11:50 am: Morning! Finally, the first Saturday of college football season and…there’s nothing but crappy games on at noon ET. Damn. I’ll probably be rotating between Minny/Syracuse and Penn State/Akron, though I’m not thrilled with either game. The 3:30 games, however, are loaded and should be a hell of a lot of fun. There’s even drama in the otherwise lame USC/SJSU game. It’s a great day to be alive, people. I love the smell of me not showering by noon on a Saturday.
Anyway, I’ll be updating all day long on this week’s picks, and I might even be right at some point. Imagine that. So sit back, enjoy the first weekend of college games. Only three months more to go!
Go here to read the previews of this weekend’s games.
5:40pm ET: Gotta love having technical issues on the first weekend of the season. Awesome.
Record after Thursday: 2-4, 3-3 ATS
Navy at (6) Ohio State (-21.5)
Pick: Ohio State
Final: Ohio State 31 Navy 27.
Nice, uh, “debut” by the Buckeyes. I would love to tell you that Navy played with a ton of heart and went out and really took it to Ohio State, and they did, but Ohio State should be ashamed of themselves. Navy’s offense isn’t THAT amazing. The Buckeyes played too conservatively, didn’t do anything to attempt to dominate, and then made a really dumbass decision to go for a touchdown instead of kick a field goal that kept Navy in it.
It’s not a good idea to say anything too absolute after the first game, but Ohio State’s gameplans week to week are woefully bad. They don’t know what to do to adapt from team to team. It’s like if the Ohio State system works in a given week, and it does mostly, then the Buckeyes win. But if the opposition manages to adjust at all or does anything unexpected, you get games like this…or they get their asses kicked by whoever they play in a BCS game. The reason the Big Ten is getting some disrespect nationally is because Ohio State doesn’t play modern football yet. And they really, really need to figure out how if Terrelle Pryor is going to be the next Vince Young.
Record: 3-4, 3-4 ATS
Minnesota at Syracuse (+6.5)
Now that’s a tough loss for Syracuse. Leading the whole game, and Minnesota came back on them to win it in OT. In college, there are no moral victories, but the ‘Cuse has come about as close as one can to having one. They’ve given the fans hope that the team might actually win a game at some point in 2009. Greg Paulus has already done in Syracuse what he never did at Duke: get the fan base to feel good about him playing. Tough day, Orange, but don’t be satisfied with near-moral victories.
Record: 4-4, 3-5 ATS
Western Kentucky at Tennessee (-29.5)
Final: Tennessee 63 WKU 7
You knew Kiffin was gonna try to make a statement at home for the first game of the year. Western Kentucky isn’t any good, but the Vols needed a statement to make Clay Travis and the rest of Vols Nation feel like there’s something to like in this team. It’s still going to be depressing come conference play, but I think Tennessee Fan will take a competitve squad this year and hope that 2010 is the real step up for UT.
Record: 5-4, 4-5 ATS
San Jose State at (4) Southern California (-33)
Final: USC 56 SJSU 3
That would be eight unanswered touchdowns by USC after San Jose State took the lead 3-0 in the first quarter. Or the second quarter. Whatever. Just like the Irish, this game doesn’t mean a ton for USC, other than they know now Matt Barkley can, more or less, manage a game. That said, the Trojans didn’t show a whole lot on offense and got away with a powerful, dominating performance from their running backs and offensive line. There’s a good chance that’s all USC will need this year while Barkley develops, but next week against Ohio State, the Trojans are going to need to get a little less vanilla. Jim Tressel has some issues beating athletic teams, but even he can handle USC’s offense if that’s what it’s going to look like.
Record: 6-4, 5-5 ATS
(13) Georgia at (9) Oklahoma State (-5)
Pick: Oklahoma State
Final: OSU 24 Georgia 10
What, you thought Georgia’s defense was going to be enough against that squad? Please. They were always going to give up 24 points; it was just a matter of Georgia scoring that many…or not. The UGA offense was just as bad as everyone expected, and though the D did manage to contain the Cowboys, there was no way the Bulldogs were ever going to take that lead back.
I was very unimpressed with the OSU offense. I realize it’s the first game, but everyone’s statistics were down. I’m sure they’ll accumulate over the course of the season, but a 50% completion percentage in the first game ain’t great. Plus they have a sneaky-tough game next week against Houston. Total trap game for the Cowboys.
