I would be remiss to not preview and watch the opening game of the college football season, ESPECIALLY when is includes the consensus top prospect for the 2014 draft. To my knowledge, no player has even gone wire to wire as the #1 high school recruit to #1 NFL draft pick. Jadeveon Clowney is trying to be the first. Also, on the slate is a big game in the state of Utah (hide your kids!), and a matchup of cellar dwellers that has more gambling than bowl implications.
UNC @ South Carolina Aug. 29th, 3:00 PST - ESPN
UNC Players to Watch: Tre Boston FS(3) #10 SR -- James Hurst LT(5) #68 SR -- Eric Ebron TE(5) #85 JR -- Kareem Martin DE(6) #95 SR -- Russell Bodine C(10) #60 JR -- Tim Scott CB(9) #7JR
USC Players to Watch: Jadeveon Clowney DE(1) #7 JR -- Kelcy Quarles DT(10) #99 JR
Key Matchups: Clowney v. Hurst -- Quarles v. Bodine -- Scott v. Byrd/Rowland/Ellington
Preview: All eyes will be on Clowney, but surprisingly UNC has significantly more draftable players (6 Top 10 players at their positions!). Hurst could start moving himself into the 1st round with a good performance against Clowney. UNC’s RT Holt is a highly touted SO if Clowney faces him. Under Butchy UNC consistently underachieved with NFL talent. Let’s see if they can buck that trend in their 2nd year under Fedora.
UNLV @ Minnesota Aug. 29th, 4:00 PST - BTN
UNLV Players to Watch: Tim Cornett RB(28) #35 SR -- Devante Davis WR(NR) #81 JR -- Nick Sherry QB(NR) #3 SO (‘16)
Minnesota Players to Watch: Ra’Shede Hageman DT(8) #99 SR -- Zac Epping LG(NR) #52 JR -- Derrick Wells CB(NR) #13 JR
Key Matchups: Ra’Shede vs. The World (or UNLV C Waterman), Davis v. Wells
Preview: This game will be viewed mostly by Minnesotans looking for a reason to drink, and degenerates. And let's be honest, considering the state of Gopher football and that Vegas is involved, it will be mostly degenerates. I'll probably switch the channel when Minnesota is on offense, but it’ll be enjoyable to watch Sherry, Cornette, and Davis continue to build on what they started last year. Sherry can sling it, and is definitely someone to watch for the 2016 draft. I also want to see if Cornette has the speed to play at the next level. The only lock for the 2014 draft is Ra’Shede Hageman. He could make life really hard for Sherry and Co.
Utah State @ Utah Aug. 29th, 5:00 PST - FS1
Utah St Players to Watch: Tyler Larsen C(3) #58 SR -- Chuckie Keeton QB(32) #16 JR -- Eric Schultz RT(44) #66 SR -- Nevin Lawson CB(37) #1 SR -- Jake Doughty ILB(57) #51 SR -- Zach Vigil ILB(56) #53 JR -- Kyle Fackrell OLB(41) #52 SO
Utah Players to Watch: Brian Blechen OLB/SS(12) #4 SR -- Eric Rowe FS(17) #18 JR -- Trevor Reilly DE(NR) #9 SR -- Kenneth Scott WR(NR) #2 JR
Key Matchups: Keeton v. Rowe, Doughty/Vigil v. Utah RBs, Scott v. Lawson
Preview: Chuckie Keeton emerged last year as one of the best dual threat QBs in the West. This year he will have to do it against much tougher competition. Utah’s D is not all that great, so he should have a chance to put up some numbers. He will have the benefit of taking snaps from one of 2014’s top C prospects in Tyler Lawson. I’ll want to see if he can get to the 2nd level and take on Utah’s LBs. OLB/SS Brian Blechen is the Ute’s top prospect with a very solid chance to get drafted. At 6’-2” 212lbs he’s more of a rover so he’ll have to show he’s fast enough to cover in the NFL.