Well, it’s officially that time again – time for me to boldly go where a lot of men not so boldly go every single week and make my loosely informed Top 25 picks. This week we have an absolutely gluttonous 21 games to scan, most of which will have very little bearing on the national scene and probably no bearing on the Top 25. I’ll be honest – in the future, as long as the Frogs keep winning, I may just keep it in the Top 10 barring a major matchup in the lower ranks as the top games are the only ones that are going to matter to us. But, seeing as how I’m going absolutely bonkers gearing up for week one, I’m hitting all the bases to kick off the season. I’ll break them up based on the level of fear you should have when wagering on the game, an idea I shamefully credit to EDSBS, so you can pick and choose your way through the muck if you please. And until the SpitBlood pool gets up and running – if it does – I’ll be using the Yahoo Fantasy spreads. And away we go…
WESCON 5: You’re recording the Thursday night Utah/Pitt game instead of Bettheny Getting Married on your DVR and not telling your wife.
#3 Boise State @ #10 Virginia Tech +2.5 (in Washington DC.) Monday, September 6th. 7:00PM. ESPN.
ESPN didn’t see this one coming – their two marquee opening weekend games not only feature non-BCS teams but both of those BCS teams are actually favored. Sure, Lee Corso and his stroke brain won’t give us any respect, and Mark May will sit there and quietly let his rage build all season after being locked in a studio with that mad man week in and week out and probably won’t watch more than a few plays of any game at any given time due to said anger so how valid are his opinions anyway, but the fact remains – Boise State and TCU are so hot right now, and ESPN is hitching their horses to the non BCS train to get things started. And, while the rest of the country won’t admit it, they couldn’t be more excited to watch both matchups. Be honest UT fans – are you really THAT excited to watch your boys pummel Rice for the billionth year in a row? Tech fans with SMU feel the same way. And while I’m obviously over the moon excited about our game, I’m honestly almost as fired up about catching this one Monday night. Almost being the key word here.
As for the game though? This is a really tough one to call. On one hand, as I’ve written here before, after the Fiesta Bowl and through all the MWC realignment bullshit, I’ve become pretty fond of Boise. So naturally I’m going to inflate my opinions of what they can do, just as I would do the Frogs. Do I want them to do well this season and boost the Conference profile? For sure. Do I want them to go undefeated? Absolutely not. Which is why in my earlier Top 25 beatdown, I picked them to lose this game, and I’m still going with that. I just think that, if we logically need Boise to drop a game before the end of the year to ensure an undefeated TCU team a spot in a BCS game, we should take advantage of the chances we have for Boise to lose, because there are really only two of them this year.
I will admit though, it’s tough to justify. Boise returns 21 starters from last year’s team and hasn’t lost a regular season game in over two years. Virginia Tech, despite the yearly hype, is abysmal in early season non-conference games. East Carolina, anyone? They always turn it on and contend for the ACC once Conference play rolls around, but for some reason they have a tough time getting started. The Hokies do return Quarterback Tyrod Taylor and both of their stud running backs… but if you’re recall, the Frogs had a top notch QB and a couple of stud backs last year against the Broncos, and all that amounted to was 10 points of offensive output.
Truthfully? I can’t fully justify taking Virgina Tech, I’m just hoping to have Boise off of our backs early so we can stop worry about jumping them. Regardless, the outcome of this game will have serious impact on our season.
#15 Pitt @ Utah -3. Thursday, September 2. 7:30PM. Versus.
Very, very difficult matchup to open the year for the Panthers. The Utes have a lot of things going for them – hate fuel due to disrespect in the AP Poll, QB Jordan Wynn with a full year under his belt, a solid ground game, and the whole ‘making a statement in our last year in the MWC’ thing. Oh yeah, and they’re playing a Dave Wannstedt team, translation: Let’s get our fans hopes up and then crush them with early season non-conference losses. With Miami, FL and Notre Dame also on the non con schedule, it’s not like the Wannstache doesn’t have ample opportunities to go belly up, but for some reason Thursday night in Salt Lake City just feels so right.
WESCON 4: Your car breaks down late at night in Cape Cod. A car pulls up asking you if you’d like a lift. The car is driven by a relative of Ted Kennedy.
#18 North Carolina +3 vs. #21 LSU (in Atlanta). Saturday. 7:00PM. ABC.
In this year’s inaugural matchup of “Two teams who will be lucky to finish the year in the ‘others receiving votes’ category” we have LSU and North Carolina in the now annual SEC/ACC kickoff game in the Georgia Dome. The past two seasons it’s been Alabama’s job to rough up a basketball school, and now LSU presumes to step into the role. Unfortunately for the Tigers, they have no quarterback of substance, and the Tar Heels have a pretty rock solid defense. Besides, even if the game is close late, Les Miles will figure out a way to fudge up the clock situation, right?
