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Line: Alabama by 37 1/2.

Series Record: First meeting.

What’s at Stake

For Alabama, not much beyond avoiding injuries and a poor showing. San Jose State would love to give new coach Mike MacIntyre a strong debut _ and maybe even a monumental upset _ after going 2-10 last season.

Key Matchup

Alabama’s defense against an offense that managed just 13.8 points and 284 yards per game last season. The Tide have nine new defensive starters, so the Spartans might be a good way to get started.

Players to Watch

San Jose State: QB Jordan La Secla passed for 1,926 yards last season and goes against a young secondary.

Alabama: RB Trent Richardson fills in for injured Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram. Not much drop-off here, though. He ran for 751 yards and had two 100-yard games as a freshman.

Facts & Figures

Alabama is preseason No. 1 for the first time since 1978. The Tide are coming off two straight perfect regular seasons and the 2009 national title. … This is the debut of newly expanded Bryant-Denny Stadium, which now seats 101,821. … It is the second time San Jose State has faced a top-ranked opponent. The Spartans opened with a 49-13 loss at then-No. 1 Nebraska in 2000. San Jose State hasn’t beaten a ranked team since topping No. 9 TCU and LaDainian Tomlinson in 2000, and it hasn’t managed it on the road since 1980 against No. 9 Baylor.

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No. 4 Florida vs. Miami (Ohio), Noon (ESPN)

Line: Florida by 35.

Series Record: Miami leads 1-0.

Last Meeting: Dec. 22, 1973, Miami 16-7.

What’s at Stake

After losing several starters and arguably the top playmaker in school history (Tim Tebow), the Gators have plenty of uncertainty heading into their opener. Is QB John Brantley ready to emerge from Tebow’s shadow? Can Florida’s revamped defense overcome growing pains? How will coach Urban Meyer manage his health? Who are the team’s new playmakers? They should get a glimpse against overmatched Miami, which finished 1-11 in 2009.

Key Matchup

Miami’s defense vs. Chris Rainey. Rainey is one of Florida’s most explosive players, and the Gators are expected to use him at running back, at receiver and on kick returns. The junior from Lakeland, Fla., has averaged 7.1 yards a carry and 15.2 yards a reception.

Players to Watch

Miami: MLB Jerrell Wedge, who should stay busy chasing Florida’s speedy running backs and receivers across the field. Wedge led the RedHawks with 114 tackles and 5.5 sacks in 2009.

Florida: C Mike Pouncey, who moved from guard and takes on Tebow’s role as the team’s motivational leader.

Facts & Figures

Miami opened the last two seasons against SEC teams without much success. Kentucky drilled the RedHawks 42-0 in 2008, and Vanderbilt won 34-13 last year. The Gators are believed to be the highest-ranked opponent Miami has ever played. … Miami coach Michael Haywood plans to have former coach Bill Mallory speak to the team Friday night. Mallory’s club upset the Gators in the 1973 Tangerine Bowl in Gainesville, capping an undefeated season. Former Florida coach Ron Zook played on that Miami team. … The Gators have won 10 in a row at home. … Meyer is 35-1 during the first four games of the season, including 19-1 at Florida. … The Gators have allowed just 23 points in their last four openers. … Florida will be without starting LT Xavier Nixon (knee), backup LT Matt Patchan (wrist) and DT Terron Sanders (knee).

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No. 5 Texas vs. Rice at Reliant Stadium, 3:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Line: Texas by 30 1/2.

Series Record: Texas leads 69-21-1.

Last Meeting: Sept. 20, 2008, Texas 52-10.

What’s at Stake

The Longhorns begin the year with hopes of returning to the BCS title game after a stinging 37-21 loss to Alabama last season, when QB Colt McCoy was injured in the first quarter. Saturday should be a good chance for new QB Garrett Gilbert to show what he can do in a less pressure-filled situation than when he filled in for McCoy against Alabama.

Key Matchup

Gilbert against Rice’s defense, which ranked among the nation’s worst last season. The Owls allowed 464 total yards and more than 273 yards passing per game. The high-school All-American is eager to take the field now that he’s the Longhorn’s starter and facing Rice should be a good way to ease into the job.

