Game of the week
Clemson at Georgia
This is one of three games between ranked teams on opening weekend, but this one sets an agenda in two conferences. A victory by Clemson makes the Tigers a serious threat to Florida State in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and perhaps lowers expectations at Georgia. But a Bulldogs victory keeps them firmly in the conversation as best in the SEC East. Fifth-year Georgia senior Hutson Mason gets his chance to start a season after playing behind Aaron Murray and has a terrific running back in Todd Gurley.
Upset of the week
Wisconsin over LSU
Utah State could have a big impact on the Southeastern Conference this weekend. The Aggies play at Tennessee on Sunday, and former Utah State coach Gary Andersen leads Wisconsin against the Tigers. Both teams have uncertainty at quarterback and stars at running back. LSU freshman Leonard Fournette seems destined for big things. Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon, coming off a 1,609 rushing season, is accomplished. LSU looks like a team that will get better throughout the year, making this a good weekend to get them.
Others to watch
Fresno State at Southern California
It’s a rematch of last year’s Las Vegas Bowl won by the Trojans 45-20, and Bulldogs quarterback Derek Carr has moved on. But it’s been a crazy week for new USC coach Steve Sarkisian, who has had to deal with the Josh Shaw fiasco. Kickoff can’t come soon enough in Los Angeles.
Florida Atlantic at Nebraska
This should be a ho-hummer for the Cornhuskers, especially since the Pelini angle vanished after Carl Pelini was fired from Florida Atlantic last year. But the big news as of mid-week, tickets were available at the box office, according to the school. Only about 50, and they were expected to sell, but that’s coming uncomfortably close to threatening the Memorial Stadium sellout streak that sits at 333, dating back to 1962.
William and Mary at Virginia Tech
The news here is Frank Beamer’s contract extension. A two-year extension was announced earlier this week for the Hokies coach, and Beamer-ball will continue through the 2018 season. That would give him 32 seasons in Blacksburg.
Longest tenured coaches entering 2014
Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech (28th year)
Larry Blakeney, Troy (24th year)
Bob Stoops, Oklahoma (16th year)
Kirk Ferentz, Iowa (16th year)
Gary Pinkel, Missouri (14th year)
Gary Patterson, TCU (14th year)
Note: Bill Snyder is beginning his 23rd year at Kansas State, the sixth of his second tenure.
On the horizon: Sept. 6 games
Southern California at Stanford
First Pac-12 showdown
Michigan State at Oregon
Maybe the best non-conference game this season
Virginia Tech at Ohio State
Buckeyes operate without Braxton Miller
Top 25 schedule
All games Saturday unless noted
No. 1 Florida State vs. Oklahoma State at Arlington, Texas, 7 p.m.
No. 2 Alabama vs. West Virginia at Atlanta, 2:30 p.m.
No. 3 Oregon vs. South Dakota, 9:30 p.m.
No. 4 Oklahoma vs. Louisiana Tech, 6 p.m.
No. 5 Ohio State vs. Navy at Baltimore, 11 a.m.
No. 6 Auburn vs. Arkansas, 3 p.m.
No. 7 UCLA at Virginia, 11 a.m.
No. 8 Michigan State vs. Jacksonville State, 6:30 p.m. Friday
No. 10 Baylor vs. SMU, 6:30 p.m. Sunday
No. 11 Stanford vs. UC Davis, 3 p.m.
No. 12 Georgia vs. No. 16 Clemson, 4:30 p.m.
No. 13 LSU vs. No. 14 Wisconsin at Houston, 8 p.m.
No. 15 Southern California vs. Fresno State, 6:30 p.m.
No. 17 Notre Dame vs. Rice, 2:30 p.m.
No. 20 Kansas State vs. Stephen F. Austin, 6:10 p.m.
No. 22 Nebraska vs. Florida Atlantic, 2:30 p.m.
No. 23 North Carolina vs. Liberty, 5 p.m.
No. 24 Missouri vs. South Dakota State, 2:30 p.m.
No. 25 Washington at Hawaii, 9:30 p.m.