Week 1 Early June Game Previews & Fearless Predictions
Months before all the fun starts, what might happen in the FBS games to kick off the season? Welcome to the early picks of the top Week 1 college football showdowns.
Welcome to the first look and picks for the opening week games of the 2017 college football season. These quick thoughts are being done in early June, with the real Fearless Prediction and expanded breakdown coming in August.
Saturday, Aug. 26
Oregon State vs. Colorado State
The Beavers might be a lot better, but get ready to meet the Ram firepower. Colorado State might be the Mountain West’s star. It’ll be an entertaining way to kick off the first Saturday of the season.
Early June Fearless Prediction: Colorado State 34, Oregon State 30
– OSU vs. CSU Early June Preview, Line & First Thought
Hawaii vs. UMass
It was a blast of a game last year when Hawaii won a shootout to close out the regular season, and it’ll take another dogfight to pull off the 2017 lid-lifter in Amherst.
Early June Fearless Prediction: Hawaii, 37, UMass 34
– UH vs. UMass Early June Preview, Line & First Thought
Rice vs. Stanford
Get ready for the start of a huge season for Stanford. Rice is far better than it was last year, but it’s about to get flattened by the Cardinal steam roller.
Early June Fearless Prediction: Stanford 40, Rice 13
– Rice vs. Stanford Early June Preview, Line & First Thought
Thursday, Aug. 31
Ohio State vs. Indiana
It’s a strange Big Ten opener on a Thursday night, and it’ll be awkward when former Indiana head coach/now Ohio State offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson comes back to Bloomington.
Early June Fearless Prediction: Ohio State 31, Indiana 16
– OSU vs. IU Early June Preview, Line & First Thought
Buffalo vs. Minnesota
The P.J. Fleck experience gets going against a Buffalo team that might have stunk last season, but has an interesting team with a great linebacking corps and a dangerous – and large – QB in Tyree Jackson.
Early June Fearless Prediction: Minnesota 34, Buffalo 13
– UB vs. Minn. Early June Preview, Line & First Thought
ULM vs. Memphis
Memphis will jump out with the firepower to put up big numbers, but ULM will be just feisty enough to not let this get out of hand.
Early June Fearless Prediction: Memphis 40, ULM 23 - ULM vs. MU Early June Preview, Line & First Thought
New Mexico State vs. Arizona State
It’s all up to how awful the ASU defense is. Can it keep the dangerous New Mexico State offense from cranking up enough points and big plays to keep it close? After a miserable end to last year, the Sun Devils will enjoy a cathartic blow up.
Early June Fearless Prediction: Arizona State 52, NMSU 20
– NMSU vs. ASU Early June Preview, Line & First Thought
Friday, Sept. 1
Charlotte vs. Eastern Michigan
Was the 2016 Eastern Michigan season for real? This isn’t the team that broke out last year – and it’ll show against an improved Charlotte team with an improved defense. EMU will win, but It’ll be rocky.
Early June Fearless Prediction: EMU 30, Charlotte 23
– Charlotte vs. EMU Early June Preview, Line & First Thought
Washington vs. Rutgers
The Huskies won’t quite blow up like a team coming off a trip to the College Football Playoff probably should, but that’s because Rutgers might be quite as miserable as many might believe. The Scarlet Knights won’t be able to score enough to hang around in the second half.
Early June Fearless Prediction: Washington 31, Rutgers 10
– UW vs. RU Early June Preview, Line & First Thought
Navy vs. Florida Atlantic
It’s the Lane Kiffin debut, and what does he get handed? The Navy option attack that’s going to be a nightmare again. Florida Atlantic will be stronger, but the defense won’t be there to hold up against the Midshipmen O. The front seven will get ripped up.
Early June Fearless Prediction: Navy 35, Florida Atlantic 23
– Navy vs. FAU Early June Preview, Line & First Thought
Utah State vs. Wisconsin
Utah State is coming off a rough season, and for its troubles it gets to open up with a team good enough to win the Big Ten title. The Badger defense is going to be amazing again, and the ground attack to look the part.
Early June Fearless Prediction: Wisconsin 36, Utah State 10
– USU vs. UW Early June Preview, Line & First Thought
Boston College vs. Northern Illinois
Don’t expect a shootout – unless it really is true that Boston College is about to crank up the offensive tempo. NIU won’t be back to being the team that dominated the MAC for so long, but it’ll be better. It still won’t be enough to get by another great BC defense.
