Ahearn gets the good stuff. He gets to pick first, so he gets to choose five games that actually don't suck. Really, it's pretty unfair, and I think I'm going to lodge a formal protest with the edito--
Oh. Right. Damnit.
Carrying on, then, For Entertainment Purposes Only (of course) we'll take a look at some other games which will at least have the potential to be entertainingly bad. Leonard Plinth Garnell would be proud.
EAST CAROLINA (-21) over Florida Atlantic, Thursday, 6:30 p.m., Fox Sports 1
Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, Greenville NC
JM: The line on this one opened at 14 and has ballooned to 21. I can only assume that it's because Carl Pelini proved that he's sort of an idiot, calling for his quarterback to spike the ball on fourth down with eight seconds left to play. FAU got shelled by Miami, while East Carolina handled Old Dominion (whose quarterback, Taylor Heinicke, is pretty good; he had a 730-yard passing day against New Hampshire last year and went 38-51 for 338 and three touchdowns against ECU). Bottom line here is that ECU beat Old Dominion by 14; despite it being their first year as a provisional FBS member, Old Dominion is probably seven points better than FAU.
Take Give the points.
AA: You know, I seriously considered picking an early game, just because it seemed like the right thing to do, as an appetizer or something. But I did not for one second think of picking this game. Just awful. At the end of the day, I like pirates better than owls, and Chris Johnson played at ECU once. So I say East Carolina covers.
BOSTON COLLEGE (-3) over Wake Forest, Friday, 7 p.m., ESPN2
Alumni Stadium, Chestnut Hill MA
JM: Last week, Wake Forest had a lot of trouble with Presbyterian before pulling away. Boston College had some trouble with Villanova before winning. One of these things is not like the other, and while it's always risky to play games of chance with the ACC Wheel of Destiny, the evidence strongly suggests that Boston College has enough of an edge here to pick them to win and take the points.
AA: At least this is a conference game. But last I checked, Boston College was really, really terrible. Wake Forest is just bad. Give me the Demon Deacons. Their head coach is way better and their offensive coordinator is an Air Force Academy alum named Steed Lobotzke. No, really.
Cincinnati (-8) over ILLINOIS, 11 a.m., ESPN2
Memorial Stadium, Champaign IL
JM: Amusing note: the Wikipedia entry for Illinois football hasn't been updated to note that it is Tim Beckman's second season in charge in Champaign. I think there might be some meaning to that, deep down. Last week, Cincinnati just hammered the snot out of Purdue. Illinois barely escaped a decent, but not commanding, FCS squad in Southern Illinois. Seems to me like eight points here is sort of laughable.
Take Give the points and the Bearcats.
AA: I think you're reading too much into that Illinois game last week. The Illini raced out to a 25-7 halftime lead and then led 39-17 in the 3rd before letting off the gas and then barely stopping the Salukis' rally short. That being said, I still hate the Big Ten and Cincinnati is a pretty good football team with a shiny new head coach in Tommy Tuberville who is probably better than the guy who left, Brian Kelly's shad....err..... Butch Jones.
TULSA (-10) over Colorado State, 7 p.m. CBS Sports Network
Skelly Stadium, Tulsa OK
JM: It would be easy to look at what happened to the Golden Hurricane last week -- one of the most humiliating losses of the season's opening week not involving the words "South Florida" -- and assume the worst. It would also be easy to note that Colorado State just lost to Colorado and assume terrible things. I don't think either assumption is really unwarranted at this point. Still unresolved is the status of senior Tulsa safety DeMarco Nelson, a four-year starter, who was suddenly and shockingly declared ineligible due to an academic issue almost entirely out of his control. (A mix-up between the academic side and the athletics side led to Nelson taking a class which did not actually count toward his major last semester, thereby leaving Nelson short of his academic progress requirements despite a perfectly acceptable academic record otherwise.) I do think Tulsa manages to win this one, but unless Nelson's appeal to the NCAA is granted, I'm not sure Tulsa covers. Their defense really needs him; the importance of his sudden absence last week cannot be stressed strongly enough.
AA: Wow, that's a lot of words to write about Tulsa-Colorado State. I barely got through all of it. To avoid overwhelming everyone, let me just pick Tulsa to win and cover, then be done with this.
KANSAS (-23.5) over South Dakota, 7 p.m., ESPN Game Plan only
Some Benighted Derelict Facility, Lawrence KS
JM: Look, I know we all want to snicker about KU losing to another FCS team, but it's just not going to happen this week. Keep in mind that North Dakota State and South Dakota State made the jump to D-I a year earlier than their respective brethren, and as a result the gulf between the two pairs of schools is wider than you'd think. South Dakota's a mediocre FCS team, and KU actually handled a decent one last year. So don't get too cocky. That said: South Dakota may well cover the spread, and I'll go far enough out on a limb to predict it.
AA: You seem to have written "Bill Snyder Stadium East" wrong, but that's OK. Given my background, it would be nothing short of heresy to pick KU to win and cover, so I'm obviously not doing that. Now, let me find a reason to pick South Dakota. Hang on...just a second...OK, got it. Their lone win last season came over Patriot League Champion Colgate, 31-20. Colgate beat Lafayette 65-41 nearly two months after Lafayette won at, yes, William and Mary. So obviously, presuming those teams haven't changed that much (South Dakota did return its starting QB), USD is clearly better than William and Mary, and therefore poised to beat KU. Plus, the Coyotes won last week, so they've got a winning streak compared to KU's impressive 11-game losing streak.