UCLA Bruins vs Temple Owls: EagleBank Bowl Prediction

UCLA Bruins vs Temple Owls: EagleBank Bowl Prediction: Right off the bat, more of the public bet is going to be on the Bruins because they are UCLA, a big college name from a big college conference. But if you start to look at the reality of bowl games, the struggles the Pac 10 have had thus far, and how small college schools come out trying to prove their worth in the face of those big schools, the 57% public bet on UCLA is probably unfounded.

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First of all, the 6-6 Bruins won three games to start their season, a win over Tennessee and Kansas State both look solid now, but what have they done in the last 9 games? They’ve beaten Washington, Washington State, and Arizona State – they lost to everyone else. Basically, they haven’t beaten a team with a winning record since Week 3 of the season. Those three wins to get them bowl eligible came against the very bottom of the Pac-10, well, the bottom not counting themselves.

Temple comes in with their most successful regular season in 30 years, going 9-3 and 8-3 ATS. This is their first bowl game in three decades. They were 4-2 SU on the road, 5-1 ATS. The Owls are committed to a run-heavy scheme, as they’ve out-rushed 9 of their last 10 opponents, and really lean on that run-game. In thier last 10 games, the UCLA Bruins have been out-rushed 6 times. In those 6 games, they’ve lost 5 – their only win was a 24-23 win over Washington in a game the Huskies gave away.

Names and mascots aside, you have to like Temple in this one.

UCLA Bruins @ Temple Owls (+5)

NBA and NCAA Basketball Picks November 17 2009

Here are some of my hoops picks from around the NCAA and NBA tonight. ESPN is currently doing a showing of 24 hours straight college basketball, check it out!

NCAA Hoops

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Temple Owls (+9) @ Georgetown Hoyas (4:00pm ET): Everyone loves the Hoyas this year, and they are a bit older, but they basically return the same starting 5 that disappointed in the entire second half of the season last year, aside from DeJuan Summers (drafted in the 1st Round by Detroit). Big man Greg Monroe is a stud, does lots of things well, but outside of him and Chris Wright I’m not sold on the Hoyas. Temple plays a lot of close games, they’re a tough defensive team, and they have a lot of players back this time around. They lost stud guard Dionte Christmas, but without him they move the ball better, and should get a more well rounded box score. I like them to cover here.

Gonzaga Bulldogs @ Michigan State Spartans (-11) (8:00pm ET): I actually think Gonzaga is getting a little bit too much for their name here. They are solid, and might find themselves an NCAA tournament bid, but this team lost a ton with graduation a year ago. Matt Bouldin is a great college basketball player, he certainly can do it all, and the Bulldogs have some good young kids that will step in and play well as the season progresses. But this Spartans team is dominate, they basically lost a guy from last years’ super deep team that finished runner up for the NCAA Championship. They are great. They should easily win by double digits here.

NBA Hoops

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Oklahoma Thunder @ Miami Heat (-5): When the Thunder start playing better defense, they might get over the hump, but the Heat’s Haslem and O’Neal should dominate in the post tonight, and while Durant is a stud, I’ll take Wade in this one.

L.A. Clippers (+2) @ New Orleans Hornets: If you can point out where the Hornets will be better than the Clippers tonight, I’ll happily change my pick. Point guard? Nope, that Chris Paul fellow is out. Shooting guard? Not if Eric Gordon plays. Up front? As ugly as his gooey face is, I’m pretty sure Chris Kaman is a more capable scorer than 62 million dollar man, Emeka Okafor. Peja Stojakovic used to be good, but right now I’d even take Al Thorton. Al should use Peja when the Clips have the ball. Okay, I’ll give you David West, might score 25 tonight, but Marcus Camby is twice as good defensively. 25 shouldn’t be enough for the Hornets.

Chicago Bulls (+1) @ Sacramento Kings: I know Sac Town has won their last 4, but that just means their due. The Bulls are pretty solid up front, especially rebounding the basketball, and that’s what Sacremento needs as an advantage to win basketball games. Look at who they’ve beaten in their four games, Utah, Golden State, Oklahoma, and Houston – none of those teams have good defensive posts/rebounders. Well, I hate to say it, but Noah can D up opposing posts and will almost always out-rebound them. Taj Gibson has been playing well, and Brad Miller off the bench should have something for his old team. I like Chicago to get the win to open their road trip.

