters, then four touchdowns in the fourth. Robinson had 290 second-half passing yards, which means he “amassed” 38 passing yards in the first half.
  • Robinson touched the ball on all five touchdowns; one rushing on a fumble and four were passing touchdowns.
  • Michigan’s scoring drives in the fourth quarter encompassed 261 yards compared to its lone 45-yard drive in the first half.
  • The Wolverines finished the game with 452 total offensive yards. Robinson contributed to half of that alone in the fourth quarter. Amazing.
  • Eastern Michigan is giving up 212 offensive yards a game, and that’s not against BCS teams. The Eagles also held their opponent to -13 yards last week.

Robinson and the running game are better than Alabama State, but will have to avoid their defense rush and be faster and more powerful.

Michigan should be able to put up plenty of points in this game. Score early and often should be the Wolverines’ offensive motto for Saturday’s game.

No. 3: Michigan Needs to Keep Winning to Go into Big Ten Schedule Confident

Michigan faces two more teams (Eastern Michigan and San Diego State) before starting its Big Ten schedule.

The Wolverines could be 4-0 heading into October 1st when they host Minnesota to start the Big Ten.

It certainly helps that the Wolverines continue to be at home for their non-conference schedule. Then, it gets tricky. Minnesota is at home, then they travel to Northwestern, and Michigan State. Then, Purdue at home, and travel to Iowa and Illinois. The Wolverines close out the season at home against Nebraska and Ohio State.

While Eastern Michigan and San Diego State (Brady Hoke’s former school) aren’t the perennial names like many of the Big Ten schools are, they shouldn’t be overlooked.

As you know from the previous slides, Eastern Michigan is tough against the run and has a good running game. San Diego State will be looking to beat its former coach. Hoke will be extra motivated as well. The Aztecs also have a very good passing game.

Michigan needs to go strong heading into the Big Ten, and a ranking going into its Big Ten schedule would be nice as well.

No. 4: The Wide Receivers Have to Keep Supporting Denard Robinson

Michigan’s wide receivers have really stepped up, as they did against Notre Dame. They gave Denard Robinson a security blanket, and confidence in his arm. Not to mention they also took some of the pressure off Robinson so he doesn’t have to run and get beat up.

Robinson hit seven different receivers last week, and none were bigger than the catches the receivers made in the fourth quarter.

Eastern Michigan’s strength is its rush defense, so Robinson should practice throwing the pigskin around.

He definitely could be in for a good day if he does.

No. 5: Brady Hoke and Al Borges Must Keep Trusting Denard Robinson

Last week, Brady Hoke and Al Borges got renewed trust that Denard Robinson can lead the Wolverines late in games when they need scores.

Robinson showed that he can air it out and not always just tuck it and run with it. Robinson also showed great mobility in the pocket and a willingness to hand the ball off to running backs Vincent Smith, Fitzgerald Toussaint and Michael Shaw.

It will be key to maintain Robinson’s confidence as I say this again: The heart of the Big Ten schedule is approaching, and it is tough.

ANN ARBOR, MI - SEPTEMBER 10:  Denard Robinson #16 of the Michigan Wolverines takes the field for warmups prior to playing the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Michigan Stadium on September 10, 2010 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty ImageDenard Robinson led Michigan to a win over Notre Dame and threw two touchdowns in final 72 seconds.
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Denard Robinson led the Michigan Wolverines back to an improbable win over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish Saturday night.

Michigan was down 24-7 going into the fourth quarter, and one would’ve thought Notre Dame would have this game won. They didn’t and Michigan came back to win thanks to its leader and starting quarterback Robinson.

Here are five reasons Denard Robinson can light up the Big Ten after leading the Wolverines to a big win over Notre Dame:

1. Denard Robinson’s Arm Has Improved.

Denard Robinson looked confident down the stretch throwing in Saturday’s win over Notre Dame. He did throw three interceptions, but it didn’t stop him from going deep again.

