Finally, Week One of the 2008 NCAA football season is upon us. We're all thoroughly excited for another crazy year like 2007 (especially LSU fans).
With the season so close, it is only natural that I make my picks for the first week of action. To limit myself (and the length of this article), I am only picking games involving at least one top 15 team (does anyone else even matter?). Luckily, this should be an easy job, because, well, most top teams scheduled easy opponents in the first week. Yep, predicting these cupcakes should be a piece of cake.
To make it slightly more difficult (and interesting), I am going to pick one "are-you-crazy/out-on-a-limb/it-will-never-happen" upset.
Without further ado, here are the picks (home team in CAPS):
No. 1 GEORGIA vs. Georgia Southern
Georgia Southern finished a respectable 7-4 last year, but only returns three starters on offense (eight on defense). Southern's biggest win last year was against none other than the Wolverine-slayers, Appalachian State.
Still, they just don't have the talent to beat Georgia, which wins easily: 49-10, Georgia.
No. 2 OHIO STATE vs. Youngstown State
Tressel versus his former team, again. This is a home-and-home series, both homes being Ohio State's Horseshoe.
Youngstown State loses by an even bigger margin this year: 42-7, OSU.
No. 3 Southern Cal vs. VIRGINIA
USC attempts to schedule a respectable opponent, but gets Virginia instead (just kidding, they were 9-3 last year). At least the Trojans travel a few thousand miles to play this one. It would be a long ride home if they lost.
Heck, it'll be a long ride across the continent, anyway, but they won't lose: USC, 28-10.
No. 4 OKLAHOMA vs. Chattanooga
Chattawho? OK, it is not OK to schedule a 2-9 Division 1-AA team.
I wish I had the balls to pick Chattanooga in this one. I don't: Oklahoma, 55-12.
No. 5 FLORIDA vs. Hawaii
The Warriors went 12-0 last year before getting destroyed by Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. They'll start the 2008 season the same way they ended the last one, with another whooping.
This time it will be at the hands of Florida in the Swamp: 62-17, Florida.
No. 6 MISSOURI vs. No. 20 Illinois
Missouri beat the Illini at Illinois last year. Mizzou wins again this year, and by a bigger margin.
That's what happens when you don't have home-field advantage (and a first-round draft pick at running back): Missouri, 38-24.
No. 7 LOUISIANA STATE vs. Appalachian State
LSU attempts to schedule a cupcake, but they get Appalachian State instead. App. State returns do-everything quarterback Armanti Edwards while LSU has only question marks at the position. Side note: Would LSU be a national title favorite if it had Armanti Edwards as its passer? I think so.
Back to the pick. Edwards won't be enough: LSU, 31-17.
No. 8 WEST VIRGINIA vs. Villanova
WVU loses Steve Slaton and some defensive talent, but returns Pat White and Noel Devine. I, for one, am not sold on Bill Stewart. Still, WVU has too much talent not to win this game. Or do they?
DING DING DING! Your upset specia—just kidding: WVU, 48-13.
No. 9 CLEMSON* vs. No. 24 Alabama
The most-hyped game of Week One will feature some great talent and coaching. Will it live up to the billing? I think so, and I am predicting an epic battle of wits and grits.
The "home team" (Clemson, for those of you who cannot follow a legend) wins in overtime: 34-31, Clemson.
* Clemson is not really the home team, just listed as such. The game is in the Georgia Dome.
No. 10 AUBURN vs. Louisiana-Monroe
DING DING DING! You've reached my "are-you-crazy/out-on-a-limb/it-will-never-happen" upset special! Congratulations, you get to laugh at me when the Tigers destroy the (insert Louisiana-Monroe's mascot here).
Still, this is my crazy upset pick. Why? Auburn has an amazing ability to play up or down to the level of its competition. Plus, Auburn is installing a new offense and has question marks at quarterback. Plus La.-Monroe beat an SEC team, Alabama, last year. That is three reasons right there.
Three is the magic number, and the margin of victory: Louisiana-Monroe, 24-21.
No. 11 TEXAS vs. Florida Atlantic
Dammit! I wanted to pick this as my "are-you-crazy/out-on-a-limb/it-will-never-happen" upset special, but I got lured in by the enticing Auburn game above. FAU is a decent team with a great coach. Texas "underachieved" last year (Longhorn fans will always say they underachieved unless they've won some sort of title...best BBQ doesn't count).
I've got Texas in a closer-than-it-should-be game: 35-24, Texas.
No. 12 TEXAS TECH vs. Eastern Washington
The Red Raiders are going to have way too (which, Bleacher Reporters, is an adverb that means "to an excessive extent or degree," as opposed to the word "to," which is a preposition) much offense for Eastern Washington to handle. And Eastern Washington...well, isn't that just Idaho? The only good team from Idaho is Boise State.
That means that Texas Tech wins this game and doubles 'em up: 62-31, Texas Tech.
No. 13 WISCONSIN vs. Akron
I like Wisky because, well, I like whisky. Akron sounds like a software company or a nut.
Wisconsin is the second-best team in the Big Ten (sorry Illini) and will look the part against a very overmatched nut/software company: Wisconsin, 42-12.
No. 14 KANSAS vs. Florida International
One summer I worked in Miami right next to the FIU campus.
Not sure how that factors into the pick, but I've got the Jayhawks in a blowout over the miserable FIU squad: Kansas, 63-10.
No. 15 ARIZONA STATE vs. Northern Arizona
Battle for the Desert (you can have it). ASU has a great coach and a lot of returning talent. Northern Arizona is somewhere in northern Arizona.
ASU wins this one: 49-16, Arizona State.
That's my $0.02 USD (which is worth 0.005 US Gallons of gas). I've picked 15 games, so I'm sure I've offended at least 15 of you. Let me have it.