Players to Watch

Texas: RB Cody Johnson. The 5-foot-11, 250-pound junior was expected to be used mostly in short-yardage situations, but instead has gained the starting job. He had 335 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. This year the Longhorns will use his hard running to make their ground game more about power than style. He won the job over Tre’ Newton, who led Texas last season with 552 yards.

Rice: RB Sam McGuffie. He gained 486 yards and three touchdowns as a freshman at Michigan before sitting out last season after transferring. Owl fans are so excited about McGuffie that his biography became the most popular one on the Rice website when he wasn’t even playing. That could be because of his high school career in the area at Cypress-Fairbanks high school, where he had 5,847 yards and 83 touchdowns in his career.

Facts & Figures

It is the first year since 1995, when the Longhorns opened at Hawaii, that they begin the season on the road. … This is the fourth appearance at Reliant Stadium for Texas. They beat the Owls at the Texans’ stadium in 2003 and ‘06 and defeated Colorado in the Big 12 championship game there in 2006. … The Longhorns have won 10 straight openers. … Texas has been ranked in the AP poll for a school-record and NCAA-best 158 straight weeks. … The Longhorns have won 10 straight and 38 of their last 39 against the Owls.

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No. 6 TCU (0-0) vs. No. 24 Oregon St. (0-0) at Arlington, Texas, 7:45 p.m. (ESPN)

Line: TCU by 13 1/2.

Series Record: First meeting.

What’s at Stake

After finally becoming a BCS buster last season, but losing the Fiesta Bowl, TCU wants a do-over. The Horned Frogs will almost certainly have to go undefeated in the regular season to have that chance. A tough opening test for new QB Ryan Katz and Oregon State, which got close to the Rose Bowl last season. The Beavers still have the Rodgers brothers, RB Jacquizz and WR James.

Key Matchup

Quizz Show vs. TCU defense. Jacquizz Rodgers ran for 1,440 yards and a Beavers-record 21 rushing TDs last season. Is he worthy of Heisman Trophy consideration? A strong showing in the nationally televised matchup could plant an early seed in the minds of Heisman voters. TCU is without All-American DE Jerry Hughes and LB Daryl Washington, both picked in the first two rounds of NFL draft.

Players to Watch

TCU: QB Andy Dalton’s 29 victories are tied with Slingin’ Sammy Baugh for most in school history _ a mark set in the 1930s. Dalton has only 24 interceptions in 1,001 pass attempts.

Oregon State: Katz, the sophomore QB making his first career start, and doing so in a big-time game. James Rodgers enters senior season with 5,077 all-purpose yards, second-most in Beavers history and second-most among active NCAA players. Often double-teamed, DT Stephen Paea had 43 tackles and three sacks last season.

Facts & Figures

Oregon State opens the season in the Top 25 for first time since 2001. … TCU is 13-3 its past 16 games against teams from conferences with automatic BCS bids. … Beavers are only team to finish top three in the Pac-10 standings each of past four seasons. … Oregon State’s other September road game is at No. 3 Boise State. … Frogs have won seven consecutive openers. … TCU has 27 seniors, tied with Hawaii and Louisville for the most on any FBS roster.

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No. 7 Oklahoma (0-0) vs. Utah State (0-0), 7 p.m.

Line: Oklahoma by 34.

Series Record: Oklahoma leads 4-0.

Last Meeting: Sept. 15, 2007, Oklahoma 54-3

What’s at Stake

Oklahoma can become the seventh Division I program to reach 800 wins if it avoids starting a second straight season with an upset loss to a Utah-based team _ last season it was BYU at Cowboys Stadium. The Aggies are trying to win their season opener for just the fourth time in 24 tries and the first time since 1997.

Key Matchup

Utah State QB Diondre Borel vs. Oklahoma CBs. Borel threw only four interceptions in 366 pass attempts while leading the nation’s 12th-best offense last season. The Sooners are breaking in a pair of new starters in the defensive backfield in Demontre Hurst and Jamell Fleming, and freshman Aaron Colvin is also expected to play.

