We have tragic news to report to you all. At the time of this writing, Vegas has not offered up a pointspread on the South Dakota State/Kansas game. Obviously, this is either due to the fact that actually listing the Jackrabbits as a favorite is too bizarre a notion for the oddsmakers, or because nobody actually cares.
The latter proposition seems unlikely, as I'm absolutely positive that somewhere, there are South Dakota State fans.
But no matter. Onward we go, into the dark and forbidding tunnels of week one college football, where anything can happen and usually doesn't. Naturally, my picks will be earlier in the week, as Luke is all snooty about weekday games. (He shouldn't be. In a right and proper world, we would have college football to watch 24/7/365, except maybe when the Royals are playing.) As always, these picks are For Entertainment Purposes Only, and should be taken as the comedic failures they truly are.
|Thursday, 7:30 p.m. Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City UT|
JM: I'm really sort of interested in this game for a lot of reasons. There's the Harbaugh effect, of course. There's the fact that last year Utah was an absolute enigma. There's also the small detail of "Michigan playing a night game somewhere in the vicinity of U.S. Route 89", which I dunno, might be a problem for them. I think Harbaugh will do a fine job at Michigan, ultimately, but the fact remains that he's inheriting a dumpster fire. Meanwhile, Utah now has their legs under them after upgrading their weekly competition (unlike their new best friends a few hundred miles to the east), and honestly looked really good last year. Not great, by any stretch, but really good. I think they'll cover.
LT: Let me pause for a moment and just savor the fact that Michigan football is a 5.5-point underdog at Utah. Ah. It's so beautiful. Anyhow, I have to reluctantly agree that Harbaugh will eventually get things turned around, but is it going to happen in Week 1 with huge questions surrounding starters at a number of positions, especially quarterback? I doubt it. The Utes cover.
(Note from JM: I had, swear to god, every intention of putting Villanova-UConn in here. But there's no line for that one, either, so I can't ask Luke to weigh in. But if I could, I'd say take Nova and give the points. Yes, I said give.)
|Thursday, 8:00 p.m. TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis SOC|
JM: Our purple brothers venture across the de facto border into Southern Occupied Canada to attempt to reassert American dominance in the Land of 1000 Ponds. Thankfully for all and sundry, this is a thing which is going to happen. I like Jerry Kill. I like the Gophers. I also like small college football. TCU is not small college football, nor even Big 10 football. TCU is a raging machine of purple destruction. TCU covers.
LT: A year ago, TCU crushed Minnesota 30-7. Yes, that game was in Fort Worth, but the Frogs have gotten better and the Golden Gophers have -- actually, it doesn't really matter, does it? This is still Minnesota, as Missouri reminded us with that comfortable Citrus Bowl win last January. TCU covers.
|Friday, 2:30 p.m. Georgia Dome, Atlanta GA|
JM: Yes, I did stick Luke with this game, because it's Charlotte's first game as an FBS program and by gosh they deserve to be in here. Hey, kids! Welcome aboard! Be sure to thumb your noses at Davidson, now!
Now, here's my question, and I really hope someone can answer it: on what planet does anyone pick Georgia State to beat any FBS program by a touchdown? I don't care if it's Charlotte's first rodeo. Georgia State may be okay at the shootyhoops thing, but if we had relegation for football they'd be in Division III in three years. How do you recruit kids to a downtown office building, anyway? 49ers cover.
LT: I know nothing about these two teams and don't really care to learn much, so the logical choice here would be to just agree with Jon and move on. But what fun would that be? Sure, Georgia State is terrible, but Charlotte is an FBS program by name only and wasn't even good in FCS last year, while GSU has had 3 years of recruiting as an FBS program now, I think. Surely they've gotten enough firepower to cover in this game.
|Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Memorial Stadium, Lincoln NE|
JM: I know one of the benefits of the format Luke and I have used for this is that you get to pick games you feel more sure of and, you know, really stick it to the other guy because he's a terrible person and deserves to feel the burning dread of trying to -- sorry, got carried away there. I'm actually not sure about this one myself, is what I'm getting at. Part of that is that nobody really understands who is and is not suspended for this game. But I tell you what. As a shoutout to our ailing pal Jon Johnston over at Corn Nation, I'm going to pick the Huskers to cover, and if they don't I'm never going to forgive him.
LT: With all due respect to Mr. Johnston, who I'm sure is a fine human being, I just can't bring myself to pick the Huskers here. For one, they've got some bad karma coming to them for hiring Bo Pelini and emphasizing that those who make the head coach choices in Lincoln believe they're entitled to more than nine wins per season. Then they made a somewhat puzzling hire in Oregon State's Mike Riley, and here we are. More importantly, BYU has a tendency to do fairly well in these nonconference games against Power 5 opponents. Cougars cover and maybe win.
|Sunday, 7 p.m. Lane Stadium, Blacksburg VA|
JM: Sometimes, you have reason to believe a team has a chance, however spurious it might be. And that leads to hope, because you really would like a result to occur. And that leads to schadenfreude, because nothing in this world is sweeter to my blackened and bitter heart. Virginia Tech beat Ohio State by fourteen points in Columbus a year ago, and now Vegas is giving Virginia Tech 14 points at home against Ohio State? I know the Buckeyes are probably going to win, but I just can't do anything other than take Beamerball and the points. Anything else just wouldn't be right and proper.
LT: I can certainly empathize with Jon's sound reasoning here, particularly because I've always felt Kansas State has somewhat of a kinship to Virginia Tech with their old coaches, perennial underdog status and phenomenal special teams. That being said, the Buckeyes are just too much better than the Hokies and have far too much motivation for me to rationally pick anything other than an Ohio St. blowout. Buckeyes cover.