Finally, the season that never seemed as if it would arrive has arrived.
After an offseason that wanted to make you take a shower three or four times a day, the season kicks off tonight - with, frankly, a bunch of cruddy games. But at least it's real football.
The action picks up Friday and the weekend ends Monday night with a good matchup in the ACC.
Murray State at Louisville, 6 p.m., ESPNU
THE BUZZ: This is the 18th meeting between the in-state rivals. The most recent game came in 2007, when Louisville scored on the first play and went on to win 73-10. Murray State, which is coached by Chris Hatcher, is coming off a 6-5 season, which was its first winning record since 2004.
THE LINE: None THE PICK: Louisville 27-17
North Texas at Florida International, 7 p.m.
THE BUZZ: The first conference matchup of the 2011 season. FIU tied for the Sun Belt title with Troy last season and is co-favorite, with Troy, this season. This is the first game for new North Texas coach Dan McCarney. A loss bodes ill for FIU's title hopes.
THE LINE: FIU by 14 THE PICK: FIU 31-23
Villanova at Temple, 7 p.m.
THE BUZZ: Two Philadelphia schools get together at the Eagles' Lincoln Financial Field. The teams have split their past two meetings. This is the first game for new Temple coach Steve Addazio, who had been offensive coordinator at Florida, and he has the Owls using a spread offense now.
THE LINE: None THE PICK: Temple 23-21
New Hampshire at Toledo, 7 p.m.
THE BUZZ: Toledo is one of the best teams in the MAC and New Hampshire is one of the best teams in FCS. New Hampshire has advanced to the FCS quarterfinals in six of the past seven seasons. Toledo should have a potent offense, assuming the Rockets don't have a quarterback controversy. Toledo has Ohio State and Boise State in its next two games.
THE LINE: None THE PICK: Toledo 37-28
South Carolina State at Central Michigan, 7 p.m.
THE BUZZ: South Carolina State is coming off a FCS playoff appearance, and the Bulldogs win with defense. That defense will be tested by Central Michigan QB Ryan Radcliff, who threw for 3,358 yards and was hot down the stretch last season. CMU went 3-9 last season, but five of the losses were by a combined 19 points.
THE LINE: None THE PICK: Central Michigan 26-15
Western Carolina at Georgia Tech, 7:30 p.m.
THE BUZZ: Georgia Tech is coming off a losing season and an offseason in which it was put on probation. Opening against the Catamounts, a FCS program, should leave Tech feeling good about itself. Western Carolina was 2-9 last season and has had just three winning records since 1994. In the past five seasons, the Catamounts have won a combined 10 games; Western has played six games against FBS foes in that span and been outscored 321-29. Tech coach Paul Johnson is a 1979 graduate of Western Carolina.
THE LINE: None THE PICK: Georgia Tech 44-13
North Carolina Central at Rutgers, 7:30 p.m.
THE BUZZ: This is the fifth season in a row that Rutgers has played a historically black college/university in non-conference action; the Scarlet Knights have the won the previous four by a combined 166-7. In addition, Rutgers has won seven in a row over FCS foes by a combined 311-20. N.C. Central still is transitioning from Division II into FCS and is coming off a 3-8 season. This is just the second FBS game for Central in its history; its first was a 35-point loss to Duke in 2009.
THE LINE: None THE PICK: Rutgers 48-13
UNLV at Wisconsin, 8 p.m., ESPN
THE BUZZ: This will be the unveiling of N.C. State transfer Russell Wilson at the controls of Wisconsin's offense. This is the second season in a row these teams have met to open the season; the Badgers won by 20 in Vegas last season.
THE LINE: Wisconsin by 35 THE PICK: Wisconsin 56-17
Mississippi State at Memphis, 8 p.m., Fox Sports Net
THE BUZZ: Expectations are high at Mississippi State, and teams expecting to go to a bowl certainly don't open the season by losing to Memphis. The Bulldogs beat the Tigers by 42 last season.
THE LINE: Mississippi State by 29 THE PICK: Mississippi State 38-7
Wake Forest at Syracuse, 8 p.m.
THE BUZZ: This is the first of six ACC/Big East matchups this season. This will be Wake's fourth-ever game in a dome - and the Demon Deacons are 0-3. Syracuse's linebackers are a question mark, so Wake TB Josh Harris could have a big game.
