The 2009 season has officially started, and as I type this, I have no idea how my first set of picks turned out, but I don’t really care that much. There’s a hell of a long way to go in week one and I probably need the redemption. This is part two of my picks and not only is there a long day ahead, but there’s a long season ahead. It’s gonna end too quickly, I can tell. Fire up for updating all day Saturday!
Update after Thursday night: Damn, I took a beating picking winners, although my record against the spread isn’t too bad at all so far. F*ck South Carolina and Oregon for last night.
Record: 2-4, 3-3 ATS
Navy at (6) Ohio State (-21.5)
I wish I could tell Navy they had a shot, but they don’t. And Ohio State fan doesn’t get that the university is making fun of them by actually having to ask that they not boo or otherwise do horrible things to the Naval Academy during their visit to C-Bus. You should already know that, you bunch of ly-barry masturbators.
Otherwise, this is basically a non-game. Terrelle Pryor is kind of being unveiled again, since he’s supposedly gotten faster and become better at quarterback since last season ended. Then again, his numbers weren’t amazing in 2008, so anything is really an improvement. The only question mark is who will carry the ball for the Buckeyes other than Pryor. Beanie is gone and, while the would-be replacements are all respected recruits, none of them is as amazing as Wells was. At least not yet, anyway. I love me some option football, and even the West Virginia/Michigan/Oregon spread option-whatever system, so I’m rooting for Navy, but this is a blowout…unless Navy can sit on the ball and take advantage of OSU’s losses on the defensive side of the ball…hmmmm. Yeah, no, that’s not happening.
Pick: Ohio State
Akron at (9) Penn State (-26.5)
Akron is kind of a super-sleeper pick in the MAC, so they’re probably going to suck all season since I said that. But I’ll say to Penn State fans what I said to Utah fans: a blowout win here means absolutely nothing as far as going undefeated this year. It’s just a beat-down of a lower-level opponent. I mean shit, isn’t that the point of home-openers against chump teams? The tailgating is wonderful, you know the team is going to win, and the weather is still gorgeous, which definitely, definitely matters in the Big Ten. Can’t even play a comfortable night game in this f*cking conference after Halloween. Everything is great, PSU fans. So enjoy it while it lasts before the speculation about beating Illinois and Ohio State comes around and suddenly it’s snowing in Happy Valley again.
Pick: Penn State
Minnesota at Syracuse (+6.5)
What, you thought I was going to let Greg Paulus’ first game as a one-year starter for the ‘Cuse go by? Please. Maybe a defensive end will brush past him and he’ll flop hoping for a call…okay I’m done. Or maybe he’ll play well for three years before being replaced by a freshman…okay now I’m really done.
Holy God is Syracuse bad. Then again, a new coach means ‘Cuse fans can at least feel positive about winning two games in 2009. What the hell happened to this program? I guess they were never THAT great, but damn is this sad.
Minnesota is a team on the rise, and they will definitely upset some one in the Big Ten this year. No one is going to be able to name more than two of their players, but they’re definitely going to make some noise. And though this game is in the dome, Minnesota is going to roll.
Western Kentucky at Tennessee (-29.5)
Speaking of debuts, it’s the premier of the Lane Kiffin era at Tennessee! That is absolutely the only reason to watch this game. It’s gonna be boring, and Tennessee is inevitably going to win by fewer points than it should. Although, if the Vols get a lead, I wouldn’t be surprisd if Kiffin kept his foot on the gas and got himself a blowout in his home debut. He sure as hell doesn’t want a close one or to hear the grumbling from the fans after. Plus, I want Bob Stoops to have a mini-me in the running up the score department. Add that to WKU sucking pretty bad in its initial offering as a full member of Division 1-A, and you’ve got a blowout.
San Jose State at (4) Southern California (-33)
I forget, Phillips, is this bigger than the spread in the Stanford game or not? The odds are really stacked up against USC being anything scary in the BCS this year. A true freshman quarterback, injuries to Ronald Johnson, Shareece Wright and Aaron Corp, and a relatively inexperienced defense are a lot of obstacles to overcome in one season. Yeah, sure, these kids were all major-level recruits, but playing and winning like the Trojans are used to is a different thing. Barkley is going to look okay in this game, but Ryan Leaf looked okay in his first two games for the Chargers too. This team needs Aaron Corp back so Barkley can redshirt and win the job next year. And yeah, I just compared Matt Barkley to Ryan Leaf.
(13) Georgia at (9) Oklahoma State (-5)
This is the game of the opening weekend. Oklahoma State has to show a lot in this game if anyone is going to take them seriously once Big XII play comes around. A loss to Georgia, and they’re just the pesky, productive team that gets swatted aside by Texas and Oklahoma, sort of like what Missouri has been the last few years. The Cowboys are gonna need momentum if they’re going to do anything major, so this game is absolutely huge.
