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My name is Eric. My love of and loyalty to the University of Alabama football team is unparalleled and completely inappropriate. I hate all other teams, and wish them peril. Also, you can hear my music at www.reverbnation.com/EricBlackerby or www.youtube.com/EricBlackerbyMusic

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Week One Preview And Predictions

Each week throughout the season, I will pick a few games to preview and then predict who I think will win. I won't always be picking what the national media might call the BIG games. I will be picking the games that are more important to me and the ones I would be more interested in.

After the weekend, I will do a look back on the games I predicted and admit to any dumbass predictions I made and/or brag about how right I was with certain teams and games

Week one gets started on Thursday night with a couple of games on TV. Texas A&M plays La Tech and Washington State plays BYU. I could care less about either of those games, though I'd pick A&M and BYU as the winners

1. South Carolina vs. Vanderbilt  I will most certainly be DVR'ing this one to watch when I get home from work that night.

SC is gonna be the favored team, probably by about 10 points even though the game is at Vandy. Last year, SC won by 18 at home, but that was before Jordan Rodgers became Vandy's starting QB. Stephen Garcia threw 4 INT's in that game. There is no Stephen Garcia, though Conner Shaw is an upgrade in my opinion, and Rodgers, who is the younger brother of Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, is firmly set as Vandy's QB. Vandy plays better at home, and things are on the uptick in Nashville. I really respect James Franklin and the way he is running things, making sure everyone knows that Vandy ain't afraid of anyone and they can beat anyone. That's ignorant, of course, but it makes for a better team than they could be and he's a good coach. I met him at SEC Media Days last year and told him I respected the way he was coaching from what I had heard about him so far and asked him how many games he thought Vandy would win that year. His response: "Well, every one of them of course". Love it. And would LOVE for Vandy to get the big W and make Steve Spurrier thoroughly abuse his visor. Would be hilarious

All that said, I'm still gonna go with South Carolina to win the game. I think Jadeveon Clowney will wreak absolute havoc on Rodgers and destroy any offensive plans they have in mind. South Carolina always manages to play like garbage when they shouldn't so it won't be a blowout

I'll take South Carolina to nail the spread and win this game, 23-13

2. Tennessee vs. NC State on Friday night could be alot of fun. I'd LOVE to see the Vols and their jackass QB Tyler Bray start the season off with a loss to a freaking ACC team.

NC State counters with Mike Glennon, who is returning for his final season at NC State. Glennon was a 5 star prospect out of high school who threw for over 3,000 yards last season and 31 TD's. It's too bad it was at NC State cause I didn't even know those stats until I just looked them up

Glennon could definitely cause problems for UT's secondary, considering he is 6-6 232 and with NFL first round talent.  Bray has the potential to be a star, but I don't think he has it between the ears. So I give the QB advantage to the Wolfpack.

Both teams have many holes on both sides of the ball that can be exploited by each and it's really not even worth breaking down each spot. I think either team could win this game, I think it could be an exciting game that goes back and forth and will come down to the last couple of minutes. Those types of games haven't been good to Derek Dooley thus far in his career

But I think Tennessee starts the season out on the right foot with a win, 31-27

3. Auburn vs. Clemson

This game kicks off an hour before the Bama game, so at least we will all get to watch the first hour of this game, before turning over to the Bama game. It's stupid to have these games at the same time, cause everyone knows as Alabama and Auburn fans, we like to watch each other's games, and especially big ones like these. Oh well.

Last year, Auburn jumped out to a 14-0 lead, and were up 21-7. I was smelling blowout at that point and was really shocked at how well Auburn was playing considering they had almost lost to Mississippi St and Utah St in the previous weeks and had looked horrible at this point. But Clemson came back and ended up making it a blowout in the other direction, thanks mostly to freshman sensation WR Sammy Watkins, who had 10 receptions for 150 something yards I think

Clemson returns a QB in Tahj Boyd that can give a young, learning AU defense fits. Boyd threw for 3,800 yards last season and 33 TD's. The concern is that Clemson is supposedly going to be without the player who DOMINATED Auburn last year, Sammy Watkins. My personal opinion is that Dabo Swinney, who is a former Bama player and still loves Bama, will find a way to allow Watkins to play. It will get said that Watkins has done the necessary things to get back on the team blah blah blah and he will play. Just my opinion. Though it is looking at this point that Dabo is sticking to the suspension and they will indeed be without Watkins.