THE LINE: Syracuse by 6.5 THE PICK: Syracuse 24-20
Montana State at Utah, 8 p.m.
THE BUZZ: Utah's first game as a Pac-12 member comes against a solid FCS program. Montana State QB DeNarius McGhee could pose some problems for a rebuilt Utes secondary. How well Utah runs the ball is a storyline to follow; the Utes have an all-new group of tailbacks.
THE LINE: None THE PICK: Utah 31-17
Bowling Green at Idaho, 9 p.m., Altitude
THE BUZZ: This is an interesting MAC-WAC matchup; these teams met in the Humanitarian Bowl after the 2009 season, with Idaho coming away with the win. Neither team ran the ball that effectively last season (BG was last in the nation in rushing), and improving the rushing attack is important for both. BG LB Dwayne Woods made 134 tackles last season.
THE LINE: Idaho by 7 THE PICK: Bowling Green 28-24
Kentucky vs. Western Kentucky in Nashville, 9:15 p.m., ESPNU
THE BUZZ: This is just the third meeting between the schools, and UK has won both, including a 35-point rout last season. Western's coordinators have SEC ties; the offensive coordinator is Zach Azzanni, who was Florida's receivers coach last season, and the defensive coordinator is Lance Guidry, who is the father of former Tennessee FS Janzen Jackson. Western TB Bobby Rainey rambled for 184 yards last season against UK.
THE LINE: Kentucky by 19.5 THE PICK: Kentucky 45-27
UC Davis at Arizona State, 10 p.m., Fox Sports Arizona/Fox College Sports Pacific
THE BUZZ: Big things are expected from Arizona State this season, and QB Brock Osweiler needs to be sharp against this FCS opponent. The Sun Devils have won eight consecutive openers.
THE LINE: None THE PICK: Arizona State 45-14
Youngstown State at Michigan State, 7:30 p.m., Big Ten Network
THE BUZZ: This is just the third time in school history that Michigan State has faced a FCS opponent; it's also the third season in a row it has happened. Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio was defensive coordinator at Youngstown State under Jim Tressel in the late 1980s. This is just the 10th night game at Michigan State in school history.
THE LINE: None THE PICK: Michigan State 54-16
TCU at Baylor, 8 p.m., ESPN
THE BUZZ: This is the 107th meeting between the former Southwest Conference rivals, and TCU leads the series 50-49-7. This is just the fourth meeting since 1995, the final season of the SWC. TCU has won the past three by a combined 72 points. This marks the starting debut for TCU sophomore QB Casey Pachall, and it's also the debut for new Baylor defensive coordinator Phil Bennett.
THE LINE: TCU by 6 THE PICK: TCU 27-17
Northwestern at Boston College, noon, ESPNU
THE BUZZ: This is one of the better games of the opening weekend. Both teams have some injury issues. BC TB Montel Harris will miss the game because of an issue with his knee, and you wonder how the Eagles will move the ball without him. Meanwhile, Northwestern QB Dan Persa is said to be less than 100 percent as he attempts to come back from a torn Achilles suffered late last season.
THE LINE: BC by 3 THE PICK: Boston College 21-20
Miami of Ohio at Missouri, noon, Fox Sports Net
THE BUZZ: This is the first game for new Miami coach Don Treadwell, who had been offensive coordinator at Michigan State. The Red Hawks generally are solid all around, but their rushing attack is a huge question. Mizzou is breaking in a new quarterback, James Franklin, but most of the other key players from last season return for the Tigers.
THE LINE: Missouri by 19 THE PICK: Missouri 38-17
Akron at Ohio State, noon, ESPN
THE BUZZ: The post-Jim Tressel era begins at Ohio State with an in-state foe serving as first-game fodder. The Zips won one game last season and incumbent starting QB Patrick Nicely lost his job to JC transfer Clayton Moore, who signed with Ole Miss our of high school. Ohio State, too, has a new starting quarterback, but you can expect to see both Joe Bauserman and touted true freshman Braxton Miller under center.
