The Crystal Ball: Week One

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Ty’s mystical “lady friend” unlocks the dark spirits.

Little known fact: We actually have a crystal ball.

Yup, we use it on occasion for personal reasons. This year, though, we’ve cleared up the legalese and turned it loose on college football’s 2012 regular season. If a greater challenge exists for a mystical predictive device, we’d like to see it.

Over the coming weeks, we’ll be giving you a glimpse into the future, as we travel, week-by-week, through all the big games. As with any epic journey, let’s start at the beginning: Week One.

AUGUST 31ST, 8:00 PM ET – BOISE STATE AT MICHIGAN STATE

Where have you gone, Kellen Moore and Kirk Cousins? Gone are the fruitful eras of quarterbacking at Boise State and Michigan State, as Moore and Cousins have moved on. Now it’s all on Joe Southwick and Andrew Maxwell, respectively, to carry the torches into 2012 and beyond. Who? Even our crystal ball isn’t sure. Something about “Southwick and Maxwell” sounds more like a law firm, and might play like one, too.

Though Boise State is an astonishing 21-1 in true road games over the last four seasons, its team is greatly depleted and features only two returning starters on defense. It will take time to coach this unit up and Mark Dantonio knows it. In this game, Michigan State asserts its experienced offensive line and plays a vanilla, Le’Veon Bell-centric style of rushing offense. Bell scampers for 170 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries, and kicks off a darkhorse Heisman campaign.

Result: Michigan State 24, Boise State 13

SEPTEMBER 1ST, 9:00 AM ET – NAVY VS. NOTRE DAME (DUBLIN, IRELAND)

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No matter how many times we shake our crystal ball, it keeps coming up “8-5″ for the Irish. Indeed, with a brutal schedule in 2012, this season opener figures to be one of the easier games on the slate. Or does it? Remember, this game is Navy’s national championship every season, and Notre Dame will be jinxing itself by wearing weird, Ireland-themed uniforms as an homage to the motherland. Plus, the Notre Dame’s quarterback situation remains a mystery.

In this game, the Irish start with Andrew Hendrix, but finish with Everett Golson, who shows flashes as a runner that make him an instant hit in South Bend. But an improved Navy team eats clock with its option offense, forcing Notre Dame to run for 120 yards and a touchdown with Cierre Wood and play solid defense in order to win an uncomfortably close contest.

Oh, and Notre Dame turns the ball once in the red zone.

Result: Notre Dame 17, Navy 13

SEPTEMBER 1ST, 7:00 PM ET – CLEMSON VS. AUBURN (ATLANTA, GEORGIA)

Our crystal ball has some money on Clemson at 30-to-1 to win the 2013 BCS Championship, not necessary because it thinks the Tigers will win, but because it’s fantastic value given a manageable slate of four road games. Indeed, if Clemson can make it past Florida State, it will be well-positioned for a BCS run. That said, no entity in the universe can predict when Clemson will effectively “Clemson” itself and lose an unexpected game.

Did you know that Auburn is installing a new offense and defense this season? Combine that with Clemson’s impressive cast of returning offensive starters and this one is close… for a half. Auburn will at least make a run at avenging last year’s game, which it basically gave away by allowing four long scoring drives.

In this game, Tajh Boyd throws for 331 yards and four touchdowns, 140 yards and two touchdowns of which go to Sammy Watkins, who sits out the first quarter following a drug arrest this offseason. Andre Ellington also runs for 102 yards and a touchdown as part of an offensive effort that eclipses 480 total yards.

Result: Clemson 38, Auburn 21

SEPTEMBER 1ST, 8:00 PM ET – MICHIGAN VS. ALABAMA (ARLINGTON, TEXAS)

Quite possibly the biggest game of opening weekend, Michigan-Alabama figures to be an early bellwether for the strength of both the Big Ten and the SEC. The question remains: Can Brady Hoke find a way to diversify his offense and take the burden off Denard Robinson? Furthermore, can Michigan’s defensive front hold back an experienced Alabama line that will be paving the way for Eddie Lacy?

Though the Wolverines are riding high from a feelgood 11-win season, the Crimson Tide is too well-rounded to give away this victory. Lacy rushes for 110 yards and three touchdowns, and a ferocious Alabama defense holds Robinson to 200 total yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions.

Result: Alabama 24, Michigan 14

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