Five Week One Predictions
By BJ Bennett
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Can Alabama's A.J. McCarron step up against Michigan in week one?
We will release our weekly picks with country music star Rodney Atkins later in the week, but here are five predictions for week one in the ACC and SEC.
1. A.J. McCarron Outshines Denard Robinson -- In his final three games of 2011, McCarron completed 55-of-76 passes (72%) for 608 yards, six touchdowns and zero interceptions. That efficiency will be on display in Dallas as the Crimson Tide junior steps into a starring role. Robinson is a wonderful talent, but it will be McCarron who makes the big plays and avoids the big mistakes in Saturday's college football showcase.
2. The ACC Redeems itself -- The much-maligned league has two high-profile clashes with the SEC at the Georgia Dome and a pair of conference games. Five ACC teams play FCS schools and Duke hosts Florida International. Expect both NC State and Clemson to represent the league well in Atlanta. The Georgia Tech-Virginia Tech Labor Day clash may prove to be one of the best, most fun, games of the early season. Considering where the ACC has been in year's past, a good showing in the Peach State, no meltdowns on Saturday and a compelling game Monday night would be a good start.
3. Florida Struggles Against Bowling Green -- The Gators are loaded with young talent and will be a factor in the SEC East, but Saturday's opener could be an interesting one. Will Muschamp has yet to settle on a quarterback, the offense is dealing with a new scheme and it will take some time to iron out the inconsistencies. The Falcons are one of the most experienced teams in the nation, with 20 total starters back from a year ago.
4. Minus Sammy Watkins, Tajh Boyd Doesn't Miss a Beat -- Clemson has remarkable depth at receiver and Boyd will likely be more proficient with a year of starting experience under his belt. Auburn ranked last in the SEC in 2011 in yards passing allowed, touchdown passes allowed and pass defense rating. DeAndre Hopkins is the name to watch for the Tigers.
5. Thursday Night in Nashville Has Two Headline Acts -- For all of the attention that will be on South Carolina's Marcus Lattimore, and rightfully so, watch out for Vanderbilt's Zac Stacy. Quietly, Stacy rushed for 1,193 yards and 14 touchdowns last season. The SEC opener will be a tale of two tailbacks.