Georgia Bulldogs vs. Boise State Broncos (Atlanta), 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
In a way, this is a meeting of programs moving in opposite directions. Boise State has secured a relatively stable future by attaching itself to the Mountain West, which is a far better home than the withering WAC. Meanwhile, Georgia enters the season with its short-term future in as much doubt as it has been since Mark Richt took the reins in 2001, the coach on the hot seat and the program looking up for the first time in history at reigning division champion South Carolina.
The stakes are also as different as they could be. For Boise, this might be toughest obstacle to another undefeated run and a return to the BCS and maybe -- just maybe -- the program's first national title. The only truly intimidating non-home opponent left after Georgia is a trip to Fresno State. Nevada and TCU come to the blue turf, the latter through a bit of conference home cooking.
But for Georgia, this is the second-most important game of the first two they will play. Sure, the psychological effect of losing its opening game in its back yard might help decide Georgia's state of mind, but the game the next week against South Carolina will help shape its SEC future. A win against the Gamecocks puts Georgia in the driver's seat; a loss means a season of playing catch-up. Give a Georgia fan a choice of a win against Boise or a win against South Carolina, and one that cares about the SEC Championship will choose the latter. And the SEC Championship will likely overcome any danger to Georgia's long-shot national title hopes caused by a loss to Boise.
And while Boise's program might be secure, its team is not necessarily so fixed. Yes, Kellen Moore is back with Doug Martin in tow. But Boise loses 142 receptions for more than 2,100 yards and 19 touchdowns from 2010 with the departures of Titus Young and Austin Pettis. Moore is a great quarterback, but there's no doubt that Young and Pettis helped him look great.
Then again, Moore has more help this year than his almost equally touted counterpart in Athens. Aaron Murray loses All-World wide receiver A.J. Green and the less-noticed Kris Durham, as well as practically every running back that's ever taken a meaningful college snap. Murray has the talent to help turn that into a cohesive unit, but it's going to take a bit of time. The opening snap happens in just a few hours, which means the Dawgs are out of time. Maybe they'll get it together in time for next week's game, which is more important in the scheme of things.
Boise State 38, Georgia 34