The long summer is finally over and real live college football is back. There are a lot of games this weekend some that are more interesting than others, some with ridiculous point spreads and some where Las Vegas has no interest in even putting up odds. Somehow I don’t think a Thursday night battle in Muncie, Indiana between Ball State and Virginia Military is going to score much action at the Golden Nugget. I’m going to take a run at picking games against the spread and see just how lousy I do. So here goes nothing for Thursday night.
South Carolina (-3) vs. North Carolina in Charlotte. The media (read the Atlanta Journal Constitution) has pissed Steve Spurrier off by calling him too old. Remember what they say about poking a bear.
Central Florida (-14.5) vs. Florida International. In reality Central Florida is probably the second best team in the American Conference behind Cincinnati. But, they play in the same division which likely means they won’t get to play for a championship.
Oklahoma State (-24.5) at Central Michigan. Seriously how the hell did Central Michigan ever get Oklahoma State to agree to come to their place for a game? I’m not much on Oklahoma State, but you have to figure they shouldn’t have much trouble with a mid-level MAC team.
Western Kentucky (-2.5) vs. Vanderbilt in Nashville. You’ll get the idea this year that I’m not much on Vanderbilt. A clueless head coach is not a great start and then you add in the fact that Vanderbilt is back to being Vanderbilt again after a few years of out of body experiences, and the Commodores are more than likely to struggle with last year’s champions from Conference USA.
Utah (-5) vs. Michigan. I’ve been to a game at Utah and it’s gorgeous. The stadium in intimate and it’s surrounded by beautiful mountains. That has nothing to do with actual football, but the environment is what makes Utah hard to beat at home. Michigan is a little too excited about Jim Harbaugh’s return. He’ll be a success but not this year.
Minnesota (+15.5) vs. TCU. I realize TCU is a popular pick to win the Big XII and I’m cool with that. I’m not saying Minnesota is going to win, I’m just saying I don’t think TCU wins by 15.5 points at Minnesota.
Ohio (-8.5) vs. Idaho. Despite the fact that I have have buddies who went to Ohio University and despite the fact that it’s in a cool little town of Athens, Ohio where there are wall-to-wall bars on Court Street (try it sometime it’s fun), there’s no way I pick Idaho to win anything and I’m certainly not going to pick them to knock off the Bobcats. Frank Solich won a bunch of a games at Nebraska and even played for a National title and was still shown the door. He’s found a home in Athens and I can’t say that I blame him for wanting to coach out the rest of his career in this nice little corner of the world.
Duke (-7.5) vs. Tulane. Tulane finally got an on-campus stadium last year so they no longer have to play in the Superdome where 20,000 people looks like a crowd of 10 people. The Green Wave scheduled two ACC schools (Duke and Ga. Tech). That’s two guaranteed losses.
Arizona (-31.5) vs. UT-San Antonio. If I was putting money on these games, I wouldn’t touch this crap. 31 1/2 points is too large, but since it’s for fun and since UT-San Antonio is about the worst team in Conference USA, why not?
Colorado (-7.5) vs. Hawaii. The fact that Colorado is a 7.5 point favorite at Hawaii just shows you how bad Hawaii is. Amazingly enough, high school football in Hawaii is pretty good (See Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota), but until Hawaii has a commitment to the sport, teams will come from the mainland for a little vacation and a victory.
Other games with no point spreads: Wake Forest over Elon as the Demon Deacons take out the Fighting Phoenix; Ball State over VMI; Toledo over Stony Brook; Ga. Tech over Alcorn State; U-Conn over Villanova; Utah State over Southern Utah; Nevada over UC-Davis; New Hampshire to go on the road to beat San Jose State; and Fresno State over Abilene Christian.
And Welcome back to college football East Tennessee State. The school shuttered the program about a decade ago and when they last played a game, they played in the most God-Awful place in the world…that stupid little on-campus dome. Apparently the school has a commitment to the sport and will eventually build their own stadium, but for now they’ll play at Science Hill High School at Steve Spurrier Field. The Bucs open against another “newbie” Kennesaw State. By FCS standards, their team will most likely resemble a Junior Varsity team which is just fine for a start. The Bucs joined the Southern Conference but won’t play a league schedule until next year. This year, they’ll break back into the college game with a schedule that features two Division III teams (Maryville College and Emory and Henry). There are a lot of good FCS level football players in Tennessee (a state that doesn’t have many major college prospects) and they have a Tennessee native as head coach who once coached North Carolina. As long as the Bucs are patient there’s no reason they shouldn’t have a competitive program. They shouldn’t have dropped the sport since football is the one thing alumni can most identify with. Homecoming at a basketball game (and I love basketball) just doesn’t work.