After months of anticipation, the season finally is here.
Here are the top games to watch for Week One:
All times Eastern.
- UTAH AT MICHIGAN
When: Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
TV: ABC regional or ESPN2 (depending on your location)
Line: Michigan by 3½
Why you should watch: Rich Rodriguez's first game at Michigan is no gimme. If Appalachian State could beat Michigan in the Big House last season, Utah can do it this season. All eyes will be on the Wolverines and how their yet-to-be-named starting quarterback runs the Rodriguez spread option. As for NFL Prospects, Michigan DT Terrence Taylor is the perfect NT for a 3-4 defense, and could be a second round pick in the NFL Draft next year.
- NO. 24 ALABAMA VS. NO. 9 CLEMSON IN ATLANTA
When: Saturday, 8 p.m.
TV: ABC or ESPN GamePlan
Line: Clemson by 5
Why you should watch: This feels a bit like a bowl game, doesn't it? Two powerhouses from power conferences meet at a neutral site. Make no mistake, though, this game will set the tone for two fan bases with high expectations for 2008. Tommy Bowden and Clemson are out to prove the Tigers are ready to win their first ACC title since 1991 and contend for national attention. If Clemson junior RB CJ Spiller declares, he's a likely first round pick, and Clemson QB Cullen Harper and DE/DT Dorell Scott are likely second rounders. On the Alabama side, watch OT Andre Smith who will compete with man mountain Michael Oher from Ole Miss as the best offensive lineman in the draft.
- NO. 20 ILLINOIS VS. NO. 6 MISSOURI IN ST. LOUIS
When: Saturday, 8:30 p.m.
Line: Missouri by 9
Why you should watch: This border showdown pits one team that should have gone to a BCS game last season (Mizzou) against a team that probably should have been left out (Illinois). Between Jeremy Maclin, Chase Daniel, Chase Coffman, Juice Williams and Arrelious Benn, no first-week game will have a better collection of offensive playmakers on the field. This game flew under the radar last season (Missouri won 40-34), but it's clear this year's version carries BCS implications. For the Illini, CB Vontae Davis is a likely first round pick who is talented enough to play safety if need be. For Mizzou, watch WR Jeremy Maclin who could be a first rounder and OLB Sean Weatherspoon and S William Moore who should go in the second.
- WASHINGTON AT NO. 21 OREGON
When: Saturday, 10 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Net
Line: Oregon by 14
Why you should watch: Of the five conference games nationally this weekend, this is by far the most interesting. It's an underrated rivalry game and an opportunity to see the mettle of both teams. Justin Roper led Oregon to its only post-Dennis Dixon win in the Sun Bowl, but he didn't win the starting job until Monday - when it was announced the Ducks lost Nate Costa for eight to 10 weeks with a knee injury. Washington quarterback Jake Locker has to deal with Oregon's playmaking secondary. He needs to prove he can win a game with his arm as well as his legs. There are no elite Huskie prospects, but Oregon OT Max Unger and S Patrick Chung are likely second rounders in next year's NFL Draft.