College football is finally upon us, so drop to your knees, rejoice and praise all that is holy.
Yes, the 2015 season gets underway Thursday, with Jim Harbaugh making his Michigan debut on the road against Utah at 8:30 p.m. ET. While Harbaugh will almost certainly do great things at Michigan, he might get off to a slow start – at least in Week 1.
“I think Utah is going to win that one by the skin of their teeth because this is what Utah does,” CBSSports.com college football writer Jerry Hinnen said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “Last year, game after game – USC, they had a couple of overtime games, Stanford – they do nothing but play close games and I think we’re going to get another one (Thursday). Michigan isn’t going to play very fast. We know Jim Harbaugh likes to kind of take his time, huddle up, come to the line, get his calls, make some shifts – it’s going to be a low-possession, very low-scoring, tight ball game. I think Michigan can win this game. The Utes don’t have a high-flying offense at all. They’re going to rely very heavily on Devontae Booker, their very good running back. But without Dres Anderson, who I think was their most explosive wide receiver a year ago, they’re going to play it pretty buttoned up. Michigan is going to keep it pretty simple (with) Jake Rudock making his first start. I’m expecting this to be a 17-14, 20-17 kind of game. Like I said, the Utes have a lot of experience with those kind of games. I think they just pull it out, but man, it wouldn’t surprise me if Harbaugh gets a scalp in his very first game there.”
Looking ahead to this Saturday, No. 3 Alabama plays No. 20 Wisconsin in Dallas at 8 p.m. ET. The Tide have yet to name a starting quarterback, as Jake Coker, Cooper Bateman and Alec Morris have all been in the mix this summer.
That said, Coker appears to be the favorite.
“I think we’ve gone through the whole carousel this offseason where there were whispers that David Cornwell was going to win the job. There were whispers that Alec Morris was going to win the job,” Hinnen said. “I think this is basically them just trying to get the proverbial fire lit under Jake Coker’s ass and tell him, ‘Look, you have got to go out and seize this job,’ which I’m not sure he’s ever really done. But we are now two days from the season and he’s going to be the guy, I suspect.”
Luckily for Coker, he likely won’t be asked to do too much against the Badgers.
“This is a Wisconsin team that we all know loves to run the ball,” Hinnen said. “If you’re playing this Alabama team with Reggie Ragland, A’Shawn Robinson and what’s probably the best front seven in the country, you’re going to have a pretty hard time running the ball. This is going to be another very low-scoring game. I’m not expecting either team to get into the 30s. I think Lane Kiffin is going to know where his bread is buttered here, hand the ball off to Derrick Henry 25 or 30 times, maybe get it to Kenyon Drake on some swing passes, some screens, not take a lot of chances with Jake Coker and just let that front seven do its thing and Alabama should be able to hang on for a victory. If Coker makes a mistake here and there, things might get dicey. I don’t think they’re going to let him do that, though.”