College Football Predictions: Most Interesting Week 1 Games
by Trevor Whenham - 8/31/2011
I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t be more excited about the start of the college football season. The offseason always seems long, but this one has seemed particularly endless. The season always gets better as it progresses and games start to mean more, but there are a lot of meaty games this week to choose from. Here are 12 that stand out in my eyes (all odds are from 5Dimes):
UNLV (+35) at Wisconsin (Thursday, Sept. 1, 8 p.m. ET)
The Badgers are getting a lot of national hype and are a popular pick to win the Big Ten. That all depends on the ability of Russell Wilson to adapt to a new team and a new league. I don’t doubt his ability, but he’s far from the prototypical Wisconsin player, and I expect some growing pains. This opponent won’t be a challenge, but it’s a good chance to see what he is capable of and how well he is fitting in.
TCU (-6) at Baylor (Friday, Sept. 2, 8 p.m. ET)
There are some fireworks waiting to explode in this game. The Bears are already promoting Robert Griffin for the Heisman Trophy, so he needs to have a huge game here. For the Horned Frogs all eyes will be on new QB Casey Pachall. He has some huge shoes to fill after Andy Dalton, but early reports on him are extremely positive.
Akron (+34) at Ohio State (Saturday, Sept. 3, 12 p.m. ET)
The Buckeyes had an offseason that could only make a Michigan fan happy. Now we get to see what kind of an impact all the chaos is going to have on the field. In normal circumstances this would be a very easy game, but there is nothing normal about these circumstances.
Western Michigan (+13.5) at Michigan (Saturday, Sept. 3, 3:30 p.m. ET)
Hoke-mania is running rampant in Ann Arbor. New Coach Brady Hoke has recruited like a maniac and has restored faith in a program that Rich Rodriguez gutted. Like every Michigan fan on the planet, though, I am extremely nervous right now. Can we play defense? Will we be able to kick a field goal? The team was impossibly bad at both last year, so this is our first chance to see what Year 1 of the new era will look like.
UCLA (+3) at Houston (Saturday, Sept. 3, 3:30 p.m. ET)
Houston is getting BCS-Buster buzz this year, thanks in large part to the return of QB Case Keenum -- a guy who seems like he has been in college for two decades. This is their first chance to make a big statement against a major conference team that is certainly vulnerable.
San Jose State (+30) at Stanford (Saturday, Sept.3, 5 p.m. ET)
By now we all know that Andrew Luck can walk on water, has cured cancer, and can throw a football all the way around the planet. Now we get a chance to see how him and his team -- a squad that seems very over-ranked in a lot of eyes -- respond to the changes they have gone through in this offseason, and how they can handle the pressure and the attention.
Tulsa (+25) at Oklahoma (Saturday, Sept. 3, 8 p.m. ET)
The Sooners appear to be the best team in the country by a pretty wide margin right now. This is the perfect trap game, though -- an outclassed opponent with nothing to lose. If Oklahoma is anything other than focused they won’t likely lose, but they will look sloppy.
Oregon (-3) vs. LSU (Saturday, Sept. 3, 8 p.m. ET)
What’s not to like about this one? It has two teams dealing with a bit of scandal but blessed with tremendous talent going at it in a modern monstrosity looking to start the season by making a huge statement on national TV. Brilliant.
Boise State (-3.5) at Georgia (Saturday, Sept. 3, 8 p.m. ET)
I really, really don’t believe the hype around Georgia this year. They have made a habit of disappointing, and I expect more of the same. Boise State faces a ton of pressure here, though -- their season is on the line here, and they start on the road in their toughest game of the year. Again, brilliant. It’s just a shame that this game and the Oregon one are at the same time -- the remote will be getting a workout.
Rice (+24) at Texas (Saturday, Sept. 3, 8 p.m. ET)
Most of us won’t be able to watch this because it is on the ridiculous Longhorn Network, but those who can see it will have an interesting game on their hands. I have a bad feeling about Texas this year -- things have been eerily quiet out of their camp, and there are a lot of questions without clear answers. This will give us a first sense of where they are at.
SMU (+16.5) at Texas A&M (Sunday, Sept. 4, 7:30 p.m. ET)
I really don’t buy into the hype around the Aggies this year. SMU is well-coached, feisty, and will put it all on the line in this one. If the Aggies aren’t focused and ready then this one could get scary for them. This one has upset potential.
Miami (-1) at Maryland (Monday, Sept. 5, 8 p.m. ET)
Maryland has a new coach who will be looking to change pretty much everything. Miami has had just a bit of a rocky month, and they have gone through a coaching change as well. Absolutely anything could happen in this game. It could be ugly, but it will certainly be entertaining.
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