Back to Basics: Week One Picks, 2008
It has been nearly I decade since I posted on BR. Well not literally, but you get the idea. It has nearly taken the entire off-season to recover from my heart (Ohio State) and soul (Virginia Tech) suffering two stinging BCS losses. Alas, I have risen from thy ashes a stronger person no doubt. On a lighter note, THANK YOU LORD, THE 2008 SEASON IS FINALLY HERE.
Sorry, I just HAD to get it out of the way.
With that out of the way… for Week One, I will pick winners for the top games of the week (and continue to do so all season long…). Obviously, most of the Week 1 match-ups are the usual early season 65-0’ers – but I found 16 that should be interesting and/or season defining for the teams playing.
Without further adue… (and these are in order by the dates/ times played, not by importance)
Wake Forest at Baylor.
Let the Art Briles era begin. While I don’t think Baylor will be the Big 12 door mat for long under Briles, I don’t know that the Bears will be able to upset Grobe & Co. I’ll take the close-to-my-hometown Demon Deacons in a closer than expected score.
Wake Forest 31, Baylor 20
North Carolina State at South Carolina.
Well, this game isn’t a high powered O.O.C. match-up, but it’s certainly interesting. To my anyway. The Wolfpack progressed tremendously towards the end of the 2007 season, so I will be interested to see if that momentum continues into 2008 under second year coach Tom O’Brien (formerly of Boston College). The quarterback play was absolutely dismal for N. C. State in Year One – play will have to be better for success in this game and into the remainder of the year. I expect Spurrier & Co. to take away the win, but again, it could be a little closer than you’d think.
South Carolina 28, N. C. State, 19
Virginia Tech vs. East Carolina (Charlotte).
Oh man am I nervous about this one. I think my former alma mater could have their hands full with this one. At the infamous and equally raucous Lane Stadium last year, the Hokies barely, and I mean barely, scratched by the Pirates 17-7. It obviously was an emotional game (the first game for VT since the April 16th tragedy) – so that could be part of the lackluster performance then. Moreover, ECU returns plenty of starters, while Virginia Tech… loses plenty of them. Hopefully, Hokie Nation faithful will show up in their usual droves at Charlotte for support. I’ll pick VT to scrape by ECU once again, but won’t be surprised if ECU pulls a stunner.
Virginia Tech 27, ECU 24
Syracuse at Northwestern.
This just shows you how dismal the opening week match-ups are. I expect the almost bowl eligible Wildcats to best the down trodden “Big Orange” at home… and then I remember this same team lost to Duke at home in 2007. Ouch. (That loss also cost them a rare bowl trip…). If the ‘Cats want to go bowling in 2008, they will need to win this game. I think they have the offense to do it.
Northwestern 35, Syracuse 28
Hawai’i at Florida.
This game only got mentioned because, it would have been nice for last year’s Hawai’i to play this year’s Gators. Oh well. It’ll only take one quarter for the heat and the fans at the Swamp to get to these Warriors. Florida romps.
Florida 49, Hawai’i 13
USC at Virginia.
This game follows the same theory as #5. It would have been much better to see last year’s Virginia play this year’s USC in the opener. A man can dream, right? Even though Virginia has faced some unexpected (and damaging) team losses, they are notorious for pulling off stunning upsets in Scott Stadium. I felt they could give USC a run for the money after Sanchez’s knee injury. Well, it appears he’s doing better than expect. Conclusion? USC wins, but it could be close at the half.
USC 30, Virginia 9
Utah at Michigan.
…. Where do I start. I really don’t know what to expect from the so-called “Big Blue” this year, especially here opening weekend. Utah will be a stout opening foe for a team undergoing as radical a “renovation” as UofM. Moreover, I’ll flip a coin and go with the more talent laden (according to the recruiter rankers/ “experts”…) who’s at home, in front of 110,000 plus people. Or however many it’ll seat during renovation. Not that I you know, care.
Michigan 25, Utah 21
Appalachian State at LSU.
Don’t think the North Carolina version of the Mountaineers can’t do it again. All ASU has to do is keep their offense (and LSU’s defense) on the field, and grind down what will be a stout Tiger defense (similar to what both Kentucky and Arkansas did in 3OT upsets in 2007) to stay in the game. Limit mistakes and hope Edwards has an A+ type game, and they could stay in this. Moreover, Death Valley is a LOT more raucous than is The Big House. I can’t wait to see how Jerry Moore and Co. fare. LSU prevails, though not without challenge.