The funny thing is, Auburn fans are laughing and bragging that they don't have to worry about Watkins and they are overlooking the fact that he isn't the only star wideout on that team. DeAndre Hopkins had 70 catches for almost 1,000 yards last season and Martavis Bryant is another big play WR that Clemson will use to make up for the missing Watkins.

The loss of Watkins though is, in my opinion, equaled out at least by Auburn's own loss. Reese Dismukes, their returning starter at Center was arrest Friday night for public intoxication and has been suspended, as it wasn't the first time he has shown poor judgment and immaturity. Dismukes is an All America candidate, and EASILY Auburn's best lineman and being without him, especially on short notice like this, with a new QB having to take snaps from a brand new guy....well, we all saw in the 2005 Iron Bowl what can happen when your star center goes out of the game and you have to shuffle the line around, as AU might do in this case. Brodie Croyle had nowhere to run, and even though Frazier is an athletic guy, I think there will be some mis-snaps and general screw ups between him and this line, that is also probably gonna be starting 2 freshmen at the tackle positions. While Watkins is a huge loss in playmaking ability for Clemson, I think they have other guys that can step in and replace that production. AU will have far more trouble replacing Dismukes on short notice and the lack of continuity will cost them dearly. I don't look for the passing game to have much spark in this game, and they don't have a bruising tough running back like Michael Dyer on the roster

Clemson also returns ALL-ACC RB Andre Ellington, who ran for almost 1,200 yards last season. Auburn's defense should be improved over last season, but I still have a hard time seeing them holding Clemson under 30 points in this game

For all the masturbating that AU fans are doing over their new defensive coordinator Bryan Van Gorder and laughing about Clemson giving up 70 points to WVU in the bowl game, they aren't thinking about the fact that Clemson has a new badass DC as well, Brent Venables from Oklahoma who they wanted before BVG came to town. Clemson returns 6 starters on D and they will also be improved. I don't see AU's offense with a new QB, Kiehl Frazier, who we are not even sure can complete a pass yet, and without their stud RB Mike Dyer who totally destroyed a future NFL career by being an idiot, being able to score more than 20 in this game. If Auburn wins, I will be surprised. And I am not saying any of this as a Bama fan. As you can see, I am honestly analyzing things from a personnel standpoint. I also think Swinney is a better coach than Chizik, who has shown so far that he is nothing more than an 8-5 coach without Supernova Newton.

One advantage I do see for AU is their defensive line vs Clemson's o line. Clemson is only returning 2 starters, though one is ALL-ACC, and Corey Lemonier is one of the top players in the country at DE. It's good that Boyd is athletic because he will have to run from Lemonier on a regular basis, but the rest of AU's d line is plenty talented too. The rest of AU's defense may be young and lacking in talent, outside of Chris Davis and Daren Bates, but the d line is probably only behind Alabama and LSU in the SEC so that will be Clemson's challenge.

I'm gonna go straight with the points I stated the teams could score above and say that Clemson wins, 30-20

These are really the only games of much significance in the first week this season, other than the Alabama-Michigan game in Dallas, which is the biggest by far

You can read my full Alabama-Michigan preview in my separate post on that one game.

For the sake of predicting enough games for the record, I will quickly predict a couple of winners of other games

4. Boise St vs. Michigan St: Michigan State. Kellen Moore FINALLY ain't walking through that door

5. Notre Dame vs. Navy: Notre Dame. Even though you can't trust them and they've lost to Navy recently

6. Kentucky vs. Louisville.  Louisville. Easily

The Alabama-Michigan game will be previewed in a separate post of it's own in the next couple days

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