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August 30, 2010
Another opening loss won't sit well in Ann Arbor, where coach Rich Rodriguez already is under the gun. He's not alone. Illinois' Ron Zook, LSU's Les Miles, Colorado's Dan Hawkins and Maryland's Ralph Friedgen could use season-opening wins against "good" opponents to ease some of the pressure they're under.
The opening week also provides teams from non-automatic qualifying conference the chance to make a big impression for their BCS resumes with Boise State facing Virginia Tech, TCU meeting Oregon State and Utah playing host to Pittsburgh. It also marks the debut for 22 of the 23 first-year FBS coaches, most notably Notre Dame's Brian Kelly, Florida State's Jimbo Fisher, USC's Lane Kiffin and the inaugural in-state matchup of Kentucky's Joker Phillips and Louisville's Charlie Strong.
That's a schedule that will create a lot of excitement -- and maybe the need for a lot of Excedrin.
Best game: Boise State vs. Virginia Tech in Landover, Md., Sept. 6, 8 p.m. ESPN
Boise State needs impressive victories over powerful opponents for a shot at a BCS bowl, and Virginia Tech definitely qualifies. This Labor Day clash of two of the past decade's most successful teams matches Boise State QB Kellen Moore against Bud Foster's rugged defense. It also matches Virginia Tech RB Ryan Williams against the Broncos' solid run defense, which stuffed Oregon in last season's opener. The Broncos have a 25-game regular-season winning streak, but the last time they played on the East Coast, they were blasted by Georgia 48-13 in '05.
Don't overlook this one: SMU at Texas Tech, Sept. 5, 3:30 p.m., ESPN
On the midweek marquee: Southern Miss at South Carolina, Thursday, 7:30 p.m., ESPN
Coach most under the gun: Michigan's Rich Rodriguez
Best coordinator chess match: Boise State offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin vs. Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster
BCS-buster watch: Oregon State vs. TCU in Arlington, Texas, and Boise State vs. Virginia Tech in Landover, Md.
Best individual matchup of the week: TCU C Jake Kirkpatrick vs. Oregon State DT Stephen Paea
Best unit matchup of the week: Utah offensive line vs. Pitt defensive line