|Top FBS Matchups|
Sept. 2 — 8 p.m. ET: No. 14 TCU Horned Frogs at Baylor Bears
Sept. 3 — 3:30 p.m. ET: South Florida Bulls at No. 16 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Sept. 3 — 8 p.m. ET: No. 3 Oregon Ducks vs. No. 4 LSU Tigers
Sept. 3 — 8 p.m. ET: No. 5 Boise State Broncos vs. No. 19 Georgia Bulldogs
Sept. 4 — 7:30 p.m. ET: SMU Mustangs at No. 8 Texas A&M Aggies
|Watch Them Now|
21 LaMichael James
Key Notes: Last year’s Doak Walker Award winner and the top rusher in the nation, James is back and looking for one thing he didn’t get as a sophomore — a national championship. He can help the Ducks set the tone for the season with a statement in Game 1 as third-ranked Oregon faces No. 4 LSU in Atlanta. James, coming off a season in which he ran for 1,731 yards and 21 TDs, will need to be explosive from the start if the Ducks are going to quiet the “neutral field” crowd.
Other Players to Watch this Week: Vontaze Burfict, Arizona State (Jr., LB); Tank Carder, TCU (Sr., LB); Quinton Coples, North Carolina (Sr., DE); Jeff Fuller, Texas A&M (Sr., WR); Robert Griffin, Baylor (Jr., QB); Jayron Hosley, Virginia Tech (Jr., CB); Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina (So., RB); Landry Jones, Oklahoma (Jr., QB); Case Keenum, Houston (Sr., QB); Luke Kuechly, Boston College (Jr., LB); Kellen Moore, Boise State (Sr., QB); Jarrett Lee, LSU (Sr., QB); Trent Richardson, Alabama (Jr., RB); Dennard Robinson, Michigan (Jr., QB).
|Keep Your Eyes on This|
• The off-the-field stories just won’t go away. Troubles from Ohio State to North Carolina — both fired head coaches during the summer — to LSU, Oregon and Miami (Fla.), which will each be missing players, the issues have piled up since last fall. For about three and a half hours apiece on Saturdays, they’ll work to focus on football. How will they react? Who will step up and take over for the suspended players? Which teams will be able to put the troubles in the background enough to stay on the title path? That’s hard to tell. But the time to find out is finally here, and that’s exciting.
• Playing musical conferences has heated up again with Texas A&M officially exploring options to leave the Big 12. This fall we’ll see exactly what the first round of BCS be-bopping did as Nebraska grinds its way into the Big Ten and Colorado embraces a more laid back vibe in the Pac-12. Don’t forget, Boise State is in new digs (the Mountain West) and BYU is an independent.
• Looking for one thing you can put ink to paper about for this season? Assuming he stays healthy and on the field, Houston’s Case Keenum will chase down two of the most prolific NCAA football records as he becomes the all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns. He had some Heisman hype entering last season before an injury sidelined him the last nine games. Putting up numbers like 2009 (5,671 passing yards, 44 TDs) could quickly get his name back on the short list.
• A Holtz — this time South Florida coach Skip — is on the opposite sideline, but it doesn’t make the USF-Notre Dame matchup any less interesting. In fact, the Bulls may be the sleeper in the Big East and along with Baylor (vs. No. 14 TCU) and SMU (at No. 8 Texas A&M), could be considered one of mostly likely unranked teams to become the first to surprise a ranked squad in 2011.
• Fans better be ready for some offense because there are plenty of players returning who know how to pile up the yards. Nine of the top 10 total offense leaders from last season are back, including national leader Bryant Moniz of Hawaii, who averaged 367.3 total offensive yards per game. The only one of the top 10 not returning? Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton, who was ninth at 309.1. Among players 11-20 last season, seven return, including 2011 Heisman contenders Andrew Luck of Stanford and Kellen Moore of Boise State.
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