The season of love and hate has arrived

Published 4:17 pm Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Like the Children of Israel we have wandered 40 years in the wilderness, but Lo! Behold! The Promised Land!

College football season is upon us.

Games kickoff this weekend. At Bryant-Denny. At Jordan-Hare. At Cramton Bowl. At Veterans Memorial Stadium, (Movie Gallery went bankrupt and was unceremoniously dumped as the prefix of Troy’s field).

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So what to look for this weekend? Alabama and Auburn will tune up for a tough gauntlet of games with preseason gimmes. The Tide faces San Jose State, the Tigers, Arkansas State. Troy has Bowling Green, which beat the Trojans 31-14 last season. Alabama State hosts Mississippi Valley State.

San Jose State at Alabama (6 p.m., Pay-Per-View): This is a bit of letdown for Tide fans who’ve been used to seeing Alabama open the past two seasons against a pair of quality ACC opponents in the Georgia Dome (Clemson in 2008, Virginia Tech in 2009). When last we saw Nick Saban’s team, it was hooking the Horns in the BCS Championship Game. Alabama starts the year with question marks on defense, (nine starters lost), but has enough offensive firepower to put this one away quickly.

And with ruthless efficiency.

Alabama 56, San Jose 7

Arkansas State at Auburn (6 p.m., Fox Sports Net): Auburn’s suddenly become the trendy pick to challenge for the SEC West title by media pundits. The Tigers – starving for offensive playmakers last season – has added some talented freshmen to the team, plus a 6-6 Godzilla of a quarterback in JUCO transfer Cameron Newton.

Getting by Arkansas State shouldn’t present much of a challenge in Week 1. Mississippi State next week? A bit more difficult.

Auburn 38, Arkansas State 14

Bowling Green at Troy (6 p.m., Troy/ISP Network): The four-time defending Sun Belt Champions open with a team that humiliated them a year ago. Gone is Levi Brown and his 4,200 passing yards. Junior Jamie Hampton was the starter at quarterback in 2008 before a knee injury sidelined him for two seasons and Jerel Jernigan could finish the year as the Trojans top receiver in history.

Revenge is sweet.

Troy 28, Bowling Green 14

Mississippi Valley State at Alabama State (7 p.m.): The Delta Devils come calling at Cramton Bowl. Coach Reggie Barlow brought in a new offensive and defensive coordinator in the offseason, but the MVSU has basically an entire new staff. A win in the opener would be a good start for a team that finished 4-7 in ‘09.

ASU 21, Mississippi Valley State 6

Other picks: South Carolina over Southern Miss, (Thur.); Florida over Miami, OH; Georgia over Louisiana-Lafayette; Kentucky over Louisville; Ole Miss over Jacksonville State; Tennessee over Tennessee-Martin; Arkansas over Tennessee Tech; Mississippi State over Memphis; Northwestern over Vanderbilt; North Carolina over LSU.