THE LINE: Ohio State by 34 THE PICK: Ohio State 38-0
Utah State at Auburn, noon, ESPN2
THE BUZZ: The post-Cam Newton starts for the Tigers, which means the beginning of the Barrett Trotter era. Utah State also will have a first-time starter at quarterback in JC transfer Adam Kennedy. Utah State coach Gary Andersen also has taken over defensive coordinator duties, and we can think of easier things than facing Gus Malzahn in Game 1.
THE LINE: Auburn by 21 THE PICK: Auburn 37-14
Indiana State at Penn State, noon, Big Ten Network
THE BUZZ: This is the start of - what - Joe Paterno's third century in Happy Valley? Actually, it's his 46th season as head coach, and it should get off to a rousing start. Indiana State is coming off a 6-5 record. The Sycamores had won a total of two games in the previous five seasons, and 2010's winning record snapped a streak of 13 consecutive losing seasons. In its past seven games against FBS opponents, the Sycamores have allowed an average of 50.3 points per contest.
THE LINE: None THE PICK: Penn State 50-14
Middle Tennessee at Purdue, noon, Big Ten Network
THE BUZZ: The Boilermakers will start junior QB Caleb TerBush, which makes him the fourth different quarterback to start an opener in the past four seasons. In addition, he is the fifth different quarterback to start a game for Purdue in less than a year. This is the first time in Purdue's 123 years of football that it has played a game on Sept. 3. This is the second season in a row MTSU has opened with a Big Ten foe; the Blue Raiders fell at home to Minnesota last season.
THE LINE: Purdue by 18 THE PICK: Purdue 27-23
Tennessee Tech at Iowa, noon, Big Ten Network
THE BUZZ: Iowa had a disappointing 2010 season, but the 2001 season almost certainly will get off to a good start. Tennessee Tech - which is coached by Watson Brown -has had a losing record in nine of the past 13 seasons. The Golden Eagles have played eight games against FBS opponents in the past five seasons; they have been outscored 364-37.
THE LINE: None THE PICK: Iowa 49-10
Fordham at Connecticut, noon
THE BUZZ: The game originally was scheduled for Thursday but moved because of post-Hurricane Irene rescue efforts. This is the first game at UConn for new coach Paul Pasqualoni. Fordham won the only previous meeting 35-0 - but that was in 1915.
THE LINE: None THE PICK: UConn 33-7
Kent State at Alabama, 12:20 p.m., SEC syndication/Altitude/MSG network/Comcast SportsNet California/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: Alabama coach Nick Saban is a Kent State alum, so maybe that means he'll take it easy on the Golden Flashes. The main intrigue with this one is how much time each Alabama quarterback will receive.
THE LINE: Alabama by 38 THE PICK: Alabama 52-7
Appalachian State at Virginia Tech, 12:30 p.m., ACC syndication/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: Virginia Tech lost a home game to FCS member James Madison last season. This marks the starting debut for touted Hokies QB Logan Thomas, a 6-foot-6 sophomore. App State QB DeAndre Presley is one of four players in FCS history to pass for 2,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in the same season.
THE LINE: None THE PICK: Virginia Tech 40-21
Southeastern Louisiana at Tulane, 1:30 p.m.
THE BUZZ: This will be the sixth meeting between the teams, whose campuses are about 45 miles apart. Tulane won by six over the Lions last season, which was one of six losses for Southeastern Louisiana that was by seven or fewer points.
THE LINE: None THE PICK: Tulane 28-20
South Dakota at Air Force, 2 p.m., The Mtn.
THE BUZZ: This is the fifth consecutive season Air Force has opened with a FCS opponent. The Falcons have won the previous four by a combined 181 points. South Dakota played one FBS school last season and beat Minnesota 41-38.
THE LINE: None THE PICK: Air Force 45-17
UCLA at Houston, 3:30 p.m., Fox Sports Net
THE BUZZ: Houston QB Case Keenum makes his return - and its against the team against which he suffered a season-ending injury last season. This is an important game for UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel and his revamped coaching staff. While Houston is extremely potent offensively, the Cougars are extremely exploitable on defense, and if the Bruins can't move the ball, that bodes ill for the season and for Neuheisel's job security.
THE LINE: Houston by 3 THE PICK: Houston 37-31
USF at Notre Dame, 3:30 p.m., NBC
THE BUZZ: Just call this one "The Holtz Bowl." Second-year USF coach Skip Holtz - a 1986 Notre Dame grad - will walk the sideline at a stadium in which his dad had a great of success as the Irish coach. Skip was a Notre Dame assistant from 1990-93. USF's pass rush bears watching.