Early June Fearless Prediction: Boston College 24, Northern Illinois 16
– BC vs. NIU Early June Preview, Line & First Thought
Colorado State vs. Colorado
Colorado State will already have a game under its belt after starting out the year against Oregon State, and then it’ll be Round Two vs. the Pac-12. After getting destroyed in last year’s rivalry loss to the Buffs, the Rams will get their revenge.
Early June Fearless Prediction: Colorado State 34, Colorado 30
– CSU vs. CU Early June Preview, Line & First Thought
Saturday, Sept. 2
Bowling Green vs. Michigan State
Which of 2016’s biggest disappointments will come up with a better start? Michigan State won’t be back to form, but unlike some of the sleepy starts to the season it came up with in recent years, it’ll come out roaring with a huge day from the ground attack.
Early June Fearless Prediction: Michigan State 44, Bowling Green 17
– BGSU vs. MSU Early June Preview, Line & First Thought
Wyoming vs. Iowa
All eyes will be on red-hot NFL QB prospect Josh Allen, but will he be enough to get Wyoming past a great Hawkeye defense? Nope. Iowa will swarm from the start in an impressive early showing.
Early June Fearless Prediction: Iowa 37, Wyoming 17
– UW vs. Iowa Early June Preview, Line & First Thought
Miami University vs. Marshall
Marshall just can’t be that bad again, can it? Miami University closed out the season strong, and if that RedHawk team shows up, and that Thundering Herd team is back, it’ll be a big win for the MAC. Marshall will be just good enough to survive at home.
Early June Fearless Prediction: Marshall 26, Miami Univ. 20
– MU vs. Marshall Early June Preview, Line & First Thought
Kent State vs. Clemson
Kent State’s defense will be just good enough to keep the final score from going into the stratosphere, but will the offense score? It won’t happen nearly enough to keep the defending national champs from using this game as a light scrimmage.
Early June Fearless Prediction: Clemson 44, Kent State 10
– KSU vs. CU Early June Preview, Line & First Thought
UMass vs. Coastal Carolina
After starting out the season at home against Hawaii, Massachusetts has to hit Coastal Carolina for the Chanticleers’ debut in the FBS world. The Minutemen will overcome the CCU emotion of the moment to win in a walk.
Early June Fearless Prediction: UMass 45, Coastal Carolina 24
– UMass vs. CCU Early June Preview, Line & First Thought
Akron vs. Penn State
Can Penn State get out to a hot start? That’s the only thing to watch for after having to comeback time and again last year. Akron will be good enough to get to a bowl game, but it won’t look like it in the second half in Happy Valley.
Early June Fearless Prediction: Penn State 45, Akron 14
– Akron vs. PSU Early June Preview, Line & First Thought
Louisville vs. Purdue
Purdue’s offense will eventually be phenomenal under new head coach Jeff Brohm, but it won’t happen in the opener. Everyone will pay to see Lamar Jackson and the Louisville offense, and come away raving about the defense.
Early June Fearless Prediction: Louisville 52, Purdue 20
– UofL vs. Purdue Early June Preview, Line & First Thought
Arkansas State vs. Nebraska
Arkansas State might be good enough to win the Sun Belt, and Nebraska might not be quite up to being normal Nebraska snuff, but after a rough start, the Huskers will pull away. It’s not going to be anything pretty, though.
Early June Fearless Prediction: Nebraska 37, Arkansas State 16
– ASU vs. Nebraska Early June Preview, Line & First Thought
FIU vs. UCF
It’s the Butch Davis debut for FIU going against the hot young coach – Scott Frost – at UCF. The Knights didn’t play all that well against the better teams last year, and FIU isn’t going to be one of those this season. It’ll be an effective win for the Knights, but the Golden Panthers won’t look awful.
Early June Fearless Prediction: UCF 30, FIU 17
– FIU vs. UCF Early June Preview, Line & First Thought
Nevada vs. Northwestern
Don’t be shocked if this turns into something really, really entertaining. Nevada is changing up the offense to an Air Raid style that’ll start throwing and keep throwing, but it won’t be sharp right away. Clayton Thorson and the Wildcat offense will bomb at will.
