College football is back, and if you’re like me, you’ve been patiently waiting for Week 1 ever since the National Championship game ended.
Although there have many changes in the offseason, this year has potential to be very exciting with the new playoff system in place. Will it still be controversial? Yeah, probably. But we’re going to have fun debating between different teams and conferences.
The opening week of the season always offers intriguing games, so the fun will start immediately.
Each Thursday, I’ll preview the biggest match-ups from the top teams in the country, while also touching on the Ohio Valley Conference teams. But what’s the point in previewing games without making predictions? As I make my picks against the spread, which will be in (), I encourage all of you to chime in with your thoughts as well.
Let’s get this show on the road!
DISCLAIMER: My picks are for entertainment purposes only, with no money being placed on any game.
Thursday, Aug. 28
Texas A&M vs. South Carolina (-10.5) – (SEC Network, 5 p.m.)
What a great start for the brand new SEC Network.
Two teams ranked in the top 25 opening up on Thursday night will certainly draw a crowd as people in the South have been counting down the days. Unfortunately, Johnny Manziel won’t be suiting up for the Aggies, though.
I’m really not sure about Texas A&M this year. Kevin Sumlin is a great coach and they have some potential at the quarterback position whether it’s Kenny Hill or Kyle Allen long term. However, you can’t replace Manziel, or Mike Evans on the outside, plus their defense is known to be quite atrocious.
I’m taking the Gamecocks to win by more than 10.5 points for this reason, and the fact they have a quarterback with experience. Dylan Thompson has been there for what seems like forever, and Mike Davis is gonna have a stellar season out of the backfield.
Plus, Steve Spurrier is the man.
Boise State vs. Ole Miss (-10.5) – (ESPN, 7 p.m.)
ESPN will counter with Broncos-Rebels, which will serve as the game we flip to once A&M-USC goes to commercial.
I guess this is a “neutral site” game considering it will be in the Georgia Dome, but Georgia isn’t exactly neutral between Idaho and Mississippi…Advantage, Rebels.
Under center for Ole Miss will be Bo Wallace, a guy I’ve always liked. If you take out the Mississippi State game last year where he threw three picks, Wallace had a very good season. A lot of people continue to overlook him, but I say he he throws 25 touchdowns this season, which would surpass his career high of 22.
As for Boise, I just don’t know. The Broncos will score points, which could turn this into a high scoring game, but they haven’t played an SEC school since 2011. Yes, 2011, as they beat Georgia to begin the season.
Rebels will be too physical up front, and I BOlieve in Wallace.
Saturday, Aug. 30
Penn State (+2) vs. Central Florida – (ESPN2, 7:30 a.m.)
I admit, I’ll probably just DVR this one considering it’s at 7:30, but it’s worth a watch.
Because it’s in Dublin, Ireland.
Penn State opened at -1, but the line has flipped to UCF, who almost received enough votes into the top 25. Obviously, replacing Blake Bortles will be the key for the Knights, while Penn State will open the James Franklin era.
Say what you want about Franklin, but the guy can flat out recruit and coach.
I would’ve taken the underdog no matter who it was, so I’ll roll the dice with the Nittany Lions.
West Virginia vs. Alabama (-26) – (ABC or ESPN2, 2:30 p.m.)
At first glance, twenty-six points seems like a lot. But, this is Alabama we are talking about here.
Think about it.
The Tide were embarrassed in last year’s Iron Bowl, which is the greatest thing I’ve ever seen, and were upset by Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl to end the season. Now, Nick Saban has had all spring and summer to prepare for West Virginia, and it’s not going to be pretty for the opposition.
West Virginia’s defense shouldn’t even show up, because they are going to get trampled. Alabama may cover by halftime.
Roll Tide, y’all.
Arkansas (+19) vs. Auburn – (SEC Network, 3 p.m.)
This is the pick I’m probably going to regret later, but I’m feeling brave.
Auburn is going to win, probably by two touchdowns. However, I’m saying it’s not going to be more than 19 points. The Razorbacks did finish 3-12 last season, including a nine game losing streak. But if you look at the scores of the games they lost, most of them would have covered this line.
They lost to Rutgers by four, A&M by 12, Auburn by 17, Ole Miss by 10, Mississippi State by seven, and LSU by four.
So, they only lost to Auburn, who reached the National Championship, by 17.
I see a similar result on Saturday as Nick Marshall won’t start the game for the Tigers.
Clemson vs. Georgia (-7.5) – (ESPN, 4:30 p.m.)
There’s just something about Clemson-Georgia every year that I like.
It’s like Clemson is in the SEC considering their intense rivalry with South Carolina, and it’s normal for them to open against the Dawgs. But what should we expect from the Tigers in 2014?
No Tajh Boyd. No Sammy Watkins. For Clemson, they’ll likely be relying on their defense to get the job done.
For Georgia, Hutson Mason will provide a veteran leader at quarterback, while Todd Gurley is going to run wild this year if he stays healthy.
Clemson won last year, so you have to think Georgia will come back stronger on Saturday. Dawgs win by more than a touchdown.
Florida State vs. Oklahoma State (+17.5) – (ABC, 7 p.m.)
The defending champion Seminoles invade Dallas in the ABC game of the week.
Of course, the spotlight is on “Famous Jameis”, and rightfully so. It wouldn’t even matter who Florida State plays in this game. It’s all about number five.
I think Florida State wins, but I think people forget how good Oklahoma State can be. Sure, they aren’t ranked and don’t play great defense, but they went 10-3 last season, including wins over Baylor, Texas, Texas Tech, and Mississippi State.
Winston could come out and have a field day in “Jerry World”, but the Cowboys (not the one with Tony Romo) will be able to match the Seminoles on the scoreboard.
Score prediction: FSU 33, OSU 24
Wisconsin vs. LSU (-5) – (ESPN, 8 p.m.)
This is a tricky game to close out the list.
Wisconsin is going to have a great season. They have a good team, while also having probably the easiest schedule out of the power five conference teams. Currently, they have one opponent other than LSU who is ranked in the top 25, so they’ll likely find themselves in the Final Four once the season ends.
If they beat LSU, they should definitely get there.
But LSU hasn’t lost a season opener since 2002, and are still going to have talented roster full of studs on defense. I’m also looking forward to watching top running back recruit Leonard Fournett play for the Tigers.
I may be cutting it close with five points, but I think LSU barely covers.
OVC Quick Picks
Eastern Illinois vs. Minnesota – Minnesota
Eastern Kentucky vs. Robert Morris – Eastern Kentucky
Missouri Baptist vs. Southeast Missouri – Southeast Missouri
Union College vs. Murray State – Murray State
Kentucky Christian vs. Tennessee Tech – Tennessee Tech
Jacksonville State vs. Michigan State – Michigan State
UT Martin vs. Kentucky – Kentucky
Austin Peay vs. Memphis – (No Pick)
Edward Waters vs. Tennessee State – Tennessee State