Under even normal circumstances, season-opening games can be deceiving. After an offseason that was anything but normal, who knows what to glean from a Game 1?
Sure, BYU looked awesome, but Navy spent its preseason tackling bags and blocking dummies to limit possible exposure to the coronavirus. Army was a machine against Middle Tennessee, which had its opening opponent change three times because of pandemic-related schedule alterations.
The Labor Day weekend launch of the college football season was whittled down to an appetizer but this week, the Big 12 and Atlantic Coast Conference get involved. Or at least try to: Three games involving Big 12 teams this weekend have already been postponed. TCU did not have enough available players to face SMU. Louisiana Tech had an outbreak, so no trip to Baylor. And No. 15 Oklahoma State’s opener against Tulsa was pushed back a week because the Golden Hurricane did not have enough practices to prepare.
The first full(ish) weekend of games includes six ranked teams playing, including No. 1 Clemson.
That’s not many but there will be major changes when the new Top 25 comes out Sunday, regardless. For the preseason Top 25, voters were permitted to include all teams. Now that the season has started, only teams scheduled to play this fall will be eligible. Nine Big Ten and Pac-12 teams will need to be replaced.
Welcome to the 2020 football season. It’s going to be weird. Hopefully, weird is the worst of it.
No. 1 Clemson (minus 32 1/2) at Wake Forest
ESPN’s “College GameDay” is visiting Wake Forest for the first time ... CLEMSON 35-10.
Missouri State (no line) at No. 5 Oklahoma
Bobby Petrino’s first game as Missouri State coach. Yeah, that Bobby Petrino ... OKLAHOMA 56-7.
Duke (plus 19 1/2) at No. 10 Notre Dame
The first conference game in the 124-year history of Notre Dame football ... NOTRE DAME 31-14.
UTEP (plus 43) at No. 14 Texas
Longhorns have won all five meetings against the Miners, average score 39-7 ... TEXAS 39-7.
Syracuse (plus 22) at No. 18 North Carolina
Tar Heels are a trendy pick to reach the ACC title game in Mack Brown’s second season as coach ... NORTH CAROLINA 38-20.
Louisiana-Lafayette (plus 11 1/2) at No. 23 Iowa State
Maybe the most interesting game of the weekend. The Ragin’ Cajuns won 11 games last season and much of that team is back ... IOWA STATE 31-21.
Coastal Carolina (plus 7) at Kansas — @DanaBecker
Jayhawks attempt to avenge last season’s loss to the Chanticleers. Yes, really ... KANSAS 24-20.
Georgia Tech (plus 12 1/2) at Florida State — @MatthewHLeach
Another new era begins for the ’Noles as Mike Norvell coaches his first game with Florida State ... FLORIDA STATE 28-17.
Last season: 282-83 straight; 195-157-9 against the spread.
Bowl season: 27-14 straight; 18-22 against the spread.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at http://www.westwoodonepodcasts.com/pods/ap-top-25-college-football-podcast/