Early June Fearless Prediction: Northwestern 31, Nevada 17
– Nevada vs. NU Early June Preview, Line & First Thought
Ball State vs. Illinois
Lovie Smith had better crank up a big start to his second season, and his Fighting Illini team will look the part for stretches. Ball State will be good enough to potentially go bowling, but it won’t be good enough in crunch time to pull off the upset.
Early June Fearless Prediction: Illinois 31, Ball State 17
– Illinois vs. BSU Early June Preview, Line & First Thought
UTEP vs. Oklahoma
Lincoln Riley, your table is ready. It won’t mean much of anything if Oklahoma blows up and blows out UTEP in the debut of the new head coach, but it’ll mean a whole lot – with Ohio State up next – if it doesn’t. There won’t be much of a problem.
Early June Fearless Prediction: Oklahoma 52, UTEP 16
– OU vs. UTEP Early June Preview, Line & First Thought
California vs. North Carolina
The Justin Wilcox era kicks off for Cal, and he’ll translate into an instant improvement on defense. North Carolina will survive at home, but it’ll be in for much more of a fight than it might like.
Early June Fearless Prediction: North Carolina 31, Cal 23
– Cal vs. UNC Early June Preview, Line & First Thought
South Alabama vs. Ole Miss
So how was your offseason? Ole Miss might be having a rough time with the NCAA and self-imposed sanctions, but the team should be good enough to avoid a massive upset. South Alabama managed to beat Mississippi State to start last year, and while it’ll be feisty, it’s about to deal with a jacked up Rebel team.
Early June Fearless Prediction: Ole Miss 37, South Alabama 23
– USA vs. Ole Miss Early June Preview, Line & First Thought
Western Michigan vs. USC
Alabama vs. Florida State is the only other early showdown between two teams that played in a New Year’s Six-level bowl game, but things are a wee bit different this time around. Western Michigan will be great again, but it won’t be Cotton Bowl amazing without P.J. Fleck, Corey Davis, and a few other key parts. Future New York Jet Sam Darnold and USC will look terrific right out of the box.
Early June Fearless Prediction: USC 41, Western Michigan 17
– WMU vs. USC Early June Preview, Line & First Thought
BYU vs. LSU
BYU is always feisty, and it has one of the best linebacking corps in the country, but will it be able to pull off the upset in NRG Stadium in Houston? LSU will sputter and cough, but the defense will take over when needed to survive and advance.
Early June Fearless Prediction: LSU 26, BYU 13
– BYU vs. LSU Early June Preview, Line & First Thought
Maryland vs. Texas
The Tom Herman era starts against an improved Maryland team that might not have the firepower, but should be back in the mix for a bowl game. Texas had better look amazing, and if it loses … yeesh. The loaded Longhorns won’t be able to breeze though this, but at least the defense will start tackling again.
Early June Fearless Prediction: Texas 36, Maryland 17
– UM vs. UT Early June Preview, Line & First Thought
Temple vs. Notre Dame
Geoff Collins can make a big splash as the new Temple head coach with a huge upset win, but this isn’t the same Owl team that won the American Athletic title last year. If you’re expecting the same Notre Dame squad that stunk it up, that’s not happening as the Brandon Wimbush hype will be off the charts after an impressive Irish win.
Early June Fearless Prediction: Notre Dame 37, Temple 20
– Temple. vs. ND Early June Preview, Line & First Thought
Georgia Southern vs. Auburn
Running game vs. running game. The Georgia Southern option attack will be back to the form of a few years ago, and while that might help control the clock for a little while, the Auburn offense will roll at will. Yeah, the Tiger ground game will be great, but all the talk will be about new QB Jarrett Stidham’s performance.
Early June Fearless Prediction: Auburn 40, Georgia Southern 17
– GSU vs. BU Early June Preview, Line & First Thought
Appalachian State vs. Georgia
Appalachian State might be the Sun Belt’s best team, and it was good enough to push Tennessee to the brink to start out last year, but Georgia will slip by. It’s going to be a massive fight, though, against a veteran Mountaineer team that’ll hardly be fazed by the big stage.
Early June Fearless Prediction: Georgia 27, Appalachian State 17
– ASU vs. UGA Early June Preview, Line & First Thought
Kentucky vs. Southern Miss
Southern Miss pulled off a slight shocker in a 44-35 win in Lexington last year, and now it gets the rematch at home. The Golden Eagle offense will have its moments, but the defense won’t have a prayer of slowing down the UK running game.
