If you hear a light rumbling between Tallahassee and Eugene, don't be alarmed, it's just months worth of excitement for the 2011 college football season building up to a crescendo.
The first week of college football season is generally chockfull of mismatches as many top teams aim to pad their records before entering conference play. But there are always a few gems hidden in the mass of 25-point spreads, and this weekend is no different.
The top contests include LSU facing off against Oregon, in what has the potential to be one of the best out of conference match-ups in recent memory, and Boise State attempting to avenge a 2005 demolition in Athens against Georgia.
Read on for a brief preview of the top games of the weekend and add the overlooked games that you're looking forward to most in the comments section.
The Baylor Bears have probably been licking their chops for another shot at TCU, who defeated them handily in Fort Worth last season, 45-10. Baylor returns dark horse Heisman candidate Robert Griffin III, who is looking to help the Bears build on last year's 6-7 record -- which was Baylor's best showing in football in many, many years. Meanwhile, the Horned Frogs are coming off of one of the biggest wins in program history -- an upset of Wisconsin in last year's Rose Bowl. Return a combined seven starters one both sides of the ball, TCU may struggle to match their 2010 performance.
Is this the year Notre Dame returns to football prominence? Many believe so. Not only does second-year ND coach Brian Kelly return 17 starters from a team that won eight games last season, but the Irish have just three teams on their schedule who are ranked to open the season. They will be tested early, though. Notre Dame should face a stiff challenge in their opener against a South Florida squad that could be a contendor to win the Big East. Bulls quarterback B.J. Daniels is a speedster and will pose a problem for the Irish's All-American linebacker Manti Te'o.
Maryland kicks off the post-Friedgen era at home against the Miami Hurricanes, who are stilling reeling from the offseason revelations about improper benefits. The Hurricanes are undoubtedly the more talented team from top to bottom, but they will be without several players, including starting quarterback Jacory Harris, against what promises to be a well-coached Randy Edsall led Maryland squad.
In 2005, Boise State travelled to Athens for what many expected to be their "coming out party." The anticipated win over Georgia was supposed to announce their arrival into the upper echelon of college football. What actually transpired was the D.J. Shockley-led Georgia Bulldogs sending the Broncos back to Idaho with their tails between their legs after a decisive 48-13 beating. Now Boise State is returning to Georgia, and this time they are the higher ranked program. But Heisman candidate Kellen Moore must break-in two new starting receivers, which will be no easy task against an SEC opponent that returns most of it's starting secondary. The de-facto Bulldog home crowd should have the Georgia Dome rocking.
Arguably one of the most highly anticipated match-ups of the entire season, whichever side comes out on top should receive quite a bit of BCS buzz. Oregon returns seven players from what was the most explosive offense in college football last season, including Heisman Trophy candidates LaMichael James and Darron Thomas. The Ducks should be tested, though, by a loaded LSU defense that perennially defends well against the run. The wild card in this game is the loss of Jordan Jefferson, who will not play for LSU after being suspended indefinitely for his alleged involvement in a bar fight on August 19th.