Dan Bohm

It's Thursday, which means the college football season is finally here. Go ahead: Grab a beer, cook a few brats and watch the game on the new HD television you bought specifically for this occasion.

You deserve it.

No. 9 South Carolina takes on SEC foe Vanderbilt in a matchup that's sure to raise some eyebrows. The Commodores were 5-2 at home last season and are looking for their third bowl appearance in 30 years (and second straight), while the Gamecocks are searching for a conference championship.

Here's a preview of the first scheduled college football game of the year.

What to expect with South Carolina: A heavy dose of 2010 first-team All-American running back Marcus Lattimore. Coming off a short season due to an ACL tear, many are wondering how the senior will debut after injury. Vandy struggled to contain the run last year, allowing 130.5 yards per game—and that was with graduated linebacker Chris Marve, who led the team with 91 tackles.

Also expect defensive ends Jadeveon Clowney and Devin Taylor to cause havoc in the backfield, just as they did in 2011. The Commodores were held to just 77 total offensive yards in last meeting and five first downs. Turnovers were a big problem for Vandy, which were caused by everlasting pressure on the QB.

What to expect with Vanderbilt: A confident football team. Vanderbilt's program is well on the rise: Coach James Franklin's Commodores came within one score of beating Georgia, Florida, Arkansas and Tennessee last season, losing by a combined 19 points. They lost to the Razorbacks on a last-second missed field goal and fell to the Vols in overtime.

Not to mention Vandy is very good in front of their home crowd, where it outscored its opponents 237-135 in '11.

Vanderbilt returns a solid lineup on offense behind play-making quarterback Jordan Rogers, who compiled 1,960 total yards last season despite not becoming the starter until Week 7. It will also field an outstanding running back unit with receivers that get create separation. The defense was the strength of the team last year, forcing 29 turnovers (Alabama finished with 20).

Prediction: The Commodores have a solid chance to come away with a statement win in the season opener, but I'm leaning the other way. South Carolina seems much bigger and stronger in this matchup, which will allow it to ground and pound until it finally pulls away late in the second half.

Besides, Steve Spurrier is 21-1 in season openers and 197–75–2 when throwing his visor.

South Carolina 24, Vanderbilt 10 -- via Week 1 predictions