College Football Week 1 Preview and Picks

I know there were two games this past Saturday, but I think it’s safe to say now that college football is OFFICIALLY BACK!!! Week 1 kicks off Thursday and games will be played every day through Monday.

In preparation for kickoff, here are the links to all 10 conference previews plus Notre Dame. Included are projected records for all 130 FBS teams and a write up on all Power 5 conference teams with a look at recent history, players to watch, and 2019 notes.

Here is what you need to know and to watch for in week 1.

Top 5 Games of the Week

Oregon vs Auburn

Oregon has one of the top QBs in the country, Justin Herbert, and Auburn has one of the top DTs in the country, Derrick Brown. While the Ducks are starting an experienced senior, Auburn is going with true freshman Bo Nix. Both teams have expectations to finish near the top of their respective conferences and a win could kickstart a potential playoff push.

More on this game below.

Florida State vs Boise State

2018 was the end of Florida State’s 26 year bowl streak. Seminoles look to rebound in year two of the Willie Taggart era against a team with a history of winning these neutral site week 1 powerhouse games. Boise State is starting a true freshman at QB, Hank Bachmeier. Bachmeier was the 6th ranked pro-style QB in the 2019 class.

Oklahoma vs Houston

New Houston coach Dana Holgorsen is 0-7 in his career vs Oklahoma, from his time with West Virginia.

The last time these two teams met, Houston won 33-23 back in 2016. Houston QB Greg Ward threw for 321 yards, 2 TDs and did not turn the ball over. Baker Mayfield threw 2 TDs to TE Mark Andrews and RB Joe Mixon ran one TD in, but it wasn’t enough.

Greg Ward might be gone, but D’Eriq King was responsible for 50 TDs in 2018 (38 pass, 12 rush) and Cougars upgraded their head coach, firing Major Applewhite and replacing him with Dana Holgorsen, who left West Virginia for this job.

Oklahoma’s starting QB is Jalen Hurts, the third straight year they will start a guy who transferred into the program. Hurts is 26-2 in his career as a starter, including a loss in the 2016 National Championship game and he was replaced in the 2017 game by Tua Tagovailoa, and never started again.

Northwestern vs Stanford

Two of the smartest teams in the country, both match-up top QBs from recent recruiting classes – Hunter Johnson and KJ Costello. Johnson was the #2 QB in the 2017 class. He initially committed to Clemson, but transferred to Northwestern. Costello was the #3 QB in the 2016 class.

These teams have tied twice – once in 1994 (41-41) and 1933 (0-0). Stanford has won 3 games, compared to 2 for Northwestern in the all-time series. Northwestern won the most recent meeting in 2015. It was an ugly game, 16-6. Stanford RB Christian McCaffery was limited to just 66 yards rushing.

Virginia vs Pittsburgh

Don’t overlook the significance of this game. Pitt won the ACC Coastal in 2018 and Virginia is the favorites to do so in 2019. They might have done in last year, if not for a 1-3 finish, which started when they lost by 10 to Pitt at home.

Rivalries Renewed

Utah vs BYU

The Utes lead the all-time series 58-31 and have won 8 in a row overall. This game still means a ton to both programs, but nationally has lost a little luster since these teams shared space in the Mountain West conference. Utah hasn’t lost since they moved onto the PAC-12 and BYU became independent. BYU last won in 2009.

Colorado vs Colorado State

Colorado has tripled Colorado State in the all-time series, leading 66-22, including the last 4 by a combined score of 133-47.

Both coaches have ties to Georgia as assistants. Colorado State head coach Mike Bobo served as Offensive Coordinator from 2007-2014, while new Colorado head coach Mel Tucker was Georgia’s Defensive Coordinator from 2016-2018.

Recent Bowl Rematches

Oregon vs Auburn

This is a rematch of the 2011 BCS Championship Game, which Auburn won 22-19. Cam Newton threw for 265 yards and 2 TD and ran for 65 yards. RB Michael Dyer ran for 143 yards on 22 carries.

For the Ducks, QB Darron Thomas threw for 363 yards, but 2 interceptions. As a team, Oregon ran for just 75 yards.

Both coaches from this game left after 2012 for different reasons. Auburn fired Gene Chizik, who went 11-14 in the two years that followed this victory. Chip Kelly lost just 3 games, won the Rose and Fiesta Bowls and bolted for the NFL.

USC vs Fresno State

This is a rematch of the 2013 Las Vegas Bowl, which USC won 45-20. Cody Kessler completed 22-30 passes, 345 yards, 4 TD and INT. 2 of those TD passes went to Marquise Lee (7 catches, 118 yards) and 2 of them went to Nelson Agholor (5 catches, 94 yards). For Fresno State, they had Derek Carr (216 yards, 2 TD) at QB and Davante Adams (9 catches, 73 yards, TD) at WR.

USC opened the 2014 season with a 52-13 win over Fresno State. Kessler once again threw 4 TD (2 to Nelson Agholor) and WR Juju Smith-Schuster had 123 yards receiving on just 4 catches.