THE LINE: Notre Dame by 10 THE PICK: Notre Dame 24-10
Minnesota at USC, 3:30 p.m., ABC regional/ESPN2
THE BUZZ: This is the first game for new Minnesota coach Jerry Kill, who had great success at Northern Illinois by running the ball and playing solid defense. USC has won 13 consecutive openers and owns an 11-game winning streak against Big Ten opponents.
THE LINE: USC by 23 THE PICK: USC 45-16
Western Michigan at Michigan, 3:30 p.m., ABC regional/ESPN2
THE BUZZ: This is the sixth meeting between the teams, whose campuses are about 100 miles apart. This is the first game for new Michigan coach Brady Hoke. Western Michigan QB Alex Carder is coming off a season in which he threw for 3,334 yards and 30 TDs. Given that Michigan's secondary was a sieve last season, Carder will provide a huge test for the Wolverines and new coordinator Greg Mattison. And how will the Wolverines' new staff employ QB Denard Robinson?
THE LINE: Michigan by 14 THE PICK: Michigan 44-27
Arkansas State at Illinois, 3:30 p.m., Big Ten Network
THE BUZZ: Illinois has won its past 13 home openers. Its rebuilt secondary will get a test from Arkansas State QB Ryan Aplin and a solid group of receivers. This is the third meeting between these teams, and the Illini have won both, by a combined 100-10.
THE LINE: Illinois by 21 THE PICK: Illinois 42-24
Chattanooga at Nebraska, 3:30 p.m., Big Ten Network
THE BUZZ: This is the Huskers' first game as a member of the Big Ten and it comes against an FCS opponent coming off its first winning record in five seasons. Nebraska owns a nation's-best 25-game winning streak in season openers.
THE LINE: None THE PICK: Nebraska 59-10
Louisiana-Monroe at Florida State, 3:30 p.m., ESPNU
THE BUZZ: This is a season of high expectations for the Seminoles, who get ULM and FCS patsy Charleston Southern before Oklahoma comes calling on Sept. 17.
THE LINE: FSU by 29 THE PICK: FSU 48-16
James Madison at North Carolina, 3:30 p.m., ACC syndication/Sun Sports/Fox Sports South/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: This is the first game for UNC interim coach Everett Withers, who was given the title when Butch Davis was fired in late July. James Madison won at Virginia Tech last season but still finished just 6-5. JMU's defense is solid and will test new UNC QB Bryn Renner.
THE LINE: None THE PICK: UNC 23-14
Delaware at Navy, 3:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network (formerly CBS College Sports)
THE BUZZ: This is the 16th meeting between the schools and Navy leads 8-7. Delaware lost in the FCS national final last season, but lost starting QB Pat Devlin, who had transferred from Penn State. Delaware led FCS in scoring defense last season, but Navy's triple option will provide a stern test. This is one of just five home games for Navy this season.
THE LINE: None THE PICK: Navy 28-16
Troy at Clemson, 3:30 p.m.
THE BUZZ: This is the third season in a row Clemson has opened against a team from the Sun Belt Conference. The Tigers beat North Texas 35-10 last season and Middle Tennessee 37-14 in 2009. This is the starting debut for Clemson QB Tajh Boyd; Troy QB Corey Robinson threw for 3,726 yards and 28 TDs last season.
THE LINE: Clemson by 16.5 THE PICK: Clemson 31-17
Sacramento State at Oregon State, 4 p.m.
THE BUZZ: Oregon State has won nine consecutive home openers and should make it 10 against the Hornets, a FCS opponent. Sacramento State's quarterback is former New Mexico State starter Jeff Fleming. The big question is how well Oregon State can run without star TB Jacquizz Rodgers, who's now in the NFL.
THE LINE: None THE PICK: Oregon State 41-13
BYU at Ole Miss, 4:45 p.m., ESPN
THE BUZZ: This is BYU's first game as an independent. It also will be the first game at Ole Miss for starting QB Barry Brunetti, a transfer from West Virginia. Ole Miss' pass defense was awful last season, which has to make BYU QB Jake Heaps smile. Ole Miss wants to control the game with its rushing attack, and with TB Brandon Bolden running behind a huge and experienced offensive line, the Rebels could do just that. They must run well to get the win.
