College football has started. It is now time for loads of football every Saturday. Here are five things to watch for in college football week 1.
1. Auburn’s Pass Rush
One of the best units in all of college football is Auburn’s defensive line. Defensive tackle Derrick Brown decided to come back for another season rather than enter the 2019 NFL Draft. They also have end Marlon Davidson and hybrid rusher Nick Coe, who both also have NFL futures. Last season, Brown had 10.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. Davidson had 4.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks, but has seen the field since his freshman year. Coe had 13.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks last year.
The pass rush will go up against one of the best quarterbacks in the country in Justin Herbert. If they can disrupt him, they can win the game. Oregon has a solid offensive line, so doing so won’t be easy, but Auburn has the talent, which could get the job done.
2. Can Justin Herbert Take the Next Step?
Herbert is another player who could’ve gone pro, but decided to play one more year of college football. With 7,070 passing yards, 63 touchdowns and 17 interceptions in his career, Herbert has been good, but he needs to take the next step to be great in order for Oregon to do some real damage.
The game against Auburn will be a big test. As mentioned, Auburn’s defensive line will get after Herbert, so he’ll have to show he can handle the pressure well. If he can deal with Auburn’s pass rush, he should be able to deal with most of the Pac-12 defenses he will face. A win in this game could be a sign of good things to come for Oregon the rest of the way.
3. Can Boise State Make a Push for a New Year’s Six Bowl Game?
In one of the highly-anticipated games of the weekend, Boise State will take on Florida State in Jacksonville. The Broncos lost some key players from last season, but are still expected to have a solid team that could be the “group of five” representative in the New Year’s Six. To get there they will likely have to start winning on opening weekend.
Boise State will be breaking in a new quarterback, but they have experience on their offensive line. One area that can give them a distinct advantage over Florida State is their pass rush. Curtis Weaver will get after the quarterback, especially with Florida State struggling on the offensive line over the past few seasons.
4. The Holy War
One of the best games of the weekend features the Utah-BYU rivalry. After going 7-6 last season, BYU will look to do better this season and it starts with hosting Utah. With a lot of returning starters, the Cougars should be looking to pull off the upset in week 1.
This game may be a little bigger for Utah given that there is a lot of preseason hype around the Utes. They are expected to win the Pac-12 South and also have a lot of returning talent. With a win in the opener, the Utes can get the season started on the right foot as they try to move up the rankings.
5. Northwestern vs. Stanford
Another one of the games of the week features Northwestern and Stanford. The Cardinal will host the Wildcats in the opener. There isn’t a lot of returning talent for Stanford, but they do have enough to compete in the Pac-12 North. K.J. Costello will look to keep the passing game steady, while Stanford tries to get more out of the rushing attack. The defense will have some new faces, but they were a solid unit last season.
Northwestern surprised everyone by making the Big Ten Championship Game last season. They’ll have a new quarterback under center as Clayton Thorson is now in the NFL. The Wildcats do have a star running back in Isaiah Bowser. They also have stars on the defensive side of the ball in defensive end Joe Gaziano and linebacker Paddy Fisher. Even though they are on the road, the Wildcats should be able to compete and possibly win the game against Stanford.
Make sure to check out our college football page for more updates and rankings.