Week 1 2008 Picks

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Week 1 2008 Picks
It’s finally here. You can wax poetic about the sights/sounds/smells about this time of year if you want, but the bottom line is that it’s finally here. Nothing else to say about it. Let the games begin.

Vanderbilt (0-0, 0-0) at Miami (OH) (0-0)
All Time Series: Vanderbilt 2-1
Wednesday’s Line: Miami (OH) -4

Vandy opens life A.E. (After Earl) in Oxford, OH. Without their two main offensive cogs from last season – WR Earl Bennett and RB Cassen Jackson-Garrison - they’ll be searching for something of an offensive identity . While QBs Chris Nickson and Mackenzi Adams are back, they’ll be taking snaps behind an offensive line that returns just 3 career starts. Meanwhile, the Redhawks will be looking to bounce back from back to back losing seasons.

Vandy won its second season opener since 1997 last year, but they won’t do it again this year. Too many question marks for the ‘Dores as a long season begins.

(Sidenote: the 6 people in the country who get ESPNU will get to watch this game in HD)

Straight Up Winner: Miami (OH)
Against the Spread: Miami (OH)

North Carolina State (0-0, 0-0) at South Carolina (0-0)
7:00 CDT, ESPN
All Time Series: NC State 26-25-4
Wednesday’s Line: South Carolina -14

The Gamecocks are chomping at the bit to get back out on the field and erase the sting of the last 5 games of 2007. They’ll be eased back into things against an NC State squad returning just 10 starters from last year. USC will need to get their QB questions answered this week as they have important divisional matchups the next two weeks. A weak Wolfpack D should be just the ticket. New DC Ellis Johnson should have an easy time with the Wolfpack as well.

The line is bigger than I’d like. With important games coming the next two weeks, the OBC will probably run a vanilla offense. NCST is bad enough on defense though so it shouldn’t matter though.

Straight Up Winner: South Carolina
Against the Spread: South Carolina

Hawaii (0-0, 0-0) at (#5,#5) Florida (0-0)
11:30 CDT, RayCom
All Time Series: First Meeting
Wednesday’s Line: Florida -35.5

A year ago, this game may have been interesting. Hawaii’s high powered aerial attack against Florida’s young DBs combined with the Tebow show might have broken the scoreboard. This year…. Not so much. Hawaii returns just 8 starters as well as a new coaching staff. Both sides of the ball for the Gators will basically just go through the motions in this one. This will be a good game for the Gator D to build some confidence heading into next week’s showdown with Miami.

Again, a bigger line than you want here. Looking at Florida scores against lesser foes in the Urban Meyer-era though, there’s no reason think they won’t cover this spread. They’ve won their last 10 season openers by an average of 36ppg.

Straight Up Winner: Florida
Against the Spread: Florida

Georgia Southern (0-0, 0-0) at (#1,#1) Georgia (0-0)
11:30 CDT, PPV
All Time Series: Georgia 3-0
Wednesday’s Line: No Line

This one won’t be pretty. The Dawgs should end this one quickly. Not really sure what else to say about this one. It’s the #1 team in the land vs a 1AA team that went 7-4 last year.

Straight Up Winner: Georgia
Against the Spread: N/A

Appalachian State (0-0, 0-0) at (#x,#x) LSU(0-0)
4:00 CDT, ESPN
All Time Series: LSU 1-0
Wednesday’s Line: No Line

The Tigers kick off their quest to defend their BCS title against the reigning 1AA champs. The Mountaineers were Hot, Hot, Hot in knocking off Michigan last year to open the season, but don’t look for a repeat this year. Even as LSU struggles to find the right offensive mix, their OL and DL will dominate this game. It may not always be pretty, and the Mountaineers certainly won’t go down without a fight, but LSU will pull away in the end of this one.

Straight Up Winner: LSU
Against the Spread: N/A

Mississippi State (0-0, 0-0) at Louisiana Tech (0-0)
5:45 CDT, ESPN
All Time Series: MSU 7-2
Wednesday’s Line: Mississippi State -8

MSU will be the first BCS team to ever play in Joe Aillet Stadium when they take on the Bulldogs of LTU. One thing’s for certain about this game: Mississippi State will score in a season-opening game for the first time since 2005. How much they score remains to be seen. LTU’s not returning much on defense – just 5 starters – and with another full year of development in the system, the general assumption would be that MSU will be at least a little better on offense this year. Even if the offense struggles at times, the MSU defense will be strong enough to win this game for them.