I think Georgia is coming in with quiet confidence, but I don’t think they’re on the same level they were in 2008. Matt Stafford, for all his flaws in college, was still a difference maker if the Bulldogs needed a long pass play. Knowshon was the same in the running game. There’s no way this team just keeps on trucking after losing those two. Their defense was super bad, and not in a funny way, at the end of last season. Injuries or not, that team sucked ass to an embarrassing degree.
That said, I think Georgia reinvents itself as a scrappy, pain in the ass team. They still have some playmakers on offense, and as long as their defense isn’t scarred from last year’s meltdown, this is a team that can do some damage. OSU has too much on the line Saturday night, though.
Pick: Oklahoma State
Nevada at (23) Notre Dame (-14.5)
It’s gotta hurt for Domer fan that they’re barely a two touchdown favorite over a WAC team that probably won’t even win its conference. I did predict that Colin Kaepernick would get at least one Heisman vote this year, and I bet he shows Notre Dame’s defense a thing or two…once the Wolfpack are down three touchdowns. There’s no doubt Nevada can score against Notre Dame, but I seriously doubt their defense can do much to stop the Irish.
And let me say this as plainly as I can: no matter how many points the Irish score, no matter how many yards Clausen throws for, no matter how big the final margin of victory is, this game has absolutely no more meaning for the Domers than being 1-0. It’s just Nevada, guys. That’s it. NOw if they’re close at the end…that’s a different story. At least for the Notre Dame haters like myself.
Pick: Notre Dame
Western Michigan at Michigan (-12.5)
It’s hard to say what Michigan’s defense has in store for teams in 2009, but they’ve gotta be at least decent, right? It’s the O that sucks. Plus the coaches kinda seem like dicks, which should be really helpful for recruiting. The athletic department had to think they had a nice little Saturday set up for the fans when they scheduled Western Michigan to open the 2009 season. Alas, Wolverine fan, WMU, as you probably know from your drunken cousin already, is no joke even for a MAC team. They could very well win the conference and Tim Hiller just might be the player of the year.
So no, it’s not a Saturday off for Michigan. But hey, if they blow the Broncos out, there’ll definitely be some good feelings rolling around Ann Arbor and maybe even a little momentum.
Pick: Michigan wins but WMU beats the spread
Baylor at Wake Forest (-2.5)
Wake is getting a little worse each year since winning the ACC and some experts seem to think Baylor is ready to make a little noise. I’m not sure what that means for Baylor. Four wins? Six wins? Hard to say. But I do know this is a winnable game for the Bears. Wake isn’t that good anymore. I do love their offense, though. It’s like a series of spread plays and trick plays that have no business working when the quarterback can’t run and they don’t have an especially effective running back. Shit, you can only hand the ball to the slot receiver so many times. But the O keeps working. Kind of.
I hate this game so much. There’s no way to tell how these teams come out. This is why it’s hard to make money on random games like this. Not that that stops me from gambling. I’m thinking Baylor uses this game as a jumping off point for a surprising five win season.
Missouri vs. Illinois (-6.5)
It’s funny this game features two unranked teams going at it in one of the three most bitter border wars in which Mizzou is prominently involved. They’re basically that asshole neighbor that everyone just has to deal with because he’s a pain in the ass, but not a big enough one to get evicted.
The 2009 edition of this rivalry sure looks like an Illinois romp, which will make some old friends very happy people. There’s just no way Mizzou can stay as competitive as they were the last couple of years with all the losses in their personnel they’ve had. I wouldn’t discount them since this game is almost always a shootout, but Illinois MUST win this game if they want any respect.
(20) BYU vs. (3) Oklahoma (-22)
Does anyone else feel like this will be a game in which OU rolls but doesn’t look quite as dominant as they did last year? Like one of those USC bowl wins where they completely dominated, but only won by 14? They should still win by quite a few points simply because BYU doesn’t have the same athletes, but just like Florida this year, OU has a bit of the 2005 USC ethos to them. They’ll win most or all of their games, but they won’t look quite as good doing it. Disappointment can take a lot of different forms depending on the team. I just can’t see an OU team that everyone is expecting to dominate college football (until they lose to Florida again) performing as well when the standard is already so high. I think they’ll find themselve in some unexpectedly competitive games in 2009. This ain’t one of them.
Northern Illinois at Wisconsin (-16.5)
After their debacle in 2008, I have a hard time seeing the Badgers losing this game. They’ve gotta come out fired up at home and ready to kill whatever random MAC team they have in week one, right? I’m trying to convince myself because I don’t trust this team at all. I watched that game they almost lost to Cal Poly last year, and I can’t help but think this team is just dying to lose a game like this. And Northern Illinois is way better than Cal Poly. If this game were in November, I might even go with NIU. Screw it…
Pick: Northern Illinois.
7:30 pm ET
San Diego State at UCLA (-19)
So can the Bruins get it together and slightly ease Booter’s yearly football-related depression? God bless the man, because he sits through pretty much every game he can no matter what’s going on with the team. But hey, Moses and the Isrealites had to wander in the desert for 40 years, right?