Notable P5 vs G5 games

  • Ole Miss @ Memphis
  • Wisconsin @ USF
  • UCLA @ Cincinnati
  • Purdue @ Nevada
  • Missouri @ Wyoming
  • Utah St @ Wake Forest

Notable G5 vs G5

  • FIU vs Tulane
  • SMU vs Arkansas St

Potential FCS vs FBS Upsets

  • Cal Poly vs California
  • South Dakota State vs Minnesota
  • Northern Colorado vs San Jose State
  • Howard vs Maryland
  • Indiana St vs Kansas
  • James Madison vs West Virginia

Other notable games notes

Alabama vs Duke – Duke beat Alabama in the 1945 Sugar Bowl. Duke Head Coach David Cutcliffe is an Alabama alum.

South Carolina vs North Carolina – Mack Brown will coach his first game since 2013 (Texas) and his first game at UNC since 1997.

Clemson vs Georgia Tech – It’s going to be difficult enough for new coach Geoff Collins to install a whole new offensive system at GT, one that involves throwing the football down the field and utilizing WRs and TEs as pass catchers, not blockers. It doesn’t help that the Jackets travel to Clemson to face the champs week 1.

Notre Dame vs Louisville – The same as above for GT, can be said for Louisville. Scott Satterfield is a good coach who did amazing things at Appalachian State, but 2019 projects to be a difficult year for the Cardinals. Notre Dame went 12-0 last year and despite losing a few pieces, should be back in the Playoffs conversation this season.


Last season I picked games straight up with 75% accuracy. In 2019, I am 1-1 (picked Florida and Arizona in Week 0)

UCLA at CincinnatiCincinnati
Wagner at UConnUConn 
Albany at Central MichiganCentral Michigan 
Morgan State at Bowling GreenBowling Green 
Robert Morris at BuffaloBuffalo 
Florida A&M at #17 UCFUCF 
Central Arkansas at Western KentuckyWestern Kentucky 
Gardner-Webb at CharlotteCharlotte
Georgia Tech at #1 ClemsonClemson 
Florida International at TulaneTulane 
Alabama State at UABUAB 
Texas State at #12 Texas A&MTexas A&M 
South Dakota State at MinnesotaMinnesota 
Kent State at Arizona StateArizona State
Northern Colorado at San Jose StateSan Jose State
#14 Utah at BYUUtah 
Rice at ArmyArmy 
Tulsa at #18 Michigan StateMichigan State
#19 Wisconsin at South FloridaUSF 
UMass at RutgersRutgers 
Utah State at Wake ForestUtah State
Purdue at NevadaPurdue 
Colorado State at ColoradoColorado 
Oklahoma State at Oregon StateOklahoma St
Florida Atlantic at #5 Ohio StateOhio St
Northern Iowa at #21 Iowa StateIowa St 
South Alabama at #24 NebraskaNebraska 
Akron at IllinoisIllinois 
Indiana vs. Ball StateIndiana 
Howard at MarylandMaryland 
Indiana State at KansasKansas 
Toledo at KentuckyToledo 
Ole Miss at MemphisMemphis 
Mississippi State vs. LouisianaMississippi St
East Carolina at NC StateNC State 
James Madison at West VirginiaWest Virginia 
Rhode Island at OhioOhio 
Eastern Washington at #13 WashingtonWashington 
Bucknell at TempleTemple 
Duke vs. #2 AlabamaAlabama 
Idaho at #15 Penn StatePenn St 
Colgate at Air ForceAir Force
Holy Cross at NavyNavy 
Eastern Michigan at Coastal CarolinaCoastal Carolina 
South Carolina vs. North CarolinaSouth Carolina 
Georgia State at TennesseeTennessee 
East Tennessee State at Appalachian StateAppalachian State
Northwestern at #25 StanfordStanford 
Portland State at ArkansasArkansas 
Montana State at Texas TechTexas Tech 
Virginia Tech at Boston CollegeBoston College 
#22 Syracuse at LibertySyracuse 
Sam Houston State at New MexicoNew Mexico 
Incarnate Word at UTSAUTSA 
Campbell at TroyTroy 
UC Davis at CaliforniaUC Davis 
VMI at MarshallMarshall 
Norfolk State at Old DominionOld Dominion 
Alcorn State at Southern MississippiSouthern Miss 
Illinois State at Northern IllinoisNorthern Illinois 
Monmouth at Western MichiganWestern Michigan 
SMU at Arkansas StateArkansas St 
Boise State vs. Florida StateFlorida St 
Nicholls at Kansas StateKansas St 
Stephen F. Austin at BaylorBaylor 
#3 Georgia at VanderbiltGeorgia
Georgia Southern at #6 LSULSU 
Middle Tennessee at #7 MichiganMichigan 
#11 Oregon vs. #16 AuburnOregon 
Miami (OH) at #20 IowaIowa 
Missouri at WyomingMissouri 
Abilene Christian at North TexasNorth Texas 
Virginia at PittsburghVirginia 
Louisiana Tech at #10 TexasTexas 
Houston Baptist at UTEPUTEP 
Arkansas-Pine Bluff at TCUTCU 
Grambling at UL MonroeUL Monroe 
Weber State at San Diego StateSan Diego St 
New Mexico State at #23 Washington StateWashington St 
Southern Utah at UNLVUNLV 
Fresno State at USCUSC 
Houston at #4 OklahomaOklahoma 
#9 Notre Dame @ LouisvilleNotre Dame 

For more college football previews, click here

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Mike is a member of the FWAA (Football Writers Association of America) and an alum of the University of Cincinnati.

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