NCAA Football

FBS football is back; here are three things to watch for on Thursday

The FBS season returned in all of it glory on Wednesday night with an awesomely terrible game between Abilene Christian and Georgia State. While that game was entertaining, it certainly doesn’t do “Opening Day” justice…so that’s what Thursday has become by default; and there is a full slate of games on Thursday that are sure to get college football fans excited heading into the 2014 season.

Thursday’s slate of games will include a couple of top-25 match-ups, a few Power 5 conference match-ups, a bunch of mid-majors taking on mid-majors, and one Power 5 team taking on a tire fire FCS squad. The games will be exciting because of the fact that college football is back, not because the product on the field will be the greatest or most entertaining. That being said, there are a few games that are worth watching, and there are some interesting story lines heading into Thursday’s games.

Here are the three we think you should be paying attention to.

3) Scoreboards could end up breaking in Seattle: The hometown Washington Huskies are in Honolulu, Hawaii for the program’s first game of the season on Saturday. But that’s okay, because the Washington State Cougars — WSU is in Pullman, Wash. a five-hour drive from Seattle — will be opening up its season against Rutgers in the Emerald City.

WSU will be bringing the experienced Air Raid attack against a struggling Rutgers secondary. The Cougs are returning all of eight of their receivers and starting QB Connor Halliday. Rutgers will be bringing an injured and inexperienced defensive secondary all the way across the country. As a result, many pundits are expecting the Cougs to put up record offensive numbers against the Scarlet Knights…and with Washington State bringing in an inexperienced secondary, and a new offensive coordinator for Rutgers, this game could be a high scoring affair at Century Link Field.

2) Two top-25 teams from the SEC will face off, defense is optional: When No. 21 Texas A&M travels to Columbia, S.C. to take on No. 9 South Carolina, there is a good chance that both defenses will struggle to stop anything that moves. Both defensive units lost a lot of starting experience and talent to graduation and there are too many question marks about the players replacing those starters.

Fortunately for Gamecock fans, Aggie starting QB Johnny Manziel decided to enter the NFL draft instead of returning for another year to Texas. Now the Aggies will have to break in a new QB against a SEC team, in a hostile environment…ouch; South Carolina will be starting last year’s back-up QB, who does have three starts, and it will be interesting two see how the former back-up QBs respond to being the starter in the first game of the season.

1) Ole Miss is in the top-25, let’s see how long this last: The Rebels finished the 2013 season with a 8-5 (3-5) record, and are returning a bunch of their starters. That’s the justification that is being used for the Rebels — a notably hapless program — being back ranked at No. 18 in the country. Ole Miss opens up the 2014 season by hosting Boise State, a program notable for beating up on Power 5 conference teams.

Boise State has a new head coach after Chris Petersen left the program for the bright lights of Seattle, and is trying to overcome several graduations at several key positions (including QB). It will be interesting to see how the Broncos handle the trip to Mississippi, and how Ole Miss handles the pre-season expectations.

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