CONNECTICUT (0-0) AT DUKE (0-0)
Time/TV: 2 p.m./Local
Favorite: Connecticut by 4.5
The opening week of play could really take a turn for the worst for the Big East of Uconn becomes the team that helps Duke snap its 20-game losing streak.
The good news for the Huskies is that the Blue Devil's leading tackler from a year ago, middle linebacker Michael Tauiliili, has been suspended for this game after being arrested a few weeks ago in Durham. This could mean big things for sophomore running back Donald Brown, who's looking to improve on his stellar freshman season of 2006.
While Brown is certainly a marked man this season, I think people are really going to be surprised with how well Tyler Lorenzen throws the football. It takes more talent than most people are willing to acknowledge to be a JuCo All-American quarterback.
Linebacker Ryan Henegan is out for this game, but two-time returning leading tacker Danny Lansanah isn't, and he'll need to be flying all over the field to help out freshman Lawrence Wilson who will be starting in Henegan's place.
You have to figure that the Blue Devils are going to throw everything they have at the Huskies in an attempt to avenge last year's opening day humiliation at the hands of 1-AA Richmond. Uconn screwed me early and often last season, but it's a new year, a fresh start, and surely to God they can't lose to Duke.
CC Prediction: Connecticut 24, Duke 13
WESTERN MICHIGAN (0-0) AT WEST VIRGINIA (0-0)
Time/TV: 3:30/ESPN Gameplan, Local
Favorite: West Virginia by 24
Don't be surprised if the Mountaineers get a scare for a quarter or so from a Western Michigan team that's predicted by many to win the MAC, and that prides itself partly on its ability to stop the run.
Bronco quarterback Tim Hiller was the MAC freshman of the year in 2005 when he started five games and threw 20 touchdowns against just three interceptions. But he blew out his knee in the last game of the season and was forced to miss all of last year. If Hiller's knee has completely healed and he can regain his '05 form, this could be a real test for a Mountaineer secondary looking to show its vastly improved. If they can live up to the challenge, they'll have to do so without All-Conference safety Quinton Andrews and cornerback Ellis Lankster, both of whom are suspended for the game.
(Cheesy, generic pregame story line in 3......2.....1...)Two guys who aren't suspended are WVU quarterback Pat White and running back Steve Slaton, who both enter the 2007 season as Heisman hopefuls (God I hate myself). The dynamic duo (I can't stop) will have to tangle with a WMU defense that ranked sixth in the nation against the run last season, allowing just 76.1 ypg.
Sure it's an underrated opponent, the opening game, and a couple of guys are suspended, but if this less than a three possession game in the fourth quarter then something is terribly, terribly wrong.
CC Prediction: West Virginia 41, Western Michigan 14
EASTERN MICHIGAN (0-0) AT PITTSBURGH (0-0)
Time/TV: 6 p.m./Local
Favorite: Pittsburgh by 20
After a tumultuous offseason riddled with injuries, poor special teams and offensive line play, and the unexpected departure of a highly recruited quarterback, Dave Wannstedt has to be happy that the regular season is finally here.
The third-year head coach will lead the Panthers against an Eastern Michigan team coming off a dismal 1-11 season.
Charlie Batch isn't walking through that door, but Bill Stull is, and he should be able to put up some impressive numbers in his first start as Tyler Palko's successor. The most interesting thing to look for in this game will be how the carries are rationed out between solid veteran LaRod Stephens-Howling and talented freshman LaSean McCoy. Aside from that, glancing at the bottom line during Georgia/Oklahoma State will suffice.
CC Prediction: Pittsburgh 34, Eastern Michigan 7
ELON (0-0) AT SOUTH FLORIDA (0-0)
Time/TV: 7 p.m./Local
Favorite: No Line
I would totally make fun of this game if we hadn't just played Murray State.
CC Prediction: South Florida 44, Elon 0