Record: 7-4, 6-5 ATS
Nevada at (23) Notre Dame (-14.5)
Pick: Notre Dame
Final: Notre Dame 35 Nevada 0
Well, I had high hopes for the Wolfpack, but they just couldn’t get anything done against Notre Dame. But like I said, Domers, this win doesn’t mean anything. You’re supposed to take care of business like this; it’s the last couple of years that your team sucked so bad they couldn’t have an easy win on opening day. So maybe there’s a sense of normalcy for Notre Dame again, but it’s gonna take more than beating a WAC team for Notre Dame to be relevant again.
Record: 8-4, 7-5 ATS
Western Michigan at Michigan (-12.5)
Pick: Michigan wins but WMU beats the spread
Final: Michigan 31 WMU 7
Good win for Michigan. I thought Western Michigan was going to give them a bigger challenge than they did, but I guess the directional Michigan schools have general issues when it comes to playing against big brother in Ann Arbor. Sort of a shame, really. This might be the one game against a minor-conference opponent that means something for the team that won handily. Michigan really needed to start off well with Notre Dame coming to the crib next week, and they managed to do that and get all their playmakers involved in the process. So enjoy it, Wolverine fans, because this feeling is only happening about six times in 2009.
Record: 9-4, 7-6 ATS
Baylor at Wake Forest (-2.5)
Final: Baylor 24 Wake Forest 21
Feeling good about this pick, you know, because I was right. That’s a tougher win than it seems for Baylore. Wake is still a respectable team, and winning at their house is a great step toward not sucking quite as bad as usual. On a side note, I can’t believe Riley Skinner is still in college. I swear that kid has been at Wake since the Clinton administration. The Demon Deacons really need to find a way to keep their level of success because they’ve been slipping pretty consistently the last couple of years.
Record: 10-4, 8-6 ATS
Missouri vs. Illinois (-6.5)
Final: Missouri 37 Illinois 9
For three straight years the Illini have lost to Mizzou in a way that crippled their season, or at least exposed every one of their flaws to the rest of the Illini’s schedule. Same thing this year. The Illinois offense couldn’t get anything going despite being supposedly experienced and talented coming into this year. Missouri was replacing virtually every starter, though that didn’t really matter on defense because the Mizzou defense has always been gawd-awful. Still, not too sure many people thought Blaine Gabbert would roll out and look as good as he did. Juice Williams had better take control of this situation before he’s known as a guy who won his first couple of years, but sucked every year after.
Record: 10-5, 8-7 ATS
(20) BYU vs. (3) Oklahoma (-22)
Final: BYU 14 OU 13
Yeah, okay, so Sam Bradford got hurt at the end of the first half and that pretty much ended OU’s shot at scoring a ton of points. My questions is: why? Even though he’d only played the first half, Bradford had only thrown 14 times for 96 yards. That’s it. This is the same OU team that threw the ball all around the stadium last year, but now they’re trying for balance? His replacement, Landry Jones, only threw 12 times in his college debut. This would all make sense if they manged to run the ball a bunch of times for a bunch of yards, but OU only gave their two primary backs a total of 24 carries for just over 100 yards. That’s it.
This game is entirely given to BYU’s defense. They were outstanding the entire game. It’s not like OU ever ran away with this thing. I question whether Oklahoma was mentally prepared to beat BYU in the first place. Where was the Oklahoma running game? Is Landry Jones really that big of a step back from Sam Bradford? What the hell, Bob Stoops? Huge disaster for Oklahoma. Not just because Bradford got hurt, either.
Record: 10-6, 8-8 ATS
Northern Illinois at Wisconsin (-16.5)
Pick: Northern Illinois
Final: Wisconsin 28 NIU 20
I’ll give the Badgers credit, they had a bigger lead than the final score indicates heading into the fourth. Problem is, the Wisconsin defense, you know the usual strength of their program, let NIU back into the game. Not that the offense helped. Wisconsin’s quarterback, whoever he is, threw a really bad interception that let Northern Illinois get it to a one-score game. UW fans have to be feeling that tingle of impending doom for this team again.
Record: 10-7, 9-8 ATS
7:30 pm ET
San Diego State at UCLA (-19)
Pick: The University of California, Los Angeles
Final: UC, LA 33 SDSU 14
You know, because it’s got a comma, not an “at.”
PUSH! And it only took one weekend to happen. I thought SDSU was going to make a game of it, but this is probably the reality for the Aztecs. They’re a few years away from being competitive, though I trust that Brady Hoke can make it happen. Good way to get started for the Bruins seeing as how they’re going to Knoxville next week for a big time revenge game. Only problem is, it’s Tennessee who wants the revenge.
