Opening Week Preview
BCS Championship Projection: Stanford-Georgia
by Dave Congrove
August 27, 2013 (Updated for Manziel story on 8/28)
The Congrove Computer Rankings say the SEC will have a shot at an 8th straight BCS title, but it won't be Alabama taking the shot.
The computer says this year's SEC rep will be Georgia after the Bulldogs run the table in the regular season and knock off Texas A&M in the conference championship game. Ultimately, Georgia is an 4.88-point underdog to fall to Stanford in Pasadena to end the SEC's 7-year run. It would be Stanford's first national title in football since 1926 when the Helms Athletic Foundation names them co-champs with Alabama, and the Dickinson System recognizes the Cardinal as outright champs. 'Bama and Stanford tied 7-7 that year in the Rose Bowl to give the Tide a 9-0-1 record and Stanford a 10-0-1 mark.
Stanford and Georgia are each forecasted to go unbeaten this season, along with Texas and Louisville. In fact, Texas is actually supposed to rank 2nd after all of the regular season contests are done, but Georgia's extra game and victory versus Texas A&M in the SEC Championship would propel it over the Longhorns.
Several teams are given one-loss seasons, including Alabama. The Aggies make it to Atlanta by virtue of a slim home win over the Tide as A&M is a mere 0.63-point preseason favorite in what could be the game of the year. Last season, the Aggies upset Nick Saban's men in Tuscaloosa for their only loss and 'Bama still managed to log its 3rd national title in 4 years.
The offseason was busy with news that Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel, the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner, allegedly received payments from brokers for his autograph at signing events during the offseason. The allegations put his eligibility for the 2013 season in question. But on Wednesday, just one day before the season begins, news broke that the NCAA could find no evidence to warrant action. Instead, he will sit the first-half of the Saturday opener vs. Rice for the "inadvertent violation" of signing so many autographs for memorabilia dealers that he should have known they would be sold for profit.
Notre Dame is expected to be undefeated until the Irish visit Stanford as 4.79-point underdogs in their season finale. Notre Dame was an ugly 42-14 loser to Alabama in last year's BCS title game. The 28-point margin of defeat is the second-worst loss in BCS history, surpassed only by USC's 55-19 romp over Oklahoma in the 2004 season game (the BCS later vacated USC's title in response to NCAA sanctions related to the ineligibility of Reggie Bush).
Others in the 1-loss category include Oregon, Oklahoma State, San Diego State, South Carolina, Louisiana-Lafayette, Northwestern and Ohio State. The Ducks' only loss will be at Stanford while the Buckeyes will avenge a regular season loss at Northwestern by defeating the Wildcats in the Big Ten Championship in Indianapolis.
The 2013 season begins with Stanford, Notre Dame, Texas, Oklahoma and Georgia holding down the top five spots in the Congrove Computer rankings.
Read each of the conference previews in the Season Preview section of the CollegeFootballPoll.com website.
17 teams change their conference affiliation this year, affecting the rosters of 7 different conferences. 2013 also signals the end of the WAC as a football conference and the welcoming of the 125th FBS member in Georgia State. There are 122 fully-eligible bowl teams in 2013 as Penn State is on probation while Georgia State and UTSA are in transition seasons from the FCS.
Get the complete story on Realignment Changes.
THIS WEEK'S TOP GAMES
Georgia opens the 2013 season on Saturday by putting its national championship hopes on the line with a game at anticipated ACC Champion Clemson. The 'Dawgs are favored to win, but only by 1.04 points.
The season kicks off on Thursday night with a 17-game slate that includes Tulsa at Bowling Green, Rutgers at Fresno State, Ole Miss at Vanderbilt, and North Carolina at South Carolina.
An 8-game line-up on Friday is ho-hum except for Texas Tech's battle at SMU.
Saturday's showdowns include Alabama-Virginia Tech, Part Deux at the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic in Atlanta. The teams staged a 34-24 thriller in 2009, and the computer is only giving Alabama a surprisingly low 6.15-point edge.
Washington hosts Boise State as an 8.95-point choice. The computer has Boise State going 7-5 this year with losses at Washington, Fresno State, Utah State, BYU and San Diego State.
Arkansas is an 8.51-point underdog at home to Louisiana-Lafayette in Brett Bielema's debut as head coach of the Razorbacks, while Auburn hosts Washington State as a 5.58-point favorite.
Also on Saturday, LSU and TCU face-off in Arlington with the Tigers favored by 6.51; Oklahoma State gets a 9.34-point edge over Mississippi State in Houston; UCLA is favored by 10.99 at home vs. Nevada; and Penn State is a 5.45-point choice over Syracuse at East Rutherford.
On Sunday, Pittsburgh makes it ACC debut by hosting Florida State and the computer is only liking the Seminoles by 2.29.
FBS vs. FCS:
FBS teams finished the 2012 season with a 98-10 (.907) record vs. FCS schools and are now 736-65 (.919) in such games since 2003.
This year, 106 FBS teams play a total of 110 games against FCS foes. Georgia State is in its first year of transitioning from the FCS and plays 3 such schools. Clemson and Georgia Tech each face two.
The 10 teams that fell victim to FCS teams a year ago were Army, Wyoming, Colorado, Colorado State, Eastern Michigan, UNLV, Pittsburgh, Memphis, Middle Tennessee and Idaho.
Ohio State - Won 12 straight overall.
Notre Dame - Won 12 straight regular season games.
Northern Illinois - Won 21 straight at home and 17 vs. conference foes.
LSU - Won 41 straight regular season nonconference games.
Michigan - Won 14 straight home games.
Oregon - Won 15 straight road games.
Southern Miss - Lost 12 straight overall.
Akron - Lost 26 straight road games, 22 straight FBS games and 16 straight conference games (MAC).
Kansas - Lost 21 straight FBS games, 21 straight conference games and 19 straight road games.
UNLV - Lost 22 straight road games.
31 FBS teams will enter the 2013 season with a new head coach, including incoming FCS member Georgia State. Some of the key moves were Brett Bielema's exit from Wisconsin to fill the Arkansas opening; Gus Malzahn from Arkansas State to Auburn; Butch Jones from Cincinnati to Tennessee; Tommy Tuberville from Texas Tech to Cincinnati; Darrell Hazell from Kent State to Purdue; and Gary Andersen from Utah State to Wisconsin.