Caparell is CSTV.com's football editor and national football writer. E-mail
Over the summer, CSTV.com will look at the college football schedule, highlighting the top matchups, the can't-miss games and the storylines that make some contests so intriguing. Check in every Thursday for the heads-up on what games you simply have to see.
College football returns for the 2008 season in its usual spot - the last Thursday in August. Twelve games dot the schedule that evening, with the most enticing - arguably - coming in the form of a North Carolina State-South Carolina matchup in Columbia. Fortunately, the weekend features more appealing games than that.
Games of the Week
Saturday, Aug. 30 - Alabama vs. Clemson - Atlanta, Ga.
This matchup was announced over the winter and two rabid - some might say psychotic - fanbases have been chomping at the bit to get the season going. Even though Clemson is clearly the better team on paper, it'll be a tough game for the Tigers. When just about everyone else is fattening up on cupcakes, Clemson gets a Top 25 caliber Nick Saban-led Crimson Tide in the Georgia Dome. Can Alabama stop the Tigers dynamic duo of C.J. Spiller and James Davis?
Saturday, Aug. 30 - USC at Virginia
Give the Trojans credit for not being afraid to start the year on the road. It's the fifth time USC will be playing its first game of the season away from the L.A. Coliseum since Pete Carroll took over in 2001. Shouldn't be a walk in the park, but the Trojans should take care of business.
Saturday, Aug. 30 - Utah at Michigan
The big story in this one is how will the Wolverines look under Rich Rodriguez in his Ann Arbor debut? Probably pretty bad and for any Michigan fan with high expectations for the new coach's first campaign, think again. The Utes are coming in under the radar in the Mountain West. BYU's grabbing all the attention - and for good reasons - but Utah can give the Cougars a run for their money.
Saturday, Aug. 30 - Appalachian State at LSU
No explanation needed here. The defending BCS champs host the defending (three-time) FCS champs in Baton Rouge, only this time if the Mountaineers win their season opener it won't rock the world. So what are the odds of another upset? Pretty remote, but with LSU parading out a quarterback who has never taken a snap in I-A play, you never know.
Heisman Showcase of the Week
Saturday, Aug. 30 - Illinois vs. Missouri - St. Louis, Mo.
While last year's winner Tim Tebow welcome defensive-power Hawaii to Gainesville in the Gators' opener, Chase Daniel and Missouri get a big test in Illinois. The Tigers will probably be a Top 10 team while the Illini will probably be a Top 20 team and after these two played a spirited game in last year's season opener, expect the same. Missouri has the clear quarterback advantage with Heisman candidate Daniel under center, but don't count out of the Illinois defense. Sure they allowed Daniel to throw 3 TDs and for 359 yards in last year's game, but turnovers were the difference and if Juice Williams takes care of the ball for the Illini the Tigers could easily get picked off.
Rivalry of the Week
Saturday, Aug. 30 - Colorado vs. ColoradoState - Denver, Co.
Only two real rivalry games this week, but the battle for the state of Colorado gets the nod because the other choice - Louisville-Kentucky - is not nearly as appealing this year as it was last year. Buffaloes should be a pretty good team this season and make some noise in the Big 12 North. And they should stomp all over the Rams.