Simply put, this is what we do best. As evidenced by our "Most Accurate BCS Predictions" title, we take pride in our season previews and weekly game picks. As we have done each week since we launched the site, the two of us will analyze, preview, and predict the results of the best SIX games each week.
New this season: if your team's game didn't make the cut here, our conference experts have you covered. Find the links (on the RIGHT) for further analysis for every conference game not shown on this page, along with Heisman discussion and our weekly Deion Sanders Award for the Best Pick Six of the Week.
Enjoy your Football Weekend!
TEXAS A&M AT SOUTH CAROLINA
The Aggies lose a lot. Not only do they lose the face of their program—and I’m not just talking about last year’s program, their entire program—but they lost two top-ten picks. Somehow, they may have the respective replacements in the wings, but this team loses too much star power to ignore. Kenny Hill, Ricky Seals-Jones, and Cedric Ogbuehi could step in and fill the voids left by Johnny Manziel, Mike Evans, and Jake Matthews, respectively. However, Hill simply will not replace Manziel’s production no matter how well he plays. Seals-Jones probably will not replace all of Evans’ production, but the wide receiving corp also welcomes true freshman Speedy Noil who could be the next Percy Harvin-esque player in the SEC. And finally, Cedric Ogbuehi could legitimately replace Jake Matthews production at LT, but he started last year, which really just passes the big void to another position. With young talent coming up on defense and the return of 9 starters, this unit should improve tremendously. Still, the losses on offense will be too great to overcome this year. Oppositely, South Carolina returns just about everyone on offense not named Connor Shaw. Fortunately, super-backup Dylan Thompson emerged as the starter and plays with a loaded supporting cast. The Gamecocks averaged 34.8 points per game last year and 4.8 yards per carry and I expect those stats to at least remain about the same. While the Aggie defense should be improved, don’t expect the Aggies to slow down this offense. On the other side, South Carolina loses Jadeveon Clowney, Kelcy Quarles, and Victor Hampton. These losses cannot be understated and I expect the Gamecock defense to take a step back. However, with one of the best linebacker corps in the nation, I expect South Carolina to still be solid at worst. This will be a rare year in which the Gamecocks are offense-driven. With that said, look for an offensive explosion in week 1…South Carolina 41 Texas A&M 23
OLE MISS vs. BOISE STATE
The Rebels enter this season once again as our surprise team in the SEC. Last year we had Missouri predicted higher than any other publication (4th), but not quite as high as they finished. We also had Ole Miss ranked 2nd behind Alabama in our preseason rankings. While we were wrong, so were most other publications that placed Texas A&M 2nd. In the end, we feel that we jumped the gun by a year, and that the Rebels are ready to step into that nationally-prominent role in 2014. Bo Wallace, Laremy Tunsil, and Laquon Treadwell lead the offense that scored 30 points per game last year. Treadwell and Tunsil were only true freshmen and now will look to go from some of the best freshmen in the nation to some of the best players in the nation. Wallace has battled shoulder injuries the last two years and now will come in healthy. With such a high ceiling, Wallace is one of the main reasons why we have placed the Rebels so high in the preseason rankings. However, we will see if his potential can be realized by cutting down on turnovers and staying healthy. He will not be eased into the season and may be roughed up before conference play begins. Boise State loses the face of their program in head coach Chris Petersen and three draft picks. Petersen has moved on to replace Steve Sarkisian at Washington and now former Arkansas State Head Coach Bryan Harsin takes over. Harsin brings with him Mike Sanford, who spent the last three years coaching running backs and quarterbacks at Stanford. Sanford’s hire should help Grant Hedrick improve on an extremely efficient, but not wildly productive, 2013 season. The biggest losses this team faces are in the trenches. DE Demarcus Lawrence leaves after being picked in the second round by the Dallas Cowboys and the offensive line loses three key players. After Boise’s worst season in a long time, I expect the Broncos to improve on its eight wins. However, this is not the old National Title contender team we have gotten used to. Rebels roll in the opener…Ole Miss 33 Boise State 20
CLEMSON AT GEORGIA
In one of the best games all of last year, two top-ten teams squared off in Death Valley with the home team ultimately winning out. Tajh Boyd, Sammy Watkins, Aaron Murray, and many other stars will not make this game exactly the same, but this is still a very high-profile matchup. This year, Clemson is led by one of the best defensive lines in the country featuring Vic Beasley and Grady Jarrett. It will be strength vs. strength when Georgia’s running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Mashall finally take the field healthy. Gurley is a legitimate Heisman and Doak Walker candidate and played well in this game last year. Georgia rushed for 221 yards and five touchdowns last year, which shows its capabilities when healthy. UGA WR Malcolm Mitchell, the team’s most explosive threat at receiver, was lost for the season after sustaining an ACL tear in this game last year. His return will be huge for the Bulldogs, but it will not come this week as he is listed as doubtful. Also missing from the WR unit is Justin Scott-Wesley who missed a good chunk of last season. He is suspended in this game. With these two out of the lineup and Aaron Murray in the NFL, Clemson can key in more on the run this year. I like Clemson’s defensive line in the battle with Georgia’ s offensive line so I don’t expect a shootout like last year. The biggest question mark in this game is Clemson’s offense. Cole Stoudt takes over at quarterback for Tajh Boyd. Stoudt has shown flashes of brilliance in practices and in his performance against South Carolina State last year, completing 19 of 20 passes. He is a question mark and due to Tajh Boyd’s success I have to anticipate a drop in production from last season. Similarly, I think that Clemson’s wide receivers are very good led by Mike Williams and Charone Peake, but I have to anticipate a drop in production from the losses of Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant. Still, Clemson’s offense has a lot of talent and could once again be one of the best units in the country by the end of the season. That said, I am sold right now on Georgia’s defense. There are playmakers at every level and I expect former Florida State DC Jeremy Pruitt to have a great gameplan for this Clemson offense. Home team prevails again: Georgia 30 Clemson 28
FLORIDA STATE vs. OKLAHOMA STATE
In an attempt to refocus and re-motivate his defending National Championship squad, head coach Jimbo Fisher started the slogan “From Dallas to Dallas,” in reference to striving for another undefeated season that starts here, and hopes to end here in the National Championship. Fisher has both the talent and the favorable schedule to repeat, and Florida State is the team we are most sure of that will earn a playoff bid. The offense returns most of its rock-solid offensive line and features defending Heisman-winner Jameis Winston at quarterback. They also reload at the skill positions and arguably (with Alabama) have the most talent-filled roster in the land.