But, as an added wrinkle, due to cheating and agent gobbledygook, North Carolina could be without NINE starters come Saturday night. Nothing has been announced yet, so it’s too early to pass judgment based on that, but this would throw a HUGE wrench into the Tar Heels chances. If no suspensions occur, I give the edge to the Tar Heels, but if a significant number of key contributors are forced to sit out, I retract my pick and move this game to WESCON 5 status. Regardless, from what I read about the situation, the Tar Heels have MUCH bigger problems on their hands than winning this game.
WESCON 3: You’re a 32 year old woman renting an apartment in the Corvallis area.
#12 Wisconsin @ UNLV +20.5. Saturday. 10 PM. Versus.
You probably see this game and think that’s it a little bit high on the WESCON level. UNLV has a new coach and is projected to be among the bottom two teams in the MWC. On the other hand, Wisconsin is highly ranked, has a solid ground game and expects to contend for the Big Ten title. And you’re probably right, except that, for whatever reason, the Rebels typically rise to the occasion in early season non con games against BCS schools. Last year they gave Oregon State all they could handle before losing by 2 points at the last minute. Two years ago they beat a ranked Arizona State team who was supposed to win the Pac 10. Three years ago they almost beat Wisconsin. In much the same way, except the exact opposite, Wisconsin consistently plays down to early non BCS opponents, barely knocking off Northern Illinois to open the season last year, and needing two OTs and a late interception to take out future MWC team Fresno State. Two years ago, they were taken into OT by… Cal Poly. Yes, they are Division 1-AA. Odds are all the new adjustments are going to be too much for UNLV to handle this early in the year, but it may not be the walk in the park the Badgers imagine it will be.
#14 USC @ Hawaii +22. Thursday. 10:00PM. ESPN.
Much like Wisconsin, USC should win this one running away, and they likely will, but would you bet on it? It’s not that I have faith in Hawaii – I know next to nothing about them – but it’s that I have no faith in USC. Without bowl eligibility to fight for, will they be inspired? With all the controversy surrounding the program, will guys put in the extra effort or just throw their hands up and say why bother? I genuinely question the mentality of all of these guys because morale has to be at an all time low. Losing Seantrel Henderson isn’t necessarily a blow on the field this year, but how often does USC lose top ranked commits? And, it sounds like the QB situation is a bit more unsettled than folks would believe as Mitch Mustain is pushing Matt Barkley pretty impressively in camp. USC will win, but it’s entirely possible they come out flat and make this game a lot more competitive than it needs to be.
#23 Georgia -28 vs. Louisiana-Lafayette. Saturday. 11:21AM.
Yeah yeah, so Lousiana-Lafayette is garbage and Georgia is supposed to be a major sleeper team in the SEC East… but, they don’t have a quarterback to speak of. Sure, Aaron Murray was a stud QB coming out of high school, but he hasn’t played at the collegiate level yet. And ever since Lousiana Monroe jumped up and bit Alabama a couple of years back, I say underestimate these weird, voodoo, directional Louisiana schools at your own risk. In hindsight, this is probably more of a WESCON 2 game, but I don’t make the rules… well, I guess I do make the rules, but I’m leaving this here.
WESCON 2: You ate wings before a road trip and forgot to bring your Pepto Bismol.
#1 Alabama -37.5 vs. San Jose State. Saturday. 6:00PM.
Alabama is going to score a ton of points on folks, and they’ll need to because they’re replacing just about every starter from last year’s defense. Plus, Heisman Running Back Mark Ingram will be sitting this one out with an injury. San Jose State… ok, well they’re pretty terrible. I guess I just have bad SJSU fear leftover from 2001 in Fort Worth. A definite terror pick here, but Alabama will win by a lot of points because they still have Trent Richardson.
#2 Ohio State -28.5 vs. Marshall. Thursday. 6:30 PM. Big Ten Network.
Marshall is coached by a guy named Doc Holliday… so that alone has to bump them up a category. Regardless, unless Randy Moss comes back and plays every position on the field, this one will be over early.
#13 Da U - no line vs. Florida aggy. Thursday. 6:30PM.
You might think it’s weird for me to list a game between the 13th ranked team in the country and a D-1AA school under WESCON 2… and you’re probably right. Miami smoked these guys last year and likely will again. I just like to be controversial.
#11 Oregon -34 vs. New Mexico. Saturday. 2:30PM.
