Updated on 09/15/2011 12:54PM

Big-name college programs headline opening weekend


Saturday's college football games:

Hispanic College Fund Classic

N. Carolina at Oklahoma (-21)

The defending national champion Oklahoma Sooners were untouchable at home last season, and will be anxious to prove that they will once again be contenders this season despite the departure of quarterback Josh Heupel. Even without his field leader, coach Bob Stoops still has plenty of offensive weapons to work with as his two top rushers and five top receivers all return this season. Additionally, the defense which was so important in the Sooners' run to the national crown, returns largely intact with eighth starters back including top tackler, linebacker Rocky Calmus.

North Carolina ended 2000 on a high note with three straight wins, but not must break in the all new offensive and defensive schemes of first-year head coach John Bunting. Ron Curry returns at quarterback, and is the highpoint of the Tar Heels offense that features an ineffective running game. However, Curry will have very little chance to do any damage behind a young, inexperienced, and completely overmatched offensive line.

Play: Oklahoma for 2 units

Eddie Robinson Classic

Virginia at Wisconsin (-9 1/2)

Al Groh makes his debut as Virginia head coach after coming over from the NFL's New York Jets. Groh installs a new system and has the thankless job of replacing long time Cavaliers head coach George Welsh.

Expect Virginia, like many teams with a new head coach, to take a couple games before they begin to gel. The Cavs scored wins against some of the country's weakest teams last season, and were outscored 115-24 on the road against ranked teams. In

addition to a new coach, Virgina will also be breaking in a new quarterback following the departure of last year's starter Dan Ellis. The Cavs also must replace three of their top four receivers and all three of their top tacklers on defense.

Wisconsin has some rebuilding of its own to do this season after losing eight starters to the NFL including top offensive threats Michael Bennett and Chris Chambers. However, quarterback Brooks Bollinger returns, and will again be a running and passing threat behind a new, but huge and talented offensive line which should dominate the line of scrimmage. The Badgers failed to cover four home games in a row to start last season, but that aberration was due mostly to a bench of rotating suspensions which threw the team off balance. Prior to last year, Wisconsin teams were 9-2 as home favorites over a two year span.

The surface should also be a big advantage for Wisconsin in this game. Virginia, from the ACC, has very little experience on artificial turf.

Play: Wisconsin for 1 unit

Pigskin Classic

TCU at Nebraska (-30)

Nebraska lost a pair of late-season road games at Oklahoma and Kansas St. last year, but then bounced back with a 66-17 crushing of Northwestern in the Alamo Bowl in a performance that bodes well for the team's prospects this year. Quarterback Eric Crouch, a threat on the ground and through the air, leads an offense containing a lot of new names but should once again be strong.

TCU finished 10-2 last season, but the Horned Frogs of '01 will in no way resemble the Frogs of 2000. LaDanian Tomlinson, the country's top rusher, is gone, and the other key to TCU's success in 2000, the defense, is also depleted with six of the Frogs' top eight tacklers graduated.

Nebraska has a dominant home field advantage, and it's doubtful the Huskers will take TCU lightly due to the fact they are coming off a high-profile and successful season.

Play: Nebraska for 1 unit