Several ranked teams face tough challenges in their openers.
The most interesting matchups between ranked teams take place in Knoxville, Tenn., where the Volunteers host California, and in south Florida, where Miami and Florida State renew their rivalry.
Cal is the highest-ranked team Tennessee’s Phillip Fulmer has faced in an opener since becoming head coach at the end of the 1992 season. The Vols lost at No. 14 UCLA in 1994 and won at Syracuse, ranked No. 17 at the time, to start the undefeated season in 1998.
Both teams have new offensive coordinators. Mike Dunbar is bringing the spread offense from Northwestern to combine with Tedford’s West Coast offense. Fulmer said the Vols are preparing for both styles. Cal settled its quarterback question this week by naming sophomore Nate Longshore the starter over senior Joe Ayoob.
Host Miami will try to avenge a 10-7 loss to Florida State last season. In that game, quarterback Kyle Wright made his Miami debut, setting the stage for an up-and-down season salvaged by defense.
Florida State’s offense is strong behind quarterback Drew Weatherford and receiver Chris Davis. But the Seminoles’ secondary and defensive line will be tested by the Hurricanes.
Game The skinny Outcome
N. Illinois (plus 17) at No. 1 Ohio State Huskies RB Garrett Wolfe was second in nation in rushing in ’05 OHIO ST. 50-17
No. 2 Notre Dame (minus 7) at Georgia Tech QB Brady Quinn jumps out quickly in Heisman Trophy race NOTRE DAME 37-21
North Texas (plus 41) at No. 3 Texas New Longhorns QB Colt McCoy gets confidence up for Ohio State next week TEXAS 58-10
Washington State (plus 14 1/2) at No. 4 Auburn Tigers’ secondary will have hands full with WR Jason Hill AUBURN 35-14
Marshall (plus 22) at No. 5 West Virginia In-state rivals meet for second time since 1923 W. VIRGINIA 47-17
No. 6 Southern California (minus 8) at Arkansas Say hello to the new Trojans USC 34-14
Southern Mississippi (plus 20) at No. 7 Florida Urban Meyer’s offense usually starts clicking in Year 2 FLORIDA 28-6
Louisiana-Lafayette (plus 30 1/2) at No. 8 LSU Looks like three-quarterback night for Tigers LSU 38-10
No. 9 California (plus 1 1/2) at No. 23 Tennessee A loss would not go over well in Rocky Top TENNESSEE 26-23
UAB (plus 21 1/2) vs. No. 10 Oklahoma Adrian Peterson should go for about 150 by half OKLAHOMA 33-14
Vanderbilt (plus 25 1/2) at No. 14 Michigan Ambitious Commodores face life without QB Jay Cutler MICHIGAN 42-14
Western Kentucky (no line) at No. 15 Georgia Joe T takes over at QB for Bulldogs GEORGIA 44-10
Montana (no line) at No. 16 Iowa QB Drew Tate and Hawkeyes open easy IOWA 54-13
Northeastern (no line) at No. 17 Virginia Tech Hokies breaking in new QB Sean Glennon VA. TECH 49-14
Florida Atlantic (plus 34) at No. 18 Clemson Trips to Boston College and Florida State follow for Tigers CLEMSON 53-14
Akron (plus 17) at No. 19 Penn State Zips’ QB Luke Getsy will test revamped Penn State secondary PENN ST. 38-17
Louisiana Tech (plus 21 1/2) at No. 20 Nebraska In ’98, Tech’s Tim Rattay threw for 590 yards in loss at Lincoln NEBRASKA 44-13
Stanford (plus 11 1/2) at No. 21 Oregon The big question: What will Ducks be wearing? OREGON 36-21
SMU (plus 26 1/2) at No. 25 Texas Tech Mustangs make Red Raiders work TEXAS TECH 34-20
Kentucky (plus 22 1/2) at No. 13 Louisville Cardinals have won six of seven against in-state rivals since ’94 LOUISVILLE 44-28
No. 22 TCU (minus 7) at Baylor Bears unveil new spread offense TCU 33-24
No. 11 Florida State (plus 3) at No. 12 Miami Seminoles snapped six-game losing streak to Hurricanes last year MIAMI 20-16
Last season: 192-63 (straight); 125-116-7 (vs. points)
SATURDAY’S TOP TV GAME
No. 9 California at No. 23 Tennessee, 2:30 p.m., ESPN: Cal’s national title hopes could vanish in the first game with a tough road trip.
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