Early June Fearless Prediction: Kentucky 37, Southern Miss 27
– UK vs. USM Early June Preview, Line & First Thought
Houston vs. UTSA
After the Cougars were destroyed by San Diego State in the Las Vegas Bowl, Houston head coach Major Applewhite needs his team to come out roaring. UTSA might be plucky, and it might be well coached enough to keep this close for a little while, but Houston will look the part again.
Early June Fearless Prediction: Houston 41, UTSA 17
– UH vs. UTSA Early June Preview, Line & First Thought
South Carolina vs. NC State
Who’s coming out party is this? Either NC State will play up to its talent level – the D line should be incredible – with a nice win over a rising SEC team, or South Carolina will show that it’s about to be more dangerous in Year Two under Will Muschamp with a nice opening win in Charlotte. The Wolfpack will prove that there’s another team to watch out for in the ACC race.
Early June Fearless Prediction: NC State 23, South Carolina 17
– USC vs. NC St Early June Preview, Line & First Thought
Tulsa vs. Oklahoma State
If you love defense, this isn’t going to be your particular brand of vodka. The two offenses will be among the best in the country, but the Oklahoma State attack will show off far more firepower. For those NFL Draft types out there, here’s your shot to take another look at Cowboy QB Mason Rudolph – he might be in the hunt for a top five spot.
Early June Fearless Prediction: Oklahoma State 48, Tulsa 27
– Tulsa vs. OSU Early Junes Preview, Line & First Thought
Michigan vs. Florida
The addition of Notre Dame transfer QB Malik Zaire should help an inconsistent Florida offense, but will he be enough to battle though what should be a nasty defensive slugfest? 0-3 all-time against Michigan, the Gators won’t have any more luck this time around as the Wolverines look rebuilt in a big hurry.
Early June Fearless Prediction: Michigan 23, Florida 16
– Michigan vs. Florida Early June Preview, Line & First Thought
Vanderbilt vs. Middle Tennessee
The next door neighbors should put on more of an offensive show than you might think. QB Brent Stockstill and the Blue Raiders are dangerous enough to pull off the upset, but the Vanderbilt attack that looked so great at the end of the regular season will show up again.
Early June Fearless Prediction: Vanderbilt 33, Middle Tenn. 26
– Vandy vs. MTSU Early June Preview, Line & First Thought
Florida State vs. Alabama
The Seminoles and Crimson Tide kick off the season in Atlanta’s new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and they might end it there, too – in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game. If this isn’t a showdown of the nation’s top two teams, it’ll be a battle between two in the top five. Florida State’s amazing defense – and, likely, the best secondary in the country – will hold up, but Alabama will do just enough on the ground to survive an early classic.
Early June Fearless Prediction: Alabama 31, Florida State 27
– FSU vs. Bama Early June Preview, Line & First Thought
Troy vs. Boise State
Could this be a fight between two eventual Group of Five conference champs? The firepower will be there to make this a bit of a shootout, but at home, Boise State will be more effective than it was throughout last season. Troy will be fine, but it’ll turn it over in a few key moments.
Early June Fearless Prediction: Boise State 34, Troy 20
– Troy vs. BSU Early June Preview, Line & First Thought
Sunday, Sept. 3
West Virginia vs. Virginia Tech
It’ll be the Will Grier show. The former Florida Gator QB is now under center for West Virginia, and he’ll have to be brilliant against an amazing Virginia Tech secondary. It’ll be a dogfight throughout, but the Mountaineers will survive thanks to the type of day from Grier WVU fans have been waiting for.
Early June Fearless Prediction: West Virginia 23, Virginia Tech 20
– WVU vs. VT Early June Preview, Line & First Thought
Texas A&M vs. UCLA
The two teams put on a thriller of a show last year in Texas, but this time around it’s in Pasadena. Josh Rosen will be back and healthy, bombing away in what should be a wild and crazy shootout. Texas A&M will look great, but Rosen will be better.
Early June Fearless Prediction: UCLA 37, Texas A&M 31
– TA&M vs. UCLA Early June Preview, Line & First Thought
Monday, Sept. 4
Tennessee vs. Georgia Tech
Can Tennessee handle the Georgia Tech option? Played in the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, the Yellow Jackets will try to own their home city, but the Vols will do just enough to survive. It’ll be an entreating battle to end a wild first full weekend.
Early June Fearless Prediction: Tennessee 28, Georgia Tech 23
– UT vs. GT Early June Preview, Line & First Thought