Robinson saw the field and hit his receivers for big gains. He saw his receivers open and took shots at his receivers even when they were covered. Robinson stepped back, moved to his sides and threw to the open guy.

Robinson also did a great job in the pocket when it mattered most.

On his touchdown throw to Vincent Smith, Robinson took the ball, went to his right, went back to his left and hit Smith on screen for a touchdown that put Michigan up 28-24 with a 1:12.

Next, he found Jeremy Gallon wide open and then hit him on the money with 23 seconds for a big gain that brought Michigan all the way down to the Notre Dame 16.

Lastly, Roy Roundtree made a big play as he caught a pass over the Notre Dame defender for the game winning touchdown. Robinson found Roundtree in a crowded pocket but used his mobility to connect to him.

Michigan has receivers who can make big plays. Roundtree and Gallon just gave Robinson trust in his arm.

Would Robinson have done that last year? Perhaps he would have taken off and ran with it last year.

Robinson showed patience in the pocket, and didn’t force throws late in the game. His level of poise was high in the pocket in the fourth quarter. When he went out there down 31-28 with 30 seconds left, he looked ready and confident.

Finally, Robinson showed that he can run the hurry up offense effectively.

2. Denard Robinson’s Mobility in the Pocket.
Denard Robinson’s mobility helped him find the open receiver and make his throws that won the game against Notre Dame.Last year, we first noticed Robinson’s mobility when he would run. This year we have noticed it a lot more in the pocket.

Yes, Robinson rushed for 108 yards, but it was ability to stay in the pocket and pass that made the difference. Robinson had his seventh game with at least 100 yards passing and rushing.

In the fourth quarter we saw Robinson able to make plays with his arm thanks to his legs.

Robinson is becoming much more comfortable with throwing and handing off to the running backs. Robinson is ready on every play.

Early in the fourth quarter, he showed just how ready he was when tailback Stephen Hopkins fumbled on the goal line. Robinson then picked it up and ran it in the endzone on the left side for a touchdown.

Later in the quarter when Michigan most needed a play, Robinson didn’t scramble, but stayed in the pocket moving around until he found the open guy or a receiver to throw to.

Just think about it. Robinson could of taken off, but instead, he waited and saw Jeremy Gallon open. Patience. There it is again.

Every week Robinson becomes better.

This game certainly will boost Robinson’s confidence as he will able to trust his arm. His legs will help him give time to find a receiver.

3. Brady Hoke has Renewed Trust in Denard Robinson

With Denard Robinson’s ability to lead the Wolverines to the win against Notre Dame on Saturday, it will give renewed trust for Brady Hoke and Al Borges that the ball is safe in Robinson’s hands late in games.

I thought the game was over with thirty seconds left, and that Robinson might try and just tuck it and run. I am sure it went through the heads of Hoke and Borges head, too, but they didn’t signal for the kicker. They sent Robinson on the field to win the game.

Robinson did not disappoint.

Robinson totally changed that by his ability to spread the ball down field.

Michigan could have just kicked the field goal to tie the game with eight seconds. Hoke’s willingness to let Robinson try for the touchdown is a huge boost for his confidence.

With the heart of the Big Ten schedule approaching, confidence and faith in his starting quarterback to get the job done is just what Hoke needs. Robinson also showed leadership in hurrying the Wolverines up to the line of scrimmage and putting the team on his back.

4. Denard Robinson’s Confidence gets a Boost

Denard Robinson’s confidence has got to be at an all-time high right now. Coming off a big win over rival Notre Dame, and in Michigan’s first ever night game, Robinson has to be thinking that he has the support of coaches, teammates and his fans.

Robinson also has to feel encouraged knowing Hoke trusts him with the ball in his hands late in games.

Robinson’s ability to keep throwing after throwing two interceptions in the first half, and one in the fourth quarter gave him renewed confidence in his arm as well. He could have just decided, “I don’t trust my arm.” Instead, he found his receivers.