Miami (Ohio) Redhawks vs Temple Owls Free Pick

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Miami (Ohio) Redhawks (+14) @ Temple Owls Free Pick: Alright, it’s your lucky day, the Redhawks have moved from a 13 point dog to open, to a 14 point dog when I made my pick, to a 17 point dog right now. That’s a huge move, and it might be because 67% of the public likes the Owls. It also might be because the Redhawks have their fair share of injuries while Temple is basically injury free, healthy as a night owl, if you will. It also might be because people are realizing Miami’s 1-8 record to start the season.

I have some numbers going against me, definitely. The Owls are 12-4-1 ATS in thier last 17 home games, and this one will definitely be a home game. The Redhawks are 0-5 on the road this season, while Temple is 3-1 at home. Temple has beaten Miami in each of the last two seasons despite being a touchdown underdog in both games. Temple has more yardage on offense while allowing fewer yards on defense.

You could say they are the favorite. But 14 points? (17 points for you if you’re betting now)? The Owls haven’t been a two touchdown favorite since 2001. Now, they covered in that game, but as you can see it has been a long time. It’s almost 2010.

The Redhawks have played quite a few close games considering their one win record. And you never know, after winning their first game last week, they might be considered on fire respectively. I know they’ve won four of their last five ATS – that’s something. They’ve been out-rushed in every game but one, but over the last two weeks the Redhawks have gotten their passing game working – I like that to continue on way to a cover in Temple.

NCAA Free Picks REVIEW: Week 6

15-10-1 in a tough Saturday in NCAA Football. I was a handful of tough losses away from a brilliant week, but I’ll take 5 games up – that’s for sure. A special thanks goes out to college football teams in Washington – keep up the coverless football fellas!

Rutgers Scarlet Knights at West Virginia Mountaineers (-14) (LOSS): Up 14 headed into the 4th, I thought I could get a little help from the Mountaineers and pull this one out despite the injury to Pat White that had him out headed into the final frame. The Mounties tried to run out the clock, and White was out for good. Rutgers scored a late touchdown and I lost this one. I still think it was a good bet, but having White go out was tough.

South Carolina Gamecocks at Mississippi Rebels (-2.5) (LOSS): I still think the Rebels are the better team. A couple freakish “spurrier plays” turned momentum and South Carolina pulled this one out. When analyzing these two teams, I think Mississippi wins 7 or 8 out of ten. This just happened to be one of the 20% – bummer for me.

Florida State Seminoles (+3) at Miami Hurricanes (WINNER): “Talk about two up and down teams, you never seem to know what to expect from these two teams absolutely chalked full of talent. I’m just going to go ahead and chalk FSU’s 3 point output against Wake Forest up as a flukey bad loss and go with them headed into “The U” – Miami has talent, no doubt, but FSU has shown some strength against decent teams, Miami has only played well against nothing good. Rivalry game, but I’ll take the road team.” Well, I was certainly right on the button about these two Florida schools being more up and down than a yo-yo circus act. With FSU up 24-0, Miami’s lone 1st half score, a measily field goal, seemed to open up some kind of sadistic U flood gate to points. Miami put up 36 second half points, but that wasn’t enough to keep the visiting Seminoles out of the win column as FSU won by two.

Arizona State (+9.5) and (+10) at California 3:30 pm: (LOSS, PUSH) This was a push, though earlier in the week the line was 9.5 and so I guess I get a loss for that bet, my late bet got me a push though – so I’ll take that – ha. Arizona State didn’t do anything offensively, and I was lucky to get a push here.

Temple Owls (+8) at Miami (Ohio) Redhawks (WINNER): “I just like what Temple brings to the table with 11 returning starters, 20 seniors, and 26 juniors – this is a good football team that has had some tough losses against some good programs to start the season. I think they fight back with a nice win in this one.” Sometimes what I like and what I think become one in a fantastic explosion of joy and money winnings -this was one of those instances. The Owls were never down in this game, and while it got close in the 3rd, Temple came out tough in the 4th to put up 14 unanswered and make me a smart winner of more money.

