Best NCAA Football Week 1 Matchups

A week from this Thursday, the 2013 college football season kicks things off with a healthy slate of games. The action spills over to Friday before Saturday’s jam-packed schedule takes center stage. For good measure until the NFL gets underway, there are also a pair of games on Sunday and a Monday night ACC clash between No. 11 Florida State and Pittsburgh.

To get you ready for all the action in this five-day extravaganza of games, the following is a brief preview of some of the top matchups on Week 1’s slate along with the opening lines as provided by BetOnline.

The first game on ESPN next Thursday pits No. 6 South Carolina playing host to North Carolina in a border war between the SEC and the ACC. The Gamecocks have been opened as 11-point favorites with the total set at 57. These two last met in 2007 with South Carolina coming away with a 21-15 victory as a seven-point road favorite. The expectations are once again running high for the “Old Ball Coach” Steve Spurrier this season with Conner Shaw back at quarterback and all-American defensive end Javeveon Clowney anchoring a defense that allowed an average of 18.2 points a game last season.

The No. 2-ranked team in the nation will take to the field in a high noon kickoff on Saturday, Aug. 31 when Urban Meyer’s Ohio State Buckeyes face the Mid-American’s Buffalo Bulls. After posting a 12-0 straight up record in 2012 that included an 8-0 run through the Big Ten, Meyer has his eyes set on one final BCS title this time around. His team was serving a one-year postseason ban last year, but the only thing that can stop the Buckeyes this season is themselves. In what should amount to nothing more than a brisk scrimmage, Ohio State has been opened as a 37-point home favorite in its season opener with the total set at 60.5.

Johnny Manziel will open his sophomore season at Texas A&M against Rice in a 1 p.m. start on ESPN. After leading his team to an 11-2 mark last season, which included a stunning upset of Alabama and winning a Heisman Trophy with one of the most electrifying performances by a quarterback in recent memory, Manziel will have to be able to put a tumultuous offseason behind him and get back to doing what he does best. The No. 7-ranked Aggies should have little problem getting past their Conference-USA foes as 26.5-point home favorites. The total has been set at 71.5 points.

This season’s Texas Kickoff Classic at Reliant Stadium in Houston pits the SEC’s Mississippi State Bulldogs against the No. 13 Oklahoma State Cowboys, who have been listed as +265 favorites to win the Big 12 title. The Cowboys have also been opened as 12.5-point favorites in their season opener with the total set at 66. The game is set to get underway at 3:30 p.m., and it will be broadcast nationally on ABC.

No.3 Oregon will open its 2013 season at home against Division IAA Nicholls State in a 4 p.m. start on Saturday. Chip Kelly may have left the Ducks to coach in the NFL, but the talent and offensive scheme remain in place to carry on the winning tradition he helped create at this Pac-12 program. The line for this game is still ff the board, but you can rest assured that Oregon will not have to break too much of a sweat to get by the Colonels.

Alabama begins its quest for a third-straight BCS title in a 5:30 p.m. start against Virginia Tech in another opening day SEC/ACC clash. This neutral-site showdown will be played at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta and broadcast nationally on ESPN. The Crimson Tide have been opened as +250 favorites to win the final BCS title before college football switches to a four-team playoff format in 2014. They have also been opened as 19-point favorites to make short work of the Hokies on Saturday afternoon with the total set at 45.5.

Saturday night in an 8 p.m. start on ABC features probably the best matchup on Week 1’s schedule when the SEC’s No.5 Georgia Bulldogs travel to Clemson to square off against the No.8-ranked Tigers, out of the ACC. The most exciting aspect of this showdown is that each team has aspirations beyond just competing for a conference title this season, but only one team will remain on track for a BCS title berth after this game. The Bulldogs have been opened as slight 1.5-point road favorites with the total set at 68.

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