Week 1 Picks

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It’s back!  The column you can use to make lots of money.  All you need to do is go against our picks and most of the time you will win.  Last year we went 86-75 picking games, including a sparkling 0-3 for the playoff games.  It’s definitely more impressive to pick all three games wrong than picking even one game correctly.  That 11 games over .500 was propped up by a stellar 9-1 week 1 last year.  We only went 3 games over .500 the rest of the way!

This year we are upping the ante.  We are going to track how we do straight up, and also how we do against the spread.  This is going to be spectacular.

It’s the start of the season, so there are very few conference games at this point.  There is only one game on the slate between ranked teams this week – Wisconsin vs. Alabama.  It will be hard to get non-conference top 25 match ups when 14 of the top 25 teams are either from the SEC or PAC 12.  There are, however, some good non-conference match ups, and they should get even better in the coming years as the playoff committee clearly showed everyone last year that strength of schedule matters – a lot.

So, here we go.  Another year in futility…

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S. Carolina (-3)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″ css=”.vc_custom_1432672269878{border-right-width: 1px !important;}”][vc_column_text]

The Carolina’s battle in the 1st game of the year.  It’s a huge game for both teams that have a ton of question marks.  UNC didn’t even have a defense last year, they just threw 11 random dudes out there to get scored on and then let their potent offense try to keep up with the pace.  In comes Gene Chizik to fix the defense.  He’s working on fundamentals with these guys…..such as tackling the guy with the ball and stopping teams from getting 100 first downs per game.  It can only get better, I promise, and with everyone coming back on offense they are going to score a ton.  South Carolina on the other hand is a mystery wrapped in a riddle.  No one knows what to expect from these guys.  Connor Mitch was just given the starting nod at QB, but the true freshman, Nunez, looks to be the long term solution.  If the Gamecocks can just get the ball to Pharoh Cooper that would be great, um kay.  USC lost 4 WRs, their 2 best O-Lineman, their QB and their star RB (Mike Davis)…..as you can see the turnover is huge, and the talent is young so I expect a few bumps along the way, especially in the beginning.  Look for a small upset from UNC and the questions to fly in Columbia.  PICK: UNC 38, USC 34

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Utah (-5.5)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″][vc_column_text]

This game has a little bit more hype than the the typical opening game between 2 non-ranked teams, with one coming off a 3-win conference season.  It’s because of the debut of a new coach.  That’s right!  Utah has a new defensive coordinator this year who will try to help a defense get better than the 393 ypg they gave up last year.  Despite the high yardage per game, Utah was good at getting at the QB last year leading the nation in sacks.  Michigan also has a new head coach making his debut this game, Jim Harbaugh.  You might have heard of him.  If a team’s success was directly correlated to the buzz they generate, then Michigan would be the national champs this year.  There is no denying Harbaugh is a great coach, but the question is if they have the talent yet to produce the results.  The offense has 8 returning starters, but that’s an offense that ranked 115th in total yards and 111th in scoring.  Utah is a tough place to play and Utah is finally a consistently tough team to play now that they have developed depth after transitioning to the PAC 12.  Harbaugh likes to play smashmouth and Utah is strong up front.  Look for Utah to win this opener as they get Michigan early before they start to gel.  PICK: Utah 27, Michigan 21

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Minnesota (+14.5)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″ css=”.vc_custom_1432672269878{border-right-width: 1px !important;}”][vc_column_text]

TCU is a popular preseason pick this year to win the Big 12 and crash the Playoff party.  And with good reason.  They were on the verge of making the playoff last year after the offense exploded for 46.5 ppg when they switched to the air raid attack.  And they have 10 returning starters on that offense including Heisman contending QB Trevone Boykin.  It makes sense that the offense continues to roll.  The defense lost a lot of players but the idea is that head coach Gary Patterson can just crank out a great defense every year.  Minnesota is tricky opening game, especially on the road.  Last year the committee kept going back to Minnesota as a strong win for TCU, and there’s no reason they shouldn’t be again this year.  Head coach Jerry Kill has upgraded the talent at Minnesota and while it might be tough for them to crack the upper echelon of teams, you can count of them to be solid.  But TCU has too much fire power and should put away the Golden Gophers.  It will be interested to see how TCU handles being the favorites all year.  It is a big change to the hunted instead of the hunter. PICK: TCU 34, Minnesota 14

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#23 Boise St. (-11.5)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″ css=”.vc_custom_1432672269878{border-right-width: 1px !important;}”][vc_column_text]