Oklahoma State will have serious issues stopping (slowing) this potent attack; OSU loses more production, career starts, and depth than anyone in recent memory. The secondary is especially gutted, and Winston will be firing on all cylinders. RB Desmond Roland is the Cowboys only surefire star, but FSU’s defense has reloaded and will stop his rushing attack, forcing QB JW Walsh to beat them through the air – something I do not see happening. I have Oklahoma State finishing 7th in the Big 12, significantly lower than most other magazines and websites; their flaws will be on display Saturday night. Florida State 45 Oklahoma State 17
WISCONSIN vs. LSU
The 2014 season opens up with a Big Ten – SEC clash in primetime, as two similar top-15 teams face off on neutral turf in Houston. Both teams have built their success and reputation on smashmouth football, a strong rushing attack, and stingy defense. All eyes will be the running backs in this one; Wisconsin boasts one of the nation’s best duos with Heisman candidate Melvin Gordon and the explosive Corey Clement, while LSU will feature the best RB prospect the game has seen since Adrian Peterson a decade ago (Leonard Fournette). Yes, the backs may have the attention, and rightfully so. But both teams are breaking in new starters under center and have rebuilt defenses from scratch – both will be deciding factors in the contest.
Year in and year out, LSU loses a ton of talent to the NFL Draft, but Les Miles and his defensive staff continue to reload, not rebuild. The Tigers are atop the recruiting rankings every February and are stocked with talent, albeit young. The same statements cannot be made as definitively about Wisconsin, a program that never really shines in the recruiting world, but has done an unbelievable job with player development and cultivating its walk-ons. Recruiting rankings can be hit or miss, but they surely are more right than wrong; I trust that Miles will reload the “Chinese Bandits” and will have a unit motivated to erase the bad taste of last year’s defensive struggles. This is certainly one of the top games of opening week and shouldn’t disappoint. LSU 24 Wisconsin 20
MIAMI FL at LOUISVILLE
For the second straight game, Miami and Louisville meet. Teddy Bridgewater led Louisville to a stomping of Miami in last year’s bowl game. Miami wasn’t the same team once Duke Johnson was lost for the year and Louisville was consistently a very good team in Charlie Strong’s last season as Head Coach. Louisville faces more losses than the Hurricanes, especially factoring in WR Devante Parker’s toe injury that will have him sidelined for 6-8 weeks. Without Parker, Louisville loses arguably the best WR in the country as they try to replace arguably the best QB in the country. This does not bode well for Bobby Petrino’s high-flying aerial attack. I don’t expect poor QB play from Will Gardner, however. Petrino has always gotten the most from his quarterbacks and is one of the best teachers in the nation. Parker is a huge loss, but Eli Rogers, Michaelee Harris, and Kai De La Cruz all return to provide him with plenty of weapons. If RB Michael Dyer can return for this game, Gardner will simply have to distribute the ball to his playmakers and let them do the work. The Cards are one of the most explosive teams in the league. On the other side of the ball, Louisville looks a little thin compared to what they were last year, but they still return playmakers like Lorenzo Mauldin and Charles Gaines. Miami will live and die with Duke Johnson. After getting terrible QB play in spring practices, Brad Kaaya’s arrival and play was a blessing. Still, he is a true freshman playing in a big-time game to start his career. All indications say that Kaaya is poised, confident, and unflappable. Maybe he will be mentally ready, but I don’t know if he will be ready to play a defense like Louisville’s. Similar to Will Gardner, Kaaya is lucky to have a great surrounding cast. Phillip Dorsett and Stacy Coley are two of the more talented receivers in the ACC and should have big years depending on how well Kaaya plays. While most of the talent in this game lies on the offensive side of the ball, it will be the play of the new quarterbacks that determine how much that talent gets utilized. My bet is on Bobby Petrino’s guy, Will Gardner. Louisville 30 Miami 24
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