The 2018 College Football season is just ten days away, and with the new season knocking on the door, there is a slew of great matchups coming along with it. We hope you’re ready for some heavyweight matchups because here is a list of the top 5 matchups you can expect to see on opening weekend:
5: West Virginia vs Tennessee
One of the more intriguing matchups of the week, we see a lot of question marks on both teams. For starters, this is a Tennessee team coming off of an interesting offseason, to say the least, and after a rough looking spring game Coach Jeremy Pruitt has expressed some concerns about his team. This is not ideal considering their week one test comes against a West Virginia team that finished 7-3 last year and is returning their starting quarterback, two most productive receivers, and four of their starting offensive line. Pair that with an unorthodox 3-3-5 defense, and WVU is shaping up to be a tough team to beat this year.
However, the Vols offense is nothing to scoff at either with returning quarterback Jarrett Guarantano under center, a new highly touted running back in Ty Chandler and a strong offensive line, this Tennessee team is looking to put 2017 in their rearview. That being said, it appears that Tennessee’s defense will be the key to this game. We’ve already stated how dangerous the West Virginia offense has the potential to be, and the Vols have a fairly inexperienced defense. With one team looking to bounce back from a rough year and the other looking to cement themselves as a top threat to win the Big 12, they will both be looking to set the tone for their season here in week one.
4: Miami vs LSU
What will surely be a gritty game highlighted by two of the nation’s better defense’s, this Miami vs LSU matchup could end up being quite the game. LSU is coming off of a “down year” by their standards in which their defense was ranked 18th in the nation, however, with added depth and experience in the secondary, that likely won’t be the case again this year. Miami, on the other hand, is coming off of a resurgent season that not only included the Hurricanes once again gaining the national spotlight, but also one which birthed the phenomena known as “The Turnover Chain.”
The Hurricanes ball-hawking, hard-hitting defense was a problem for teams all year last year, and with most of the defense returning, it will likely be no different for LSU’s Ohio State transfer Joe Burrow. While coaches have had nothing but good things to say about Burrow, it will be a tall order for him to get comfortable enough in the new system to be ready to take on a defense that ranked third in the nation in takeaways last season. On the other side of the ball, the Hurricanes are facing the same problem. Despite returning their senior quarterback, the Hurricanes lost their top two wideouts, a tight end, and their offensive line is in a bit of a rebuild. With LSU looking to improve their defense, Miami’s spread offense will provide an interesting test to start the season.
3: Louisville vs Alabama
Any game that features the perennial powerhouse and returning national champions that is the Alabama Crimson Tide is must-watch television. However, unlike years past, coach Saban enters this season with quite a few question marks, primarily at the quarterback position. Despite leading the Crimson Tide to the national championship game last season, Jalen Hurts job as the starting quarterback is anything but safe solely because of that national championship game. Hurts did not perform well in the game, and after coming out of the half trailing by 13, Coach Saban turned to freshman Tua Tagovailoa who led the team to a second-half comeback, eventually winning the game 26-23 in overtime. Tagovailoa truly had a performance for the ages, and if it weren’t for him, Georgia would likely be entering the year as the defending national champions. All of that being said, however, the Alabama defense is as good as ever, and regardless of who Saban chooses as his quarterback, both have proven they can play at an elite level.
Louisville, on the other hand, is looking to adjust to life post-Lamar Jackson, and they think they have just the quarterback to do so in Jawon Pass. Pass is a talented quarterback, and with a lot of talent returning on the offensive side of the ball, Pass will have an opportunity to succeed right away. That being said, he will likely be no Lamar Jackson out of the gate, and the Cardinals defense is coming off a year where they didn’t have much success.
2: Michigan vs Notre Dame
The story of this game is fairly straight-forward: Will a restructured Notre Dame offense be able to compete against a Michigan defense that could be the best in the country? A top ten ranked defense last season, the Wolverines are returning eight starters, and with the loss of their two best offensive linemen, a tight end, a wideout, and running back, the Notre Dame offense seemingly rests on the shoulders of returning quarterback, Brandon Wimbush.
If that isn’t enough pressure, Notre Dame also lost their defensive coordinator last season, and former LB coach, now newly promoted defensive coordinator Clark Lee says his plan is to maintain the same defensive system. Michigan will likely be bringing their usual run-heavy offense into this matchup, and it should serve as a good test to see where the ND defense is at and where they will need to improve.
1: Washington vs Auburn
Two projected top 5 teams squaring off in week one. Can you really ask for anything more than that? A game that many believe could play a big role come playoff selection time, this has all the makings of a great game. With Auburn returning arguably their best quarterback since Cam Newton, transfer Jarrett Stidham who threw for over 3,000 yards last year will also be getting back his top three targets from last season. This is good news for Tigers fans considering that they will be going up against a Washington defense that was top 10 in the nation in 2017 and is returning all 5 starters from the secondary as well as 4 others, seemingly setting them up for similar success this season.
That being said, Auburn’s defense is not one to scoff at either. With eight returning starters, Washington’s veteran QB Jake Browning will have a lot on his plate in this week one matchup. Luckily, he will be behind an experienced o-line and will have multiple weapons at the tight end spot at his disposal. It will be interesting to see which team’s defense holds it down, or if one of the two offense’s can find a groove and make a statement going forward.