Don’t blink now, opening week in the college ranks is only a couple days away. Thousands of players and hundreds of schools begin the season with high hopes and bowl-game dreams. I’m not here to squash dreams, but I am here to pick 10 winners and 10 losers on opening weekend. Stay tuned to my success, as these picks are free, and Lucky Lester’s success could be yours as well. As season number three kicks off for me, you can expect a year similar to that of a 3rd year guy. After two seasons finishing over .500, I’m expecting even more greatness out of myself. Let the ride begin!
Boston College (-12) @ Central Michigan: The Boston College Eagles have had quite a rough time with injuries during practice this month. Their defense will require some help from youngsters, but that shouldn’t be a problem. Though the Chippewas return their sensational running back, Ontario Sneed, as well as senior receiver, Damien Linson, they’ve lost mass production with the graduation of quarterback Kent Smith. Smith accounted for 2,800 yards passing, 440 yards rushing and 23 combined touchdowns. CMU hasn’t started the season with a win since 2002, and has never opened the season with a win over a bowl winner from the previous season. Boston College will look to run all over CMU to the tune of another 43-0 win similar to the last time these two teams suited up against each other in 2002.
Minnesota (-16) @ Kent State: This game shouldn’t be a contest for the pound it home rushing assault of the Golden Gophers. The truth is, this game would be in the -28 range if it weren’t for the academic suspension of stud running back Gary Russell. Even with the loss of Laurence Maroney to the NFL, the Gophers should be just fine. What the odds makers don’t know is that you could put any running back behind the Gopher O line, and you’d end up with a dominating rush. That being said, the Gophers can recruit RB’s with the best of them. They’ll dominate the boys from Kent State.
South Carolina (-7) @ Mississippi State: The Gamecocks have gone through some injury problems this summer, but I see them pulling through and having a nice season. Look for them to start with a big win at Miss State. Gamecock RB, Mike Davis, ended the season rushing for 89, 88, 111, and 125 yards. And the opponents were Arkansas, Florida, Clemson and Missouri. The bottom line is, with Davis turning into a star, Blake Mitchell returning, and stud receiver Sidney Rice on track to start against the Bulldogs, the Gamecocks should put on a show in Mississippi this Thursday.
Southern California (-8) @ Arkansas: I don’t think USC is a Top 5 team, however I do think they are two touchdowns better than Arkansas, regardless of the talent they lost to the pros. The Razorbacks have questions at QB in which one of the answers could be a true freshman. Their best receiver is a full back, and their stud sophomore rusher, Darren McFadden, is doubtful with a dislocated toe after a nightclub altercation. USC has talent all over the football field. And without Reggie Bush, Matt Leinart, and LenDale White, I’m sure Coach Carroll will have all his X’s and O’s in the right place on Saturday. Expect a game early, followed by an easy USC victory.
Notre Dame (-7.5) @ Georgia Tech: Everyone and their mother is picking this as the first big upset of the season. What? How? Why? Three simple questions that obviously aren’t being answered. What does Tech have to upset the Irish? Charles Johnson is a superstar at the flanker spot, but his production alone won’t be near enough. How could Notre Dame lose this game? For Tech to win, ND would have to implode. With Charlie Weis coaching and Brady Quinn at Q, that just can’t happen for two straight halves of football. Why does everyone need to pick a huge upset in Week 1? People want to get recognition for calling upsets, and that’s all there is to it. Just because Tech can play doesn’t mean they are taking this game from the Irish. I got answers. ND wins easily.
Washington State @ Auburn (-14.5): Auburn is 6-0-1 ATS in their last 7 games. The Tigers are 21-2 in their last 23 contests. Auburn is won 5 straight to end the season. Any returnees? The Tigers return top rusher Kenny Irons and signal caller Brandon Cox, not to mention a litany of defenders from one of the nation’s top defenses. Washington State lost all world running back Jerome Harrison, but returns leading passer Alex Brink, and receiver Jason Hill. I just think Auburn will be too much for the Cougars in this one. State is better than last years’ record insists, but they are no match for the power football that Auburn plays.
California @ Tennessee (-1): California resides in the Pac-10, a conference full of soft defenses that seemingly get destroyed by any school east of Arizona. Tennessee isn’t as bad as last year’s record insists. Expect big things from them this season. At home, expect Tennessee to uproot a California team that lost too much leadership to graduation.
Stanford (+12) @ Oregon: The Ducks lost Kellen Clemens and Demetrius Williams to the NFL, and Terrence Whitehead is too inconsistent to carry his offense week in and week out. Dennis Dixon looked like he could be a nice signal caller when he filled in for Clemens last season, but I don’t know if he can be the leader either. Stanford will give the Ducks a game, just based on senior leadership and toughness alone. QB, Trent Edwards is a senior coming off a nice season for the Cardinal. Jason Evans is a senior as well, he’ll be improved this season. Stanford may have been 5-6 last season, but they were 7-1 ATS in their last 8 games, and wins and losses don’t always show how a team played. Expect this Pac-10 opener to be a dandy.
Vanderbilt @ Michigan (-25): Vanderbilt struggled to win last season, and they had Jay Cutler gunning down defenses to boot. This season, Cutler finds himself in a Denver Broncos uniform, being touted “the next great quarterback” and Vandy will struggle because of it. On the other hand, Michigan, a team that vastly disappointed throughout last season, has loads of returning starters, a star quarterback in Chad Henne, whose bound to breakout and compete with Brady Quinn for the Heisman nod, and a receiver by the name of Steve Breaston, who should excel in Jason Avant’s graduation to the NFL. Did I mention Mike Hart? He’ll give the offense balance, as running will be key for the Wolverines. This should be a 30 point laugher.
Kentucky @ Louisville (-22): These Louisville Cardinals are finally the real deal. Kentucky can’t handle the offensive production that the Cards throw on the board. Rushing, passing, defense… On all aspects of the game, Louisville should dominate. That being said, Kentucky is 4-16 in their last 20 games. They’re 4-8 ATS on the road in their last 12, and 3-4 ATS in their last 9 games. On the other hand, the Cards are 18-6 ATS in their last 24, 11-1 ATS in their last 12 home games, and they won 5 straight to end 2005. Did I mention Louisville returns budding stars Brian Brohm (QB) and Michael Bush (RB) from their 9-3 2005? This game should be a gong show.