Between him with UCLA and me with Indiana, there isn’t a whole lot of happiness when it comes to college football of late. This time last year, the Bruins gave him the one highlight of the year when they beat Tennessee in OT (creating my absolute favorite video from 2008…I MISS AINGE!). And I can’t say the Aztecs are going to have much to offer the Bruins. Brady Hoke is a great coach, but he’s not working with much in his first year.
Pick: The University of California, Los Angeles
(5) Alabama vs. (7) Virginia Tech (+6.5)
I can’t say this game will be one to watch if you want offensive fireworks. But I can guarantee you Les Miles will probably touch himself to footage of this game later tonight. Want to know how many formations a team can use to run directly into the right guard? Find out Saturday night!
Alabama seems like they have more on defense and more in the running game compared to Tech. If Darren Evans were healthy, I’d probably say different. ‘Bama kind of reminds me of a college football version of the Baltimore Ravens. They use a committee of running backs, they play amazing defense, and have exactly one playmaker. Actually, I’m not sure the Ravens have a receiver as good as Julio Jones. Though I’m sure Saban would kill to have Joe Flacco at quarterback for a year.
Uh, point is that Tech is down while Alabama should do what they do.
Central Michigan at Arizona (-13.5)
I want Central Michigan in this one, but damn do they suck when they play the major conference teams. Well, most of them anyway. I love me some Dan LeFevour and I always want to push for a little MAC pride even though I went to a Big Ten school. Plus, Arizona is down a little bit and I have trouble seeing them keeping up what mediocre success they’ve had in the past couple of years.
Pick: Arizona wins but CMU beats the spread
Maryland at (12) California (-21)
Not a cakewalk for the Fighting Jahvid Best’s to open the season. Maryland isn’t great, but they’re just like every other ACC team because they’re totally unpredictable from week to week. We could easily see a one-loss ACC squad get their asses handed to them in a BCS bowl or beat anyone they face. It’s impossible to tell.
Best booted on the field and was already a little dinged up for this game in 2008 in College Park. At least I think that was him. This year, with Heisman hopes (and the entire Cal football team) on his back, I have a feeling he’ll feel a little better. And by a little, I mean we could be looking at 2,000 yards because he is Cal’s only, and I mean ONLY, weapon.
Pick: Cal wins but Maryland beats the spread.
(11) LSU at Washington (+17.5)Go here for my full preview of this game over at SECFootballBlogger.com
Get ready for my craziest pick of the night.
Pick: LSU wins but Washington somehow beats the spread.
Sunday Sept 6
(8) Mississippi at Memphis (+16)
A non-descript blowout to start the season for Ole Miss, despite how much Memphis fan wants to “bust a Nutt”. I hate how they insist on being called Ole Miss, by the way. They’re the University of Mississippi. Go with that, douches. Worse, Ole Miss is so historically mediocre that Memphis really does see this as a rivalry game.
Then again, Memphis is going to be excited enough for this game that it might turn into a true test for Mississippi. Though I doubt we’ll see if they’re totally overrated or not. I don’t think Ole Miss will have much trouble here. They’re going to keep the illusion up for at least a couple of weeks before they have a bad loss. This is a Houston Nutt squad with expectations on it, after all. But hey, if you’re looking for something to mildly interest you on Sunday afternoon, then this is your game.
Colorado State at Colorado (-10)
Crappy rivalry game! Crappy rivalry game! I don’t care at all about who wins. This game has absolutely no bearing over anything at all except bragging rights in the state of Colorado. Woo freaking hoo.
Monday Sept 7
Cincinnati at Rutgers (-6)
I’m not even sure why this game got delayed until Labor Day. Why not, you know, put a good game on before the Miami/FSU clash later that night? Okay never mind, there aren’t any good games on Labor Day. I’m sure as hell not watching football anyway. Mostly because I don’t want to be divorced by Thanksgiving, but also because these two games are crap. Even Cincy and Rutgers don’t like the schedule switch.
Miami (FL) at (18) Florida State (-6.5)
Some one’s gotta do something in this game. Yeesh. What a terrible matchup this has become. Both of these schools should have just kept cheating and dirty recruiting like they used to. It’s like the minute Bobby Bowden becomes concerned with his legacy, he starts losing assistants left and right and has a horrible team for a long, long time. That said, FSU is still in better shape than Miami, mostly because Miami is running a clean program now and has the corresponding drop in talent and wins to go with it. I’m sure Randy Shannon is a good coach, but he’s got that job because he’s not going to cheat like crazy like his predecessors (allegedly) did. Plus, he doesn’t really want to deal with that “I’m on the way to the NFL, so screw it” mentality that doomed Larry Coker’s teams.
I like Graig Cooper and I even like their quarterback, but Miami isn’t Miami anymore. Florida State is just good enough to exploit a slightly weakened rival. And I mean JUST good enough. They still suck overall, but this game sets up perfectly for them.
Pick: Florida State wins but Miami beats the spread