Thursday, September 2, 2010

Thursday's Slate

Here is the lineup for tonight's televised games:

Southern Miss at South Carolina (7:30 ESPN) -- This is Spurrier's best chance at winning the SEC East since he's been at USCe. They will be breaking in new star freshman RB Marcus Lattimore and that doesn't count the 15 other returning starters from last year. The big question mark is how Stephen Garcia will perform and will Spurrier actually play one quarterback in the opening game (my guess is no).

Southern Miss is pretty much rebuilding since they lost 8 starters on offense. They do return QB Austin Davis, who missed the second half of last season with a ligament tear in his foot. They also return WR Deandre Brown and nine starters on defense. But ultimately they have four new starters on the Offensive Line and a talented Carolina defense should control this game.

#15 Pittsburgh at Utah (8:30 Versus) -- Coming off a 10-win season, Pittsburgh will be touting Heisman hopeful RB Dion Lewis as they travel to SLC to take on the Utes. However, they will be breaking in new QB Tino Sunseri as well as 3 new starting offensive linemen. Another bad omen is Dave Wannstedt's road record at Pitt (12-14). Overall Pitt returns 11 starters but should still compete for the Big East Title.

Utah returns 8 starters on offense and are also coming off a 10-win season. They also return two capable QBs in Jordan Wynn and Terrence Cain and Kyle Wittingham is 25-5 at home while coaching Utah, and went undefeated in '08. They only return four starters on defense but should still compete for the Mountain West Title.

Marshall at #2 Ohio State (7:30 Big Ten Network) -- The number two ranked team in the country kicks their season off against the Thundering Herd of Marshall. This also means we will get our first look at Terrell Pryor for 2010 as well. He ended last season on a positive note (23-37 266 yds and 72 rush yds) against Oregon in the Rose Bowl, and is a legitimate Heisman Contender (See my BTFF Heisman Odds). The OSU is coming off an 11-2 season, and I think they are the early-season favorite to win it all.

Marshall is coming off a 6-6 season in which their coach, Mark Synder was forced out at the end of the year. This year, they are led by former West Virginia assistant John Holliday as their new head coach. They also return quarterback Brian Anderson, who threw for over 2600 yards last year with 14 TDs and 13 picks. Overall they have 14 starters returning for 2010.

Minnesota at Middle Tennessee State (7:30 ESPNU) -- The big story for this game has been the availability of certain players. MTSU QB Dwight Dasher is suspended for this game (had a little gambling problem), and that means his replacement will be former JUCO QB Logan Kilgore. The Blue Raiders went 10-3 last season and should be primed for a Sun Belt Title. MTSU returns 16 starters from last year.

Minnesota has been hit by the suspension bug as well. They will be missing starting left tackle Dom Alford and starting safety Kyle Theret. This means that Minny will only have 1 returning starter from last year's defense. They went 6-7 last year and although they lost star receiver Eric Decker, they do return 9 players on offense.

USC at Hawaii (11:00 ESPN) -- Gotta be honest...I really don't know what to expect in this game. Not only is it Lane Kiffin's debut, but essentially this is USC's bowl game since they are ineligible for the post season. They return QB Matt Barkley but the real question is whether USC will be motivated to play in Hawaii. The starters should be fine for the Trojans but depth could be an issue as the season rolls along.

Hawaii is coming off a 6-7 season and is replacing nine starters on defense. They are coached by Greg McMackin, who is already on the hot seat after two so-so seasons. They will be breaking in new QB Bryant Moniz, but will at least have a home field advantage for this game. Given that they are three touchdown underdogs, Hawaii might need to spike USC's pineapple juice.

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