Florida International (-6) at North Texas (WINNER): “Florida International is pretty decent – they stick close to good teams, and given a shot against a relatively equal opponent I think they will win easy. North Texas isn’t good – against anyone. Unless I’m sleeping on something, I like the FLINT to win by 3 touchdowns – lots of rushing yards from them in this one.” Did I say three touchdowns? How about 42-10, and North Texas didn’t put a touchdown on the board until the 4th quarter. I think I had this one pretty well figured out.

Northern Illinois at Tennessee Volunteers (-15.5) (LOSS): Maybe I’m wrong and Tennessee is really bad. Fluke loss to UCLA or just not very good? I’m thinking, after this week’s performance against NIU, option two is looking good. Sorry about this beat.

Oregon Ducks at USC Trojans (-16): (WINNER) Up 27-10 at half time I liked my chances. up 37-10 after three I was beginning to cash my check. And the 44-10 end game result was icing on the cake. Maybe the Trojans just had a bad game, and quite possibly, wait for it, they are actually really freaking good. Crazier things have happened.

Hawaii at Fresno State Bulldogs (-21): (LOSS) And Hawaii wins… It’s an interesting ball game, this college football, you never know what’s going to happen for sure. Just ask the Bulldogs. 21 point favorites losing in overtime to a Hawaii team that’s never upset a ranked team on the road. Ranked team
? Fresno? Well not anymore they aren’t.

Oregon State Beavers @ Utah Utes (-11): (LOSS) Damn Thursday Night games… That’s it for me, take the underdog on Thursday night or don’t bet the game at all. There’s no point in watching black magic happen against you – that’s my new philosophy and I’m sticking to in, until of course there’s nice value on a favorite.. Haha..

Cincinnati Bearcats (-3) @ Marshall Thundering Herd: (WINNER) The Bearcats, with 3rd string quarterback and all, were a heck of a lot better than the Thundering Herd. I knew it, you knew it, everyone knew it, so I’m hoping I wasn’t the only one cashing in on this winner.

BYU Cougars (-29) @ Utah State Aggies: (LOSS) “Cougars by 38 – that’s my best guess. Did I say guess? I didn’t mean it, I meant that’s my strong opinion based on facts and assumptions that border on the line of reality.” You can say what you want, and argue what you will, but I watched a BYU team walk into the 4th quarter with a 34-0 lead and on pace to one up my 38 point win prediction. What happened? Once again a team lets up late, not thinking of the bettors at all, and a couple souls get crushed. They didn’t go for the jugular and they allowed a couple late scores, and 34-14 doesn’t even cover my private parts. This was the first of four tough losses for me this weekend.

Boston College Eagles (-8) @ North Carolina State Wolfpack: (LOSS) I hate Boston College. They went into “try not to lose” mode and nearly let one slip away. What they did do was allow a bad Wolfpack team to crawl right back into this one with a 14 point fourth quarter. A late touchdown won it for BC, but I was still a point down, and despite my hopes and dreams, the Eagles didn’t elect to go for two to get me a push. Damn them.

Akron Zips (-3.5) @ Kent State Golden Flashes: (LOSS) The Zips win by 3 in overtime and I get a half point loss. You win some you lose some, but when I look back at what could have been an unbelievable week, I see a couple very tough losses on the card that could have easily gone the other way.

Florida Gators (-24) @ Arkansas Razorbacks: (WINNER) I needed most of those 21 fourth quarter points to pull out a cover here, but Arkansas couldn’t get into the end-zone all day. They had plenty of chances, and this game shows me that Florida probably doesn’t have much value anywhere close to 4 touchdown dogs, but it’s nice to learn a lesson and get a win – no doubt about that.

Oklahoma Sooners @ Baylor Bears (+27): (LOSS) This one didn’t start out well, that’s for sure, but it got close there, and if it weren’t for a late 4th quarter touchdown by the Sooners, I would have walked out of Baylor with yet another win to my name. As it was, I lost this one by 5 points. That’s the bad news. The good news, I wouldn’t lose another one all day long…

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (+28) @ Virginia Tech Hokies: (WINNER) “This is a real test, but after much deliberation I still can’t even fathom the Hokies as a -28 favorite against anybody in the nation, not even a Hilltopper team that has a 38 point loss to Kentucky and a 34 point loss to Alabama to be credited for.” You have to say that I had this one right on the dot. The Hokies can will a win out as well as anyone, and they play some solid defense, no doubt about it, but this game shows you they aren’t 28 point favorites, not even against Hilltoppers.

