Cue the fight songs and overall shenanigans of collegiate athletics. NCAA football is all set for a brand-new year!
With the NFL preseason winding down, we decided to cover a little bit of both this week. Moving forward, we’ll be dropping the prefixes and simply basking in the gloriousness that is football.
QB Battle in T-town
Jalen vs. Tua. It’s a battle that has been raging ever since the start of the second half of the national championship game. Alabama is in the envious position of having two dynamic quarterbacks who have equally earned the right to run the offense. The upperclassmen Jalen Hurts has been in the dogfights that are SEC schedules. Tua Tagovaiola is the young gunner who secured the win in a national championship as a freshman.
Both are athletic quarterbacks who can hurt teams in numerous ways. Tua may have the upper hand in overall throwing ability and natural leadership skills. But Hurts is a better playmaker on the fly and has better topline speed. In Sabian fashion, he has let this battle simmer all offseason with no clear-cut answer as we approach the first game of the year. It appears they will split time as they are listed as co-starters on the depth chart.
Games of the Week
Dolphins vs. Falcons
At this point, most of the players who had something to prove have either shown out or failed to meet expectations. Most teams will be leaning heavily on the players who are on the cusp of being cut. They want to get their final looks in before final roster selections are made.
A quick look at the schedule, however, shows that there is at least one exciting matchup this week, and that is the Dolphins and Falcons game. Both teams are winless heading into the final preseason game. While the preseason isn’t considered the best barometer for a team’s regular season success, it can often be a sign of bad things to come. Falcons fans might be nervous as they are a still hopeful that they can squeeze in another Super Bowl run.
The first team usually doesn’t play much if at all in these games, so we won’t see much of Calvin Ridley or Julio Jones in this one. I think the Falcons will still get it done against the Dolphins.
Thurs 8/30 (7:00 ET)
(#6) Washington vs. (#9) Auburn
We have a couple of key games to start the season off. The results of the Auburn and Washington game will possibly have huge implications later in the season. Auburn is ranked 9th heading into this matchup while Washington is ranked 6th. Expect the loser of this game to be on the playoff bubble at the end of the season as a result. The point could even be made that Washington’s entire season depends on this game.
The quarterback position in this game will feature two players who could compete for the Heisman in Jake Browning and Jarrett Stidham. The Tigers will be hoping that Stidham can take a step forward after a very productive season last year. Auburn is a talented team that will hold its own in the SEC this season, but the odds are with the Huskies and their more experienced roster in this one.
Sat 9/01 (3:30 ET) ABC
Tennessee vs. (#17) West Virginia
The Jeremy Pruitt era in Knoxville has gone according to plan so far. He calmed the raging sea that is Tennessee’s fanbase and put together a respectable recruiting class while on short work. Now we’ll see if the man can coach. His young squad will have a tough matchup against the Will Grier-led Mountaineers. The Vols also have a quarterback competition on their hands. They have returning starter Jarrett Guarantano and Stanford grad transfer Keller Chryst battling it out right now. Guarantano is the quarterback of the future in Knoxville, while Chryst is a one-year grad transfer who is trying to show scouts he has the goods.
Most of the data right now is choosing West Virginia in this one, but I think that Tennessee has a chance to win it. It is well known that Butch Jones was horrible at player development. Pruitt made it a priority to bring in quality position coaches that are high on player development. Fortunately for Pruitt, his predecessor was a maverick on the recruiting trail and left the new head coach a surplus of highly talented players. I think Tennessee slows things down and grits out a win.
Sat 9/1 (3:30 ET) CBS
Coastal Carolina Vs. South Carolina
A lot of experts around the league are pegging the Gamecocks as a team on the rise. They had a solid second half last season and are hoping to build off of that momentum. The SEC East has been relatively weak except for Georgia, so the time is ripe for South Carolina to make a push. Jake Bentley and company should be firing on all cylinders in this one. Deebo Samuel is a name to remember in this one. The wide receiver should have a highly productive day and season.
Will Muschamp has quietly built a solid football team that will beat some good teams this year. If they want people to take them seriously though, then they will need to put this game away early.
Sat 9/1 (12:00 ET) SECN
42-10 South Carolina
(#8) Miami vs. (#25) LSU
Former Georgia coach Mark Richt will be visiting the swamp for the first time in years, and he’ll be bringing with him one of the best teams in the country. LSU head coach Ed “Chicken on a stick” Orgeron is fielding hot seat questions before the season even starts. So, while he can afford to lose this game, he can’t afford to lose big.
If LSU can stick with Miami and keep them under 35 points, then that will go a long way in cooling off those hot seat rumors. They’ll be going with Ohio State transfer Joe Burrow at quarterback in this one. He should provide them a boost at the position, but the Hurricane’s defense is very aggressive and capitalizes on mistakes.
I think Miami and their defense is going to be too much for the Tigers in this one.
Sun 9/2 (7:30 ET) ABC
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