Players to Watch

Utah State: RBs Michael Smith and Derrvin Speight. With Robert Turbin out after rushing for just under 1,300 yards last season, it’ll fall to this senior tandem to do damage against a Sooners defense that shut out three opponents a year ago.

Oklahoma: RB DeMarco Murray. After splitting carries with Chris Brown for his first three seasons, Murray is now the featured back for the Sooners. And with backup Mossis Madu suspended for an offseason arrest, Murray could get an even heavier load in the opener.

Facts & Figures

The Sooners are 799-302-53 (.726) in 115 seasons. … Oklahoma has won a school-record 30 straight home games. … Utah State will debut new helmets with facemasks that are blue instead of white. … The Aggies have been outscored 230-27 in their four previous losses to Oklahoma teams that were all also ranked in the top 10.

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Western Kentucky (0-0) at No. 8 Nebraska (0-0), 7:10 p.m.

Line: Nebraska by 37 1/2.

Series Record: First meeting.

What’s at Stake

The race for Nebraska’s starting QB job probably will go at least until the Cornhuskers make their trip to Washington in three weeks. Coach Bo Pelini hasn’t said whether Zac Lee, Cody Green or Taylor Martinez would take the first snaps. Look for all three to play, with the best performer getting a leg up in the competition.

Key Matchup

Western Kentucky OL vs. Nebraska front four. The Hilltoppers have a veteran line that averages 303 pounds, and they’ll try to dent the middle in an attempt to keep the ball out of the Huskers’ hands. Nebraska was tough against the run last year, but now it’s without AP national player of the year and Detroit Lions rookie Ndamukong Suh.

Players to Watch

Western Kentucky: RB Bobby Rainey is the Hilltoppers’ best weapon. He set a school record for kick return yards, along with rushing for 939 yards. He averaged a Sun Belt Conference-best 175 all-purpose yards in 2009.

Nebraska: QB Taylor Martinez. Even if he doesn’t start, he’ll surely play. Fans have been anticipating the redshirt freshman’s debut since his sharp outing in the spring game. Pelini raves about his athleticism, and offensive coordinator Shawn Watson gives glowing reports about his improved passing. He would seem the perfect fit in the Huskers’ hybrid offense.

Facts & Figures

Nebraska has won 24 straight openers… Huskers are in preseason top 10 for the first time since 2002. … Huskers’ defensive average of 10.4 points last season was lowest since 1984… Roy Helu Jr. begins his bid for a second straight 1,000-yard season, which would put him No. 4 at Nebraska. … The Hilltoppers have lost 20 games in a row, with their last victory a 50-9 rout of Murray State in 2008…. Western Kentucky’s past three losses were by 13 total points.

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Eastern Illinois (0-0) at No. 9 Iowa (0-0), Noon (Big Ten)

Line: None

Series Record: First meeting.

What’s at Stake

Iowa can’t afford to struggle against an FCS opponent in its opener _ like it did last year in barely beating Northern Iowa _ and expect to stay in the top 10. The Hawkeyes would also benefit from grabbing a big early lead to get work in for reserves like QB James Vandenberg and a talented crop of freshmen.

Key Matchup

Eastern Illinois’ offensive line vs. Iowa’s defensive line. The Panthers are breaking in three new starting linemen behind new QB Brandon Large. Hawkeyes DE Adrian Clayborn leads a unit that’s considered one of the nation’s best. If Eastern Illinois can’t keep Iowa out of Large’s face, this one could be over quickly.

Players to Watch

Eastern Illinois: RB Jimmy Potempa. Mon Williams will miss the opener with a strained knee, and the projected second- and third-string backs from spring ball won’t play. Potempa is a senior, but he’s just 5-foot-7 and 179 pounds, and was used more as a receiving back in 2009.

Iowa: RB Adam Robinson. Jewel Hampton looks to be on track after missing 2009 with an ACL injury, but he’s suspended for the opener. Robinson set a school record for a freshman with 834 yards rushing last year, but if he wants to keep the starting job over Hampton, he’ll have to impress against the Panthers.

