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Week 1 upset special: LSU's youth to be served by TCU

LM Otero / Associated Press
Casey Pachall will see his first action for TCU since being suspended in Week 5 last season.

I asked an NFL player personnel director the other day what he thought about LSU's players. He smiled, then said:

"They're big. They're strong. They're fast. And they're loaded with talent. In two years, they'd make a good NFL expansion team."

LSU travels to TCU on Saturday in a sneaky-good contest on an opening-weekend day loaded with interest. It'll almost feel like a home game for LSU because of all the Louisianians who live in the Fort Worth area.

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Getting back to what the personnel director told me, it was the last part that caught my attention. It speaks to the Tigers' talent level, yes, but it also speaks to their youth.

The Tigers lost nine players to the NFL from last year's team, seven on the defensive side of the ball. It was the third-largest defection in college football. When you lose that many guys, especially on defense, you're going to need time to regroup, even if you're "big, strong, fast and loaded with talent."

That's why I'm picking the 20th-ranked Horned Frogs, who are fortunate to get No. 12 LSU early in the schdeule, to pull off the upset.

TCU starts talented QB Casey Pachall, who is 15-2 as a starter (4-0 last year before his suspension). The Horned Frogs were 7-6 last year, but four of those losses they could have easily won. They return nine starters on defense and seven more on offense.

To win, they'll have to stop LSU's running game because I don't think Tigers QB Zach Mettenberger can beat them by himself, even if he's now got Cam Cameron as his offensive coordinator.

Other upset specials

SMU over Texas Tech: History says teams that have first-year starters are prone to get beat in openers. Head coach Kliff Kingsbury, who as Texas A&M's offensive coordinator last year started a freshman named Johnny Manziel, will trot out another freshman this year. A true freshman. A walk-on freshman. UPDATE: Obviously, I didn't see that coming. Walk-on freshman Baker Mayfield accounted for five touchdowns in Texas Tech's 41-23 win over SMU Friday night.

Cal over No. 22 Northwestern: It goes against my theory about new starting QBs in openers (see above), but I love what Sonny Dykes is doing at Cal. Dykes will put up 50 points in this game. We'll see if Northwestern can keep pace.

Follow Gil Brandt on Twitter @Gil_Brandt.

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