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Volume 72, Issue 9, Thursday, August 31, 2006

Sports

What to watch for opening week

The Hustler

Eli Jabbe 

The start of the NCAA football season is one of the most hotly anticipated events in sports. It'll be interesting to see which players rise above the rest and have breakout seasons and what teams will post impressive records this year. Week 1 features several important games.

Associated Press No. 11 Florida State at No. 12 Miami (FL) -- This Sunshine State match-up is intriguing. Other than the match-up of No. 9 California against No. 23 Tennessee, this is the only game this week of two AP Top 25 teams. 

Getting prepared for this contest has been hard for both the teams as Hurricane Ernesto has been looming over the state of Florida. What makes the game even better is the rivalry between the two powerhouses.

Northern Illinois at No. 1 Ohio State -- This match-up featuring the top-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes against lowly Northern Illinois gives the Buckeyes a good opportunity to show off their explosive offense at home. Senior quarterback Troy Smith and flanker/return specialist Ted Ginn Jr. will begin their respective quests for a Heisman Trophy, as both are strong preseason candidates for the award.

Houston at Rice -- The annual battle for the Bayou Bucket pits the Cougars against their crosstown rival, the Rice Owls. Saturday night's matchup will feature Houston's talented offensive tandem of seniors Kevin Kolb and Vincent Marshall against a Rice defense lead by new head coach Todd Graham. 

North Texas at No. 3 Texas -- The Longhorns will attempt to run their offense without the help of Vince Young. They will turn to red-shirt freshman Colt McCoy, who Coach Mack Brown said had a "terrific camp and was at his best during scrimmages."

There is undoubtedly a lot of pressure on McCoy to perform after Young's legendary junior year at Texas raised the bar for future Longhorn signal callers. We'll see if the quarterback can prove his skills in his first game on Saturday.

Either way, the match-up shouldn't prove much of a challenge for Texas -- the Longhorns were national champions in 2005, while the Mean Green went 2-9. Nevertheless, the game will be worth watching to check out how McCoy's first start goes.

Send comments to dcsports@mail.uh.edu

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