Facts & Figures

Eastern Illinois is 4-22 against FBS opponents, with all those victories coming against MAC teams. … Iowa has won nine straight openers by an average of 31 1/2 points. … The Hawkeyes won’t announce who their starting kicker will be until game time. Sophomore Trent Mossbrucker and senior Daniel Murray are listed as co-starters, and freshman Michael Meyer will kick off.

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No. 11 Oregon vs. New Mexico, 3:30 p.m.

Line: Oregon by 34.

Series Record: First meeting.

What’s at Stake

Oregon’s new starting QB, Darron Thomas, makes a high-profile debut as a starter at Autzen Stadium, where the defending Pac-10 champion Ducks have won 16 of 17 openers dating to 1993. Thomas steps in for Jeremiah Masoli, who was dismissed in the offseason. The last loss at Autzen for the Ducks was to Boise State in 2008, when Thomas came in and threw for 210 yards and three touchdowns in the final 15 minutes but came up short, 37-32.

Key Matchup

Kenjon Barner vs. New Mexico’s defense. Barner is starting in place of prolific Oregon RB LaMichael James, who is serving a one-game suspension after he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge stemming from an offseason altercation with an ex-girlfriend. Oregon coach Chip Kelly says Barner is “just scratching the surface of what he can be.”

Players to Watch

Oregon: Thomas, who won the job as the Ducks’ starter after a heated competition with senior Nate Costa over the course of fall camp. While Costa is more of a passer, Thomas is more of a scrambler in the Dennis Dixon mode, and a good fit in coach Chip Kelly’s spread-option offense.

New Mexico: The Lobos have QB B.R. Holbrook, who won the starting job during fall camp, along with RBs Desmond Dennis and Kasey Carrier, WR Ty Kirk and TE Lucas Reed _ all sophomores whom the Lobos are building on.

Facts & Figures

New Mexico went 1-11 last season. … Oregon has won 10 straight home games. … The Lobos are 7-43 overall against ranked opponents, and 2-21 on the road against them. … New Mexico also faces No. 6 TCU as part of a tough non-conference schedule. … The Lobos have lost four straight openers. … Oregon K Rob Beard is serving a one-game suspension after he pleaded guilty in the offseason to a misdemeanor harassment charge for his role in a street fight.

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No. 12 Wisconsin (0-0) at UNLV (0-0), 11:06 p.m. (Versus)

Line: Wisconsin by 20 1/2.

Series Record: Wisconsin leads 6-2.

Last Meeting: Sept. 8, 2007, Wisconsin 20-13.

What’s at Stake

Wisconsin has had some close calls traveling west with late wins at Fresno State in 2008 and UNLV in 2007. Wisconsin hopes it doesn’t wilt in the desert in this series, which has had its share of weirdness. The lights went out at Sam Boyd Stadium in 2002 and the Rebels beat the Badgers in Madison as 20-point underdogs in 2003.

Key Matchup

Wisconsin LB Culmer St. Jean vs. UNLV RB/WR Channing Trotter. The 5-foot-8 Trotter can do it all, even though he’s in competition for a starting role in camp. St. Jean is coming off an ankle injury, but if he can locate and stop the quick Trotter, Wisconsin’s defense should be able to get off the field.

Players to Watch

Wisconsin: RB John Clay. Clay isn’t expected to get a full workload in his first game since having offseason surgery on both ankles, but the Big Ten’s leading rusher last year likely will be out there long enough to gain 100 yards against a defense that was one of the worst in the nation last year.

UNLV: DE Issako Aaitui. It’s the key matchup, part two. Aaitui has made it a point to talk about needing to stop Wisconsin’s powerful running attack. Big Ten opponents will tell Aaitui that saying you’re going to slow Clay and actually bringing the 255-pound workhorse is another matter. Stopping Clay puts more pressure on QB Scott Tolzien, who threw for 2,705 yards in ‘09.

Facts & Figures

The temperature is predicted to be 105 degrees before “cooling” into the low 80s at night. … UNLV’s new coach, Bobby Hauck, reached three FCS championship games with Montana before taking over the Rebels in the offseason. … Wisconsin returns 10 starters on offense but has only 13 seniors. … It’s the seventh matchup between the programs in the past 15 years. … Wisconsin’s band fell about $50,000 short of fundraising and won’t make the trip.

