Get ready for a weekend full of football with not only the start of the NFL season, but a Week 2 of the college football season that could potentially shakeup the national rankings.
There are several headlines this week: Will Miami get revenge from the 2003 Fiesta Bowl? Can Alabama's rushing game thrive without Mark Ingram? Can Florida State prove that their program is back with a win against the Oklahoma ? Those are just a few headlines this week that cannot be answered until Saturday is said and done. So when Saturday comes around, reserve your spot on the couch, at a bar, or in a seat if you are going to the games. It shouldn't be anything less then awesome, with a weekend full of drama and excitement. Here is a preview of the top games and some extras to enhance your Saturday experience:
Florida State at Oklahoma
Oklahoma is coming off a lackluster performance after beating Utah State 31-24. If Oklahoma plays remotely close to the way they played in their first game, then watch out for FSU. However, there were some bright spots from the first game; the offense gained 412 yards and their defense forced 4 turnovers. With home field advantage, expect Oklahoma to have a better performance than last week.
Unlike Oklahoma, Florida State looked impressive in their first game of the season. Quarterback Christian Ponder was on point, connecting for 167 yards and 4 touchdowns. Florida State's performance was against a weaker opponent, so we'll see if they can continue their success against Oklahoma. If Florida State wins, not only does it mean that their program is back, but they'll also shoot up the college rankings.
Miami (FL) at Ohio State
The main story heading into this game is not about the current teams, it's about the 2003 Fiesta Bowl. Many Miami Hurricanes football alums want revenge, and they let the current players know that during the offseason. Even with all they hype of this game, the Hurricanes look poised and ready under the leadership of Jacory Harris. Harris looked sharp in his first game against FAMU throwing for 210 yards and 3 touchdowns. Jacory's play might be important to this game, but the defensive line will be key. Miami's mission coming into this game is to stop the run, and its not going to be easy.
Ohio State is the favorite to win this matchup. Not only do they have a home field advantage, but also they are favored by 8.5 points (as of Thursday night, and could change). Ohio State looks ready for Miami after their performance against Marshall. Terrelle Pryor proved that he could be a pocket passer, throwing for 247 yards and 3 touchdowns. Brandon Saine also had a big game, rushing for 103 yards and 2 touchdowns on only 9 attempts. Ohio State's offensive line will be key, giving protection to Pryor and creating holes for Saine.
Penn State at Alabama
There is already a lot of buzz coming into this game, with Alabama's running back and returning Heisman winner Mark Ingram not playing. Another star player out this week is defensive end Marcell Dareus, who is serving the final game of his two-game suspension. Alabama didn't miss a beat last week with their star players out, winning 48-3 against San Jose State. Backup running back Trent Richardson, who is thought by many to be as talented as Ingram, rushed for 66 yards and 2 touchdowns on 10 carries. Quarterback Greg McElroy looked very accurate throwing 13/15 with 218 yards and 1 touchdown. Since Penn State only allowed 6 rushing touchdowns last year, the game will have to be won through the air.
Penn State has a star running back in Evan Royster on offense who will look to have a better game this week. Royster only carried 11 times for 40 yards last week, but he will be key if the offense is to do well, so look for a better game from him. Penn State might have a problem this week with freshman quarterback Robert Bolden. He might have looked impressive last week throwing for 239 yards and 2 TD's, but he will be facing a much better opponent this week. Like Penn State, Alabama's defense was stingy on the run last year giving up only 5 rushing touchdowns. Watch Bolden and Royster closely, because Penn State will need big games out of these players in order to upset #1 Alabama.
Michigan at Notre Dame
Before I get into analysis of the game, let me remind you about these two football programs in case you forgot. Michigan is #1 all-time in winning percentage with .737 and Notre Dame is a close second with a winning percentage of .734. Michigan also is #1 all-time in wins with 877, and Notre Dame is #3 with 838 wins.
With that said, it might not be the same matchup as it was years ago, but it is still special as both teams are looking to rebuild their program to what it once was. Notre Dame's first year coach Brian Kelly didn't show off much of his offense last week, as they beat Purdue 23-12. Look for the offense to open up the playbook and exploit Michigan's passing defense.
Michigan's offense will also look to continue their dominance. Last week, Michigan's offense thrived under Denard Robinson, throwing for 186 yards and 197 yards rushing. Though the defense only held Connecticut to 10 points, their secondary is very susceptible with injuries and early departures to last year's draft. This game will be an exciting one; look for both offenses to dominate.
Oregon at Tennessee
Oregon's performance last week was more then impressive, shutting out New Mexico 72-0. With LaMichael James returning from suspension and Kenjon Barner now as his backup, the Ducks have found themselves a two-headed monster at running back. At quarterback, Darron Thomas, who replaced Jeremiah Masoli after he was thrown off the team, threw surprisingly well in his first game, throwing for 220 yards and 2 touchdowns. Look for Oregon's offense to continue their success.
Tennessee also looked impressive shutting out their opponent Tennessee-Martin 50-0. Tauren Poole played well last week, rushing for 110 yards and 2 touchdowns, but Tennessee's offense will be without top receiver Gerald Jones. He led the team with 6 catches for 86 yards, but left the game early with a broken hand. This could prove to be crucial to a passing game that looked pretty weak. Tennessee's defense will have to step up to the challenge this week, and if they do, this could be an interesting game.
Player to keep your eye on: LeBron James, forward, Miami Heat. Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel will welcome LeBron James with open arms to The Horseshoe on Saturday. Keep an eye out for the star forward and what clothes he will be wearing; will they be orange and green or will they be scarlet and grey? Whichever side he chooses could stir up some more problems. Stay tuned and keep your eyes peeled for James.
On a more serious note, keep your eye on LaMichael James, running back, Oregon. With James back from suspension, Oregon's offense is much better and deeper, if that's possible. Look for James to have a big game in his first game back against Tennessee.
Tailgate item of the week: Sausage with peppers and onions- doesn't that sound good? It is a little more difficult to make than last week's Burgers and Hotdogs. Grill the Sausages, peppers, and onions if you want, and serve it on a toasted bun. To change it up a little, if you are a spicy fan, marinate the peppers and onions before hand in your favorite spicy sauce. But be careful, don't ruin the great taste of sausage with peppers and onions with an overpowering hot sauce. - Jared Levine
Jared is Journalism and Sports Administration major at the University of Miami providing introspective, insight, information and opinion on the world of College Football.