It was a rough start to the prognostication season . A couple of very poor picks combined with some other upsets conspired to doom me to a very mediocre week one record. It looks glossy at 81%, but I was only 50% in games that were really up for grabs. At least there are 13 weeks left. Last week 21 - 5.
Thursday, August 28
(21) Texas A&M @ (9) South Carolina: Both teams lost high profile athletes that dominated any coverage last season. But Johnnie Football and Jadeveon Clowney are both at the next level, so we'll see what's left in College Station and Columbia. Manziel was able to compensate for a terrible Aggie defense, while the Gamecocks have balance on both sides of the football. This one won't even be close. South Carolina 34 Texas A&M 20. Ouch! Either the Gamecocks are highly overrated or the rest of the SEC is in big trouble. No. Texas A&M 52 - 28.
Boise State @ (18) Ole Miss: If Ole Miss wasn't in the SEC, would anyone think they were a top 20 team? So you lose to really good teams. You have to win games to impress me, and they won't win this one. Boise State 27 Ole Miss 24. The Boise State of the Peterson era appears to be a thing of the past. No. Ole Miss 35 - 13.
Weber St. @ (19) Arizona State: I really like Arizona State, but we won't get a good gauge of their team this week. Weber St. has won four games in the last two years and replaced their coach after last season's 2-10 campaign. Arizona St. 57 Weber St. 10 It took a couple of games for me to get a pick correct. Of course, anyone could have gotten this one right. Correct. Arizona State 45 - 14.
Rutgers @ Washington State: Rutgers begins their first season in the Big Ten by traveling across the country to face the Cougars. Both teams had identical 6 - 7 records last season. I'll go with the home team in this one. Washington St. 27 Rutgers 24 A late Rutgers TD doomed the Cougars as they let down and allowed the comeback. Maybe Mike Leach should consider putting a defense on the field too. No. Rutgers 41 - 38.
Friday, August 29
Jacksonville State @ (8) Michigan State: Jacksonville State advance to the second round of the FCS playoffs last season, so the Spartans need to be paying attention to this one. Big Ten teams have proved to be vulnerable to these apparent walk overs in the past. But I think the Michigan State defense will prevail. Michigan State 31 Jacksonville State 14 Not exactly a tough one, but the Spartans actually showed up and won this one the way they should have. Correct. Michigan State 45 - 7.
Colorado State @ Colorado: We don't usually see big rivalry games to open the season, but this one traditionally comes in week 1. Last year, Colorado kicked off what ended up being a disappointing 4 - 8 year by defeating the Rams, who finished with a bowl victory over Washington State. Look for a different result this time. Colorado State 30 Colorado 27 The Buffaloes have a lot of work to do if they hope to be relevant on the national scene any time soon. Correct. Colorado State 31 - 17.
Saturday, August 30
(5) Ohio State @ Navy (Baltimore): Navy's ground oriented offense can always cause problems for opponents. Ohio State will be starting a freshman QB following Braxton Miller's season ending injury. The game will be in Baltimore before a large crowd, many of which will be looking for an inspiring performance from the home standing underdog. Navy is a formidable opponent that won games against Big Ten and ACC opponents last year. They also gave Notre Dame all they could handle in a 38 - 34 loss. Surprise in Kingstown. Navy 27 Ohio State 24 I totally whiffed on this one, although the Middies hung tight for three quarters. No. Ohio State 34 - 17.
(7) UCLA @ Virginia: There are real problems with Virginia's football program and Jim Mora has UCLA on the rise. This will be an old fashioned butt kicking in Charlottesville. Of course, my Hokie roots have no impact on this pick. UCLA 51 Virginia 14 The Bruins escaped Scott Stadium with a win, but the Wahoos looked a lot better than a year ago. Correct. UCLA 28 -20.
West Virginia @ (2) Alabama: At some point you have to figure the Crimson Tide will stub a toe. But after struggling through a 4 - 8 season, it's hard to believe the Mountaineers will provide the door jam that will get in the way of Alabama's big toe. Alabama 34 West Virginia 13. Either the Mountaineers are vastly improved, or it may be a long season for the Tide. Correct. Alabama 33 - 23.