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South Carolina State (10-2) at No. 16 Georgia Tech (11-3), 1 p.m. (ESPN)

Line: No line.

Series Record: First meeting.

What’s at Stake

A quick history lesson for Georgia Tech: One year ago, William & Mary beat Virginia and Richmond beat Duke. Georgia Tech, the defending ACC champion, wants to avoid becoming another team from the league with another loss to an FCS school.

Key Matchup

Georgia Tech was second in the nation in rushing last season with more than 295 yards per game. The Yellow Jackets are expected to have a strong running game again even after losing top rusher Jonathan Dwyer to the NFL. Senior Anthony Allen is the new starter at the B-back position manned by Dwyer last year. South Carolina State gave up only 98.3 yards rushing per game in ‘09.

Players to Watch

South Carolina State: Senior QB Malcolm Long is the preseason MAC offensive player of the year after passing for more than 2,500 yards last year. LB David Erby had four sacks and 68.5 tackles last year. LB Julius Wilkerson had 66 tackles and 4.5 sacks.

Georgia Tech: The school unveiled a website pushing QB Joshua Nesbitt for the Heisman Trophy this week. Nesbitt ran for 18 TDs last year as a junior and could become the top rushing QB in ACC history this season. Allen had 618 yards rushing and seven TDs on only 64 carries last season, and could have a big year in his first chance to be the team’s top back.

Facts & Figures

This is Georgia Tech’s first game against a team from the MEAC. The Bulldogs won the MEAC championship in 2009. … South Carolina State must replace RBs Will Ford, the MEAC’s all-time rushing leader, and Travil Jamison. The two combined for about two-thirds of the team’s carries last season. … The Bulldogs also lost their top three receivers from 2009. … Georgia Tech is 20-7 in two seasons under Paul Johnson.

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No. 17 Arkansas (0-0) vs. Tennessee Tech (0-0), 7 p.m. (ESPN3)

Line: No line.

Series Record: First meeting.

What’s at Stake

It’s been a while since Arkansas entered a season with such unconditional excitement from the fan base. Led by QB Ryan Mallett, the Razorbacks are ranked as high as they’ve been during the preseason in two decades _ and with an aesthetically pleasing offense to boot. They will be expected to delight the home crowd with a blowout win in the opener, while sending a warning to the rest of the SEC.

Key Matchup

Arkansas K Alex Tejada vs. Arkansas K Zach Hocker. Tejada, a senior, has been competing with Hocker, a freshman, and coach Bobby Petrino is in no rush to endorse either. Even if Tejada is the choice, the coach’s patience could be thin because of past struggles. With Tennessee Tech’s defense unlikely to contain Arkansas, this competition could be the game’s biggest suspense.

Players to Watch

Tennessee Tech: WR Tim Benford, who caught 33 passes for 580 yards last season and will try to exploit the Arkansas secondary and keep the Golden Eagles in the game.

Arkansas: TE D.J. Williams. One of few quibbles with Mallett last season was that he didn’t use Williams enough. If the two show better chemistry this season, the Razorbacks will be that much more dangerous.

Facts & Figures

Arkansas returns players who accounted for 100 percent of its yards passing in 2010, 85 percent of its yards receiving and 75 percent of its yards rushing. … Tennessee Tech’s six wins last season were its most since 2004. … Mallett has thrown for a touchdown in 12 of 13 games as a Razorback. … Tennessee Tech is one of three Ohio Valley teams opening the season against the SEC. Jacksonville State opens at Mississippi, and Tennessee-Martin is at Tennessee.

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No. 18 North Carolina vs. No 21 LSU at Atlanta, 8 p.m. (ABC)

Line: LSU by 3.

Series Record: First meeting.

What’s at Stake

North Carolina gets a shot to measure itself against an SEC school, though the Tar Heels aren’t sure how many players will be sidelined by an NCAA investigation. The Tigers, national champs only three seasons ago, believe their program has lost considerable respect after a pair of mediocre seasons and want an early, nationally televised win against a major conference foe.