THE LINE: BYU by 3 THE PICK: Ole Miss 34-31
San Jose State at Stanford, 5 p.m., Comcast Sports Net Bay Area
THE BUZZ: Jim Harbaugh has left the building, which means this will be an interesting season for Stanford. The Cardinal definitely has the talent in place for a big year. San Jose State has lost 14 consecutive road games and is opening against a top-10 team for the third season in a row.
THE LINE: Stanford by 30 THE PICK: Stanford 44-10
Idaho State at Washington State, 5 p.m.
THE BUZZ: Given how bad Washington State has been of late - five wins in the past three seasons - you can't blame the Cougars for bringing in as close to a sure win as there is for their opener. Idaho State has had three consecutive one-win seasons and has had just five winning records in the past 27 seasons. The Bengals have played 13 FBS opponents since 2000 and lost by an average of 32.4 points per game.
THE LINE: None THE PICK: Washington State 43-9
Colorado State at New Mexico, 6 p.m., The Mtn.
THE BUZZ: This is one of three conference games this weekend. New Mexico has won just twice in the past two seasons - and one of those wins was over Colorado State, in 2009. Unbelievable but true: New Mexico hasn't scored a TD in a season-opener since '06.
THE LINE: Colorado State by 6 THE PICK: Colorado State 20-10
Montana at Tennessee, 6 p.m., ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: Derek Dooley's second season begins with a visit from perennial FCS power Montana. But the Grizzlies are coming off a 7-4 season in which they missed the playoffs for the first time in 18 years. Tennessee has won 16 consecutive home openers. Two of Tennessee's three starting linebackers are true freshmen.
THE LINE: None THE PICK: Tennessee 45-21
Buffalo at Pittsburgh, 6 p.m.
THE BUZZ: This will be the first game for new Pitt coach Todd Graham, who has installed a no-huddle, spread offense at a school that had been using a pro-style attack. It's also the first game at Buffalo for QB Chazz Anderson, a Cincinnati transfer who has won the starting job.
THE LINE: Pitt by 31 THE PICK: Pitt 42-14
Liberty at N.C. State, 6 p.m.
THE BUZZ: Offense-minded Liberty scored at least 40 points six times last season, and QB Mike Brown and WR Chris Summers could cause NCSU some issues. This will be the first start for Wolfpack QB Mike Glennon; it would help his cause if NCSU can run the ball better this season.
THE LINE: None THE PICK: NC State 47-20
William & Mary at Virginia, 6 p.m.
THE BUZZ: UVa leads the series between these in-state schools 26-6-1, but William & Mary won the most recent meeting, by 12 in Charlottesville in 2009, which was the beginning of the end for then-Cavs coach Al Groh. William & Mary is ranked third in one FCS preseason poll and is quarterbacked by former North Carolina player Mike Paulus.
THE LINE: None THE PICK: Virginia 20-17
East Carolina vs. South Carolina in Charlotte, 7 p.m., Sun Sports/Fox Sports Houston/Fox Sports Midwest/Fox Sports South/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier was at his usual pot-stirring best this week when he said presumed backup QB Connor Shaw might start instead of incumbent starter Stephen Garcia. Regardless, ECU's sieve-like defense should mean big numbers for Gamecocks TB Marcus Lattimore. ECU has a puncher's chance if QB Dominique Davis gets time to throw against a South Carolina secondary that was bad last season.
THE LINE: South Carolina by 20.5 THE PICK: South Carolina 52-28
Louisiana-Lafayette at Oklahoma State, 7 p.m., Fox College Sports
THE BUZZ: Oklahoma State has won 15 consecutive home openers. This is the first game for new ULL coach Mark Hudspeth, who had been wide receivers coach at Mississippi State; he has prior head-coaching experience at Division II power North Alabama. Of the school's past four coaches, he is the third to open his ULL tenure against Oklahoma State.
