All times eastern. My picks in bold.
Thursday August 30th:
Minnesota @ UNLV
11PM - CBS Sports Network
Friday, August 31st:
#24/22 Boise State @ #13/13 Michigan State
8PM - ESPN
Saturday, September 1st:
Western Michigan @ Illinois
Noon - ESPNU
Indiana State @ Indiana
8PM - BTN
Northern Illinois vs. Iowa (@ Chicago, IL)
3:30PM - ESPNU
#2/2 Alabama vs #8/8 Michigan (@ Arlington, TX)
8PM - ABC
Southern Miss @ #17/16 Nebraska
3:30PM - ABC/ESPN2
Northwestern @ Syracuse
Noon - ESPN2
Miami (OH) @ #18/- Ohio State
Noon - BTN
Ohio @ Penn State
Noon - ESPN
Eastern Kentucky @ Purdue
3:30PM - BTN
Northern Iowa @ #12/12 Wisconsin
3:30PM - BTN
This goes without saying. Widely considered to be one of the top, if not the top non-conference game in 2012, Michigan against Alabama at Cowboys Stadium gets top billing in week 1 with the 8PM ABC prime time slot and College Gameday on hand. Most analysts predict a victory for Alabama, but that won't stop folks from tuning in.
I'm putting the Michigan/Alabama game in this category also. The bulk of the country has already written Michigan off on this one, but is still going to be pulling for them. The SEC is hated everywhere except states that are typically red for every presidential election. I can assure you that most Alabama fans are as confident as ever going into this one. I don't blame them, but hopefully some of that over-confidence has spilled over to the team. Hopefully.
I'd also watch out for Iowa against Northern Illinois in Chicago. I feel like Iowa is headed into one of those Kirk Ferentz funks where Iowa struggles to make it over .500.
Snoozer of the week:
If you're flipping over to BTN at 8PM this Saturday for ANY reason, simply leave this blog right now and never return.
If pushed up against a wall by someone much larger than myself and forced to make a prediction, I'd pick Alabama. Why? Because I look at numbers and make decisions based off of them. I certainly don't consider myself a guru or an authority on the matter. And in this instance, would loved to proven wrong. But my gut tells me that opening the season with so many questions against a team which we really don't match up well against probably isn't going to bode well.
Although, Alabama isn't exactly going to be playing at the same level they were at the end of last season. There are questions on their side of the ball as well. If Michigan can keep it a one-score game going into the 4th quarter, with Denard at QB, then all bets are off.
As for the rest of the league, a few interesting games. All eyes will be on Urban Meyer and his debut in Columbus. They should win by 30 points. Ohio at Penn State is intriguing simply because of all of the off-the-field issues PSU has had to endure this off-season.
Boise State at Michigan State is must-see-TV on Friday night. I think Sparty rolls against a young and untested Boise State squad. This is just the first of many big games in East Lansing in the first 1/3 of the season. That place should be rocking.
The majority of the rest of the B1G games are either snoozers or will be over by halftime.