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August 28, 2008
Here's a look at where the Rivals.com national football writers will be this weekend ? and why.
California-Michigan State in Berkeley on Saturday and Tennessee-UCLA in Los Angeles on Monday: Last season, Michigan State reversed a trend of fading down the stretch by winning their final two regular-season games to clinch a bowl appearance. Will the Spartans be able to continue that momentum? Because California lost its top three receivers and top rusher from '07, the Bears have to prove they can still be an offensive force. Monday night, Rick Neuheisel makes his debut as UCLA's coach. Tennessee, meanwhile, looks to get off to a good start with a new offensive coordinator and a new quarterback.
Illinois-Missouri in St. Louis: This is a chance for Missouri to fire a convincing opening salvo that it is a legit national contender. Playing a strong Illinois team filled with SEC-caliber speed and big aspirations itself will offer a veteran and loaded Mizzou squad a great chance to show the world that it means business - and will be a force on the national scene. A big game by Mizzou quarterback Chase Daniel will make him an early Heisman Trophy front-runner.
Jacksonville State-Georgia Tech in Atlanta on Thursday and Alabama-Clemson in Atlanta on Saturday: Nine months ago, Ryan Perrilloux was the toast of Atlanta when he stepped in for an injured Matt Flynn and led LSU to a SEC Championship Game victory that catapulted the Tigers to the national title. Will Perrilloux's return to Atlanta as quarterback of Division I-AA program Jacksonville State against Georgia Tech represent a comeback or a cautionary tale? And nearly two decades have passed since the last time Clemson entered a season with such high expectations. Alabama also is feeling good about itself after signing the nation's top-ranked recruiting class. Which program's high hopes are more justified?