Friday, August 31, 2007

college football preview

Right out of the chute we get an idea whether either team is a real deal for a major bowl. It’s a statement game for players such as Tennessee quarterback Erik Ainge and Cal wide receiver/return specialist DeSean Jackson. Speed to burn in this game and more pressure on the home team to win it. Tennessee came through in this spot last year.

Upset special

Duke (plus-4) over Connecticut

The Blue Devils avenge their 2004 national semifinal loss as Jim Calhoun’s lads went on to the national championship. . . .Oh, wrong sport. On the gridiron, a 20-game losing streak is riding Duke, and it’s been three years since the Devils have defeated a Division I-A opponent. These Huskies should be better than last year’s four-victory team, but now is the time for Duke, which returns all 11 starters on offense.

Also worth watching

ACC showdowns

The hoops league gets down to business with two intriguing opening bids. Wake Forest seeks to prove that last year’s league crown was no fluke when it visits Boston College. The Eagles have the ACC’s most accomplished quarterback in Matt Ryan but are breaking in a new coach, Jeff Jagodzinski.

On Monday, Florida State travels to Clemson in a Bowden Bowl showdown that’s taken a decided Tiger turn recently with three Clemson triumphs in the last four years. The Seminoles shook up their staff but went to a standby at quarterback. Drew Weatherford will start for the third straight year.

East Carolina at Virginia Tech

The numbness has worn off in Blacksburg after last spring’s shooting tragedy, but hearts with be the Hokies. “Tech people are looking for something to rally around,” Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said.

Arizona at BYU

Mike Stoops needs a big season, and a triumph here would be a strong indication the program is moving in the right direction. The Wildcats hired Texas Tech’s Sonny Dykes to put a Red Raiderslike charge into the offense. BYU has its sights set on a BCS bowl.

Georgia Tech at Notre Dame

Big for the Ramblin’ Wreck, but much bigger for Notre Dame. Coach Charlie Weis is keeping Tech and everybody else guessing about the quarterback. Will it be Evan Sharpley, Demetrius Jones or Jimmy Clausen? But the element of surprise might not be enough for the Irish against what may be Chan Gailey’s best Yellow Jackets team.

On the horizon

Sept. 8

>> Virginia Tech at LSU. With these defenses, the game might end 3-2.

>> Miami at Oklahoma. Will Boz show up on the sideline in a headband?

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