Oregon has a couple of major issues, namely playing this game without an experienced quarterback nor Female Assaultback Lamichael James. And New Mexico Coach Mike Locksley knows his career is toast if he can’t put together a semi-respectable season, so winning this one would probably earn him another year before he plays any more games. But, New Mexico is really, really bad these days and Oregon should have enough talent to get this one out of the way. But, if Coach Locksley resorts to his old ways, punches out one of his players, tries to sexually molest a referee and gets his team thrown out of the game in the process, the Lobos could very well cover.
#17 Arkansas - no line vs. Tennessee Tech. Saturday. 6:00PM.
If things go as planned, this should be one of the uglier matchups of the weekend. With Ryan Mallett having the best stable of receivers in the country to toss to according to Herbstreit, the Hogs should slice and dice the Tennessee Tech defense as officially as Lindsay Lohan slices and dices an 8-ball. However, this is Arkansas we’re talking about, and when it comes to playing down to the competition, they are the absolute KINGS. Check the recent schedules. I don’t know how my old man did it all those years.
But, even with the questions on defense, they aren’t losing to Tennessee Tech. For those of you who won’t be attending our game and are really into checking out future TCU competition, this one will be on ESPN3 and we will expect a full report on Monday.
#22 Auburn -31 vs. Arkansas State. Saturday. 6:00PM.
Another game that at face value looks like it should be a rout, but Arkansas State is actually not a terrible team (checks their schedules from the past couple of years) ok, I must’ve been thinking of someone else, because these guys are horrible… but they did beat aggy two years ago in this same slot… but Auburn isn’t aggy.
WESCON 1: Rain was in the overnight forecast and you forgot to turn off your sprinklers.
#4 Florida -35 vs. Miami, Ohio. Saturday. 11:00AM. ESPN.
This one is a snoozer, so let’s talk some Roethlisberger. So, I read up a shitton on football related things that I may not even care about because it’s football and it’s there, and so I’ve read a lot about the Ben situation… and Holy Crap is this guy a scallywag. He’s basically raped two girls now – one in a bathroom at a bar in Armpit, Georgia – but has won two superbowls, so that whole thing doesn’t get acknowledged. Everyone says the Rooney’s are the most admirable family in football and that they’d NEVER allow this kind of behavior, but they’re just as flawed as anyone else when it comes to the bottom line. This shouldn’t be surprising considering Dan Rooney works for Obama. Also, according to his latest victim, Rapeslisthberger's man-dangle has a greyish hue to it, so that can't be good for business.
#5 Texas @ Rice +30.5. Saturday. 2:30. ESPN.
Last 4 games between the two schools, all UT wins – 51- 10, 52-7, 58-14 and 52-10. So… no pressure or anything, Gilbert.
#7 Oklahoma -34 vs. Utah State. Saturday. 6:00PM.
Whenever anyone mentions that Utah State might be invited to the MWC, a puppy gets tossed into a canyon in Afghanistan… so let’s stop talking about that, k?
#8 Nebraska -37.5 vs. Western Kentucky. Saturday. 6:00PM.
Western Kentucky won approximately zero games last year. They lost to Central Arkansas, a team that I did not even know existed. Also, North Texas. So… probably not reversing the trend this week, Toppers.
#9 Iowa -no line vs. Eastern Illinois. Saturday. 11:05 AM. Big Ten Network.
Not that I ever watch these types of games, but if I did, under normal circumstances I’d openly root for the overmatched small school against the big beefy school that is paying them for a victory. But since Romo went to Eastern Illinois, I’ll make an exception – Go Hawkeyes! I doubt they’ll need my support to pull this out out though. I mean, this isn’t Northern Iowa we’re talking about, right team?
#16 Georgia Tech - no line vs. South Carolina State. Saturday. Noon.
#19 Penn State - no line vs. Youngstown State. Saturday. 11:00AM. Big Ten Network.
What will be higher – the number of points Youngstown State scores or the number of khaki pants Joe Pa soils by the end of the game? I say it’s a push.
#20 Florida State - no line vs. Samford. Saturday. 11:00AM. ESPNU.
For all of you who think that working for ESPN is all glitz and glamour and Sportscenter, just remember that someone out there is having to earn their stripes being a sideline reporter for this one.
#23 West Virginia - no line vs. Coastal Carolina. Saturday. 2:30PM.
Just let it end. Please let it end.
… And we’re done! No chance I do all 25 games next week because that was PAINFUL towards the end. I’m sure you could see that by the amount of effort I gave that Georgia Tech – South Carolina State matchup. The good news is there are a couple of decent games on the slate this weekend, and only one of them conflicts with ours, so you can officially clear out your Thursday, Sunday and Monday evenings because football is back and household duties be damned, you’re watching it.