Straight Up Winner: Mississippi State
Against the Spread: Mississippi State

Western Illinois (0-0, 0-0) at Arkansas (0-0)
6:00 CDT, No TV
All Time Series: First Meeting
Wednesday’s Line: No Line

Another ho-hum game. The Hogs get to run up the score on a subpar 1AA. The only interesting about this game would be seeing an Arkansas QB throw the ball more than he hands off.

Straight Up Winner: Arkansas
Against the Spread: N/A

Louisiana-Monroe (0-0, 0-0) at (#10,#11) Auburn(0-0)
6:00 CDT, PPV
All Time Series: Auburn 6-0
Wednesday’s Line: Auburn – 26.5

For a day last year, Auburn fans loved ULM. Their win in Tuscaloosa may have softened the blow of the UGA blowout a bit. Now, they have to hope their team doesn’t let it happen to them. ULM returns the majority of its starters from last year’s 6-6 team. AU’s defense is too strong to let an upset happen here, even if the offense isn’t completely adjusted to the spread. I do think that ULM’s defense is good enough to keep the final score under the line. Four touchdowns is too many points to give for Auburn at this stage of the season.

Straight Up Winner: Auburn
Against the Spread: Louisiana Monroe

Memphis (0-0, 0-0) at Ole Miss (0-0)
6:00 CDT, PPV
All Time Series: Ole Miss 45-10-2
Wednesday’s Line: Ole Miss -7.5

As bad as the Ed Orgeron era was in Oxford, he did manage to go 3-0 against Memphis. New coach Houston Nutt looks to continue that this year with a team of unproven but talented players. In addition to injuries along the front 7, a major concern for Ole Miss is Memphis’ tall receivers against their DBs. Memphis is also breaking in a new QB so nobody’s really sure what will happen. My guess is that the domination continues.

Straight Up Winner: Ole Miss
Against the Spread: Ole Miss

(#9,#9) Clemson (0-0, 0-0) at (#24,NR) Alabama (0-0) (Atlanta)
7:00 CDT, ESPN
All Time Series: Alabama 11-3
Wednesday’s Line: Clemson -4.5

The Tide renews its rivalry with Clemson for the first time since 1975 this weekend in Atlanta. In what should be one of the best games of the weekend across the country – GameDay is there – Nick Saban will looking for his first big win as head coach of the Tide. Unfortunately, I just don’t see it happening this weekend. I’m not convinced that John Parker Wilson can win a big game for the Tide and with the experienced/talented defense of Clemson, they’re going to stack the middle to take away the run game and dare JPW to throw at their talented DBs.

It’s inevitable that Clemson is going to lose a stupid game this year… that’s just what they do. They’ve beaten the first ranked opponent they’ve played each of the last 4 seasons and they’ll do the same this season. If it were later in the year, I think Alabama would probably get it done, but Clemson is a little farther along at this point.

Straight Up Winner: Clemson
Against the Spread: Clemson

Kentucky (0-0, 0-0) at Louisville (0-0)
2:30 CDT, ESPN
All Time Series: Kentucky 11-9
Wednesday’s Line: Louisville -3.5

Kentucky ventures down to Louisville Sunday afternoon to take on a cardinal team looking to a) get revenge for UK’s upset win last year and b) wipe away the 2007 season as a whole. They’ve won 5 straight home openers and have pummeled UK the last two times the Governor’s Cup has been held in Louisville. I don’t see this one going well for UK. They’re going to have to try and win the game on the defensive side of the ball, which has not been a strong suit for them lately. They’ll struggle offensively, even against an average Cardinal defense, but in the end, turn it over one too many times to pull the road upset.

Straight Up Winner: Louisville
Against the Spread: Louisville

(#18, #18) Tennessee (0-0, 0-0) at UCLA (0-0)
7:00 CDT, ESPN
All Time Series: Tennessee 7-4-2
Wednesday’s Line: Tennessee -4.0

The Vols will trek cross country for a second straight season opener, though they hope this one will go a little better than last year’s game against Cal. And it should. Even though they’ll be breaking in a new OC and a new QB, you’ll never convince me that UCLA HC Neuheisal is anything more than a slimy used car salesman. His success has always been contingent on walking into a good situation (which he hasn’t here) and as soon as he screws it up (which he always does) he bolts. While the Vols aerial attack finds its rhythm, look for RB Foster to shred UCLA’s front 7. This one should be a 10-14 point win for UT.

Straight Up Winner: Tennessee
Against the Spread: Tennessee

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