Week 1 of the 2020 college football season will be unusual as there will be an exciting slate of Group of Five games this weekend.
The first week of FBS football will be much smaller than anticipated before the impact of COVID-19. As a result, the Power Five programs that will be playing this season will be pushing their first game for later in the season. This week will be the start of an interesting slate of matchups between Group of Five programs.
With multiple conferences and teams looking to play football at a later date, all eyes will be on the leagues that are playing in traditional times. This week, conferences like AAC, C-USA and Sun Belt will be featured in the main time slots.
There will be plenty of storylines going into Week 1 even without Power Five game slots. These are games that will help make a statement going into the season.
Here’s our first edition of weekly bold predictions for the 2020 season.
1. Arkansas State will put Memphis on serious upset alert
Memphis is starting its first game of the season as a 19-point favor against Arkansas State. Last season, the Tigers won 12 games with an elite offense, a loaded defense and great coaching staff.
This season, the Tigers return six starters from an offense that was ranked eighth in the nation in points (40.4). Defensively, they return seven starters that were ranked 58th in points (26.4) and 61st in total yards (383.5). They will also have a fresh new coaching staff after Mike Norvell left for the head coaching position at Florida State.
Arkansas State has been hungry for a Sun Belt title ever since they were co-champions with Appalachian State in 2016. The Red Wolves return nine starters on the offensive side of the ball from last year. This was an offense that was ranked 26th in the nation in points (33.7) despite losing Logan Bonner to a hand injury in the fourth game of the season. Head coach Blake Anderson is looking to play both Bonner, a steady mid-range passer, and sophomore quarterback Layne Hatcher who is an explosive passer.
The Red Wolves know they will have to get better on the defensive side of the ball as they were ranked 114th in the nation in points allowed (34.2). This will be the deciding factor is that Memphis has too many explosive options for Arkansas State.
Although the Tigers return some valuable players in the secondary, they have been known to give up big plays through the air. It will be tough for the Red Wolves to beat the Tigers in a consistent high-scoring game through the air but look for Anderson to keep the game close through efficient matchups.