College Football’s Hidden Gems of Week 1

(Photo - Brian Spurlock - USA TODAY Sports)

The college football season will be here before you know it. We’re here to get you ready with some of the Week 1 games that might be a bit off the radar of the national spotlight. Nonetheless, these games will be intriguing, and could go a long way toward shaping the landscape of the season.

Hidden Gem Games of Week 1

UCLA Bruins (1996 - Pres)

UCLA at Cincinnati

Cincinnati Bearcats (2006 - Pres)

This game provides a couple of interesting season setting story lines. Chip Kelly enters his second year with the Bruins, while also returning 17 starters. They’re looking to take step forward after last year’s poor 3-9 season. Cincinnati could be ranked when this game kicks off. They at least figure to be getting votes. Led by RB Michael Warren II, the Bearcats will have the chance to unseat UCF in the AAC, and make a push for the New Year’s Six Bowl bid from the G5. This game should help us answer some questions on both teams and will be a solid start for whoever comes out on top at Nippert Stadium.

Wisconsin Badgers (2002 - Pres)

Wisconsin at USF

South Florida Bulls (2003 - Pres)

Wisconsin will feature a new starter at QB, all while looking to improve from last year’s surprising 5 loss season. Running back and Heisman hopeful Jonathan Taylor is always fun to watch and could have a big day against a USF rush D that ranked 123rd last season. USF could get some hype for this game off the field with this being a P5 opponent, and just the beginning of a loaded non-conference slate over the next few years. The Bulls will come in under the radar after falling apart, losing their last 6 games last year. Their roster has lots of recognizable names. Wide receiver Randall St Felix, RB Jordan Cronkrite, QB Blake Barnett, TE Mitchell Wilcox, DE Greg Reaves, DE Kirk Livingstone, CB Mike Hampton, and S Nick Roberts to name a few. They could surprise the Badgers if they come in thinking this is the same team that has lost 6 straight.

Purdue Boilermakers (2012 - Pres)

Purdue at Nevada

Nevada Wolf Pack (2008 - Pres)

Everyone knows Rondale Moore. However, the Boilermakers’ offense only returns 4 starters from a year ago. There are still key contributors back, but teams will do anything to slow the versatile Moore. That means some unproven players must step up. Nevada only returns 8 starters overall and has many pieces to fill. The reason why this game made this list? Purdue’s schedule after Nevada includes Vanderbilt, TCU and Minnesota all at home. If the Boilermakers look past the inexperienced Wolfpack on the road, there may be an upset in the making. Nevada HC Jay Norvell will have his guys ready to go.

Syracuse Orange (1992 - 2003)

Syracuse at Liberty

Liberty Flames (2013 - Pres)

Syracuse has their most preseason hype in years. However, they must replace Eric Dungey at QB. Tommy DeVito is a guy that I have been very high on all offseason. The defense returns a ton of talent on the line and secondary, including S Andre Cisco, who made my Preseason All-American Team. This game against Liberty just looks like a trap game. Week 2 the Orange play at Maryland, before a home game against Clemson that just may be the biggest in school history. Liberty returns talented QB Stephen Calvert and polished wideout Antonio Gandy-Golden. First year HC Hugh Freeze would love to start with a splash in Lynchburg. This game just seems like a high scoring, close trap game.

Missouri Tigers (1996 - Pres)

Missouri at Wyoming

Wyoming Cowboys (2006 - 2012)

The Tigers are poised to have a solid season, which is unfortunate with the bowl ban. QB Kelly Bryant will be playing in his first game with his new team, which could cause some hiccups early. Mizzou has one of the SECs top RBs in Larry Rountree lll and top TEs in Albert Okwuegbunam. The defense has some big names as well, including LB Cale Garrett and CB DeMarkcus Acy. Wyoming is always a team that pushes for 6 wins and HC Craig Bohl has done an excellent job with the Cowboys in his 5 years. WR Austin Conway is the player to watch on offense and LB Logan Wilson is the player to watch on defense. With the game in Laramie, WY, it could be an early test for a Mizzou team that is looking to make some noise in the SEC, despite the bowl ban.

Virginia Cavaliers (1994 - Pres)

Virginia at Pittsburgh

I have been on the Virginia hype train all offseason and will likely have them right around 23-25 in my preseason rankings. QB Bryce Perkins is a top 15 QB in the country, and a very dynamic player. The defense has a lot of the back 7 talent, but has some things to iron out up front on both sides. This game scares me with it being on the road against the reigning division champs. The Panthers return QB Kenny Pickett, WR Taysir Mack and WR Maurice Ffrench on offense, as well as DE Rashad Weaver and S Damar Hamlin on defense. This should be a great Week 1 match-up in the ACC Coastal. Hopefully, the Cavs can help my Clemson vs UVA ACC Champ prediction get off on the right foot.

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (2008 - Pres)

Louisiana Tech at Texas

Texas Longhorns (1961 - Pres)

Is this game on here purely because Texas has struggled game 1 the last 2 years? Yes. Does this still have the possibility to be a trap game? Absolutely. Texas has a lot to replace on both sides of the ball. However, they do return a lot of talent. This game looks like a tune up for the Longhorns to figure out what needs to be fixed before a huge home game vs LSU in Week 2. That is exactly why this is a trap. The Bulldogs return QB J’Mar Smith and WR Adrian Hardy who had over 1100 yds last year. HC Skip Holtz always has his team winning ball games. The Longhorns can’t take this as a tune up for Week 2 or it could be the Maryland situation all over again.