23. Oregon at Wyoming; September 16th
Normally, this game wouldn’t draw much attention. Oregon is expected to easily devour Wyoming as the ‘cupcake’ small school opponent. However, it’s somewhat unusual for a bigger school to go out on the road versus a non-Power Five opponent – particularly in an environment as remote as Laramie. Also rare is the fact Wyoming possesses one of the nation’s best quarterbacks in Josh Allen. The California native is widely regarded as a future first-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. His ability to make plays – both with his feet and arm – lends to why he’s such a tantalizing talent. This contest will also mark the first in the Willie Taggart era. Coming over from South Florida, the new Oregon head man will look to implement more of a defensive emphasis on the program when compared to former head coach Mark Helfrich. Based upon these two aspects, it’s certainly a game with some intriguing subplots.
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22. North Carolina State at South Carolina; September 2nd
In the battle of the Carolinas, we see two programs attempting to find any semblance of relevancy within their respective conferences. The Wolfpack haven’t had a season with a double-digit win total since 2002. On South Carolina’s end, the Gamecocks are in a full rebuild mode. Will Muschamp inherited a program void of depth and confidence. However, sophomore signal-caller Jake Bentley gives the team a true cornerstone to build around. In this contest, Bentley will be going up against one of the most ferocious defensive fronts in the country. The Wolfpack are projected to start four seniors along its defensive line – including Bradley Chubb (brother of Georgia RB Nick) and Kentavius Street. NC State’s defense should also be one of the better ones in the ACC. With that said, the offense has tended to struggle during head coach Dave Doeren’s four-year tenure. Both teams are about a year away from making a big push – though this contest should be a competitive one.
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21. UCLA at Memphis; September 16th
This will not be an easy game for the Bruins. While Jim Mora’s team is the deeper and more talented of the two, a plethora of challenges will be presented. For one, Memphis is an offensive juggernaut. The Mike Norvell-led bunch averaged 464.4 yards per game en route to an 8-5 record in 2016. Veteran signal-caller Riley Ferguson is one of the more underrated quarterbacks in the country. Last season, he threw for 3,698 yards and 32 touchdowns. Duly, the early time of the game could lead to a slow start. UCLA will be traveling across the country to play a contest at 12:00 p.m. ET – which would then be 9:00 a.m. PT. The Bruins do have Josh Rosen to lean on, as well as an athletic defense. Due to Norvell’s time with Arizona State, UCLA should also have some familiarity with the offensive scheme employed by the Tigers. Regardless, this could ultimately become a hotly-contested affair.
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