COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF | Top 10 reasons to watch ASN this weekend

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It’s a new season with new faces in new places, but those are just some of the reasons to watch this weekend’s lineup of college football games on ASN.

It starts with two games Thursday night, including the live stream of Houston Baptist at Central Arkansas.

The fun continues Friday and Saturday.  Take a look.

1It’s a “Neu” beginning for Ball State with Mike Neu taking over as head coach after a 3-9 season last year. The former MAC MVP knows about turnarounds — as quarterback in 1993 he led the greatest comeback in Ball State history, rallying the Cardinals from a 30-3 deficit to a 31-30 win. His first game is Friday at 7 p.m. ET at Georgia State, which beat the Cardinals 31-19 last season. It was the turning point in the Panthers’ first bowl season.

2Back for his second full season as starter, quarterback Matt Davis leads SMU’s resurgent offense. A former teammate of Johnny Manziel at Texas A&M, he led SMU in rushing (761 yards) and passing (2,259 yards) last season and tied for the team lead with 10 rushing touchdowns. He also passed for 16 TDs and ranked sixth in the American Athletic Conference with 251.7 total yards per game. Saturday at North Texas, 7 p.m.

3Brett Rypien, Boise State’s quarterback, led the Mountain West in passing yards (3,353), total offense (3,276 yards), completions (273) and attempts (429) last season as a freshman. The nephew of former Washington Redskins Super MVP Mark Rypien, is on all the preseason watch lists — including ours. Catch him Saturday at noon ET vs. Louisiana. First, check this out:

 

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Speaking of quarterbacks, two former SEC signal-callers make their first starts for their new FBS schools — including one against Boise State. Anthony Jennings, who won Louisiana’s starting job after entering in fall camp, starts for the Ragin’ Cajuns Saturday at noon ET vs. Boise State. The LSU transfer won nine games as a sophomore in 2014. Meanwhile, former Alabama quarterback Alec Morris starts for North Texas Saturday at 7 p.m. ET vs. SMU.

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Speaking of transfer quarterbacks, Morgan Mahalak makes his first start in FCS for Towson after transferring from Oregon. He could be in the right place at the right time. The Tigers are 24th in the STATS FCS Preseason Top 25 and feature running back Darius Victor, who’s looking to become the second running back in school history with three consecutive 1,000-yard season. Saturday at USF, 7 p.m. ET 

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Towson, meanwhile, will have its hands full with USF running back Marlon Mack, who averaged 6.6 yards per carry last year. He earned all-conference first team accolades in each of his first two seasons, including last  year as a sophomore when he ran for 1,381 yards and eight touchdowns. Saturday vs. Towson, 7 p.m. ET

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After opening at an FBS opponent each of the past seven seasons, Elon will play its first game of the season at home for the first time in seven years. Rich Skrosky takes over as head coach for the Phoenix, which returns quarterback Connor Christiansen and All-CAA Football linebacker Jay Silas. Christiansen started five games as a freshman last year, played in all 11 and passed for 1,246 yards and seven touchdowns. Saturday vs. Gardner-Webb, 3 p.m. ET

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Elon will want to keep an eye on Gardner-Webb linebacker Chad Geter, runner-up for last year’s Big South Defensive Player of the Year honors. He is one of only 34 FCS seniors named to the 2017 Senior Bowl watch list. He ran 4.65 in the 40 during the offseason and led G-W with 92 total tackles last season, including 13.5 for losses and 5.0 sacks. Saturday at Elon, 3 p.m. ET

9Georgia State was picked ninth in the Sun Belt Conference last season, but the Panthers finished fourth and earned their first bowl bid. With 16 starters returning, including nine on defense, Georgia State is aiming higher this year. Players to watch include wide receiver Robert Davis and safety Bobby Baker, who are multiple preseason award watch lists.  Friday vs. Ball State, 7 p.m. ET

10It’s been 10 years since Clark Atlanta has beat Tuskegee will take another shot in the 75th renewal of their rivalry. The Panthers face a Golden Tigers team coming off its 12th Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) national title in NCAA Division II. Tuskegee leads all HBCUs in wins (668), made their third consecutive trip to the NCAA playoffs and won their first playoff games last year. Saturday: Clark Atlanta at Tuskegee, 7 p.m. ET 


Also join us on Twitter @LiveOnASN for an inside look at our coverage of your favorite teams, from the tailgates and the press box to the sidelines. ANd don’t forget to vote for #GameChanger — ASN’s FBS and FCS Players of the Week — online starting at 9 a.m. ET Monday.

Mike Bambach

Mike Bambach is senior web producer for ASN.