College Football Preview: LSU v Tarheels, Michigan v Connecticut, TCU v Oregon, Boise State v Virginia Tech

With the college football season set to kick off tonight, I’m going to take a look at the three biggest story lines for this weekends’ games. This will be a weekly feature, so be sure to check back each week!

1. My kingdom for a Tarheel
Twenty-first ranked North Carolina heads into their match-up against #18 LSU with major issues. Thanks to an ongoing NCAA investigation, UNC, a team with one of the best defenses in the country, will be without standout defensive tackle Marvin Austin for their season-opener. Other players could be held out of the game as well. This is a major distraction for a team that could have won the ACC.
2. Rich Rod on the hot seat?
Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez has an impressive coaching history. Unfortunately, the Wolverines haven’t reaped the benefits of that, going just 8-16 over the last two years with a pair of conference wins. Add in a dash of off-season controversy, and things aren’t too rosy in Ann Arbor. Michigan figures to be markedly better, especially on defense, but opening with Connecticut should provide a decent barometer of how far the Wolverines have come.
3. BCS-busters galore.
Whether you love the BCS or hate it, this week provides two must-see games that could determine if a team from a non-BCS conference makes the national title game. On Saturday, 6th-ranked TCU takes on 24th-ranked Oregon State. The Horned Frogs are coming of a 12-1 season that saw them lose in the Fiesta Bowl to Boise State.
Speaking of the Lords of the Blue Turf, the Broncos finally have a semi-legitimate title shot, thanks to a high early-season ranking (#3). They’re going to test it out right away, taking on the 10th-ranked Virginia Tech Hokies on Monday night. A Boise win sets them up for a possible title run. A win by Tech puts the Hokies in contention, provided they can navigate a somewhat more difficult conference slate.
If TCU and Boise can win, both will have staked an early claim to BCS-buster. If not, the power conferences can rest easy.
Sound off – which game will you be tuning in to this weekend?