Chris Petersen returns to Boise for the first time.  He made Boise St. a perennial BCS contender during his years there.  It’s looking like the new system will make it tougher for a team like Boise to make the Playoff, but they are still poised to make one of the New Year’s 6 bowl games.  But to do that, they need to start off the season with a win.  They can’t afford a loss to a Power 5 school that everyone thinks is way down this year.  Boise lost its QB and RB from last year, but at this point you can pretty much count on the next in line to pick up where the last ones left off.  When people think of Boise, they always think offense and the trick plays.  But the key to Boise’s success has been a stellar defense and they have slipped on that side of the ball the last couple years.  They need to get back to their ways of holding teams under 20 ppg  if they want to run the table and make a case to get in the Playoff.  Washington has an unfortunate combination this year of a talent exodus and still trying to change the systems/culture at the program.  It’s not a rosy outlook for Washington this year, but they could really get some momentum if they can win their head coach’s homecoming.  It just does not seem like it will happen.  Boise is almost unbeatable at home and the Huskies will have a hard time keeping pace with the Broncos.  PICK: Boise State 37, Washington 24

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#11 Notre Dame (-9.5)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″ css=”.vc_custom_1432672269878{border-right-width: 1px !important;}”][vc_column_text]

What a tasty matchup.  Two of the most distinguished programs in the history of college football.  I don’t know when they scheduled this game.  It was probably 10 years ago or something knowing how far in advance they set these up, but Texas was probably a lot better when this was set.  As it is, Texas is in year 2 of the Charlie Strong era.  Last year was complete tear down of the program.  Players were kicked off the team, the AD is causing rifts in the program, and Texas didn’t win like they normally do.  Despite all that, they did win 6 games winning the games they should have won and losing the games they should have lost.  Notre Dame is getting a lot of preseason love and they are coming in as a dark horse Playoff candidate for a lot of people.  QB Malik Zaire should be much better at protecting the ball than Everett Golson was last year.  Zaire also is a threat to effectively run the ball if a play breaks down, or even on designed run plays.  The offense also has some playmakers at the skill positions.  But none of that will matter if the Irish can’t improve on defense where they gave up 29.2 ppg last year (84th in the nation, Kent St. territory!).  Part of that was due to the fact that they endured many injuries on that side of the ball.  Their defense should be much improved this year just based on everyone staying healthy.  Texas won’t be an offensive juggernaut that they have to stop and their offense should have enough to get past a solid Texas D.   PICK: Notre Dame 26, Texas 16

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#6 Auburn (-10.5)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″ css=”.vc_custom_1432672269878{border-right-width: 1px !important;}”][vc_column_text]

The hype train is dragging the Auburn Tigers along and I’m one of the passengers.  Louisville certainly won’t make it easy on Auburn.  If this game was a couple of months into the season, then Louisville would give them a run for their money.  The Cardinals have a lot of transfers that will gel in due time, and the defense will be stout once they get their act together.  The offense has plenty of questions; then again Bobby Petrino can run an offense in his sleep.  Who is going to be Louisville’s QB is the $60,000 question.  Sounds like Bonnafon will be the guy which means they’ll be running the ball.  Losing WR Devante Parker is gonna hurt a lot, so someone will need to step in and pick up that production.  Auburn has no problem announcing their starting QB.  We finally get to see QB Jeremy Johnson for a full season.  The glimpses we’ve seen have been enticing – 75% completion rate (28 for 37), 3 TDs and 0 INTs.  The weapons for the Tigers on offense are abundant and with the addition of Will Muschamp to coach up the defense, you could see a dominant team and Playoff contender if everything comes together.  Take Auburn and lay the points.  The Tigers are gonna be really good in 2015.  PICK: Auburn 42, Louisville 24

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#13 UCLA (-17)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″ css=”.vc_custom_1432672269878{border-right-width: 1px !important;}”][vc_column_text]

