A couple of things going into tonight: I’m not a huge fan of predictions because if I’m wrong then I discredit myself. I like to preview and illuminate facts and storylines then give insight into how the game should go from my perspective. College football can be tricky with many unknown parts at play but we can take what we know and apply it.
A couple of previews, predictions, and things I’m looking for tonight:
Syracuse @ Western Michigan: Dino Babers takes the Orange on the road to face a pretty good Western Michigan squad. Babers is in his 3rd season as head coach of the Orange and returns 8 players on the offensive side of the ball. Babers is an offensive minded coach with success at Baylor and Bowling Green. He had a 2 year run at Bowling Green where he went 1-1 against the Broncos, winning 41-27 in his final season there. The Broncos aren’t the undefeated MAC opponent from 2 years ago and returning just 5 defensive starters from 2017 makes me feel like this will be a blowout. With an 80 degree day in Kalamazoo tonight, Eric Dungy should have his way with the Bronco defense. Winner: Syracuse
Army @ Duke: Time and time again, I’ve written off Duke in the ACC and David Cutcliffe proves why he’s such a brilliant coach. In my preview article for the Group of Five conferences, I highlighted how much appreciation I have for Jeff Monken and what he’s been able to do with the Army program. The triple option can be deadly but Army lost all but 3 starters from last seasons 10-win team and I just don’t think they will have enough to keep up with a Duke team returning 15 total starters from a year ago. I think it will be close for a little bit and then Duke will pull away. Winner: Duke
San Diego State @ Stanford: In many ways I can see this going in similar fashion as Weber St and Utah last night. Close game at half and the Pac-12 team pulls away. This is not an indictment on SDSU because I think the Aztecs can be a really good team this year. The problem for me relies on strategy. Both teams love to pound the rock, they both do it as well as anyone else in the country. The strategy then becomes loading the box and who has the better run defense. I give the edge to Stanford, as will most people. Unless SDSU has a legitimate defensive front who will not be moved easily, I don’t think they’ll be any match for Stanford unless the Cardinal has a down year on defense. Winner: Stanford
Utah State @ Michigan State: This game has the making for an upset. Michigan St returns 19 starters from last season and Utah State returns 18 starters, plus Michigan State is notorious for having simple gameplans early in the season vs lessor opponents. Both teams have QBs who can run the ball when they need to and both should be better this season. Michigan State has all the hype going for it and should have the better defense. Maybe I’m crazy but this should be one of the more underrated games for a ranked vs unranked matchup this weekend. I think defense wins here and Michigan State wins a closer game than people think. Winner: Mich St.
Colorado vs Colorado State: Playing in Sports Authority Field in Colorado is always fun. What college kids wouldn’t want to play in a professional football stadium and go through the locker rooms and enjoy the atmosphere? The interesting part here is Colorado State has played already while this will be Colorado’s 1st game. Last year’s version of this game had a lot of “Pass-Interference Controversy” that some would argue drastically changed the game. There will obviously be some bad blood there from last season as well as general rivalry intensity. Colorado State lost a game last week to Hawaii where starting QB K.J. Carta-Samuels ended up throwing for 537 yards and 5 TDs, even though it was a blowout. Colorado will have their hands full on defense as QB Steven Montez looks to lead the charge against the in-state foe. This should be a fun one to watch. I think Carta-Samuels continues the momentum from the end of the game last week and starts off hot, then Colorado gets in the groove and comes back to win in the 2nd half. Winner: Colorado