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College Football Kickoff Saturday Afternoon Open Thread, Plus Your Pac-10 Primer

Six more Pac-10 games, and we'll quick-hit all of them, since none are expected to be close. This should take you through the afternoon up to the kickoff of Cal-Maryland. First thread will be up 6 PM.

Afternoon games

San Jose State at USC, 3:30 PM EST, 12:30 PM PST, FSN HD (national telecast)

The focus of this game will obviously be Matt Barkley's performance. Conquest Chronicles's blogfather, the ever astute gentleman Paragon, looks at what Barkley can do in his debut performance to assuage Trojan fears before the trip to the Horseshoe

With Kristofer O'Dowd out for Saturdays game things will change on the offensive line. Yes, USC still has some superior talent on offense but I really think Tomey is going to throw the kitchen sink at Barkley. It would not surprise me if Pete Carroll schemed to have Barkley hand the ball off for most of the game or throw short, quick dump off passes for chunks of yardage but if Barkley is on the run the question will be if he has the patience to make the right play instead of trying to make chicken soup out of you know what.

As usual the key will be offensive line. If the O line can blow some holes open for McKnight, who was named the starter for Saturday's game, then that will go a long way to calming everyone's nerves as to how the offense will work with Barkley at the helm.

Brief looks at the rest of the games after the jump!

Late afternoon games

Stanford at Washington State, 6 PM EST, 3 PM PST, Fox Sports Northwest HD

Wazzu will be going with a two quarterback system against the Furd, much like Riley-Longshore versus Michigan State. Nuss of Coug Center gives an impressive number of examples to explain why he isn't pleased:

What I ended up with were a handful of examples where it was moderately successful to use multiple quarterbacks, but many more where it was an absolute disaster -- when a two-quarterback system fails, it fails spectacularly. And since the Cougs don't possess guys like Tebow and Leak, I'm leaning towards the Cougars' two-quarterback falling on the "spectacular failure" end of the spectrum. Instead of concentrating on maximizing one guy's chance to be as successful as he can possibly be in this game through tailored game planning and a steady stream of reps in practice, you end up increasing the odds that neither can be as effective as he otherwise would have been with a full week's worth of work and game's compliment of snaps.

San Diego State at UCLA, 7:30 PM EST, 4:30 PM PST, Fox Sports West HD (LA markets?), Fox College Sports Atlantic

Bruins Nation believes the atmosphere surrounding this game and season, despite the fires blazing a few miles away, is light-hearted.

The theme I am sensing this morning is all about fun. Thank God the Bruins are not going to start the season at a hostile atmosphere (just look at what happened to Oregon even though they went in to Boise w/ an experienced backfield) with at least 10 players who are going to make their college debut this season. Kids are excited but CRN is keeping them even keeled:

Coach Rick Neuheisel has a simple message for the first-timers:

"It's got to be fun," Neuheisel said. "It can't be nervous time. You've got to try to create it to be fun."

And if there are mistakes?

"Move on and fix them and go," he said.

Evening caps

Central Michigan at Arizona, 10 PM EST, 7 PM PST, AWSN

Chris Brown of Smart Football predicts Arizona will not only play a close game against the Chippewas, but lose outright:

I like Arizona, I really do. I like what Mike Stoops has done, and within a few years, offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes (son of former Texas Tech legend Spike Dykes and protege of fellow Texas Tech legend, Captain Leach), will be a head coach for a D-1 program somewhere. But, while this game is at Arizona, I cannot justify the nearly two-touchdown spread; in fact, I think the Chippewas will win it outright. CMU has won eight games in each of coach Butch Jones's first two seasons, but more importantly they return 17 starters, none more important than Tim Tebow-lite, quarterback Dan LeFevour. LeFevour is a tough, gritty kid, and this is just the type of win over a BCS program to jumpstart his senior year.  More importantly, Arizona should take a step back after losing a lot of talent from last year's squad, and I think that regression will begin in week one.

Idaho State at Arizona State, 10 PM EST, 7 PM PST, Fox Sports Arizona HD, Fox College Sports Pacific

Despite suspensions to five-six ASU players for the opening game by Coach EricksonASU blog Pitchfork Nation believes the Sun Devils D should carry them to victory.

 The Devils’ defense will be their strength this season, and they should have no problems flexing their muscles against an inferior opponent on Saturday night. JC transfer Dean DeLeone will get the start at left defensive end, in place of Brooks. Sophomore defensive tackle Lawrence Guy is banged up, and is a question mark for Saturday, but we should see a lot of true freshman Corey Adams and Will Sutton in the defensive tackle rotation. Even without Burfict and the injured Shelly Lyons, linebacker is the deepest spot on the team. The secondary has been questioned, especially at the strong safety position, where redshirt freshman Keelan Johnson will start. Erickson said earlier in the week that physically Johnson might be the most talented player he’s coached at that position.

LSU at Washington, 10:30 PM EST, 7:30 PM PST, ESPN HD

Jake Locker has made steady progress as a passer since spring practice. Most observers think he has improved enough to approach a 60% completion ratio if he has adequate protection. One thing Locker does well is throw on the run and that is a good thing because he is going to have to do that a lot this year to help out his offensive line.

Washington's receiving corps is a year older, stronger, wiser and will hit the field with the benefit of better schemes and coaching. Freshman James Johnson has pushed himself into the starting lineup and has been surprising people with his ability to get open and make catches. Keep an eye on James because he is going to be special.

I don't think the LSU pass rush is going to be a big factor in this game. The key matchup will be the Husky receivers getting open against an extremely fast and physical defensive backfield. Yards after the catch may not happen as much as we like because we are going up against some very fast closers.

This week's Pac-10 picks: Central Michigan +13.5, USC/SJSU under 47, Washington +17.5

Feel free to leave your Pac-10 predictions and observations in the comments.