Rice @ (17) Notre Dame: As usual, the Irish are grossly overranked, especially this season as they are in the midst of an academic scandal within their football program. Rice was an overachiever last season, going 9 - 3 in the regular season and advancing to the Liberty Bowl where they got ripped by Mississippi State. If there was a time for the Owls to surprise Notre Dame, this would be it. But not this time. Close, but no cigar. Notre Dame 30 Rice 27 The Irish opened in very impressive fashion, giving hope to the Notre Dame faithful that they could be part of the playoff picture. Correct. Notre Dame 48 - 17.
South Dakota State @ (24) Missouri: Another game matching a strong FCS division team against a top 25 (okay, according to the polls) program. I don't think Missouri will come close to their success of a season ago, and there's a good chance that the Jackrabbits, yes, the Jackrabbits, could be a formidable opening week foe for the Tigers. But as much as I think Missouri will fail to follow up on 2013, they'll probably prevail in this one. Missouri 31 South Dakota State 20 The Tigers performed as expected, looking neither overwhelming nor disappointing. Correct. Missouri 38 - 18.
Florida Atlantic @ (22) Nebraska: The FCS Owls finished last season with four consecutive victories and even defeated FBS South Florida after losses to Miami and East Carolina to start the 2013 campaign. I'm not a huge Nebraska fan, mainly because the team reflects the inconsistency and volatility of head coach Bo Pelini. But the 'Huskers should be able to get by FAU. Nebraska 28 Florida Atlantic 17 Despite their lopsided win, I'm still not a big Nebraska fan. But I've been wrong before and I'll be wrong again. Correct. Nebraska 55 - 7.
Arkansas @ (6) Auburn: This game is compelling for a number of reasons. Can Auburn duplicate last season's success, much of which came in close (okay, some call lucky) wins? Is Arkansas coach Bret Bielema playing it close to the vest or are the Razorbacks just not very good? Auburn is coming off a season where they were 13 seconds from a national championship. Arkansas was horrible, losing its final nine games to finish 3 - 9. Auburn QB Nick Marshall will sit this one out, but it probably won't matter. Auburn 27 Arkansas 17. The Hogs kept this one close for a half, then disappeared. Confidence in Arkansas coach Bielema and his staff is starting to be questioned. Correct. Auburn 45 - 21.
UC Davis @ (11) Stanford: If this was a wine making competition, then my money would be on the Aggies. Unfortunately, this is big time college football and the only stomping will be by the Cardinal. Stanford 45 UC Davis 14. It didn't take much skill to predict this one. Correct. Stanford 45 - 0.
(16) Clemson @ (12) Georgia: In what both teams hope will be a national championship elimination game, the outcome could come down to a big play late in the game. Clemson lost a couple of big weapons on offense and will need to find replacements quickly to derail the Bulldogs. I'm not sure they can do it. Georgia 24 Clemson 20 I'm sure I alienated my nieces with this pick, but the second half performance of their Tigers should have been more distressing. It looks like Clemson will miss Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins more than they thought. Correct. Georgia 45 - 21.
Liberty @ (23) North Carolina: I don't think I buy into the Tar Heels' preseason ranking, but they'll have enough to defeat the Flames, coming off a respectable 8 - 4 season in FCS. North Carolina 34 Liberty 16 It took a while, but the Heels finally put the Flames away. I'm still not convinced UNC can be relevant. Correct. North Carolina 56 - 29.
Louisiana Tech @ (4) Oklahoma: The Sooners shouldn't have much to worry about as they attempt to carry that number four rating to the playoffs in January. Oklahoma 41 La. Tech 14 No surprises in Norman. Correct. Oklahoma 48 - 16.
Stephen F. Austin @ (20) Kansas St.: The Lumberjacks give up a lot of points, not a great formula for pulling a big opening week upset on the road against a ranked opponent. Kansas State 45 Stephen F. Austin 14 True to form, Stephen F. Austin gave up a lot of points. And they lost. Correct.
