A preview of Saturday’s area college football games:
NO. 2 CLEMSON AT AUBURN
Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn, Ala., 9:05 p.m., ESPN
Clemson, which lost to Alabama in last year’s College Football Playoff national title game, opens its 2016 season against another SEC school. … Auburn finished 7-6 (2-6 SEC) last season, and is picked to finish sixth in the SEC’s Western Division. … Clemson, 14-1 last season, was picked to repeat as ACC champion, with quarterback Deshaun Watson the preseason choice as the league’s player of the year.
NO. 22 NORTH CAROLINA vs. NO. 18 GEORGIA
Georgia Dome, Atlanta, 5:30 p.m., ESPN
Mitch Trubisky is making his first (and long-awaited) start at quarterback and North Carolina’s offense should be able to put up points. Can the Tar Heels’ run defense, though, keep the Bulldogs in check? That could determine the outcome. . ... Georgia’s Nick Chubb and Sony Michel comprise one of the nation’s best running back duos, though both are working their way back from injuries and Michel’s status is unclear. Chubb, who suffered a serious knee injury last October, will start.
WESTERN CAROLINA AT EAST CAROLINA
Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, Greenville, N.C., 6 p.m.
The Catamounts look to win their first game against an FBS team when they visit the Pirates. … Western Carolina, coming off back-to-back seven-win seasons, is 0-51 against FBS teams. However, the Catamounts are picked to finish third in the Southern Conference this season. … East Carolina went 5-7 last season (3-5 American) and predicted to finish fifth in the league’s East Division under new coach Scottie Montgomery.
JOHNSON C. SMITH AT WINGATE
Irwin Belk Stadium, Wingate, 1:30 p.m.
The Golden Bulls look to end a two-year losing streak in season-opening games when they visit the Bulldogs. … J.C. Smith, 4-6 last season (3-4 CIAA), is picked to finish ninth in the league and fourth in the Southern Division. … Golden Bulls defensive back Carlo Thomas is a preseason All-American candidate after leading the nation with 12 interceptions in 2015. … Wingate is coming off back-to-back 6-5 seasons and is picked to finish fifth in the South Atlantic Conference.
DAVIDSON AT GEORGETOWN
Cooper Field, Washington, D.C., 1 p.m.
The Wildcats opens their 2016 season on the road against the Hoyas. … Davidson went 2-9 last season, but snapped a 24-game Pioneer Football League losing streak by beating Stetson in the season finale. … Still, the Wildcats were picked to finish last in the 11-team PFL. … Georgetown went 4-7 last season (2-3 Patriot League).
N.C. CENTRAL AT DUKE
Wallace Wade Stadium, Durham, 6 p.m.
The Eagles are 0-4 against Duke and were beaten 55-0 last year. ... N.C. Central, 8-3 last season after winning its last seven games, has 15 returning starters and is expected to contend for a third straight MEAC championship under fourth-year coach Jerry Mack. ... The Blue Devils will play their first game in renovated and enlarged Wallace Wade Stadium. ... Duke will have a redshirt freshman at quarterback, Daniel Jones from Charlotte Latin, but should rely on a strong running game and balanced offense to lessen the pressure on Jones to make big plays..