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College Football 2016: Week 1 Preview
Thursday, 2016 September 1 - 3:29 pm
Michigan opens against Hawaii; N.C. State plays William and Mary.

Michigan vs. Hawaii: Saturday 12:00 PM EST, TV: ESPN
Hawaii actually already has a game under its belt, having played against Cal last week in Australia. Hawaii lost that game but looked to have a potentially dangerous offensive attack. Then again, Michigan figures to have one of the top defenses in the country this year, with at least five NFL-caliber players in the defensive line rotation, plus an extremely talented defensive backfield... so there's a good chance the Hawaii offense will be brought back to reality this Saturday.

I'll expect Michigan's offense to come out fairly vanilla and not show too much of the playbook, but it's hard to see Hawaii's defense being able to stop Michigan's talented tight ends and wide receivers, even if Michigan is breaking in a new quarterback. Wilton Speight now seems to have the lead on the starting QB position; I'll choose to take it as a good sign that he's stayed ahead of transfer John O'Korn and senior Shane Morris. Meanwhile, I expect De'Veon Smith to have a monster game against a Hawaii defense that looked a little undersized and slow in the Cal game.

Prediction: Michigan 42, Hawaii 6.

N.C. State vs William and Mary: Thurs 7:30 PM EST, TV: ACC Network?
Can't tell if this game is actually going to be televised or not.

N.C. State has high hopes for an improved season this year. Much like Michigan, there's a pretty big question mark at quarterback. Plus, State is breaking in an unproven (though promising) offensive coordinator. The offensive line is in rebuilding mode, having lost all-American Joe Thuney to graduation. Matt Dayes is a proven and capable running back and the receiving corps should be talented, but expect some offensive trouble early against any real competition. Fortunately, the schedule is fairly soft for the first four games, before a brutal back-end stretch that starts with Notre Dame on October 8th.

On defense, the line should be fairly stout. The secondary may be more of an issue; they're experienced but were unimpressive last year. NCSU might have to generate some pressure up front to keep teams from taking advantage of a somewhat pedestrian defensive backfield.

The first game is against William and Mary, an FCS school that can't be taken for granted. W&M went 9-4 last year and nearly upset Virginia; they return 16 starters from that team.

Prediction: N.C. State 27, William & Mary 17.

Games to Watch on TV
South Carolina vs. Vanderbilt, ESPN Thursday 8:00 PM
Oklahoma vs Houston, ABC Saturday 12:00 PM
Hawaii at Michigan, ESPN Saturday 12:00 PM
UCLA at Texas A&M, CBS Saturday 3:30 PM
LSU at Wisconsin, ABC Saturday 3:30 PM
Georgia vs UNC, ESPN Saturday 5:30 PM
USC vs Alabama, ABC Saturday 8:00 PM (Game of the Week)
Clemson at Auburn, ESPN Saturday 9:00 PM
Notre Dame at Texas, ABC Sunday 7:30 PM
Ole Miss vs. Florida State, ESPN Monday 8:00 PM
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