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2011 NCAA College Football Week One Preview

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After the worst off-season ever for college football, we’d like to say it feels good to get back to a sense of normalcy with some actual games.  Unfortunately, the off-season woes will continue to dominate the headlines in Week 1.

Here are the biggest storylines and games this week as we kick off the college football season.

Tulsa at #1 Oklahoma

[Saturday, Sept. 3rd at 8:00 pm ET on FX]

Oklahoma enters the 2011 season on top of both the AP and Coaches polls. This is the 10th time starting out on top of the AP poll which is the most for any college program in the country. Fifteen starters return for the opener against Tulsa. It could get out of hand before halftime. Sometimes it’s fun watching, what by all accounts, could be the best team in the land run roughshod over a lesser opponent for four quarters. Unless you’re on the losing end.

Kent State at #2 Alabama

[Saturday, Sept. 3rd at 12:20 PM ET on ESPN 3]

The Crimson Tide look to win a 10th consecutive season opener. Ranked 22nd in the country last season in total offense, Alabama might not find it as easy to find the end zone without former Heisman winner Mark Ingram and deep threat Julio Jones both gone.

#3 Oregon at #4 LSU

[Saturday, Sept. 3rd at 8:00 PM ET on ABC]

The biggest game of the week is also the most talked about for all the wrong reasons. Saturday night, #3 Oregon will take on #4 LSU at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, TX. Oregon was in the headlines all offseason for allegedly paying a street agent who, as near as anyone can figure, did nothing but steer chosen recruits to the Ducks. Analysts had just gotten around to focusing on the actual game when starting LSU QB Jordan Jefferson and another player were arrested last week on felony assault charges for their roles in a Baton Rouge bar fight that left four people injured. Although LSU is still undoubtedly talented, the Tigers will definitely be going into this game with one hand tied behind their backs without the run/pass threat of Jefferson in the lineup.

#5 Boise State at #19 Georgia

[Saturday, Sept. 3rd at 8:00 PM ET on ESPN]

The Broncos are doing everything in their power to ensure they are always mentioned in the BCS talk come the end of the season. They have played or scheduled a major-conference team every year from 2009 until 2014. This year they kickoff the season against a No. 19 ranked Bulldog squad. Georgia is playing a home game of sorts in the Georgia Dome, far away from the blue turf of Bronco stadium.

Louisiana-Monroe at #6 Florida State

[Saturday, Sept. 3rd at 3:30 PM ET on ESPN U]

The Seminoles, who finished 10-4 last year and made it to the Atlantic Coast Conference title game for the first time in five years, look to build on last season under second-year coach Jimbo Fisher.

San Jose State at #7 Stanford

[Saturday, Sept. 3rd at 5 PM ET]

A local rivalry game that sees the return of Heisman Trophy runner-up, the departure of head coach Jim Harbaugh and upset hopes for a Spartan team that hasn’t beaten Stanford since 2006.

SMU at #8 Texas A&M

[Sunday, Sept. 4th at 7:30 PM ET]

Although A&M is denying a New York Times report that they have already submitted their official resignation from the Big 12, the rumors are still flying fast and furious that the Aggies will bolt to the SEC sooner (possibly as early as this week) rather than later. So don’t expect conference realignment talk to die down anytime soon. (To make things more interesting, A&M’s week 1 opponent is Southern Methodist, who is already lobbying to take the Aggie’s place in the Big 12.)

Louisiana-Lafayette at #9 Oklahoma State

[Saturday, Sept. 3rd at 7 PM ET]

The Cowboys look to improve to 8-0 against Louisiana-Lafayette. All Big-12 quarterback Brandon Weeden (a former minor league pitcher) decided to bypass the NFL draft and return to Oklahoma State.

Chattanooga at #10 Nebraska

[Saturday, Sept. 3rd at 3:30 PM ET]

The Cornhuskers play their first game as members of the Big Ten against a Chattanooga team that started the season 5-2 last year on their way to their second consecutive winning season for the first time in 20 years.

#14 TCU at Baylor

[Saturday, Sept. 3rd at 8:00 PM ET on ESPN/ESPN3.com]

A must-watch because it “unofficially” kicks off the first college football weekend (yes, there are Thursday games, but also work the next day). The Horned Frogs are coming off a Rose Bowl win and want to capture one last (and third in a row) Mountain West title before leaving for the Big East next season. It won’t be an easy task with the graduation of quarterback Andy Dalton and the loss of seven other offensive starters. A year after snapping a 16-year bowl drought, the Bears open up on ESPN against the No. 14 ranked team in the country. No pressure.

Akron at #18 Ohio State

[Saturday, Sept. 3rd at 8:00 PM ET on ESPN/ESPN3.com]

The Akron Zips aren’t usually a gamer team that gets circled on the schedule by Ohio State players and fans but this is going to be quite an interesting season for the Buckeye faithful. This first game will go a long way in saying what to expect from the team and the school for the next few season. Ohio State could be stuck in a post-Jim Tressel hangover for a long time.

Miami (Fla.) at Maryland

[Saturday, Sept. 3rd at 8:00 PM ET on ESPN/ESPN3.com]

Anyone who followed football in the 1980s knew all about the Miami Hurricanes. They lived it up on the football field and even more so off of it. The stories of the money, drugs, dirty play and lawlessness surrounding those players are legendary. “The U” had seemingly cleaned up its image over the past decade. But apparently not. In recent weeks, convicted felon Nevin Shapiro has come forward with pictures, receipts and stories of money, parties and prostitution that would make Tony Montana blush. Eight players have already been suspended for this week’s game at Maryland and as many as 72 current and former Hurricane players and recruits are now under NCAA investigation. If you’re watching the game this weekend, expect it to sound more like an episode of Court TV than a football broadcast.

 

Writer Wes Glinsman contributed to this preview. You can follow him on Twitter by clicking here.

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