Texas Tech Red Raiders (-7) @ Kansas State Wildcats: (WINNER) “Don’t be fooled by K-State’s 3-1 record thus far, North Texas and Montana State don’t count, they lost to Louisville, and beat ULLaffayette by 10. Needless to say I like the Raiders, even though the public is riding this like a used up quarter pony at Walmart. Ride it!” Ride it, my pony…. The Raiders made K-State’s defense look like stationary defensive decoys as the TT put up 58 points on their conference foe. Maybe the Raiders are pretty good afterall, and maybe beating North Texas and Montana State doesn’t put you in close proximity to a Top 10 team in the Nation. Shoot, I don’t know.

Kentucky Wildcats (+17) @ Alabama Crimson Tide: (WINNER) Just as I thought, the 17 was too big of a spread here. Alabama came out and put up 14 quick points, but the rest of the game wasn’t that easy, and they needed a late onside kick recovery to finally put away the hard fighting Wildcats. Kentucky is solid, and maybe Alabama shouldn’t be huge favorites regardless of competition.

Illinois Fighting Illini (+3) @ Michigan Wolverines: (WINNER) “Because one of these weeks the Wolverines are going to get obliterated by all those stupid mistakes and Illinois is too physical and good to allow Michgan back in a game in which the Wolverines are getting handled. Juice will have a huge game, showing the Wolverines what kind of QB they need to be legit.” You know Rich Rodriguez was watching Juice throw the ball all over his defense and just admiring the young QB. Williams absolutely torched Michigan in the 2nd half. Juice’s 310 passing and 121 rushing yards were plenty of offense for the Illini, as they fought an early 14-3 first quarter deficit to win 45-20.

Nevada Wolfpack (-24) @ Idaho Vandals: (WINNER) “Because that’s how bad Idaho is.” Nevada went to 3-2 and beat Idaho 49-14. Does that cover a 24 point spread? Let’s see, carry the 3, you bet. It was 28-0 in the 3rd quarter, and Idaho’s 21 fourth quarter points sealed a nice win for me.

UL Lafayette (-2) @ UL Monroe: (WINNER) A little closer than I thought, Lafayette still took this one by 9 after Monroe put up 13 points in the 4th quarter. I love me some winners!

Washington Huskies @ Arizona Wildcats (-21): (WINNER) Well, this one was even easier than I thought. I needed some Washington Sports programs to come to my rescue, and by losing big and without much of a fight, they did exactly that.

Ohio State Buckeyes (-1) @ Wisconsin Badgers: (WINNER) Ohio State didn’t win by 10 like I thought they would, but a late touchdown put them over the top of one of the best home teams in the Nation, and they covered that 1 point spread by the hair on Jim Rome’s chinny chin chin.

Washington State Cougars @ UCLA Bruins (-17): (WINNER) This one seemed easy – it was – boy oh boy, Washington Sports is at a tough spot right now.

DIRECTV – ESPN GamePlan Free NCAA Picks: Week 6

Rutgers Scarlet Knights at West Virginia Mountaineers (-14) 12:00 pm: Fresno State handled them easily, North Carolina trounced them on National Television, and Navy ran the ball all over them for a close victory. The fact that they beat Morgan State last week doesn’t make me feel better about Rutgers. West Virginia has some tough losses, but I think they play good in this one and oust the Knights by 3 or 4 scores.

Akron Zips (-3.5) at Kent State Golden Flashes 12:00 pm: (already picked this game in my NCAA Free Picks: Week 6) This Zips team is legit. They’ve played well against quality opponents. They almost took down Cincinnati last week, and that wasn’t because the Bearcats played bad. Akron forces the issue, and they should easily handle Kent State.

Boston College Eagles (-8) at North Carolina State Wolfpack 12:00 pm: I picked this game earlier, but the more I look at it the closer it is. Boston College’s quarterback situation is almost as bad as NC State’s, but I think BC is still the favorite to cover here but it’s not the greatest bet around, not as good as I thought it was yesterday.