THE LINE: Oklahoma State by 36.5 THE PICK: Oklahoma State 63-21
Fresno State at California, 7 p.m., Comcast SportsNet California
THE BUZZ: Cal is renovating its stadium, so this one will be at Candlestick Park; Cal's other home games will be at AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants. This is just the third meeting in this series and Fresno has won both, with the most recent coming in 2000. Cal coach Jeff Tedford is a 1983 graduate of Fresno State, and he used to be an assistant for Pat Hill at Fresno. Both have new starting quarterbacks: Fresno with Derek"Brother of David" Carr and Cal with Zach Maynard, a transfer from Buffalo whose favorite target should be half-brother Keenan Allen.
THE LINE: Cal by 9.5 THE PICK: Cal 23-17
Eastern Washington at Washington, 7 p.m., Fox College Sports Pacific
THE BUZZ: Washington hasn't won a season-opener since 2007, and this could be tougher than most think. Eastern Washington is the defending FCS national champion. Senior QB Bo Levi Mitchell, who began his career at SMU, poses a test for Washington's secondary. Sophomore Keith Price is Washington's new starting quarterback, but the Huskies could be without star TB Chris Polk, who had minor knee surgery in mid-August.
THE LINE: None THE PICK: Washington 27-16
Missouri State at Arkansas, 7 p.m., ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino is 7-0 in season-openers, including a 48-10 victory over Missouri State in 2009. Arkansas leads this series 6-0, and the first win came 100 years ago - 100-0 on Sept. 30, 1911. Missouri State will be without starting QB Trevor Wooden, who has been suspended for one game for a violation of team rules.
THE LINE: None THE PICK: Arkansas 59-16
Austin Peay at Cincinnati, 7 p.m., Big East syndication/Fox Sports Ohio/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: Cincy fell a long way last season - from a BCS berth in 2009 to a 4-8 record in 2010. This opponent will make sure the Bearcats get off to a good start. Austin Peay was 2-9 last season and has had just five winning records since 1980; just two of those have come since 1985. This is Austin Peay's fourth FBS opponent since 2002; the Governors have been outscored 167-39 (average score: 56-13) in the other three.
THE LINE: None THE PICK: Cincinnati 56-13
Army at Northern Illinois, 7 p.m.
THE BUZZ: This is one of the more interesting games of the first weekend. This is the first game for new NIU coach Dave Doeren, who had been Wisconsin's defensive coordinator. Both have powerful rushing attacks, Army with the triple option and NIU with the I-formation. NIU is much better throwing the ball. Doeren's specialty will be tested right away, as NIU returns just two full-time starters on defense, which has to make him uneasy facing the triple option.
THE LINE: NIU by 10 THE PICK: NIU 28-23
Northern Iowa at Iowa State, 7 p.m.
THE BUZZ: This is a dangerous game for Iowa State, as UNI looks to be one of the better teams in the FCS ranks this season. This will be the first start for new Iowa State QB Steele Jantz, a JC transfer. Iowa State leads the series 19-4-3; the Cyclones won 27-0 last season despite being outgained by 110 yards.
THE LINE: None THE PICK: Iowa State 27-17
Ball State vs. Indiana in Indianapolis, 7 p.m.
THE BUZZ: Technically, this is a Ball State home game, but it is being played at the Colts' Lucas Oil Stadium. It's the first game for new Indiana coach Kevin Wilson, who had a great run as Oklahoma's offensive coordinator. It's also the first game for new Ball State coach Pete Lembo, who arrives from Elon. (That's a FCS school in North Carolina, for those wondering.) Both teams want to throw the ball, and IU has a new starting quarterback.
THE LINE: Indiana by 6 THE PICK: Indiana 37-24
Richmond at Duke, 7 p.m.
THE BUZZ: Richmond is coming off an uncharacteristically poor 6-5 season, and the Spiders will have an interim coach (offensive coordinator Wayne Lineburg) this season after Latrell Scott resigned last week following a DWI arrest. Richmond is quarterbacked by USC transfer Aaron Corp. Duke has lost its past two meetings to Richmond (in 2006 and '09).
THE LINE: None THE PICK: Duke 27-23
Texas State at Texas Tech, 7 p.m.
THE BUZZ: The most noteworthy thing about this game is that it matches Dennis Franchione (Texas State's coach) against Tommy Tuberville (Tech's coach). This is the first meeting between the schools; they'll play against next season at Texas State, which will be the Bobcats' first game as a FBS member and as a WAC member.
THE LINE: None THE PICK: Texas Tech 54-21
McNeese State at Kansas, 7 p.m.
