Oregon at Stanford (Nov. 7)
The Ducks run the gantlet in the early part of the season, with games against Boise State, Cal, Utah, Purdue the first four weeks of the year. Then, there’s a game with USC in Eugene on Halloween that could decide the Pac-10 title. By the time Oregon gets to Palo Alto a week later, this is likely to be one worn-down team. Stanford is off the week before and should catch a tired bunch of Ducks napping.
Missouri at Nevada (Sept. 25)
Mizzou laid a 52-point beatdown on Nevada in 2008, so the Wolf Pack will be prowling for some revenge. This is a Friday night game in Reno, which tends to benefit a home underdog. On top of that, the Tigers will be breaking in a new quarterback, Blaine Gabbert, to replace Chase Daniel. This will be Gabbert’s first true road game. Nevada will put a scare in Mizzou, despite ultimately falling short.
Houston at Oklahoma State (Sept. 12)
Give credit where it’s due–Homerism loves the OSU-Georgia matchup in Stillwater on opening weekend. Good for these two teams for treating us to such a great game to start the season. However, if I’m a Poke fan, I’m not happy with the prospect of playing the Cougars a week afterwards. Georgia plays a grinding, physical style of football that is certain to leave OSU black and blue for a week–win or lose. Houston’s high-flying offense comes to town in the second week of the season, led by prodigious passer Case Keenum and a slew of talented young receivers. The team’s leading rusher in 2008, Bryce Beall, also returns. Not a fun task for the Cowboy defense after sparring with the Bulldogs seven days prior.
Oklahoma at Nebraska (Nov. 7)
After the Sooners piled on the points in a 2008 drubbing of Nebraska, expect ‘Husker Nation to be fired up for this one. A year older and wiser, head coach Bo Pelini should have his team raring to go, too. This could be a trademark win for Pelini to build on.
Virginia Tech vs. Alabama (Sept. 5)
On paper, this one looks like a toss-up, as both teams are brimming with promise. Yet, even though Alabama didn’t lose much this offseason, the players the Crimson Tide did lose hurt badly. That bunch includes, QB John Parker Wilson, RB Glen Coffee, OT Andre Smith, C Antoine Caldwell and S Rashad Johnson. Smith and Caldwell are especially damaging, because you can count on teams like Va. Tech to exploit the newbies until they prove themselves.