A couple of things are fairly obvious from opening night. Stay away from large point spreads and Vanderbilt is back to being Vanderbilt. I guess it’s time to declare Colorado as god-awful since they were a seven and a half point favorite at Hawaii and lost by 8. Oops. Just one of a many I got wrong. With that, here are the rest of this weekend’s selections. I’m going to pick a handful of games against the spread and the others just by making a pick. At the end I’ll launch into college football’s lower divisions because for every kid who plays at a Tennessee there are 10 playing Division II, Division III or NAIA. It doesn’t matter where you play just that you play and you do it because you love it.
Tonight there are a handful of games as well including SMU which is a 36 point underdog at home against Baylor. I’m not touching that line. I don’t think SMU loses by 36 points, but I’ll take Baylor to win. I hate doing that because I’ve been to SMU’s campus and a prettier place you may never see and it’s in Highland Park which is clearly the nicest part of Dallas. I took a wrong turn and wound up in a neighborhood where I clearly did not belong. The houses are enormous, there’s a country club where I’m not sure they’d let me work on the grounds crew and there is a shopping area with a bunch of high end designer stores. I don’t know anything about fashion or high end stores, and to me a high end store is Target.
Other selections tonight: Georgia State over Charlotte in a SunBelt – Conference USA match-up in the Queen City; Michigan State over Western Michigan, but someone needs to hire Western Michigan Coach P.J. Fleck in a hurry. He’s a boundless ball of energy and you have to love a coach who wears a tie on the sideline. Illinois to win it’s only game of the year against Kent State; Syracuse to take out Rhode Island and Oregon State over Weber State. As an aside every time I think of Weber State all I can think about is the 1999 NCAA Basketball Tournament where Weber State knocked out North Carolina in the first round with a player they called Harold “The Show” Arceneaux. Perhaps the most interesting game of the night is Boise State hosting Washington and its former coach Chris Peterson. I hope this game was scheduled before Peterson took the job at Washington because he’s in a no-win situation here. Boise is a 12 1/2 point favorite on the blue turf. Boise may not cover that line, but I do think they win.
Saturday gets started a high noon just after the premiere of College Gameday which again is three hours (too long, by the way), and features a new host in Reece Davis. Chris Fowler is now a full time play-by-play guy having replaced Brent Musberger a year ago as ESPN’s top College Football Voice. It’s a shame actually and that’s no knock on Fowler – he’s an accomplished broadcaster in his own right, but there was nothing like Saturday night’s with Uncle Brent. It’s a truism of life that when you get older, they put you out to pasture somewhat. While Brent would normally lend his signature voice to games like Wisconsin and Alabama, this weekend he’ll be broadcasting New Mexico State at Florida. Okay enough on that…
Against the spread, I’ll take
Northwestern (+12) vs. Stanford; Nebraska (-7) vs. BYU; Arizona State (+3) vs. Texas A&M and Alabama (-11) vs. Wisconsin. I’m not buying that Alabama has questions at Quarterback. All teams are flawed and have weaknesses, but I’m sure that Alabama will get the ball to the players who can make plays and let the defense do the rest. It’s a neutral site game in the Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Yea right. I’ll bet 3/4 of the stadium is Alabama fans. Arizona State and Texas A&M play another “neutral site” game in Houston. Again, most of the stadium will be Texas A&M fans. Nebraska continues it’s streak of home sellouts which dates back to November 3, 1962; and would you want to compare SAT scores with the players on the field in the Northwestern-Stanford game? I guarantee you there are no re-taking of tests there to be eligible to play.
The rest of Saturday: Georgia over La.-Monroe. The bulldogs are going to need to rely on their running game. They are starting a quarterback in Grayson Lambert who flamed out at “Virginia” of all places. Old Dominion to beat Eastern Michigan; Penn State over Temple; Tulsa over Florida Atlantic; UCLA to begin another miserable year for Virginia; Auburn over Louisville in Atlanta, although I don’t think Auburn is going to find it easy going against Louisville’s defense; Maryland over Richmond; Rutgers suspended 5 players after they were arrested, but they’ll still have enough to get past Norfolk State. It does however leave you wondering whose in charge at Rutgers. Iowa over Illinois State; Ole Miss over UT-Martin; Navy over Colgate; Clemson over Wofford in one of this year’s why matchups; Boston College over the Black Bears of Maine; Pittsburgh over Youngstown State; Washington State over Portland State; Appalachian State over Howard (and by the way if you’ve never been to App. State go sometime, it’s tucked in a beautiful little corner of North Carolina); Rice over Wagner (Wagner is located on Staten Island in New York); Texas Tech over Sam Houston State; Buffalo over Albany; Air Force over Morgan State; Colorado State over Savannah State. Tennessee is a 21 point favorite over Bowling Green in a game in Nashville. The Volunteers should ease past the Falcons, but next week looms Oklahoma in the home opener; Arkansas over UTEP; N.C. State over Troy; Indiana hosts Southern Illinois. The last time these two played SIU beat Indiana at home. I don’t think that’s going to happen this time, but it is still Indiana where the countdown is always on to basketball season. Missouri over SE Missouri State; Wyoming over North Dakota; California big over Grambling; East Carolina over Towson. ECU has about my favorite coach in Ruffin McNeal. If you ever hear an interview of this guy, two things come to mind: (1) I’d like my kid to play for him; and (2) you’d love to have a beer with him and