The UCLA Bruins and the Virginia Cavaliers face off on Saturday in Pasadena as they kick off their 2015 college football seasons. The expectations are sky high this year for the UCLA Bruins who return several key players from last year’s team. While UCLA has experience on the roster they don’t have a ton at QB where freshman Josh Rosen appears to be the starter and he is already getting recognition as a future great. The Bruins ground attack is led by Paul Perkins who led the Pac-12 in rushing last season and Jordan Payton is back at WR as the offense returns nine of the 11 starters from last year. While UCLA is a popular pick to win the Pac-12, they are going to have to prove it on the field. It has been a disappointing run for the Virginia Cavaliers under head coach Mike London and this is a big year for him as the seat is red hot. Matt Johns is UVA’s starting QB this season after starting three games last year and the transfer of incumbent starter Grayson Lambert. Virginia’s running game was awful last season but they are hopeful Taquan Mizzell finally shows a glimpse of the talent he has. Virginia’s defense may be hampered by the loss of their top pass rushers but they were still 18th in the nation against the run. A win here would go a long way towards putting together a season that would save London’s job, but it won’t happen. UCLA dominates from the get go and the Josh Rosen hype reaches the stratosphere!  PICK: UCLA 45, Virginia 17

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Texas A&M (-3)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″ css=”.vc_custom_1432672269878{border-right-width: 1px !important;}”][vc_column_text]

A great 1st week matchup with ASU and Texas A&M.  This is another game that will launch the winner into the potential of having a great season.  The loser will have a mountain to climb to get back in the CFB Playoff picture.  Texas A&M is catching some experts eyes with their schedule and new DC – John Chavis.  Arizona St. is coming off of a “rebuilding” year and 10 wins.  Both of these teams are stacked on offense with not-so-great defenses. Get ready for a good ol’ shootout in Texas.  As you can see this is a tough one to call.  Last year A&M averaged 35 pts per game, expect that to rise a little with QB Kyle Allen and their stacked offense.  Arizona State averaged 37 pts per game last year; the stats for these teams are almost identical when you break them down (cfbstats.com).  It’s going to be close with a crap ton of TDs.  Arizona State is a slight underdog here but I think they pull this one off with their 16 returning starters.  The Devils defense with 7 of their top 8 tacklers coming back will be the difference maker in this one.  PICK: ASU 38, Texas A&M 35

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#3 Alabama (-10)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″ css=”.vc_custom_1432672269878{border-right-width: 1px !important;}”][vc_column_text]

Paul Chryst couldn’t have asked for a more challenging matchup for his debut as Wisconsin’s head coach. UW, which faces questions on the offensive line, at wide receiver and at inside linebacker, opens the 2015 season against Nick Saban and No. 3 Alabama at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Nick Saban’s crew won the SEC title in 2014 but was upset, 42-35, by Big Ten champion Ohio State in the semifinals of the first College Football Playoff. The Crimson Tide entered the Sugar Bowl second among Football Bowl Subdivision teams in rushing defense (88.7 yards per game) but surrendered 281 rushing yards and 537 total yards in the loss to the Buckeyes. Bama has questions at quarterback and has to replace 7 starters who were lost to the NFL. However, it is Bama, and with the number one recruiting class of 2015, Saban will have plenty of young talent at his disposal. I think this one is going to be a close one, and if Wisconsin can find a way to get its ground game going early and wear down a young Bama defensive front, we could be looking at the first big upset of the year! That is exactly what I think happens as Wisconsin leans heavy on the defense and makes a late goal line stand to hold off the Tide.  Bama fails to cover. PICK: Alabama 34, Wisconsin 28

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Virginia Tech (+11)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″ css=”.vc_custom_1432672269878{border-right-width: 1px !important;}”][vc_column_text]

I’m gonna do it again this year.  Yes I agree, I’ve lost my mind before the season even starts.  VA Tech beats Ohio State in another stunner.  There I said it.  Not much to choose from in upsets in the first few weeks.  This one looked the part more than the rest, so here we go…..suspensions to key players on OSU (i.e. Joey Bosa) and a heartbreaker injury for their #2 WR.  That means 4 WRs are out for Week 1, and OSU must rely on their run game to win this game.  Unfortunately for OSU, VA Tech has a ridiculous defense that should be jacked up and ready to play at home.  If the Hokies can stack the box then OSU is in for a long game.  If the deep passes for OSU don’t work, look out!!  Ohio State is going to get everyone’s best this year.  There is no doubt about that.  VA Tech is scary on defense and should be improved on offense since everyone is now healthy.   If you can score more than 24 pts on VA Tech you’re in business, but anything less and you can expect a loss.  We all know that OSU is stacked everywhere, but once again get picked off early before they get on their roll of sweeping their schedule.  It sounds crazy, I can hardly believe I’m doing this again while I type…..Hokies shock the world and start the chaos for the CFB Playoff.  VA Tech 27, OSU 21

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Season Record – Straight Up: 0-0

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Season Record – Versus Spread: 0-0

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Upset of the Week: 0-0

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