Florida (-24) at Arkansas 12:30 pm (already picked this game in my NCAA Free Picks: Week 6)

South Carolina Gamecocks at Mississippi Rebels (-2.5) 2:00 pm: I like going against Spurrier, especially when his team is getting a “Spurrier line” – he’s tough to go against because he’s bound to make anything happen, but the better team is Mississippi – they are at home, and I don’t think they let down this week – nobody has let down games against Steve Spurrier’s teams, everyone hates them right?

Florida State Seminoles (+3) at Miami Hurricanes 3:30 pm: Talk about two up and down teams, you never seem to know what to expect from these two teams absolutely chalked full of talent. I’m just going to go ahead and chalk FSU’s 3 point output against Wake Forest up as a flukey bad loss and go with them headed into “The U” – Miami has talent, no doubt, but FSU has shown some strength against decent teams, Miami has only played well against nothing good. Rivalry game, but I’ll take the road team.

Arizona State (+10) at California 3:30 pm (already picked this game in my NCAA Free Picks: Week 6)

Temple Owls (+8) at Miami (Ohio) Redhawks 3:30 pm: I just like what Temple brings to the table with 11 returning starters, 20 seniors, and 26 juniors – this is a good football team that has had some tough losses against some good programs to start the season. I think they fight back with a nice win in this one.

Texas Tech (-7) at Kansas State 3:30 pm (already picked this game in my NCAA Free Picks: Week 6)

Nevada (-24) at Idaho 5:00 pm (already picked this game in my NCAA Free Picks: Week 6)

Florida International (-6) at North Texas 7:00 pm: Florida International is pretty decent – they stick close to good teams, and given a shot against a relatively equal opponent I think they will win easy. North Texas isn’t good – against anyone. Unless I’m sleeping on something, I like the FLINT to win by 3 touchdowns – lots of rushing yards from them in this one.

Northern Illinois at Tennessee Volunteers (-15.5) 7:00 pm: Alright – Week 1 was a fluke loss to a bad UCLA team. Week 2 was about right, killing UAB 35-3. Week 3 was about right, losing by a little more than I expected, but still getting handled by a real good Florida team. Week 4 might have been even better than I expect from Tennesse, going on the road and finishing two back of a good Auburn team. This week they play Northern Illinois. The best teams they’ve beat are Indiana State and Eastern Michigan. Yeah. They lost to Western Michigan (close game) and Minnesota (close game). I think Tennessee comes out with a little to prove in this one and wins by 3 touchdowns.

Oregon Ducks at USC Trojans (-16) 8:00 pm: I’m not crazy about this game, but I’ll take USC at home to come back and get a nice Pac 10 win. They are still one of the best teams in the nation, one down game where they were outplayed doesn’t change that for me. If they would have won last week I’m guessing this would have been a 22-24 point line. I’ll take the value coming after that loss, especially with all those quarterbacking questions at Oregon.

Ohio State (-1) at Wisconsin 8:00 pm (already picked this game in my NCAA Free Picks: Week 6)

Hawaii at Fresno State Bulldogs (-21): It’s that loss to San Jose State that does it for me here. I know this is a bit of a rivalry, but Hawaii just isn’t the same team without the coach that built their program. I’ll take Fresno State here and expect it to be 5 or 6 touchdowns by the end of this thing. The Bulldogs won’t let up.

NCAA Free Picks: Week 4

Well Alright! I killed my picks last week, breaking through the proverbial wall to collect 12 wins against just 4 losses. That put me 7 games up and over .500 on the season after a tough Week 3 grabbed me by the crab apples. I can’t explain why anyone would put crab apples in their cheeks, except for the single fact that they are indeed better than other things you could put there. However, I can pick 9 college games – here’s what I see coming up this beautiful weekend.

Temple Owls (+29) @ Penn State Nittany Lions: Don’t tell the Nittany Lions, but Temple is a pretty solid football team. No doubt, the Lions are solid, per usual, but Temple isn’t the pushover those ugly uniforms have been in the past. I always worry about very good teams having to play former terrible teams, like Temple, because of the memories of their worthlessness that still resides. It will take a quarter or two, but eventually Penn State will pull away. That being said, it’s hard to pull away by more than 4 touchdowns. I’ll take the Owls.