LSU 28, Appalachian State 16
TCU at New Mexico.
Probably low on most NCAAF fans list, but it should be a good game. New Mexico has improved by leaps and bounds, and TCU is coming off of a somewhat of a let-down season in 2007, when it was believed they had a possible BCS buster team. The winner here starts their season off on a good note – AND take a step forward towards being a mid-level power in 2008. I lean toward defensively built squads. Knod goes to TCU.
TCU 28, New Mexico 20
Alabama vs. Clemson (Atlanta)
One of the Big Two of opening weekend (Mizzou & The Illini finishing the pair). The winner here could use the victory towards a highly successful season. Both teams look to challenge for their conference division and/or title – and winning this game would be a big boost of confidence toward that goal. I had a hard time picking a winner here. I think ‘Bama will have a decent year – and I’m very shaky on taking Clemson in ANY type of “big-time” match-up. However, I do think this should prove to be Clemson’s break-out year (doesn’t necessarily mean I think they’ll win the ACC). I’ll go with Clemson by a field goal, maybe in an overtime type situation (similar to the bowl game with Auburn, only with reversed outcome).
Clemson 23, Alabama 20 in OT
Michigan State at California.
Michigan State played a somewhat stern schedule in 2007, yet never lost by more than a touchdown. That has dark-horse written all over it. California literally imploded after reaching #2 (with a chance at #1) – and just have not looked right since. I think California is a slight favorite, but Michigan State will be the victor. Furthermore, if the Bears do lose this game – I think it could have long lasting effects – especially with the “QB controversy” that’s not really a controversy.
Michigan State 34, California 28
Illinois vs. Missouri (St. Louis, I think…)
The Illini could be on the way back down after a stunning resurgence in 2007. Missouri could continue it’s ascent into an elite power. Yeah, I am leaning Missouri here. I think their offense will be too much, especially after The Illini’s losses… I don’t know if Illinois will be able to keep Mizzou off the field without a proven RB. That doesn’t mean they aren’t talented though, and should give Mizzou an early run.
Missouri 38, Illinois 21
Washington at Oregon.
Make or break for Ol’ Coach Ty, and as many have said – the Huskies schedule lends him no breaks. I almost feel sorry for him and his highly scrutinized career until I remember, he’s getting/ been paid millions. Tough luck. I think Oregon will be decent (a bowl romp over USF is the only reason why…) but, I just feel that Washington will have the upper-hand here. Sign me up for the Jake Locker bandwagon; I don’t know why, but I’m going with “DUBYA” walking away from big bad Autzen with a… DUBYA.
Washington 33, Oregon 31
Kentucky at Louisville.
The off season has been harsh for both these Bluegrass state representatives. Kragthorphe enters his second year at Louisville after driving a national title contender into the ground, and Kentucky suffered numerous personnel losses to graduation and attrition. The X factor for this game will be Hunter Cantwell, the now Cardinal starting QB. Cantwell is probably the best back-up-taking-a-starting-spot quarterback in the country (having seen him play through a severely broken and bloodied nose against VT in the 2005 Gator Bowl, trust me, he’s legit). I expect him to perform well against what I think will be a soft UK defense. Not that Louisville’s will be much better…
Louisville 41, Kentucky 28
Fresno State at Rutgers.
Pat Hill and the Fresno State program are probably the only in the country to truly follows through with their “we’ll play anybody, ANYWHERE, ANYTIME” talk. I like the West Coast Bulldogs in this game, even after literally flying from coast to coast. The team will be generally sound, not that RU isn’t. The void left by Ray Rice will take time to fill (if filled at all)… and I rarely pick a team who has serious questions in the run/ ground game. Doesn’t mean it won’t be close… RU quarterback Mike Teel is the real deal.
Fresno State 33, Rutgers 24
Tennessee at UCLA.
OK, let's all be honest here. UCLA's offense is a disheveled mess at the moment. I won't be surprised if they yank Olson's scholarship on his NEXT injury. (Kidding, but seriously...). I think UT & "Phat Fulmer" are underrated going into 2008. Amazing what having two bona-fide title contending powers within your division does. I'm on the Big Orange (II, since I called Syracuse that earlier...) bandwagon, folks.
Tennessee 35, UCLA 10
I’ll recap my picks when I pick ’em again for Week Two… and keep a rolling track as the year goes along. Yes ladies and gentleman, the 2008 college football season is upon us. May the best teams win.
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