Key Matchup

North Carolina’s WRs against LSU’s defensive backfield, led by junior cornerback Patrick Peterson, a national defensive player of the year candidate. The top returning Tar Heel is Greg Little, whose status is unclear because of the NCAA probe. That means the remainder of a young receiving corps could be challenged to move the ball against Peterson and sophomore Morris Claiborne, widely regarded as one of the better CB tandems in the nation.

Players to Watch

North Carolina: QB T.J. Yates held off Bryn Renner in training camp to become a four-year starter and must get the offense moving after an erratic junior season.

LSU: Peterson not only is LSU’s best one-on-one pass defender, but also will be making his debut as kickoff and punt returner. QB Jordan Jefferson, a second-year starter, is trying to overcome the indecision that led to 34 sacks last season. Backup Jarrett Lee has impressed in camp this year, so Jefferson must be effective early to avoid a quarterback controversy.

Facts & Figures

North Carolina DT Marvin Austin, who is at the center of the NCAA’s agent-related benefits probe, was suspended indefinitely this week for violating team rules. … The Tar Heels have won all three openers under coach Butch Davis and are ranked in the preseason poll for the second straight year. … The Tar Heels were originally supposed to open with William & Mary, but pushed that to Oct. 30 to accommodate the LSU game. … Les Miles becomes the first LSU coach to start a sixth season with the Tigers since Charlie McClendon coached from 1962-79. … Miles is 51-15 as LSU’s coach and has won all five of his previous season openers with the Tigers. … LSU opens against a ranked opponent for the first time since 2005, when Hurricane Katrina forced the Tigers to begin that season at then-No. 15 Arizona State. LSU won 35-31. … LSU is 7-1 in the Georgia Dome. … Both teams finished last season with close losses in bowl games. North Carolina fell to Pittsburgh 17-16 in the Meineke Car Care Bowl, while LSU lost to Penn State 19-17 in the Capital One Bowl.

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Youngstown State (0-0) at No. 19 Penn State (0-0), Noon (Big Ten)

Line: No line.

Series Record: Penn State leads 1-0.

Last Meeting: Sept. 16, 2006, Penn State 37-3.

What’s at Stake

Youngstown State hopes to make a respectable showing in new head coach Eric Wolford’s debut. Penn State counterpart Joe Paterno wants to know if true freshman Robert Bolden has the goods to be the starting QB with a trip to top-ranked Alabama looming in Week 2.

Key Matchup

Bolden against the Youngstown State defense. He beat out two sophomores for the starting nod, though Paterno has said all three will likely play Saturday. The Nittany Lions hold a big edge on talent all over the field, but the Penguins have experience on defense with six juniors and five seniors starting under a new coordinator.

Players to Watch

Youngstown State: QB Kurt Hess. The redshirt freshman is making his debut, too, after winning a quarterback competition that drew much less attention. His reward is facing a Penn State defense eager to show it hasn’t lost a step even with three new starting LBs.

Penn State: QBs Bolden, Matt McGloin and Kevin Newsome. Bolden is the first true freshman to start at Penn State since Wally Richardson in 1992. After impressing in camp, is he ready to handle the starting job? And how will Paterno use his other QBs?

Facts & Figures

Paterno kicks off his record 45th season as head coach with 394 victories, the most among major college coaches. … Penn State will play its 50th season at Beaver Stadium, the second-largest stadium in the country behind Michigan Stadium … RB Evan Royster needs 481 yards to break Curt Warner’s school rushing record of 3,398. … Penguins WR Dominique Barnes caught TD passes in seven of his last 10 games in 2009, including the final three games. … LT Andrew Radakovich transferred from Penn State after the 2008 season.

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Samford (0-0) at No. 20 Florida St. (0-0), Noon (ESPNU)

Line: None.

Series Record: Florida State leads 1-0.

Last Meeting: Oct. 14, 1950, Florida State 20-6.

