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Eleven things you need to know about weekend's CFB games

Keith Srakocic / Associated Press
Jameis Winston will begin his Heisman defense on Saturday against Oklahoma State.


If Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston is to become just the second two-time Heisman Trophy winner ever -- joining former Ohio State running back Archie Griffin -- the quest should make an impressive start Saturday against Oklahoma State. In a nationally televised game at a neutral-site venue, Winston will get to take his shots against a retooled defense (seven new starters) for a Cowboys team that has been given far less than a puncher's chance to beat the defending national champion Seminoles.

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But the third-year sophomore will be hard-pressed to top his season debut from a year ago. In FSU's season-opening 41-13 win over Pittsburgh last year -- in fact, it was his career debut, as well -- Winston completed an incredible 25 of 27 passes for 356 yards and four touchdowns.

Here are 10 other things you need to know about Saturday's college football games:

2. First, cross your fingers that 8:30 a.m. ET never becomes a popular time slot for college football. Toe meets leather earlier than ever Saturday when Penn State and UCF take the game international in the Croke Park Classic in Dublin, Ireland. Nittany Lions star sophomore QB Christian Hackenberg will join you for coffee (ESPN2). Good morning, sunshine.

» Predictions for top 10 college games of Week 1

3. Three random intrigues: 1) Braxton Miller-less Ohio State against Navy (Noon ET, CBS); 2) Michigan hosts Appalachian State (Noon ET, ESPN2) for the first time since this happened; and 3) Former Florida linebacker Bam Hardmon will be on the wrong sideline on Saturday in the Swamp as the defensive line coach of the Idaho Vandals.

4. Auburn's Gus Malzahn has one of the most talented backup quarterbacks in the SEC in Jeremy Johnson, who will start against Arkansas in place of Heisman Trophy candidate Nick Marshall. If Marshall is healthy all year, it could be some of Johnson's most significant action of the season. Don't be surprised if the youngster lights up the scoreboard like a veteran.

5. Nothing like a game of football to distract USC fans from the soap opera that has overcome the Trojans program in the last week, including an allegation of racism and a bizarre and embarrassing hoax. Fresno State, without Derek Carr around to move the chains, isn't expected to provide much resistance. If the Bulldogs pull a stunning upset, Steve Sarkisian's first season will already seem awfully Lane Kiffin-like.

6. For those old enough to remember when a power running game and the ability to stop it were the laws of winning in college football, the LSU-Wisconsin game should be an old-school, throwback treat (9 p.m. ET, ESPN). Three running backs from these schools were drafted in April (Jeremy Hill, Alfred Blue, James White) and more are on the way.

7. That LSU-Wisconsin game will also feature some significant NFL prospects, like Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon and LSU left tackle La'el Collins. In what could be a grand opening of sorts, also witness the debut of super-frosh running back Leonard Fournette of LSU. He's not expected to start, but he should see the field and take his first crack at meeting some unfairly lofty expectations.

8. Something to keep an eye on in the Alabama-West Virginia game (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC): Minus suspended middle linebacker Trey DePriest, the Crimson Tide will be without its most trusted defensive signal-caller. That's no small loss against a hurry-up, no-huddle WVU attack that will be looking to catch Alabama's defensive front seven still unsettled at the snap. Relative rookies Rueben Foster and Reggie Ragland will be hard-pressed to pick up DePriest's slack from a recognition standpoint.

9. Decades-downtrodden SMU gets a tough look at the measuring stick against Baylor on Sunday (7:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1). Bears senior quarterback Bryce Petty should fly out of the Heisman gate in spectacular fashion.

10. UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley will open his season on the road at Virginia in a rare Pac-12/ACC regular-season matchup. If his Heisman campaign is to get off to as good a start as Petty's probably will, he'll have to find plenty of holes in the Cavaliers' secondary.

11. On Monday night, Miami (Fla.) star linebacker Denzel Perryman will make his season debut at Louisville (8 p.m. ET, ESPN). He might not be the best NFL prospect in Papa John's Cardinal Stadium that night, but he might be the most fun to watch (see why).

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.

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