Games of the week
No. 5 Georgia at No. 8 Clemson (7 p.m. Saturday, WFAA/8): Georgia came within a few seconds of topping No. 1 Alabama in the SEC title game and playing for a national championship last season. The Bulldogs will begin their quest to have another shot at a title on the road against a Clemson team out to prove it is elite in the week’s lone top-10 matchup.
No. 19 Boise State at Washington (9 p.m. Saturday, Fox Sports 1): Boise State begins its annual drive to bust the BCS on the road against a Pac-12 opponent. The Broncos will need to capitalize on every game against BCS-conference opponents.
No. 1 Alabama vs. Virginia Tech (4:30 p.m. Saturday, ESPN): Alabama, led by senior quarterback AJ McCarron, is trying to put the finishing touches on a modern dynasty with a third straight BCS championship, which would be the fourth in five years. Saturday, we get to see the 2013 version of the dominant Tide.
No. 22 Northwestern at California (9:30 p.m. Saturday, ESPN2): Northwestern starts the season with a national ranking and hopes at making an impact in the Big Ten title race. But before worrying about that, Northwestern will have to get past Cal on the road.
58The number of first place votes Alabama, a heavy favorite to win the national title for a third straight year, received in the AP’s preseason poll. Just two other teams received votes (No. 2 Ohio State and No. 5 Georgia both had one vote).
0Teams from other conferences to win consecutive games against a top-10 Southeastern Conference team. Clemson, which topped then-No. 7 LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl last season, could become the first with a home win against No. 5 Georgia on Saturday.
“There are no external factors that matter at all, to any player on our team. It’s about how they perform in this game. It’s not what they did last year. It’s not about their girlfriend. It’s not about anything but playing this game.” — Alabama coach Nick Saban in his opening address to the media as his team makes its final preparations before kicking off the season Saturday against Virginia Tech.
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Ashton Lampkin’s summer routine was nothing new.
He worked out every day with a mixture of weights and defensive back drills, with Fort Worth Dunbar coach Todd Lawson giving him pointers. He went one-on-one defending Dunbar senior Stepfawn Hughes, a Missouri recruit.
But as Lampkin prepares to take the field Saturday with his Oklahoma State teammates, he will carry something new: experience.
Lampkin played in every game last season as a true freshman. Now, he is ready to take a larger role on Oklahoma State’s defense.
“Last year, I really learned a lot about press coverage and just that the game is a lot faster than high school,” said Lampkin, who was a Dunbar standout and has continued to work with Lawson. “They threw us in the fire, but we handled our business. I learned how their system worked and got to know the guys.”
Lampkin recorded Oklahoma State’s first interception last season, a pick in the team’s opening game against Savannah State. This year, the No. 13 Cowboys kick off against Mississippi State.
“I remember last year going into that game with jitters, like everyone does for their first game,” Lampkin said. “This year, I’m not nervous. I’m ready to get out there and play. I’m ready to get back in the groove of the season. We are definitely prepared. We are excited to be a part of a big game.”
Lampkin has big expectations for his sophomore season.
“I want to bring the best out of my teammates and out of myself,” he said. “Since we played our bowl game last year, everyone has come together, and we want that Big 12 title. That’s first and foremost. A national championship, we want that too.”
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