THE BUZZ: Kansas lost its opener to FCS member North Dakota State last season, and on paper, this McNeese team is stronger than that North Dakota State team. Kansas has won 22 of its past 24 non-conference home games.
THE LINE: None THE PICK: Kansas 26-17
Eastern Kentucky at Kansas State, 7 p.m.
THE BUZZ: K-State coach Bill Snyder has won 18 consecutive openers; the last loss came in 1989, when the Wildcats lost to Arizona State in Snyder's first game as coach.
THE LINE: None THE PICK: K-State 37-14
Charleston Southern at UCF, 7 p.m.
THE BUZZ: Charleston Southern plays at Florida State next weekend and at Jacksonville on Sept. 17, which is apropos because the Bucs have 46 Florida high school products on their roster. UCF, meanwhile, has Boston College coming to town next weekend.
THE LINE: None THE PICK: UCF 45-16
Elon at Vanderbilt, 7:30 p.m., Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: Both coaches are in their first games - James Franklin at Vanderbilt and Jason Swepson at Elon, a FCS program from North Carolina. Vandy is 14-1 all-time against FCS opponents, while Elon is 0-3 all-time against FBS foes, including a loss to Duke last season.
THE LINE: None THE PICK: Vanderbilt 33-16
Boise State vs. Georgia in Atlanta, 8 p.m., ESPN
THE BUZZ: Bulldogs coach Mark Richt enters the season on the hot seat, and the heat will intensify among some Bulldogs supporters if Boise pulls off the win in the Georgia Dome. Can Georgia's lines do what is needed? Boise has veteran linemen on both sides of the ball and established playmakers at quarterback and tailback. Georgia has to get a big game from true freshman TB Isaiah Crowell.
THE LINE: Boise State by 3.5 THE PICK: Boise State 27-21
LSU vs. Oregon in Arlington, Texas, 8 p.m., ABC
THE BUZZ: Considering it matches two top-five teams, this might be the biggest non-conference game of the season. Off-field storylines overshadow some intriguing on-field questions. The biggest ones: Can Oregon's rebuilt lines hold up? And will LSU be able to throw the ball at all?
THE LINE: Oregon by 3 THE PICK: LSU 21-17
Tulsa at Oklahoma, 8 p.m., FX
THE BUZZ: OU begins the season at No. 1 and entertains a high-powered Tulsa team. But while Tulsa can move the ball, it had trouble stopping folks last season, and bad defenses generally get torched by the Sooners. This is the 25th meeting and OU is 16-7-1; the most recent Tulsa win over OU came in the 1996 season opener.
THE LINE: Oklahoma by 25 THE PICK: Oklahoma 56-27
Rice at Texas, 8 p.m., Longhorn Network
THE BUZZ: This is the 100th season of Rice football, the 93rd meeting between these former Southwest Conference rivals and the first-ever football game on the Longhorn Network. All four of Rice's non-conference games this season are against Big Six conference foes. Rice hasn't won in Austin since 1965. Since that game, Texas is 41-1 against the Owls, with the loss coming in 1994.
THE LINE: Texas by 24 THE PICK: Texas 38-10
Ohio at New Mexico State, 8 p.m., Altitude/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: This is one of two MAC-WAC games this weekend (Bowling Green at Idaho is the other). Ohio is breaking in a new starting quarterback, Tyler Tettleton, whose dad, Mickey, is a former major league catcher. Both teams have offensive questions, but Ohio looks to have the far better defense.
THE LINE: Ohio by 7 THE PICK: Ohio 24-13
Weber State at Wyoming, 9 p.m.
THE BUZZ: Weber State coach Ron McBride is used to finding his way to Laramie, Wyo., as he is the former coach at Utah, which used to be in the Mountain West Conference with Wyoming. McBride is 7-5 in his career against Wyoming. No quarterback on Wyoming's roster has taken a snap in a college game.
THE LINE: None THE PICK: Wyoming 24-16
Stony Brook at UTEP, 9 p.m.
THE BUZZ: This is one of the weirder games of the season - a FCS team from Long Island traveling to El Paso for a game. Stony Brook has a good rushing attack that will test UTEP. The Miners will be breaking in a new quarterback in JC transfer Nick Lamaison, and you can expect him to toss it around in coach Mike Price's attack.