His receivers’ ability to catch his passes has to give him the confidence to keep throwing to them as well. Robinson can pass short, to the middle of the field or the side, and know that his receivers will be there.

Roundtree, Hemingway, Gallon and Koger all have got to have an encouragement that Robinson can lead lead this team and get the ball into their hands.

Robinson will know now that he can lead the team victory no matter how much time is on the clock.

5. Denard Robinson’s Decision Making

Denard Robinson’s decision making was great in the fourth quarter, minus his interception. Robinson didn’t fall into the trap of tucking and running with it every single play.

Sometimes that is alright. Not all the time though.

Instead, Robinson let plays develop. He moved around and saw the whole field.

Robinson let his receivers pick him up. His offensive line also did a great job in protecting him, and giving him time to find that open receiver.

Robinson has also learned to give the ball to his running backs. Vincent Smith, Michael Shaw and Fitzgerald Toussaint have done a solid job picking up yardage for the Wolverines.

Robinson needs games like these and it will only make his decision making stronger for when the Big Ten schedule gets tough.

ATHENS, GA - NOVEMBER 27:  The Georgia Bulldogs enter the field to face the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Sanford Stadium on November 27, 2010 in Athens, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

 A win over Boise St. in Week 1 would be huge for Mark Richt and the Georgia Bulldogs. Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

It’s hard to believe summer is already over, but college football is back!

The college football madness begins Saturday night with Oregon and LSU squaring off in Dallas and then on Saturday night at Atlanta when Boise State plays Georgia.

Week 1 of college football starts this Saturday, and here are seven potential upsets that could happen.

N0. 1: #19 Georgia vs. #5 Boise State

Mark Richt may be on the biggest hot seat of any college football coach. Richt has gone 6-7, 8-5 and 10-3 the last three seasons after going 11-2 and winning the SEC East and Sugar Bowl.

Richt has a quarterback that has a year of starting under his belt now. Aaron Murray threw for 3,049 yards and threw 24 touchdowns to eight interceptions. However, Murray lost top receiver A.J. Green to the NFL.

Wide receiver Tavarres King will be Murray’s go to guy, after catching passes 27 times for 504 yards last year. Marlon Brown and Rantavious Wooten will be receivers to keep an eye on as well.

Georgia’s offensive line will have to protect Murray from the Boise State defensive line.

One thing that Georgia does well is in the kick return game. Cornerback Brandon Boykin returns and returned four kickoffs last year. Boise State will want to key on him and kick it to the end zone, kick it short or to the other side to avoid Boykin returning a touchdown.

On defense for Georgia, they lose linebacker Akeem Dent, and Christian Robinson will replace him. Robinson had 46 tackles and six for a loss a season ago.

For Boise State, they want to redeem themselves after losing to Georgia 48-13 on national television.

Offensively speaking, Kellen Moore returns after a big 2010 season. Moore passed for 3,845 yards and threw 35 touchdowns to six interceptions. Moore was sacked six times last year.

Moore will have experience at left guard as Nate Potter is back.

Losing receivers Titus Young and Austin Pettis are huge for Moore, but there is good crop of receivers coming in. Sophomore Geraldo Hiwat will be playmaker for the Broncos.

The Broncos secondary is full of studs and will look to make Murray’s night miserable passing.

If Murray can stay upright, it could be a long night for the Broncos.

No. 2: #14 TCU vs Baylor

TCU has a big hole to fill left by quarterback Andy Dalton. Their first game isn’t all that easy either. The game is at Baylor.

Casey Pachall will get that task to fill in for Dalton at quarterback.

The TCU defense will carry the team this season. Linebacker Tank Carder will be the anchor rushing the opponent’s passer.

Linebacker Tanner Brock will help Carder rattle Griffin and the running game. Defensive lineman Stansly Maponga and Braylon Broughton will be forces as well.

Last year, Baylor was embarrassed 45-10 by TCU, and that might provide motivation itself for the Bears.

Robert Griffin III returns at quarterback for the Bears is fun to watch as he can make plays with legs and arms. Kendall Wright will be Griffin’s top receiver.

