It seemed like it would never get here, but the 2015 college football season is finally here. While there are no marquee matchups tonight, there are a few interesting battles. The first is North Carolina at South Carolina. While neither team is expected to compete for their respective conference titles, both have some quality players who will be playing in the NFL in the near future.
On the North Carolina roster the leading senior prospects are offensive guard Landon Turner and wide receiver Quinshad Davis. On South Carolina the top seniors are safety Isaiah Johnson, offensive tackle Brandon Shell and running back Brandon Wilds.
While South Carolina always has been able to put points on the board their defense has not been able to stop anyone. That could change this year as highly respected Jon Hoke takes over as the Gamecocks defensive coordinator. Hoke has spent the last 13 years in the NFL and will run a very attacking style defense. It will be interesting to see what he throws at North Carolina tonight.
The other interesting matchup tonight will be Jim Harbaugh’s return to college football as the new Head Coach of Michigan. The former Wolverine quarterback has brought a lot of excitement to Ann Arbor. Michigan fans hope this game at Utah is the beginning of Michigan becoming a dominant Big Ten team again. Tonight's game at Utah won’t be easy as the senior class at Utah has at least nine NFL prospects playing. The best are running back Devonte Booker and linebacker Jared Norris.
Opening weekend continues with eight D-I games. Again there are no top matchups but there are two interesting games. Washington Head Coach Chris Peterson returns to play against Boise State where he had eight very successful seasons as their Head Coach. Because it’s a homecoming-type game for Peterson, the game will have extra importance for him.
Washington’s top senior NFL prospect is offensive guard Dexter Charles while Boise State also has some good NFL prospects in offensive linemen Marcus Henry and Rees Odhiambo.
The other game with interest is Michigan State visiting Western Michigan. While this game should be easily won by the Spartans, Western Michigan Head Coach P.J. Fleck wants to show the country that he can get his MAC team ready for the big boys. There are some who feel that Fleck will be coaching at a Power-5 school in the near future.
The other interesting side item in this game is the senior debut of Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook. Going into the season, Cook is thought of as one of the best - if not the best - senior NFL quarterback prospects in the country. Earlier this week it was revealed that Cook was not elected captain of the Michigan State team on a vote of his teammates. On the surface this may not seem like a big deal, but when you have a quarterback who is a three-year starter not elected captain, NFL scouts will surely look into why. By the nature of the position, the quarterback is supposed to be the team leader, so not getting the vote of his teammates will be looked at closely.
Michigan State has another upper echelon prospect in defensive end Shilique Calhoun. Many thought Calhoun would come out last year but he did the right thing by staying in school and working on improving his game. He will be the better for it and could very well be a high first round pick.
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