What’s at Stake

Jimbo Fisher’s debut as successor to Bobby Bowden. Fisher doesn’t want to get locked up in a close game against a lower-division opponent like the Seminoles did in their second game last season, a 19-9 come-from-behind win over Jacksonville State. An impressive victory could move the Seminoles up a few notches in the polls before their Sept. 11 game at No. 7 Oklahoma.

Key Matchup

Samford’s ability to move the ball against a Florida State defense that ranked among the country’s worst last year, giving up an average of 30 points and 435 yards. Florida State will try to establish its run game with TBs Jermaine Thomas and Chris Thompson to take pressure off QB Christian Ponder, who lost several of his leading receivers from last year’s team. Fisher wants his offense to control the clock with first downs and a good ground game.

Players to Watch

Samford: Chris Evans, the school’s career rushing leader. Florida State’s defense couldn’t stop much of anything last season and Seminoles fans are looking to see what improvements have been made under new defensive coordinator Mark Stoops. Evans is the first test.

Florida State: Ponder, who is being promoted by the school as a Heisman Trophy candidate, and sophomore return specialist and CB Greg Reid, who led the nation in punt returns a year ago and is now a starter in the secondary. Reid returned one of his two interceptions last year for a touchdown at BYU.

Facts & Figures

The game marks the first time since Sept. 11, 1976, that Bobby Bowden won’t be Florida State’s head coach. Bowden, who will not attend the game, was Samford’s QB in 1950 when the Bulldogs (then known as Howard College) played the Seminoles in the only prior meeting of the two schools. Fisher also is a Samford alum. He was QB in 1987 and spent another five years on the Samford staff as an assistant under Bowden’s son Terry, and later served as an assistant to the younger Bowden at Auburn … Temperatures in the low 90s are expected for kickoff.

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Arkansas State (0-0) at No. 22 Auburn (0-0), 7 p.m. (ESPN3)

Line: Auburn by 31.

Series Record: Auburn leads 1-0.

Last Meeting: Nov. 4, 2006, Auburn 27-0.

What’s at Stake

Auburn would love solid performances from new starters QB Cam Newton and RB Mario Fannin and, if possible, to get some young players game experience.

Key Matchup

Gus Malzahn’s quick-strike Auburn offense against an Arkansas State defense that has ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in the Sun Belt in total defense four years running.

Players to Watch

Arkansas State: DL Bryan Hall is the preseason Sun Belt defensive player of the year.

Auburn: QB Cam Newton is making his SEC starting debut, and fans have seen little of him since his arrival in January.

Facts & Figures

Arkansas State is 1-46-3 against current members of the SEC, while Auburn is 14-0 against Sun Belt teams. The Red Wolves’ lone win came over Mississippi in 1915 (10-0). Arkansas State did upset Texas A&M in the 2008 opener. … Auburn is the only SEC team to return its entire coaching staff this season. The Tigers have the largest senior class (24) in school history. Auburn’s offensive line has four players who have logged a combined 109 starts.

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No. 23 Georgia (0-0) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (0-0), 12:21 p.m. (ESPN3)

Line: Georgia by 28.

Series Record: First meeting.

What’s at Stake

Georgia needs to stay healthy before opening its SEC schedule next week at South Carolina. If the Bulldogs lose to an opponent that’s 0-34 against the SEC, job security questions are surely to become a major issue for Georgia coach Mark Richt.

Key Matchup

Georgia WR A.J. Green vs. Louisiana-Lafayette secondary. The Ragin’ Cajuns likely will need to deploy two defenders or zone coverage in defending the All-SEC flanker. His size, strength and speed create a difficult matchup that should leave more room for other targets to run open routes against linebackers.

Players to Watch

Louisiana-Lafayette: RB Julian Shankle has 41 career rushing attempts for 155 yards in a backfield that must replace both starters against Georgia’s new 3-4 front.

Georgia: QB Aaron Murray. A redshirt freshman who’s never taken a college snap, Murray must avoid temptations of holding the ball too long in the pocket and trying to pass into tight coverage. He is protected by five returning starters on the offensive line.

