5. Florida State at Boise State, Sept. 19
It was the dehydration game. Florida State roared out of the gate in the opener against Boise State, and then something went terribly wrong. FSU looked like it punched itself out – head coach Willie Taggart later explained that the team was dehydrated – Bronco QB Hank Bachmeier was terrific, and the Mountain West side left Tallahassee with a 36-31 win. Boise State gets the Noles on the blue turf this time around.
4. Appalachian State at Wake Forest, Sept. 11
Appalachian State was able to get by North Carolina and South Carolina last season, and this year’s version should be every bit as good. Wake Forest managed to survive and advance through the first half of last season, but this should be a dead-even game in Winston-Salem.
3. Rutgers at Temple, Sept. 19
Just how fast can Greg Schiano do something positive with Rutgers? There’s going to be a long, long way to go to merely be respectable, and Temple will be good enough in Year Two under Rod Carey to make this easy at home. It was able to stuff Maryland and Georgia Tech last year when they came to Philadelphia, and it should be favored against the Scarlet Knights.
2. Cincinnati at Nebraska, Sept. 26
Alright, Cincinnati. How ready are you to make a national statement? Luke Fickell is still the head coach, a whole lot of good parts are in place after a brilliant 2019, and Nebraska is going to be desperate to keep what should be a hot start going.
The Bearcats got UCLA and UCF last year, but both games were at home. Win this, and it’s on for the Group of Five’s New Year’s Six slot up until November 21st when they have an American Athletic Conference battle with …
1. North Carolina at UCF, Sept. 4
You ready to be a player, North Carolina?
It was terrific at times last season in a 7-6 run, and even the losses were tight. But this year it has to kick things off in Orlando against a program that feasts off of opportunities to beat Power Five programs – like last year in a 45-27 win over Stanford.
There’s a problem for the Tar Heels if they lose this – Auburn is up next – but for UCF, a win would likely be the start of something massive. There are trips to Memphis and Houston to deal with, and Cincinnati is going to be a problem, but beat North Carolina and it’ll be business as usual.