|Florida State players celebrating their title|
The 2014 NCAA College football season gets underway this week and there are several great games to look out for. The 2013 season was a thrilling one to say the least. It saw a slight demise of the SEC when Alabama fell to Oklahoma in the All State Sugar Bowl and was capped off by the Florida State Seminoles beating the Auburn Tigers in the National Championship game.
The 2014 NCAA College Football season will usher in a new era for the sport as we say good-bye to the “National Championship Game” as we know it, and welcome in the new, and very long awaited, College Football Playoff system, which was implemented in order to “level the playing field” across the College Football landscape. The Associated Press has already released its Top 25 ranked teams going into this week’s games, so everyone in the College Football world is eagerly awaiting for the season to kickoff, pun very much intended, and see which teams belong in the Top 25 and which teams do not. After week 1 of the season, we can begin to separate the contenders from the pretenders.
With that being said, here are the top 5 games to look out for in Week 1 of the 2014 NCAA College Football season.
#21 Texas A&M Aggies vs. #9 South Carolina Gamecocks
2014 is going to be a big year for the Aggies of Texas A&M, they will have to try their best to put up those amazing numbers on offense without the former Heisman Trophy winner, Johnny Manziel and first round draft pick WR Mike Evans. Coach Kevin Sumlin and the Aggies have their work cut out for them, as they have to go into South Carolina and battle the Gamecocks. South Carolina will have to make some serious adjustments, as well due to the fact that they won’t have QB Connor Shaw behind center and DE Jadeveon Clowney terrorizing the opposing offenses.
It will be interesting to see how the usually stout South Carolina defense will hold up against the new-look offense of the Aggies.
Game info: Kickoff on Thursday, August 28th at 6:00pm from Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, South Carolina.
#16 Clemson Tigers vs. #12 Georgia Bulldogs
The Clemson Tigers are coming off of an impressive 11-2 season in 2013, which saw them finish off the year with a massive win in the Discover Orange Bowl over BIG 10 powerhouse, Ohio State. Clemson comes into the 2014 without veteran QB TajhBoyd and the electrifying WR Sammy Watkins, so it will be interesting to see how they fair on the offensive side of the ball this year. The Georgia Bulldogs are coming off of a rather lackluster 8-5 season, which saw them lose a few last second games in heartbreaking fashion to some of their biggest rivals. Their season was capped off with a 24-19 loss in the Gator Bowl to the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Georgia will come into the season without their regular starter, Aaron Murray, who is now in the NFL, however, they will have the powerful Todd Gurley the spearhead that Bulldog offense this season. The Georgia defense needs to step up its game this season and improve the amount of yardage they give up per game, if they want to be competitive in the SEC.
This game could go either way but look for the Clemson defense to try and impact this game.
Game info: Kickoff on Saturday, August 30th at 5:30pm at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Georgia.
#1 Florida State Seminoles vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys
The Florida State Seminoles are fresh off of a National Championship victory over the Auburn Tigers and were able to finish the year off with a perfect 14-0 record. Heisman Trophy winner QB Jameis Winston is returning for the Seminoles and is looking to make just as big an impact in his second as a starter, as he did in his first year. The Seminoles did lose a lot of great players on both sides of the ball to the NFL, however, there’s really no doubt that Coach, Jimbo Fisher has recruited some great players that will look to help Florida State win another title. The Oklahoma State Cowboys are coming off a fairly impressive 10-3 season in 2013; however, they suffer a very tough loss to the Missouri Tigers in the AT&T Cotton Bowl to finish their season. The Cowboys will have quite a few starters coming back in 2014, which is a very good thing for Coach Mike Gundy and the rest of the Cowboys.
It could be tough for the Cowboys to stop that high-powered Seminole offense so they must try their best to put up as many points as possible and not waste any possessions against a very tough Florida State team. Look for the Seminoles to try and dictate the pace of this game on the offensive side of the ball.
Game info: Kickoff on Saturday, August 30th at 8:00pm at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
#14 Wisconsin Badgers vs. #13 Louisiana State Tigers
The Wisconsin Badgers are coming off a 9-4 season, which saw them fall to the South Carolina Gamecocks in the Capital One Bowl by a Score of 34-24. The Badgers lost a few key pieces defensive players to the NFL so it will be interesting to see how they match up against a very physical LSU team. The Badgers had the 8th best rushing offence in the country last season and they hope that they can pick up where they left off. The LSU Tigers are coming off a 10-3 season, which saw them finish the season with a 21-14 win over Iowa in the Outback Bowl. The Tigers lost nine key players to the NFL and will need some of their younger players to pick up the pieces. Coach Les Miles and the LSU staff have always been able to recruit top grade players, so it will be great to see who the standouts will be on the LSU squad this season. Surely the Tigers will miss QB Zach Mettenberger, RB Jeremy Hill, RB Alfred Blue and WR Jarvis Landry on the offensive side of the ball.
This game could go either way. It will all depend on which team’s defense will shine and which offense will commit the least amount of turnovers.
Game info: Kickoff on Saturday, August 30th at 9:00pm at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas.
Miami Hurricanes vs. Louisville Cardinals
The Miami Hurricanes are coming off a 9-4 season, which saw them lose a few close games while succumbing to the injury bug. The Hurricanes finished the 2013 season with a big loss to the Louisville in the Russell Athletic Bowl. The Hurricanes come into the season without QB Stephen Morris; however, they will have RB’s Duke Johnson and De’Andre Johnson returning in 2014, which will help give their offense a healthy, bode of confidence. The Louisville Cardinals are coming off a 12-1 season, which saw them beat the Miami Hurricanes in the Russell Athletic Bowl by a large margin to say the least. Louisville lost a handful of great players to the NFL, most notably, QB Teddy Bridgewater, who was the undisputed leader of that team, so it will be interesting to see how they fair on offense this year, especially with new head coach Bobby Petrino at the helm.
This is a big game for both teams because Miami most certainly want redemption for getting blown out by the Cards in the last bowl game and the Cards want to prove that they can still play with the best, even after losing a good amount of their starters from last season. Look for Miami to try and push the pace of this game and take it to young Louisville defense.
Game info: Kickoff on Monday, September 1st at 8:00pm at Papa Johns Cardinal Stadium in Louisville, Kentucky.
Author: Matthew Kassabian