Ross already has us covered on the "Big Time" games this week in his Six Pack Games of the Week. So I thought I would take a look at some under the radar games this week (in some cases way under the radar) that do not involve any teams from a BCS conference.
Tulsa Golden Hurricane at East Carolina Pirates
When: Sunday Sept 5th at 2 PM on ESPN 2
Where: Greenville, NC (Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium)
Line: East Carolina by 8.5
Last year under the guidance of Skip Holtz, East Carolina defeated Tulsa 44 to 17 on Tulsa's home turf. This year Skip Holtz has moved on to South Florida and former Texas Tech DC Ruffin McNeill has taken over the East Carolina Pirates. With last years game being such a blow out, why would I pick this as a game to watch? Because these two teams look to be vastly different than last years versions. East Carolina returns the least amount of starters in all of the FBS (they are losing 30 lettermen and only return 8 starters) and is breaking in a new coaching staff. Tulsa on the other hand brings back 15 starters with 9 of those playing on the offense including QB G.J. Kinne and WR Damaris Johnson. I think Tulsa could be a surprise team in C-USA. Ruffin McNeill still hasn't decided who his QB is for game one and to me that's not a good sign when you are breaking in a new offense.
My Pick: Tulsa
Villanova Wildcats at Temple Owls
When: Friday Sept 3rd at 5 PM on ESPN3.com
Where: Philadelphia, PA (Lincoln Financial Field)
Temple finished 9-4 last year but opened up the year with back-to-back losses to Penn State and Villanova. Villanova went 14-1 last year and won the FCS Championship over Montana. In week one last year Temple held a 10 point lead on Villanova in the 4th quarter but the Wildcats fought back and kicked a FG with no time on the clock to win the game in dramatic fashion. This sets up as a revenge game for Temple and sets up as a game in which Villanova wants to show the world (or at least Philadelphia) that they are indeed for real.
My Pick: Temple
Bowling Green Falcons at Troy Trojans
When: Saturday Sept 4th on Troy/ISP Network/FCSP (cable)
Where: Troy, Al (Movie Gallery Stadium)
Line: Troy by 14
Much like Temple/Villanova this is a revenge game. Last year in the first game of the year Bowling Green beat Troy 31-14. This was Dave Clawson's debut game as coach of the Bowling Green Falcons and his team surprisingly outgained the Trojans 394-293. Troy took a 14-7 led into half but BGSU owned the 2nd half as they outscored the Trojans 24-0 to win the game. Bowling Green finished the season 7-6 and Troy wound up 9-4.
My Pick: Troy
Georgia State Panthers vs. Shorter Hawks
When: Thurs Sept 2nd at 7:30 PM
Where: Atlanta, Georgia (Georgia Dome)
Most people don't have this game on their radar but to me it's very intriguing because it's the very first game for the Georgia State Panthers. Head Coach Bill Curry has been tabbed as the guy to help make football a reality and it all kicks off on Thursday. Shorter is a Division 2 school that opened up their schedule last week with a loss to West Alabama (the #12 team in Division 2). Despite the loss Shorter's style is said to be like Georgia Tech's. That could be intriguing. Also, Georgia State is not naming a starting QB. They had 4 guys go at it during spring for the starting nod and then former Alabama back-up Star Jackson threw his name in the hat by transferring this fall. Despite being their first year Georgia State does have 8 players with D-1 playing experience (including a grad student who started at Georgia Tech on the OL last year). Unfortunately, this game isn't on TV (shocker) but I will be keeping an eye out on how Georgia State and Bill Curry do in their inaugural season.
My Pick: Georgia State