Facts & Figures

The Bulldogs are 38-4 against non-conference opponents, 25-1 at home, under Richt. … Since coach Rickey Bustle was hired in 2002, Louisiana-Lafayette has blocked 41 kicks and punts. … Under new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, Georgia hopes to improve vastly on takeaways. The Bulldogs had just 12 last year to rank No. 118 in the nation. … Louisiana-Lafayette MLB Grant Fleming has moved inside after his 89 tackles were second-most for the Cajuns last year. … Georgia LT Clint Boling plans to make his 26th consecutive start, tops among current Bulldogs. … Georgia TEs Aron White and Orson Charles combined for 374 yards receiving last season.

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Coastal Carolina (0-0) at No. 25 West Virginia (0-0), 3:30 p.m. (ESPN3)

Line: None.

Series Record: First meeting.

What’s at Stake

West Virginia wants to keep its Top 25 ranking intact and doesn’t need a potential struggle against another Big South opponent like it had last year against Liberty. To get the season off right, Mountaineers QB Geno Smith must be solid in his first career start.

Key Matchup

West Virginia RB Noel Devine vs. Coastal Carolina’s defense. Devine rushed for 1,465 yards a year ago and, while a big game against a FCS opponent doesn’t mean anything for a potential Heisman Trophy campaign, it would start momentum for what could be a stellar senior year. Devine needs 1,784 yards to overtake Avon Cobourne, who set the school record of 5,164 yards from 1999-02. Coastal Carolina returns leading tackler Desmond Seward at LB, three of its four defensive backs and picked up three transfers from Hofstra, which dropped football after last season.

Players to Watch

West Virginia: DL Bruce Irvin. The junior college transfer earned praise in the preseason as a speed rusher in West Virginia’s four-lineman set on passing downs. Irvin was a WR in high school and was recruited to play safety in junior college. He didn’t play defensive end until last year and returned a fumble 96 yards for a touchdown.

Coastal Carolina: QB Zach MacDowall. The Wake Forest transfer had more interceptions (11) than touchdowns (nine), but his top two receivers return from a year ago.

Facts & Figures

West Virginia went unbeaten at home last year for the first time since 1993. … The Mountaineers open against an FCS opponent for the third straight year and against a school from a non-BCS conference for the fifth straight season. West Virginia has won six straight season openers, while Coastal Carolina has lost four straight. … The Chanticleers have played three FBS opponents before _ Penn State, Kent State and Clemson _ and were outscored 125-13.

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Monday

No. 3 Boise State vs. No. 10 Virginia Tech, 8 p.m. (ESPN)

Line: Boise State by 2.

Series Record: First meeting.

What’s at Stake

A chance to play for a national championship for Boise State. Yes, this game is that important to the Broncos. It’s the most daunting game on their schedule. Win it and run the table, and the Broncos will at the very least be in the thick of the discussions. For the Hokies, it’s a chance to make an early statement, something they haven’t done recently.

Key Matchup

Boise State’s defensive line, which has two 290-pound tackles in Billy Winn and Chase Baker, against a Virginia Tech offensive line with three returning starters, but replacing its two best blockers from last season. Hokies TBs Ryan Williams and Darren Evans don’t need much room to be effective.

Players to Watch

Boise State: WR Titus Young is a potential game-breaker on offense and special teams, an area where Virginia Tech usually excels.

Virginia Tech: QB Tyrod Taylor has excellent mobility, a solid arm and 28 career starts. But can he be accurate enough against a good defense to make the Hokies’ offense balanced?

Facts & Figures

Virginia Tech is one of only two major college teams, along with Texas, to have won at least 10 games each of the past six seasons. … Boise State, which starts the season with its best preseason ranking, is 112-17 since 2000. It’s the most wins and the best winning percentage (.868) in major college football in that span. … Boise State QB Kellen Moore has started 26 victories in his career, which ranks second among active quarterbacks behind TCU’s Andy Dalton. Taylor has started 23 wins, which is third best. … Boise State coach Chris Petersen is 49-4 (.925) in four seasons as Broncos coach. … Virginia Tech’s Frank Beamer begins his 24th season as Hokies head coach, and 30th overall. His 229 career victories is second among active FBS coaches.

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