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College Football 2017 Week 1 Preview
Saturday, 2017 September 2 - 11:13 am
Football is back at long last! Okay, technically it's been going for a week... but this is the first full Saturday, and the first week for Michigan.

#11 Michigan vs. #17 Florida (in Dallas), 3:30 PM ABC
What a great opening opponent for Michigan: a ranked SEC opponent that is, in many ways, a mirror of Michigan. There's a talented defense, a lot of questions on offense, and a team that's looking to reclaim their spot at the top of their conference. Florida and Georgia are the favorites for the SEC East title this year.

On Michigan's side, much has been made of the fact that the team only returns five starters. But Wilton Speight returns at quarterback, tailback Chris Evans has a good deal of game day experience, there's immense talent in the defensive front seven, and there are a lot of highly touted recruits at wide receiver. Combine that with the Harbaugh factor, and who knows? Michigan is picked to place third in the loaded Big Ten East, behind Ohio State and Penn State, but the Wolverines just might surprise some people.

For this game, Florida has ten players suspended. TEN. Many suspensions are related to some kind of fraud scheme where players used university-supplied credit cards to buy goods, then resold them for cash. Or something like that. Regardless, the issue is serious and widespread, and Florida has lost their top defensive back and starting running back as a result.

So... I'm optimistic. I think Michigan will be a top-5 rushing defense this year, and that will carry them through most games, much as it did last year. 9-3 is the likely record for the season; 10-2 is well within the realm of possibility. But both of those scenarios start with a win today.

Prediction: Michigan 31, Florida 13.

NC State vs. South Carolina, 3:30 PM ESPN
NC State is experienced and talented, and if there was ever a "this is the year" year for the Wolfpack, this is the "this is the year" year. Returning starters at all the skill positions and an all-American DE in Bradley Chubb mean that the Wolfpack should take care of business against most of their opponents.

Unfortunately, the ACC Atlantic division also includes Louisville, Clemson, and Florida State. If two of those teams were in the Coastal then NC State would have a realistic chance of making the ACC Championship game. As it is, 10-2 seems like the ceiling for this team, barring a remarkable upset or two.

Today's opponent, South Carolina, has struggled as of late. I'm not sold on coach Will Muschamp's defensive guru reputation, and I think NC State will score in bunches today.

Prediction: NC State 42, South Carolina 19.

Games to Watch on TV
At noon, #23 Texas plays Maryland on FS1. This is a new-look Texas with coach Tom Herman, versus Maryland with former Michigan DC D.J. Durkin in his second year. The other Power-5 matchup is Cal versus UNC at 12:20 on the ACC Network, which could prove to be interesting.

At 3:30, of course you'll be watching Michigan vs Florida on ABC, and keeping an eye on NC State vs South Carolina on ESPN.

At 5:15, there's an intriguing matchup between Western Michigan, one year removed from P.J. Fleck's departure, versus #4 USC. That's on the PAC12 network.

At 8:00, your Game of the Week is #1 Alabama vs. #3 Florida State on ABC. You'd be hard-pressed to find a better opening-week matchup. The best thing about this game is that somebody has to lose. If I had to choose between a decisive FSU victory, a close matchup, or a decisive Alabama victory, I think I'd choose the first option.

This being a holiday weekend without the NFL playing, of course we've got Sunday and Monday games. Sunday features two good matchups, both at 7:30: #22 West Virginia vs #21 Virginia Tech on ABC, and Texas A&M at UCLA on Fox. On Monday, #25 Tennessee plays Georgia Tech at 8:00 on ESPN.

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