Record: 11-7, 9-8-1 ATS
(5) Alabama vs. (7) Virginia Tech (+6.5)
Final: Alabama 34 Virginia Tech 24
Very competitive showing by VTU since they have exactly one offensive weapon. If they’re going to win a lot of games, Tyrod Taylor is going to have to play a hell of a lot better than 9-20 for 91 yards with no TD’s or INT’s. He also had 10 carries for -26 yards. So though they made some plays in other phases to keep the game close, it was never going to be the VTU offense that was going to win it for the Hokies. Their fans better get used to that feeling.
Record: 12-7, 10-8-1 ATS
Central Michigan at Arizona (-13.5)
Pick: Arizona wins but CMU beats the spread
Final: Arizona 19 CMU 6
Way to get in under the spread, Central Michigan! I knew I could trust Dan LeFevour to bring a win against the spread home for me/us. Problem is, he wasn’t nearly good enough to, you know, actually win the football game. Arizona’s defense doesn’t seem to have lost a thing, but like I said, CMU is terrible against major-conference teams for reasons I can’t totally define. Arizona is going to have to take another look at their offense too, since it had trouble against a freaking MAC team. Sorry, Danny, maybe next week.
Record: 13-7, 11-8-1 ATS
Maryland at (12) California (-21)
Pick: Cal wins but Maryland beats the spread.
Final: Cal 52 Maryland 13
Okay, so maybe the oddsmakers had it right-er than me. Obviously, Maryland isn’t as good as, well, as the Sun Belt champion. They were but a part of a horrible night for the ACC teams all around. Good night for Jahvid Best, though he still needs to have a chance to come through in crunch time for Cal if he’s gonna win hisself a Heisman.
Record: 14-7, 11-9-1 ATS
(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.
Final: LSU 31 Washington 23
Nailed it! And though I really thought LSU would run away and hide with this one in the third quarter, I have to give Washington credit. Sarkisian has managed to instill belief in his players. Now if he can just instill a little talent in them too. Zing!
Jordan Jefferson threw three touchdowns, but the running game was conspicuously absent from LSU’s game plan. They need to get rid of this offensive schizophrenia between shotgun-spread stuff and the old-school “I” formation. The work better when they run the ball first. Their spread plays gave Washington too much of an opportunity to stay in the game. They need to let their senior running backs take control rather than their 19-year old quarterback who is in his first year as a full-time starter.
Record: 15-7, 12-9-1 ATS
Sunday Sept 6
(8) Mississippi at Memphis (+16)
Final: Mississippi 45 Memphis 14
Ole Miss didn’t look great, but Memphis isn’t exactly like facing Florida, so the Rebels managed to blow them out. Apparently this was a close game through three quarters. Hey, whaddya know? A Houston Nutt team facing expectations is underwhelming fans. Amazing!
Record: 16-7, 13-9-1 ATS
Colorado State at Colorado (-10)
Final: CSU 23 CU 17
Dan Hawkins is gonna let his kid be the reason he gets fired at Colorado. Cody Hawkins is a mediocre quarterback who definitely would have been removed as the starter by now if he weren’t the coach’s son. Or maybe his backups just suck that bad. Hey, Dan Hawkins, get a f*cking quarterback into CU.
I mean, really, CU, REALLY? Colorado State is like the sixth-best MWC team on their best day! This is an inexcusable loss, and had better be one of two or maybe three on the season. I like Dan Hawkins, but he hasn’t recruited for shit in four years, and that’s the only way they’re ever going to compete in the Big XII.
Record: 16-8, 13-10-1 ATS
Monday Sept 7
Cincinnati at Rutgers (-6)
Final: Cincinnati 47 Rutgers 15
Good thing Penn State and Miami never hired Greg Schiano to be their head coach. Rutgers has gotten way, way worse every year since losing Ray Rice, and they weren’t even that good when they had him. Dude needs to get his program in order. Fast.
Record: 17-8, 14-10-1 ATS
Miami (FL) at (18) Florida State (-6.5)
Pick: Florida State wins but Miami beats the spread
Final: Miami 38 FSU 34
Bad, bad loss by Florida State. They let a mistake-prone Miami offense torch them for 38 points. Where was the speed FSU’s defensive coordinator was talking about? They looked overmatched. I wouldn’t get too cocky if I were Miami, though. Their defense didn’t look much better in victory. Good, entertaining shootout though.
Record after week one: 17-9, 15-10-1 ATS