East Carolina Pirates (-7.5) @ North Carolina State Wolfpack: East Carolina is dealing with a couple injury problems, yes, but they are still much better than a very down Wolfpack group. The Pirates lost one of the fastest players in all of football to the NFL, but their team speed is still much greater than this poor ACC team. Nothing’s worse these days than being a bad team in a bad conference. Look for East Carolina to continue their winning ways with a 21 point win at NC State.

Iowa Hawkeyes (-1) @ Pittsburgh Panthers: This isn’t free money, the Hawkeyes will have to do some work on defense, but I’m pretty sure this one won’t be coming down to the wire. Pittsburgh is just too inconsistent to put the Hawkeyes in a bind. Iowa might not have the hype this season that they’ve had in years’ past, but they always have a solid program. If Pittsburgh has shown me one thing it’s that they are very overrated. They may have a guy I think is the best running back in college football, but they don’t use him very well, and their loss of Jeff Otah is hurting them right now. Take the Hawkeyes to down the Panthers.

Central Michigan Chippewas @ Purdue Boilermakers (-10): Free Money! I really love this game. Purdue is going to put up about 35 against Central Michigan, and there’s nothing the Chips will be able to do about it. Purdue -10 at home against this team looks so lopsided that it worried me at first. Then I decided that the books just miss one from time to time. Hopefully this one doesn’t get me where it counts.

Central Florida Knights (+10.5) @ Boston College Eagles: I actually really believe that the Central Florida Knights are the better team here. Does that make me crazy or delusional? I don’t know, possibly, but let me tell you this, taking a team that I think is better as a 10.5 point dog feels so right, and gets me so excited, that I think I’m going to go make me a big brilliant lunch and put butter on everything! The Knights pull the upset against yet another hapless ACC unit.

Akron Zips (-10) @ Army Black Knights: I never thought I’d ever be taking the Zips as a favorite, let alone a two score fave – but here I am and I like my chances. Army doesn’t have anything going for them except they are tough. They don’t have Air Force’s talent nor do they have Navy’s rushing attack. All they have is a tough game against the freaking Zips on their hands. Take Akron on the road.

Buffalo Bulls (+34.5) @ Missouri Tigers: Sure, the Tigers have won their last two games by a total score of 121-20, but they didn’t face the Bulls! Ha. This one will be much closer. Buffalo is sneaky, and a pretty solid offense should get them points. If they can score 3 touchdowns, which I think should happen, then Missouri will have to put up more than 54 points to cover. I don’t see that happening. It’s tough to bet against the high scoring Tigers, but given the Bulls are a solid group, it makes it easy to do with a coke and a smile.

Arizona Wildcats (-2.5) @ UCLA Bruins: That whole first game upset that put UCLA back on the map seems to be a long time back – and that map, well, they are still on it, but all four edges are burning back to the ashtray it came from. I’m betting on a solid Wildcats attack to come into UCLA and brow beat them into submission. Okay, they’ll at least run all over the Bruins. Arizona played poorly in a trap game last week, as they were certainly looking ahead to their first Pac-10 showdown. Well, now that they saw UCLA get beat 59-0 they probably aren’t as scared. I’m marking that down as a good thing. We’ll see. I thought Arizona was the much better team to start the season, and one UCLA 59-0 showing against BYU didn’t stop me from thinking that.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish @ Michigan State Spartans (-8.5): Don’t be confused, Michigan beat Michigan last week, and the Irish just got credit for the win because they were the team lucky enough to be playing them in Week 3. Now comes Michigan State, and they’ll be ready for one of the Nations most popular and disturbingly overrated college programs. The Spartans passing attack is brutal right now, but they won’t need to throw the ball all that much. Javon Ringer is 10 points better than the Irish. Believe that.

