North Dakota State and Montana gave us a Division I opener that will be hard to top last Saturday, but this week it's time for the big boys to play. You know, since they're all too afraid to play NDSU now. Of course, many FBS teams are paying largely terrible FCS teams to take a loss and make the hungry home crowds happy. For example, Maty Mauk and Mizzou's questionable new receivers will look deceptively good against Southeast Missouri State.
Nonetheless, and maybe it's just because I'm so happy to have football back, but it sure seems like there are several intriguing games on the slate. As always, we'll give you our predictions, for entertainment purposes only. Last year the winner was....well, I can't remember. What does it really matter, anyway?
I've even left a few good games for Jon, thanks to my policy of only including Saturday games as a form of protest against the NCAA's hypocritical actions while pretending to care about academics. Without further ado, here are my picks for this week.
|Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Rose Bowl, Pasadena CA|
LT: We got a chance to see UCLA last year, and while they weren't all that great, they return a ton of production. Yes, their best offensive player (Brett Hundley) and best defensive player (Eric Kendricks) are gone, but make no mistake, this is still a quality team that might even be ready to compete for a Pac-12 title if they can get some good QB play out of Jerry Neuheisel, who looks freakishly like his dad, Rick. Meanwhile, Virginia is the popular pick for last-place in the ACC Coastal division, and I think UCLA will be ready to explode after a near-upset at Virginia to open last season. Bruins cover.
JM: Seventeen points is a lot, especially for a team which struggled against the same opponent last year. But then, that was a game that the UCLA players' bodies were certain was played at approximately 3:30am, give or take a few hours. This time, although the shoe's not exactly on the other foot -- seriously, karma would have required playing this game at 7pm local time -- it still removes that disadvantage from the Bruins. And Virginia's awful, so I'll agree with Luke here and take UCLA and give the points.
|Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn AL|
LT: Auburn has a ton of potential on offense and some interesting position battles, particularly at running back. But there are also quite a few new pieces, plus a new defensive coordinator in Will Muschamp, so I'm not sure they're going to be clicking on all cylinders just yet. Louisville has a lot to replace as well, particularly on defense, but the Cardinals are going to be solid. Louisville loses, but covers.
JM: Yeah, I'm actually not all that convinced Auburn's even going to win. They've had some notable problems early in the season before. But I'm not even remotely convinced the Tiegles will lose, so I will take Louisville and the points.
|Saturday, 6 p.m. NRG Stadium, Houston TX|
LT: An unranked team is a three-point favorite against the No. 15 team in the country? This is how much respect America and Vegas still have for the SEC West, I guess. The Aggies return a lot from a scary passing attack, but it's still unclear if they have figured out how to play defense yet. That's bad news against an Arizona State offense with plenty of experience and talent. Sun Devils win.
JM: If there's one thing I wish I could run away from like my hair was on fire, it's picking an A&M game with a close spread when I'm not 100% convinced they're going to lose. The problem with these infuriating milkmen is that they go out and win games they're not supposed to, then turn around and have to play 59 minutes against Louisiana Tech. I just... no. I can't take the Aggies to cover here. ASU and the points, please.
|Saturday, 6:30 p.m. Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend IN|
LT: Here we have a matchup of two of the most storied and (lately, at least) perennially overrated teams in America. Texas has looked so bad in recent years they're not getting as much love this preseason, but the Fighting Irish defenders/apologists are certainly out in full force again. I don't really see it, especially since Everett Golson looks to be their best option at quarterback if available. However, a game against the mediocre Longhorns kicks off a schedule that features only 2 teams in the preseason AP Top 25, so ND could well be overrated all season. Fighting Irish cover.
JM: Finally, I get to disagree with Luke! Here's my bold prediction: this game will be dreadfully boring, of interest only to leprechauns and veterinarians. Because I have seen Tyrone Swoopes run an offense with my own two eyes, live and in person and everything. I have seen Notre Dame run an offense on my television enough to know better, too. And the worst part is that both of these teams actually can play good defense. This is going to be a low-scoring snoozefest, and in a low-scoring snoozefest you never, ever give 9.5. Texas loses, but covers.
|Saturday, 7 p.m. AT&T Stadium, Dallas TX|
LT: Here's the best game of the week, and the only one featuring two ranked teams. Alabama has a tradition of facing quality competition in season openers, and the Crimson Tide usually win. They've got 13 in a row, typically by at least 10 points. Wisconsin, meanwhile, lost to LSU in last year's first game, and barely beat Northern Iowa in 2012. Does this mean anything? Maybe. Either way, Alabama is the better team here. Crimson Tide cover.
JM: I don't like taking anyone as a ten-point favorite over Wisconsin. BUT. It's Alabama, and if they can't take out their mad from last January on Ohio State, the Badgers will just have to do. Roll Tide.
Without even intending to, Jon sticks Luke with four Big 10 games, which will get their annual loathing for one another off to just the right start. And then he sticks a game involving a Sun Belt team in there just to be cruel. (That part? That was on purpose.)