• College football’s early appetizers
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     | August 30,2014
     

    Texas A&M’s outburst, Boise State’s flop and Temple’s late-night surprise were just an appetizer.

    The nonstop college football opening weekend includes Friday night fare, a full slate of Saturday of games, plus a sprinkling on Sunday and a big Monday nighter.

    Some things you should know before taking in the rest of Week 1:

    RETURN TO THE BIG HOUSE. The last — and only — time Appalachian State played at Michigan was memorable, to say the least. The big bad Wolverines were ranked No. 5 to start the 2007 season, with Mike Hart, Chad Henne and Jake Long leading a powerful offense. Appalachian State was a two-time defending national champion, but that was in FCS, what was once known as Division I-AA. The Mountaineers became the first FCS (or I-AA) team to beat a ranked major college team in a thrilling and stunning 34-32 victory. App State returns to the Big House on Saturday and it might be an even bigger upset this time around. The Mountaineers are in their first season as an FBS team, playing in the Sun Belt Conference, and coming off a 4-8 season. Michigan is unranked and looking to bounce back from a 7-6 season, but another loss to Appalachian State would not go over well.

    FABULOUS FROSH. When a coach compares an athlete to make Michael Jordan, even if only with a passing reference, the bar has been set awfully high for that athlete. That’s how LSU freshman running back Leonard Fournette will start his career. The most notable name in the 2014 freshman class leads the No. 13 Tigers against No. 14 Wisconsin on Saturday night in Houston. Some other freshman running backs who have a chance to make an immediate impact: Elijah Hood for No. 23 North Carolina against Liberty; Tennessee’s Jalen Hurd against Utah State; and Royce Freeman for No. 3 Oregon against South Dakota.

    THE HEISMAN CANDIATE AND THE REPLACEMENT. No. 5 Ohio State plays Navy in Baltimore and the star quarterback and Heisman Trophy contender will be found on the Midshipmen’s side. Keenan Reynolds ran for 31 touchdowns last season and is a dark horse candidate to win the Heisman. His candidacy would become far more serious with an upset of the Buckeyes. Ohio State figured to have its own Heisman contender in Braxton Miller, but a shoulder injury has finished his season before it started. Redshirt freshman J.T.Barrett steps in for the Buckeyes to make his college debut.

    TORTOISE AND HARE. The pace of play debate plays out on the field when Arkansas visits No. 6 Auburn. You might recall Razorbacks coach Bret Bielema was a vocal supporter of trying to implement rules to tap the brakes on up-tempo offenses, such as the one Gus Malzahn’s Tigers run. Auburn will start — at least — without quarterback Nick Marshall, who is being disciplined for a marijuana citation. That shouldn’t stop Malzahn from pushing the pace with backup Jeremy Johnson. And it’ll be interesting to see how long Marshall sits, especially if Arkansas can slow the Tigers and stay in the game with its power-and-patience approach.

    NO SLUMP BUSTER. Georgia State snapped its 16-game losing streak on Wednesday with a last-second win against Abilene Christian. That leaves Miami, Ohio, with the longest losing streak among FBS schools, also at 16. The Redhawks and new coach Chuck Martin, the former offensive coordinator at Notre Dame, won’t have the benefit of starting against an FCS school the way Georgia State did. Miami is home against Marshall, which won 10 games last year and is the favorite to win Conference USA.

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    Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP

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