Kansas State 55 - 16
Fresno State @ (15) USC: This contest is a replay of the Las Vegas Bowl in which the Trojans overwhelmed Fresno State, a team I thought was overrated all season long. I don't see this one ending much differently, especially since new USC head coach Steve Sarkisian has had a full preseason to put his stamp on the team. USC 34 Fresno State 14 I'm a fan of USC, not so much of Fresno. I like this one. Correct. USC 52 - 13
(1) Florida State vs. Oklahoma State (Arlington, TX): Jerry Jones' billion dollar house will play host to this game, a pretty good one to gauge whether the Seminoles have what it takes to repeat as national champions. The crowd should be overwhelmingly partisan for the Cowboys, who despite a lot of recent success, enters the season unranked. Florida State 30 Oklahoma State 20 The Seminoles tried to let Oklahoma State hang around, but finally put them away late, then let them back in. It looks like Louisville may be team to beat on their way to another championship run. Correct. Florida State 37 - 31.
(14) Wisconsin vs. (13) LSU (Houston, TX): LSU is ranked pretty highly for a team that lost a lot of talent from last season. Both teams played brilliantly at times last season, and looked rather average at others. Despite what will be a big LSU crowd in Reliant Stadium, I like Wisconsin to pull a minor upset. Wisconsin 27 LSU 24 Wisconsin let LSU back in this one with sloppy play and a careless turnover. The SEC won three big interconference matchups, doing nothing but strengthen the league's image. No. LSU 28 - 24.
(25) Washington @ Hawaii: Steve Sarkisian left Chris Peterson a Washington program that is on the rise. The Rainbows are considering dropping football. This doesn't bode well for Hawaii.
Washington 37 Hawaii 13 After the first half, it looked like the Washington offense headed for Waikiki beach. They escaped the islands with a tight victory, but at least it was a win. Correct. Washington 17 - 16.
South Dakota @ (3) Oregon: This game won't do anything in Oregon's attempt to make the playoffs. South Dakota is a mediocre FCS team and running up the score won't help the Ducks' cause.
Oregon 47 South Dakota 10. I thought Oregon might take their foot off the gas pedal earlier, but instead ran it up into the sixties. Really? Correct. Oregon 62 - 13.
William and Mary @ Virginia Tech: It wasn't that long ago that the highly regarded Hokies lost to FCS James Madison following a close loss to Boise State. Although the Tribe is a pretty good FCS team, I look for the Hokies to have enough for an opening victory. Virginia Tech 27 William and Mary 13. The Hokies struggled a bit in the first half, but eventually wore down their intrastate foes. It was workmanlike and Tech's new QB, Texas Tech transfer Michael Brewer, was efficient in the win. Next up, Ohio State at the Horseshoe. Correct. Virginia Tech 34 - 9.
Sunday, August 31
SMU @ (10) Baylor: SMU went 5 - 7 a year ago and at times gave up a lot of points. Baylor went 11-2 and except for their loss for Oklahoma State, scored a lot of points. This one could be ridiculously lopsided. Baylor 56 SMU 27 No surprise here, except for the shutout. Texas Tech QB Bryce Petty has a back injury, but it doesn't appear to be season-ending. Correct. Texas Tech 45 - 0.
Miami, FL @ Louisville: In another bowl game rematch, the Cardinals are welcoming back Bobby Petrino and playing their first game in the ACC against a former national power that has yet to win an ACC title. The Hurricanes are trying desperately to recapture that past glory. The fact that Louisville would hire Petrino again will be the subject of an upcoming blog. The Hurricanes rose to #6 in the rankings last season before getting drilled by Florida State and Virginia Tech. Charlie Strong left Louisville in very good shape so I don't see how much could have changed in the last eight months. Louisville 30 Miami, FL 28 The Hurricanes continue to underwhelm as they try to get back to national prominence. They weren't impressive on either side of the ball Monday night as Bobby Petrino's squad easily won their ACC debut. Correct. Louisville 31 - 13.