Auburn vs Washington high­lights Week 1

The Record (Troy, NY) - - SPORTS - By Steve Me­gargee

No games in the open­ing week of the 2018 col­lege foot­ball sea­son have quite the pizazz of last year’s meet­ing be­tween No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 Florida State.

But there still are enough in­ter­est­ing matchups to whet the ap­petite of fans starv­ing for more foot­ball ever since the end of Alabama’s thrilling Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off cham­pi­onship game over­time tri­umph over Ge­or­gia .

Auburn faces Washington in a neu­tral- site con­test be­tween top-10 teams. Michi­gan and Notre Dame re­new their ri­valry for the first time since 2014. An ac­tive off­sea­son coach­ing carousel has new eras be­gin­ning at big-name pro­grams across the map from Florida to Ore­gon.

Here’s a guide on items to watch in the sea­son’s open­ing week­end:


No. 6 Washington vs. No. 9 Auburn at At­lanta

This is the only open­ing-week game pit­ting a pair of top-10 teams. It also fea­tures a few po­ten­tial Heis­man Tro­phy con­tenders in Auburn quar­ter­back Jar­rett Stid­ham, Washington quar­ter­back Jake Brown­ing and Huskies run­ning back Myles Gaskin.

Auburn owns a 5- 0 record in neu­tral-site games against Pac-12 op­po­nents and will try to keep that streak go­ing in its first meet­ing with Washington. The Huskies are just 2-11 against cur­rent mem­bers of the SEC — in­clud­ing a 1-2 mark against Texas A& M be­fore the Ag­gies joined the con­fer­ence.

Stid­ham faces a Washington de­fense that has al­lowed the fewest points and yards per game of any Pac12 team each of the last three years. Auburn’s de­fense will try to con­tain Gaskin, who has the most ca­reer yards rush­ing (4,055) and touch­down runs (45) of any ac­tive Foot­ball Bowl Sub­di­vi­sion player. HEIS­MAN WATCH

Will Grier, QB, West Vir­ginia

West Vir­ginia al­ready has launched a Heis­man cam­paign for Grier, the As­so­ci­ated Press pre­sea­son All-Amer­ica first-team quar­ter­back. Grier threw for 3,490 yards and 34 touch­downs last year. He also should ben­e­fit from the re­turn of David Sills, who caught 18 touch­down passes last year to tie for the FBS lead.

Grier has an in­trigu­ing matchup Satur­day with new Ten­nessee coach Jeremy Pruitt , who co­or­di­nated the Alabama de­fense that al­lowed the fewest yards and points per game of any FBS team last year.

If Grier plays poorly and his team loses to a Ten­nessee squad that went 4-8 last year, his Heis­man can­di­dacy could come to a quick end. NUM­BERS TO KNOW

3: That’s how many de­fen­sive line­men from No. 2 Clem­son made the As­so­ci­ated Press pre­sea­son All-Amer­ica team. Clelin Fer­rell and Chris­tian Wilkins were first-team se­lec­tions, while Dex­ter Lawrence made the sec­ond team. The pre­sea­son all-At­lantic Coast Con­fer­ence de­fen­sive line con­sists en­tirely of Clem­son play­ers: Fer­rell, Wilkins, Lawrence and Austin Bryant.

5: The num­ber of new coaches in the SEC this year (not in­clud­ing Mis­sis­sippi’s Matt Luke, who was an in­terim coach last year but got hired on a perma- nent ba­sis af­ter the sea­son). That’s the SEC’s high­est to­tal since 1946, when the league had six new coaches.

73: No. 1 Alabama has de­feated un­ranked op­po­nents an FBS-record 73 straight times. Alabama opens the sea­son Satur­day by fac­ing un­ranked Louisville in Or­lando, Florida.

39-11: That was the Big Ten’s record against non­con­fer­ence op­po­nents last sea­son. The Big Ten’s .780 win­ning per­cent­age in non­con­fer­ence games was the best of any league.

.729: Michi­gan’s all-time win­ning per­cent­age, which leads all FBS schools. The 14th- ranked Wolver­ines open the sea­son at No. 12 Notre Dame, which ranks fourth in win­ning per­cent­age de­spite re­cently be­ing forced to va­cate 21 vic­to­ries from the 2012 and 2013 sea­sons . Boise State is sec­ond and Ohio State is third.


In this file phto, West Vir­ginia quar­ter­back Will Grier (7) is shown dur­ing an NCAA col­lege foot­ball game against Delaware, in Mor­gan­town, W.Va. West Vir­ginia al­ready has launched a Heis­man cam­paign for Grier, the As­so­ci­ated Press pre­sea­son All-Amer­ica first-team quar­ter­back. West Vir­ginia will play against Ten­nessee on Satur­day.

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