The biggest question for Baylor will be replacing left tackle Danny Watkins and rusher Jay Finley. Cyril Richardson is to start Watkins. Jared Sulubi and Terrance Ganaway figure to both get carries.

Baylor could pull the upset if Griffin can pull a few fast ones on this TCU defense.

No. 3: #16 Notre Dame vs. South Florida

In head coach Brian Kelly’s second season, Notre Dame has high expectations. Dayne Crist leads the team at quarterback, and wide receiver Michael Floyd returns to catch passes.

However, it is the Fighting Irish defense that all eyes will be on, where they return nine starters.

South Florida is in head coach Skip Holtz’s second season, and junior quarterback B.J. Daniels has high expectations. Daniels has sixth-year receiver A.J. Love back, who didn’t play last season but had a solid 2009 season with 26 catches for 489 yards and four touchdowns.

The South Florida defense is there best, where they return six starters and all of their secondary. The Bulls’ defense was 17th in the country last year.

The Bulls’ could pull the upset if their defense gets Crist to makes mistakes.

No. 4: #3 Oregon vs. #4 LSU

This is the game of the week, and it gets tougher since LSU is going to be without quarterback Jordan Jefferson.

So who has the edge? For now, it has to be Oregon. Chip Kelly’s high powered offense returns Darron Thomas and LaMichael James.

LSU will go with quarterback Jarrett Lee, who will have receiver Reuben Randle to air it out to.

It will be the LSU defense that will carry the team anyway. Their defensive line is big and strong and can knock around about anybody. It will be interesting to see what they do the Oregon offensive line and how it affects Oregon’s Thomas throws and his ability to spread the field.

Jarrett Lee is the difference maker. Les Miles will have this LSU Tigers team ready to go, and if the defensive line can make Thomas feel out of his zone, the Tigers might be in luck to pull the upset.

No.5: East Carolina vs #12 South Carolina

The South Carolina Gamecocks have a feared offense in 2011 with Stephen Garcia at quarterback who has dynamic receiver Alshon Jeffery to throw. Then at running back is home run threat Marcus Lattimore.

For East Carolina, they play ranked opponents tough. Just look at last year when they knocked off Virginia Tech and West Virginia and ruined their BCS hopes. The Pirates could do the same to the Gamecocks.

Last year, the Pirates averaged 37 points a game and 318 passing yards. They must score a lot to have any chance of knocking off the Gamecocks.

The Pirates switch to the 3-4 defensive scheme also will be at test against the Gamecocks.

If the Pirates defense can pressure Garcia into making mistakes, this team could pull off another Virginia Tech type upset, like back in 2008 to start the season.

No. 6: #13 Virginia Tech vs. Appalachian State

Virginia Tech doesn’t want to fall victim to Appalachian State to start the season, like when the Mountaineers defeated Michigan a few years ago. The Hokies also don’t want to start the season 0-2 like last year when they lost to Boise State and James Madison.

The big task for the Hokies will be to stop the Mountaineers offense and quarterback DeAndre Presley. The Mountaineers were 10th overall in the FCS in total offense (430 yards a game), and seventh in scoring offense (34 points a game).

The Mountaineers defense was torrid last year allowing 347 yards a game and 23 points per game.

The Hokies should have no trouble scoring points.

This could be a high scoring affair if the Hokies forget to play defense. Otherwise, it could be a blow out.

If the Mountaineers can spread the ball with their offense, they could take the Hokies down to the wire.

No. 7: #21 Missouri vs. Miami (OH.)

Missouri lost quarterback Blaine Gabbert, and James Franklin will fill that void in 2011.

The inexperience of Franklin and an inexperienced secondary are the holes for the Tigers. Safety Kenji Jackson is the only returning member of the secondary.

For Miami (OH), they went from losing 10 games to winning 10 games last year.

To beat Missouri, the RedHawks will have to score points and take advantage of a weak Missouri secondary.