THE LINE: None THE PICK: UTEP 34-24
Louisiana Tech at Southern Miss, 10 p.m., Fox Sports Net
THE BUZZ: This will be a 9 p.m. local kickoff. This will be the 44th meeting in the series, but just the second since 1992. Southern Miss won 13-12 last season. This is the first of three trips to Mississippi for Louisiana Tech, which also plays at Ole Miss and Mississippi State. This will be the first start for Louisiana Tech QB Nick Isham, a true freshman who is just 17 years old. Southern Miss QB Austin Davis has thrown for 7,396 yards and needs 300 yards to become the leading passer in school history. The guy he's looking to pass? Brett Favre.
THE LINE: Southern Miss by 12.5 THE PICK: Southern Miss 38-24
Northern Arizona at Arizona, 10 p.m., Fox Sports Arizona/Fox College Sports Atlantic
THE BUZZ: This is the 12th meeting in the series, which Arizona leads 10-1; NAU's win came in 1932. Arizona is expected to have one of the top 10 or so passing attacks in the nation, as QB Nick Foles has a deep and talented cast of wide receivers with whom to work.
THE LINE: None THE PICK: Arizona 52-19
Cal Poly at San Diego State, 10 p.m., The Mtn.
THE BUZZ: San Diego State was 9-4 last season, and its losses came by a combined 15 points. This is the 25th meeting between the teams and SDSU leads 13-11, with all but one of those games before 1968. Cal Poly - which relies heavily on its ground attack - won the most recent meeting, by two in 2008.
THE LINE: None THE PICK: San Diego State 27-14
Colorado at Hawaii, 10:15 p.m., ESPN2
THE BUZZ: Colorado's first game as a member of the Pac-12 is a dangerous trip to Hawaii. This also marks the first game for new Buffs coach Jon Embree, and it's the first time Colorado is opening with a true road game since 1995, which probably doesn't make Embree too happy. Colorado's pass defense was abysmal last season (110th nationally) - and Hawaii led the nation in passing last season.
THE LINE: Hawaii by 7 THE PICK: Hawaii 40-35
Howard at Eastern Michigan, noon
THE BUZZ: We don't like to use games involving FCS teams as our dog of the week, but this is ... uh ... too bad to pass up. Eastern Michigan is one of the worst teams in FBS, while Howard is coming off a one-win season and has won a combined four games in the past three seasons. Good news for the hounds is that Ypsilanti is easy to find: Head to Detroit, then go west.
THE LINE: None THE PICK: Eastern Michigan 30-9
Marshall at West Virginia, 3:30 p.m., ESPN
THE BUZZ: Expectations are high among Mountaineers fans as the Dana Holgorsen era begins - and it begins in a rivalry game. These in-state foes have met just 11 times in history; while the series began in 1911, the teams met just from times between 1911 and 1997. WVU is 10-0 in the series, and you can bet the Herd - who blew a 15-point lead and lost in OT last season - would like nothing better than to spoil Holgorsen's debut.
THE LINE: WVU by 22 THE PICK: WVU 55-28
SMU at Texas A&M, 8 p.m., ESPN
THE BUZZ: A&M's impending departure from the Big 12 has dominated the preseason storylines about the Aggies, but they have the offense to be a national title contender. The defense is the question. A&M's pass rush could be questionable, which means SMU QB Kyle Padron could have a big game; the Mustangs have a good receiving corps and a veteran offensive line. This is the 78th meeting between the former Southwest Conference rivals; SMU hasn't beaten the Aggies since 1984, though there was a tie in 1994.
THE LINE: Texas A&M by 16.5 THE PICK: Texas A&M 44-24
Miami at Maryland, 8 p.m., ESPN
THE BUZZ: This is one of three conference games this weekend and the only one in the ACC. This also matches two first-year coaches in Miami's Al Golden and Maryland's Randy Edsall. The off-field storylines have dominated the pre-game talk, but this is quite the interesting league matchup, as the winner stakes an early claim to being the third-best team in the ACC.
THE LINE: Miami by 5.5 THE PICK: Maryland 24-20
LAST SEASON, INCLUDING BOWLS
606-201 straight up, 353-348-14 ATS (games involving FCS schools don't have a spread).
Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.