The 2006 Football Planner: Week One

May 19, 2006

By Adam Caparell

Assistant Editor,


Adam is's football editor and national football writer.
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Over the summer, will be taking a look at the college football schedule, highlighting the top matchups, the can't-miss games and the storylines that make certain contests so intriguing. Check in every Friday for the heads-up on what games are shaping up to be the best each week, the worst each week and a few others that have piqued our interest. 


After a long hibernation, college football officially returns on the first weekend of September. Expect the usual fanfare, but very few fireworks. Opening weekend is the one weekend where you are guaranteed matchups that pit powerhouse BCS schools against overmatched I-A and I-AA opponents.


Think of it this way: for every opening weekend game on the schedule that's labeled a "can't miss," there are at least two games that look to be blowouts. The sacrificial lambs of college football litter the landscape and fatten their wallets for the chance to be trampled by some big conference power.


You don't know whether or not to feel sorry for these teams. They know what they're getting into, but the Northeastern's, William & Mary's and Western Kentucky's of the world always take it on the chin.


And since D-IA teams are allowed to count one win over a D-IAA opponent toward a bowl game every year -- as opposed to the old rule of every four years -- why would any school give up the chance for an easy victory year after year that will help them qualify for postseason play?


They wouldn't, and they won't for the foreseeable future. So college football fans are just going to have deal with it, because few and far between are the Grade A battles in the opener. There are some good ones out there, but in the name of competitiveness, this isn't college football's best weekend.


Game of the Week

Mon., Sept. 4 - Florida State at Miami

Always entertaining, always exciting, these two teams have produced some classic games over the years. Field goals - or missed field goals - always play a big role in the outcome as Miami has won six of the last seven meetings. This will be the `Canes first game since head coach Larry Coker revamped his coaching staff. Rich Olson, offensive coordinator for some of Miami's best teams in the early 90s, is back.


Games to Watch

Sat., Sept. 2 - Notre Dame at Georgia Tech

Preseason Heisman Trophy front-runner Brady Quinn and the Irish get an early road test against the Yellow Jackets. They haven't played each other since the 1999 Gator Bowl, but have a history that dates back to 1922. Georgia Tech could be a sleeper in the ACC and doesn't want to waste the chance to impress the nation in a high-profile early season contest.


Sat., Sept. 2 - Arizona at BYU

Star sophomore QB Willie Tuitama is under center for the Wildcats, who hope that, in Mike Stoops' third season, a bowl game is a distinct possibility. 


Sat., Sept. 2 - Cal at Tennessee

An early season, inter-conference matchup pitting a Pac-10 team with offensive weapons against an SEC team hoping its defensive holes have been filled.


Sat., Sept. 2 - Utah at UCLA

From all indications, Utah should be one of the top teams in the Mountain West. They've knocked off a Pac-10 opponent two straight years. How about three in a row? UCLA has lost a lot on both sides of the ball, especially the offense with RB Maurice Drew and QB Drew Olson gone.


Rivalry of the Week

Sat., Sept. 2 - Marshall at West Virginia

If Marshall didn't already have enough incentive to beat on its chief in-state rival, during spring practice a West Virginia student was caught spying on the Thundering Herd. They haven't played since 1997 and West Virginia has never lost to Marshall, but the spring practice wrinkle certainly adds something extra to this one.


Mismatch of the Week

Sat., Sept. 2 - Northeastern at Virginia Tech

This will be a classic case of a BCS bully beating up on a D-IAA. No telling how much the Hokies will be favored in this one or how much they'll win by. When it's over, Northeastern may have wished it had never left Boston. The Huskies have one win over a D-IA opponent, at Ohio back in 2002. Don't expect a repeat performance.



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Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis talks to quarterback Brady Quinn