Thursday night is when the 2014 season really gets started.
The Texas A&M Aggies that most have ranked in the top 25 travel to South Carolina to take on the highly ranked Gamecocks. This game will be kind of a big deal because it’s the first ever broadcast of the brand new SEC Network.
The Aggies have had a high powered offense behind the guidance of Coach Sumlin and QB Johnny Manziel. Manziel is in the NFL with the Cleveland Browns and the Aggies will start last year’s back up, Kenny Hill. The drop off may be considerable but the Aggies still have plenty of weapons and a new weapon in Speedy Noil the true freshman WR.
The Aggie defense was the worst in the SEC last season and there’s little reason to believe they will be better early this season.
South Carolina is not without losses as well with the departure of QB Connor Shaw, DE Jadeveon Clowney, and DT Kelcy Quarles. I still can’t believe that Quarles went undrafted by any NFL team. Just another example of a guy leaving early on bad advice, but he did sign a free agent contract with the New York Giants. Hopefully, things work out for him.
Dylan Thompson is a senior with a ton of experience at QB and looked really good in the Spring so there shouldn’t be a lot of trauma at that position. Plus, the Gamecocks have outstanding RB Mike Davis and a huge Offensive Line returning.
I am picking South Carolina to win this one, but the Aggies may be better than many think and make this game closer than expected. Sumlin’s offenses have always been good and his defenses always bad with or without Johnny Manziel.
Boise State travels to the Georgia Dome in Atlanta to play the solid Ole Miss Rebels. Most people have the Rebels ranked in the top 20. They return 3 year starter Bo Wallace at QB and outstanding WR Laquan Treadwell. Plus, a young but talented Offensive Line.
The Ole Miss defense should be even better than last season with the emergence of Robert Nkemdiche.
Boise State lost their coach, Chris Peterson, to the Washington Huskies. Bryan Harsin is the new head coach after getting the job at Arkansas State only last year. He was the Offensive Coordinator at Boise State and then at Texas. Boise State shouldn’t miss a beat because Harsin is part of their system.
I am going with Ole Miss. It might be harder for Ole Miss if they played in Idaho on that hideous blue turf.
The other ranked team playing on Thursday is #19 Arizona State against Weber State. They don’t play until 9:30 so better get that recorder set up to see some Taylor Kelly at QB for the Sun Devils. The question with Arizona State is their defense since they lost 9 starters, but head coach Todd Graham is a defensive coach so look for them to surprise.
Shouldn’t be much of a problem for the Sun Devils. This game will be on the Pac 12 Network.
Also on the new SEC Network, Temple travels to Nashville and takes on the SEC’s Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt coach James Franklin has moved on to Penn State and has been replaced by former Stanford Defensive Coordinator, Derek Mason.
Mason may do an incredible job at Vanderbilt but replacing Franklin is a large task.
Vandy should handle Temple with ease regardless.
Out in the West, new Big 10 team Rutgers takes on pass happy Washington State of the Pac 12.
I am going with the home team Washington State Cougars and their crazy coach, Mike Leach.
Also, Idaho State travels to Utah to play the Utes.
Should be an easy Utah win.
Eastern Illinois takes on Minnesota. This may be a yawner of a game, but I am anxious to see All Big 10 DE Theiren Cockran a 6 foot 6 inch 240 pound specimen.
Nobody should be expected to watch all of these games, but the Aggies vs the Gamecocks should be fun to watch.