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Footbaww 2014
Sunday, 2014 August 24 - 7:06 pm
Football week is finally here, so it's time to fire up the old blog again.

Michigan vs. Appalachian State
We are gluttons for punishment, I suppose. It was bad enough to schedule a nothing-to-gain game in 2007 and lose it in infamous and humiliating fashion, but now we're scheduling the rematch. This is a game that Michigan simply can not, simply must not lose.

This is fortunately no longer 2007. While App State still runs a respectable program (and they're now a 1-A team), it's no longer a terrifying 1-AA championship team led by Armanti Edwards. Michigan has since faced plenty of spread teams, and will not be surprised by what they see. Perhaps most importantly, Michigan's training department no longer advocates eating pizzas and drinking milkshakes to gain weight. Michigan should not have a speed and endurance deficit this time around.

I'll be nervous. If the game remains close in the second half, Michigan players may start to get tight, and regardless of the outcome it'll feel like a loss.

I'm not confident about the Michigan offense's ability to move the ball. The new offense under Doug Nussmeier can't be any worse than Al Borges, but it's still a new offense and the young offensive line has yet to gel. There are weapons at the skill positions, but if we can't blow the App State defensive line off the ball, we'll be in trouble.

I think the defense will hold up. It might be impossible to keep a competent spread offense from moving the ball, but defensive coordinator Greg Mattison has shown a more aggressive scheme this year; a few negative plays can make any offense stall.

Prediction: Michigan 41, Appalachian State 20.

N.C. State vs. Georgia Southern
While you might think this is similar to the Michigan game (a no-win situation), I'd say NCSU needs a game like this. There needs to be some confidence-boosting and fine-tuning here, what with a new (but promising) quarterback in Jacoby Brissett and a lot of youth all around, especially in the defensive secondary.

The running game will benefit from having Shadrach Thornton back from suspension. Thornton proved to be a pretty solid every-down back despite running behind a patchwork offensive line that was crippled by injuries last year.

There are high hopes for the defensive line, anchored by speedy defensive end Art Norman. I think the Georgia Southern offense will be outmatched on the line, and that should be what turns this game into a rout.

It won't tell us much about the rest of the season, but we can an least enjoy the exhibition.

Prediction: N.C. State 56, Georgia Southern 7.

Games to Watch on TV

There's a pretty good Thursday game: #9 South Carolina plays #21 Texas A&M. It's the post-Manziel era for A&M but they should still be entertaining to watch. The game is at 6:00 on the SEC Network, which is thankfully available in my cable lineup. At 8:00 Boise State plays #18 Ole Miss on ESPN.

The only ranked team playing on Friday is #8 Michigan State, who will play a yawner against Jacksonville State at 7:30 on BTN.

The Saturday games start at 8:30 AM (what!) as Penn State plays UCF in Ireland unless they get volcanoed out. You can watch that on ESPN2, or click over to College Gameday on ESPN if it gets boring.

At noon, Michigan plays App State on ESPN2. #7 UCLA plays Virginia on ESPN. NC State plays at 12:30; that'll be on Fox 50 locally, or ESPN.com otherwise.

At 3:30 West Virginia plays #2 Alabama on ABC. Cal plays Northwestern on ESPN2. At 4:00 Arkansas plays #6 Auburn on the SEC Network.

At 5:30 #16 Clemson plays #12 Georgia on ESPN.

At 8:00 #1 Florida State plays Oklahoma State on ABC. At 9:00 #14 Wisconsin plays #13 LSU; this is your Game of the Week.

Footbaww. Thank the gods.
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