Pre­views, pre­dic­tions for Week 1 col­lege games

Ma­lik Rosier’s No. 8 Mi­ami (Fla.) is one of sev­eral Top 10 teams fac­ing an im­me­di­ate test.

USA TODAY Sports Weekly - - INSIDE - Ed­die Ti­manus USA TO­DAY

What to watch in Week 1 of the col­lege foot­ball sea­son:

No. 6 Washington vs. No. 10 Auburn in At­lanta

Sept. 1, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC Danny Sheridan’s line: Auburn by 11⁄2

The first top-10 show­down of the sea­son has huge im­pli­ca­tions, not just for the teams in­volved but for their con­fer­ences, too. This is par­tic­u­larly true of Washington, which seeks a mar­quee vic­tory on be­half of the Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off-chal­lenged Pac-12. It should re­gard­less prove to be a sched­ule booster for both squads, as­sum­ing their re­spec­tive on-field tal­ent de­liv­ers for the re­main­der of the cam­paign.

The Huskies bring an ac­com­plished at­tack into South­east­ern Con­fer­ence coun­try, di­rected by QB Jake Brown­ing and fea­tur­ing se­nior RB Myles Gaskin. They’ll try to solve an Auburn de­fense that has the po­ten­tial to be quite dis­rup­tive at the line of scrim­mage. The Tigers have a vet­eran sig­nal caller of their own in QB Jar­rett Stid­ham, but he needs a de­pend­able ground threat to emerge.

Pre­dic­tion: The Huskies will mount a few suc­cess­ful drives, but the Tigers’ depth of tal­ent on both sides of the ball will even­tu­ally make the dif­fer­ence.

Auburn, 31-17

No. 14 Michi­gan at No. 11 Notre Dame

Sept. 1, 7:30 p.m. ET, NBC Danny Sheridan’s line: Notre Dame by 1

For the Fight­ing Ir­ish, who don’t have the ben­e­fit of com­pet­ing for a con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship, ev­ery game is im­por­tant. This one, though, is clearly the big­gest on the open­ing third of the slate. It mat­ters as well for the Wolver­ines, who look to take ad­van­tage of this early op­por­tu­nity to over­come their re­cent fu­til­ity against highly rated op­po­si­tion.

Ole Miss trans­fer Shea Pat­ter­son takes the QB reins for Michi­gan, and Wolver­ines fans are hope­ful he can ig­nite a pass­ing game that has been sur­pris­ingly pedes­trian on coach Jim Har­baugh’s watch. Notre Dame has an in­cum­bent un­der cen­ter in Bran­don Wim­bush, but he must im­prove on his 49.5% com­ple­tion rate.

Pre­dic­tion: The home crowd will help the Ir­ish to a quick start, but Pat­ter­son will hit some big throws and the Wolver­ines de­fense will set­tle in.

Michi­gan, 34-20

No. 1 Alabama vs. Louisville in Or­lando, Fla.

Sept. 1, 8 p.m. ET, ABC Danny Sheridan’s line: Alabama by 24

The Crim­son Tide be­gin their quest for a fifth con­sec­u­tive Play­off ap­pear­ance. Like last year, they open against an At­lantic Coast Con­fer­ence chal­lenger. The Car­di­nals face a for­mi­da­ble task as they get on with life after QB La­mar Jack­son.

Even with Ja­won Pass now at the con­trols for Louisville, the Alabama de­fense with many new faces in the start­ing lineup fig­ures to get a good test. The big­ger ques­tion for Tide fans, the same one they’ve pon­dered since the con­clu­sion of the na­tional cham­pi­onship game, is whether Tua Tago­v­ailoa or Jalen Hurts will di­rect the of­fense. The mat­ter might not be com­pletely set­tled even on the day of the game, and coach Nick Sa­ban has in­di­cated it is pos­si­ble that both quar­ter­backs could play.

Pre­dic­tion: Louisville’s flash will be good for a few big plays, but not nearly enough. The Crim­son Tide will be in charge through­out. Alabama, 38-17

No. 8 Mi­ami (Fla.) vs. No. 24 LSU in Ar­ling­ton, Texas

Sept. 2, 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC

Danny Sheridan’s line: by 3

It’s an­other ACC-SEC show­down, and again it could carry value down the line. LSU is a long shot in the crowded SEC West, but a qual­ity win to kick off their ex­tremely dif­fi­cult sched­ule would be most wel­come. The Hur­ri­canes, seek­ing to re­peat as ACC Coastal champs, could also use a solid non-con­fer­ence vic­tory.

Find­ing the right for­mula on of­fense has been a strug­gle in Ba­ton Rouge of late. Ohio State trans­fer Joe Burrow might have to be the dif­fer­ence-maker the Tigers need at quar­ter­back, as a trans­fer ex­o­dus has left Myles Bren­nan the only other schol­ar­ship sig­nal-caller on the ros­ter.

If things are chaotic in the early go­ing, you might see the Mi­ami turnover chain dis­played more than it would like. Hur­ri­canes QB Ma­lik Rosier re­turns, but he, too, needs to cut down on mis­takes. The Tigers de­fense will be more than ca­pa­ble of gen­er­at­ing some take­aways them­selves.

Pre­dic­tion: LSU wants it to Mi­ami be a de­fen­sive slog. It might be early on, but the Hur­ri­canes will grab a lead the Tigers won’t be able to over­come. Mi­ami, 24-10

No. 17 Virginia Tech at No. 19 Florida State

Sept. 3, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN Danny Sheridan’s line: Florida State by 71⁄2

The Mon­day night con­clu­sion to the open­ing week­end fea­tures ar­guably the most im­por­tant con­test on the slate, a con­fer­ence clash in one of the power leagues. Nei­ther the Semi­noles nor the Hok­ies were picked to win their re­spec­tive di­vi­sions in the ACC. Both should con­tend, how­ever, and the open­ing-day loser would be in an even more dis­ad­van­ta­geous po­si­tion the rest of the way try­ing to chase down di­vi­sion fa­vorites Clem­son and Mi­ami.

FSU’s sea­son got off to a cat­a­strophic start in 2017, and the Semi­noles barely re­cov­ered enough just to get to a bowl. QB Deon­dre Fran­cois in­jured his knee in the opener against Alabama. Now a ju­nior, he won the start­ing job after he wasn’t able to fully prac­tice in the spring but he im­pressed coaches run­ning the of­fense in camp. He threw for 3,350 yards and 20 TDs against seven in­ter­cep­tions in 2016. Fran­cois will see a Hok­ies de­fense that lost a lot of se­niors from a year ago, but DB Reg­gie Floyd’s pres­ence will help. Virginia Tech QB Josh Jack­son must find a new pri­mary tar­get with Cam Phillips off to the next level, and he also needs to im­prove his ball se­cu­rity after some rough patches as a fresh­man starter.

The Semi­noles de­fense will have plenty of ath­leti­cism but not much game ex­pe­ri­ence. In short, it fig­ures to be a wild af­fair no mat­ter who has the ball.

Pre­dic­tion: This is a dif­fi­cult first as­sign­ment for the Semi­noles given all of the off­sea­son changes. Be­ing at home will help, but the Hok­ies will make fewer mis­takes. Virginia Tech, 23-16



Deon­dre Fran­cois, hand­ing the ball off to Kha­lan Laborn dur­ing prac­tice, has won the start­ing quar­ter­back job for Florida State.

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