Weekend preview: Worth the wait

Craig James
Yahoo! Sports

Editor's note: Every week in "1st and 10," Yahoo! Sports analyst Craig James will break down the coming weekend's 10 best games in college football.

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Live audio schedule from these games and more

Florida State at Miami Friday 8 ET (ABC) Preview

First and foremost, here's hoping this football game gives Floridians a little reprieve from their struggles following back-to-back hurricanes.

Having said that, this should be one heck of a game. FSU has lost five in a row to Miami, and the Seminoles have more pressure to win this one. FSU definitely needs a "W" while Miami wants to keep them down.

FSU and Miami are pretty even in terms of development. Both defenses are breaking in new faces at significant positions. And on offense, both are hopeful for a running game and solid performances from their quarterback.

The QB position is going to be a major factor. Which will make plays and avoid mistakes? FSU's Chris Rix is probably a little more consistent than Miami's Brock Berlin. We've all seen Rix force throws and play poorly. But we've also seen him light it up. Can he do that in Miami against the 'Canes and their crowd?

Two more keys to this game: Which team will be able to run and which team will win the kicking game? The answer to the first question might land on the FSU linebackers' shoulders. The current trio has big shoes to fill, so we'll see if they can handle the chore. As for the kickers, well, they are kickers. In other words, don't put your destiny on their toes.
Pick: Hurricanes

Southern Mississippi at Nebraska Saturday Noon ET (ABC regional)

I've heard a lot about the Nebraska pass-happy West Coast offense. Let's take a look at the Huskers' box score from last week:

15-for-30, 218 yards passing – not bad for a Huskers offense.
38 rushes for 365 yards – doesn't look like a pass-happy stat to me; more like the Huskers of old.
Six turnovers – that's a problem.

What I'm trying to say is that Nebraska is still going to run the ball. So Southern Miss better get ready for everything. Big negative for the Golden Eagles: this is their first game of the year. Ouch, tough game to smooth out the edges with.
Pick: Cornhuskers

Michigan at Notre Dame Saturday 2:30 ET (NBC) Preview

I can't begin to tell you how surprised I was to see how bad the Irish were against BYU. I really thought the Irish were going to be better. On the other hand, I was really impressed with Michigan. Freshman quarterback Chad Henne was as poised as a senior. I picked Michigan high this preseason and that was figuring on Matt Gutierrez playing well. I'm even more optimistic after watching how good Henne played. The Irish will have to turn over every four-leaf clover they can in this one.
Pick: Wolverines

North Carolina at Virginia Saturday 3:30 ET (ABC regional) Preview

North Carolina hasn't won at Virginia since 1981. That's a long time. Back in 2002, UNC blew a 21-0 halftime lead at UVA. The Tar Heels are trying to improve on defense and have implemented a more simplified defensive scheme. It didn't actually hammer William & Mary in Week 1 (allowed 38 points). We'll see.

Apparently, UNC players started calling running back Ronnie McGill "Ronnie Franchise" after he scored three touchdowns and rushed for 133 yards last week.

Not sure if you agree with me, but I sure liked what I saw last week with Virginia. I was high on UVA before watching Marques Hagans run the offense. Watch out for the Cavs this year.
Pick: Cavaliers

Georgia at South Carolina Saturday 5:30 ET (ESPN) Preview

This is a classic opportunity for Lou Holtz. His Gamecocks have no shot at beating Georgia, right? Well, Holtz's opponents from over the years will tell you to watch your step when playing the little funny man.

No doubt that Georgia is a better team than South Carolina. Will the Gamecocks defense find a way to shut down new top Dawg running back Danny Ware and then confuse quarterback David Greene? And can USC quarterback Dondrial Pinkins make enough plays with his legs to stay away from Georgia All-American defensive end David Pollock? South Carolina has a superb talent in running back Demetris Summers. A game like this is a platform to show off if you can.
Pick: Bulldogs

West Virginia at UCF Saturday 6 ET Preview

I'm covering this game in case Kay-Jay Harris decides to go off again. If so, we'll be ready to thrust him in the Heisman Trophy race. Why not? He'll be on a team that is going to be in the thick of the BCS race. West Virginia is really going to get pumped full of itself. It'll be up to guys like Harris to run wild and keep the huddle focused.
Pick: Mountaineers

Georgia Tech at Clemson Saturday 8 ET (ABC regional) Preview

Last year Clemson thumped the Yellow Jackets. I'm sure Georgia Tech wants to show that it's better than that now. However, it'll be up to this year's players to do it. Fortunately for Tech, it has a powerful combination on offense. Quarterback Reggie Ball is experienced and can run and throw. He also has the option of handing it off to P.J. Daniels, who is a stud. Clemson didn't tackle well last week, and that's a huge concern when trying to stop Ball and Daniels.

Is Clemson tired following last weekend's thrilling overtime win over Wake Forest? Last year Clemson shut down the run and Ball couldn't do anything with the pass.
Pick: Yellow Jackets in an upset

Penn State at Boston College Saturday 8 ET (ABC regional)

Teams who get whipped or embarrassed by an opponent sometimes don't admit that they are looking for payback the next chance they get. Well, the Nittany Lions definitely remember last year's whooping they took at home from BC. PSU players even believe it led to their dismal season. They lost their confidence after that loss. If they want to party this year, they'll have to play a physical game because BC will pound them.

The Eagles apparently will be without running back L.V. Whitworth which is not good. Penn State looked good in Week 1, and I'm tempted to think upset here. What am I thinking? Penn State is favored. Could Joe Pa's boys be back?
Pick: Nittany Lions

Texas at Arkansas Saturday 8:45 ET (ESPN) Preview

I'd really like to be at Razorback Stadium for this one. The fans love their Hogs in Arkansas, and it makes for a great atmosphere. But those Razorback fans won't like this Saturday.

Arkansas upset Texas last year but doesn't have enough this time. Matter of fact, I wrote how Penn State was looking for payback. Well, as UT All-American candidate Derrick Johnson said, it's payback time. Ouch. The Longhorns will try to pound the Hogs' noses into the dirt. Arkansas dominated both sides of the line last year. Not this un.
Pick: Longhorns

Mississippi at Alabama Saturday 9 ET (ESPN2)

Alabama is determined to get back on track and last weekend's win over Utah State was a nice start. The Tide is playing a lot of young 'uns. Quarterback Brodie Croyle looked good and spread the ball around to multiple receivers. I like Alabama's chances of having a good season, not necessarily winning nine or 10 games but showing that it is back.

As for Ole Miss, I said it in the preseason that the Rebels would have a big adjustment period without Eli Manning. QB Michael Spurlock struggled last week against Memphis and so did the offense as a group. Ole Miss can't afford to be in third and long situations. Running back Vashon Pearson needs to get a lot of carries.
Pick: Crimson Tide