just talk. South Alabama over Gardner-Webb (bonus points if you know where Gardner-Webb is located – I do, but I’m a geek); Miami over Bethune-Cookman in what figures to be about a 1/2 empty Dolphins Stadium. Cincinnati returns to its on-campus stadium after a year away for renovations to host Alabama A&M in a game where Alabama A&M shows up, gets its check, takes its ass-whipping and goes home; South Florida over Florida A&M; La. Tech over Southern; Memphis over Missouri State; Oklahoma tunes up for Tennessee but taking out the Zips of Akron; Kentucky over La-Lafayette in Lexington; Florida over New Mexico State (the Gators are a 37 point favorite); LSU over McNeese State; Houston over Tennessee Tech; Iowa State over Northern Iowa; Northern Illinois over UNLV (which debuts a new coach who last year was coaching High School. Let’s hope this one works out better than Notre Dame hiring Gerry Faust); New Mexico over the Delta Devils of Mississippi Valley State; Mississippi State over Southern Miss; USC over Arkansas State; San Diego State over San Diego; and then these interesting ones to close out Saturday. Oregon hosts Eastern Washington. Last year Oregon Quarterback Vernon Adams was the Quarterback at Eastern Washington. He’s an Oregon for two reasons: (1) to prove himself at a higher level and (2) and most importantly Oregon needs him. Don’t think his former teammates don’t want to take a good shot at him during the game, but it’s still Oregon (where the football facility has its own barber – I need to get my father that gig) and they’ll get past Eastern Washington pretty easily. Florida State is a 30 point favorite over Texas State. In a million years as a gambler you’d never touch that line, but some idiot in a Las Vegas sportsbook this weekend will. I’d say it’s unlikely FSU covers that spread simply because they are breaking in a new quarterback and Jimbo Fisher is just not the type to run it up, but FSU wins handily. Notre Dame hosts Texas in a prime-time game. I have to admit going to a game at Notre Dame is something I’d like to do, but first I need to figure out a way to get to the Oklahoma-Texas game in Dallas. Texas is sort of a mess and still needs time to re-build so I like Notre Dame. Texas should be a lesson to all coaches. Don’t recruit based on “stars” given out by some goober who runs a website. Watch them play and see what kind of people they are. It does no good to get a “five star” player whose a “ten-star” jackass. The Longhorns will be back because it’s Texas and winning games is “just what they do.”
Finally, on the first Saturday West Virginia hosting Ga. Southern. The Mountaineers are a 19 point favorite at home in a night game. A night game means WVU fans have all day to get liquored up for the game and trust me they will. I’m often asked about WVU games and I’ll tell anyone, you’ll never have a better time anywhere than a game day in Morgantown and YES they DO BURN COUCHES. It’s West Virginia’s professional sport. It’s a state that takes a bad rap and is frankly one of the prettiest places you’d ever hope to visit or live. It’s been 17 years since I lived in West Virginia and as I look back, I realize just how great it was. You might leave the state, but it doesn’t leave you. WVU is breaking in a new quarterback and if I know WVU fans, they are getting restless with head coach Dana Holgerson. He’s frankly probably on the “hot seat” as they call it because he’s trying to compete in the Big XII (that’s it’s own story I’ll address sometime) and is working for an A-D who didn’t hire him. A fast start is a must and they have the chance to get it with Georgia Southern and Liberty in the first two weeks before they’ll play Maryland. The Mountaineers have to go to Oklahoma, to Baylor, to TCU and to Kansas State. That’s not an easy task. I still think they have a chance to be competitive in the Big XII but make no mistake Holgerson is going to have to get this done sooner or there won’t be a later. WVU cruises past Ga. Southern and watch a couch go up in flames.
Sunday, Marshall hosts Purdue. The Herd are a 7.5 point favorite. I like Marshall to win this easily. Marshall coach Doc Holliday waited a long time to be a head coach and he’s making the most of his chance. I would suspect that if WVU makes a change in the near future, he’s right on the school’s short list.
And finally….the big one on Monday night between Ohio State and Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. Here’s one of my lasting images of last season…Frank Beamer celebrating going to overtime tied with Wake Forest at 0 – 0, a game they eventually lost 6 -3. Ohio State is about a 13 point favorite and a unanimous pre-season number 1 in the AP poll. The hell with it. I’m calling it right now, not only does Virginia Tech cover, they win outright. Ohio State is down a bunch of players and Bud Foster is still coaching defense. It’s makes no sense to make this pick, and Va. Tech is 1- 28 lifetime against top 5 teams, but I believe the stars are aligned for this to happen.
For some more fun…
Our FCS game of the week features the Jackrabbits of South Dakota State at Kansas. Kansas is a disaster and you have to love a matchup of Jackrabbits vs. Jayhawks.
Our Division II game of the week: Colorado State-Pueblo vs. Central Washington. Rewind to 2006, there was no football team at CSU-Pueblo. Now the Thunderwolves are the defending Division II champions.
Division III game of the week is in honor of Uncle Verne Lundquist returning to the CBS broadcast booth this week as his beloved alma matter Texas Lutheran hosts the Sul Ross State Lobos. I need to have a beer with uncle Verne sometime and someone out there can make that happen.
NAIA game of the week. I’m selecting my old stomping grounds Bluefield as the Bluefield College Rams host Point University at Mitchell Stadium in Bluefield.
And finally the Junior College game of the week I go with the Fighting Artichokes of Scottsdale Community College at Arizona Western College. Sometime for fun get on gochokes.com.
Enjoy the weekend….