College Morning Picks: Another Michigan Upset and Chasing the Heisman

Nino Colla@TheTribeDailySenior Writer IAugust 30, 2008

I really could care less about the many "cupcakes" slated to play against the big boys on this College Football New Year.

With the right frosting, I like cupcakes, so let's not ruin something as good as the cupcake by comparing them to the blowouts of the early college-football season.

The air smells fresh because you can smell the start of the season just a few hours away and, everything else at this point does not matter.

So what if my hometown Youngstown State Penguins are going to get absolutely obliterated by the root of my evil tree, the Ohio State Buckeyes?

It's one of the facts of life: death, taxes, and Division I-AA blowouts on the first football Saturday of the year. But there are plenty of good games out there to watch and even more to pick. You never know what team is going to come out flat and what underdog will come out with a little bit of fire in their bellies.

With that, I go for it all in the opening edition of the College Morning Picks. Every Saturday morning, I'll pick five of the closest matchups each week and at the end of the year, tally it up and see how bad I am.


Border War: Illinois vs. Missouri

So begins Chase Daniel's chase for the Heisman and Missouri's ultimate goal, the National Championship.

Missouri is my early pick to take home the title, and I even think, if things break their way, they go undefeated if not 11-1 in the regular season.

That probably clues you in to whom I'm picking this week, but for the sake of arguments, Illinois isn't going to go down without a fight.

Juice Williams now has all the pressure on his shoulders, with Rashard Mendenhall now playing on Sunday rather than Saturday. He has weapons, around him that is, not just his feet and his arm, but it could be a bit of adjustment for his Illini team early.

One of the nation's best teams this year isn't exactly a great team to open up against, hence the reason for all the cupcakes, but it might help both teams in the long run.

Missouri is going to have to be geared up early for a test and that could really carry them through the season. Instead of waiting a few weeks for a true test, they get one right off the bat.

Illinois might get an early gut-check, which isn't so bad when your schedule gets a little bit easier rather than harder.

I'm going with Missouri in this one, but if there is one game you watch this week, it better be this one.


Showdown in Atlanta: Alabama vs. Clemson

This isn't an official home game for Clemson, but with all the hype surrounding the ACC favorites, you have to figure they will have a strong showing tonight, fan-wise.

Alabama finally gets to see their newest toy in action in big-time recruit Julio Jones. Clemson finally gets a team that has the potential to win a lot of games and not disappoint.

The question now becomes: Can Tommy Bowden finally avoid the let down and get his team over the hump?

This isn't a bad test early in the year for them to find out. I'll make it easy and take Clemson, with their explosive running attack of C.J. Spiller and James Davis. This team is too good and too hyped for them to be taking this opener lightly.


QB Controversy: Virginia Tech @ East Carolina

Not to be outdone by their much-more-hyped opening weekend opponent, East Carolina has a quarterback question of their own.

While Virginia Tech has seemingly solved theirs by red shirting Tyrod Taylor, for now at least, East Carolina still has both of theirs ready to go early Saturday.

Patrick Pinkney is the runner of the tandem, but he can throw the ball around. Rob Kass, however, will be the backup for the opener.

Because it looks as if Skip Holtz is committed to using one guy for now and unsure of if he will put Kass in, I'm going to pick this game as my upset and here is why.

Last year, East Carolina gave Virginia Tech all they could handle with a 17-7 loss in Blacksburg. This year, the scene switches to Greenville, and East Carolina has a lot of returning starters on defense.

To compare, Virginia Tech has just four to the Pirates' nine, not to mention the Hokie's best player on defense, "Macho" Harris did not make the trip. Offensively, ECU has to replace Chris Johnson in the backfield, but I think this team has enough in them to pull the shocker.

I'm going with East Carolina, because I need to be bold here at some point, and I like Skip Holtz's group and think Virginia Tech is primed for a let down.


Upside Down Upset: Utah @ Michigan

When is an upset no longer an upset?

When every other analyst in the country picks the underdog to "upset" would be my answer.

I don't think I've seen many people pick Michigan in this game, so where exactly is this upset coming from if everyone thinks Michigan is going to lose? Are they really the favorites then?

That is why I'm going to let my true homer colors show and pick my Wolverines in the reverse upset over Utah.

I'm actually going to be rolling the dice on this one, considering no one knows what to expect from the Wolverine offense. The whole key will be for them to survive the first half.

It looks as if Nick Sheridan will be the starter, but even if he isn't, I think Rodriguez could make a switch if things aren't going well early. Sheridan has some spread experience, so if anything, this isn’t a bad option to open your spread offense up.

If the Michigan defense, which is returning a lot of talent, keeps this team in the game for a half, I could see them capitalizing in the second, after all the nerves have been calmed down and the hype has settled.

There are still players on this team that got upended last year in the debacle at The Big House. Don't think they still have that in the back of their minds. I will go with Michigan over Utah in a close and sloppy defensive battle.


Rose Bowl Jr.: Michigan State @ Cal

Actually, it might be more of a Rose Bowl the IV rather than Rose Bowl Jr. I think Cal is primed for a bit of a fall in the Pac-10, while Michigan State might be on the upswing.

I'm forbidden to like Michigan State, but I'm a big fan of their signal caller, Brian Hoyer, and the guy running the ball, Javon Ringer. Kevin Riley doesn't excite me as Cal's leading man over Nate Longshore.

This has nothing to do with a Big-10 bias shining through, if anything, I would enjoy a Cal victory to make me feel a little more confident in the Paul Bunyan game later this year.

However, I like Michigan State over Cal in his Pac-10/Big-10 matchup.


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