Free NCAA Football Picks – Week 1

Here we are! It’s August 25th, 2008 and NCAA football games are just a few short days away. Summer is on the way out, and fall is just about to turn the leaves red. That means school for you young scholarly types and just colder weather for the rest of you – but it also means football! It all starts with a little NCAA action. For Week 1 I went ahead and picked out 10 winners… Enjoy the first edition of my NCAA Free Picks for 2008…

Thursday’s Games

Vanderbilt Commodores @ Miami-Ohio Redhawks (-4): (7:30pm EST, 8-28-2008)

Vanderbilt loses their best player in wide receiver Earl Bennett. He was by far their most effective and productive offensive player. Their leading returning receiver is out with a stress fracture (George Smith). If that weren’t enough, the Commodores also said goodbye to their leading rusher from last year, as well as their entire starting offensive line – that’s the kicker. Miami has a stout defense with very talented linebackers. They may be a smaller college, but they can play football. The Commodores don’t have much cohesion right now, as new starters are still being decided. The starting quarterback for this Thursday’s game wasn’t decided by the weekend, leaving much to be answered in the four days before kickoff. While Vanderbilt has all the questions, Miami of Ohio looks to be full of answers.

Wake Forest Demon Deacons (-12) @ Baylor Bears: (8:00pm EST, 8-28-2008)

Wake Forest is the real deal. Despite winning 8 of their last 10 games and then spanking Connecticut in the 2nd half of their bowl game, the Deacons just can’t seem to get the credit they deserve. THe Deacons return their freshman quarterback sensation, Riley Skinner, and while they lose their top receiver from ’07, Wake is full of young talent at receiver. Head coach Jim Grobe knows what he’s doing. The Deacons are off and on on the road, but they’ve been a darn good football team with Riley Skinner at quarterback. I expect them to start off the season hot, and ride their quarterback to the top of the ACC. Take them over the Bears by a couple touchdowns.

Oregon State Beavers (-3) @ Stanford Cardinal: (9:00pm EST, 8-28-2008)

The Oregon State Beavers seem like the forgotten Pac-10 team heading into the season. Everyone seems to forget that the Beavers won 7 of their last 8 games including an upset victory over Maryland in their bowl game. During the last 8 games of the season, the Beavers’ only loss came against USC in Southern California. Last year, when the Beavers played Stanford, a tough Oregon State defense held the Cardinal out of the end-zone, winning 23-6. The Beavers lost their talented tail-back, Yvenson Bernard, to graduation – but they have a nice offensive line and a couple new running backs that have impressed when given the chance. One player that should have a great bounce back season is Sammie Stroughter, the speed demon that was a 2006 3rd team All-American. With family problems and injury woes, Stroughter struggled in 2007, playing only 3 games. He was awarded a medical red-shirt, and now he has one more chance to prove himself in the Pac-10. Every time he touches the ball, touchdowns can happen. Look for the Beavers to out-talent the Cardinal all over the field, dominating this early-season conference match-up.

Friday’s Game

Temple Owls (-7) @ Army Black Knights: (7:00pm EST, 8-29-2008)

Temple, amazingly, won 4 of their last 7 games, have three Pre-Seasons All Conference players returning, and were voted “Program on the Rise” by the MAC conference. They return their leading passer and an offensive line that found cohesion late last year. Defensively, Temple is better than expected, as Army will find out. Army switched their entire offense around this summer, moving from a no-huddle spread to an option based rushing attack. When that happens originally, teams seem to struggle because of the recruiting differences for offenses like that. I never thought I’d consider taking a Temple team on the road and favored by a touchdown, but that’s exactly what I’m doing and I’m confident about it.

Saturday’s Games

Bowling Green Falcons (+13) @ Pittsburgh Panthers: (12:00pm EST, 8-30-2008)

The Bowling Green Falcons bring 17 of 22 starters back to a team that is expected to compete for a WAC crown this season. The Falcons won 5 of their last 6 regular season games in 2007 before getting absolutely crushed in their bowl game against Tulsa. I like that last part. The Falcons have waited all summer, 17 returning starters and many other frustrated kids, to get back on the football field and prove that bowl game was a fluke. In comes the Panthers with one of the best running backs in the Nation and a former pro-football head coach. I like the Falcons’ chances – take them and all those points.

Akron Zips @ Wisconsin Badgers (-26): (12:00pm EST, 8-30-2008)

As if going into Wisconsin to play the 12th ranked team in the Nation wasn’t a tough enough opener, the Zips have really struggled with injuries during football camp. With a couple junior college transfers and position battles being effected by these injuries, the Zips preparation time for a tough Wisconsin team will be shortened. The Badgers return big names, it seems, when looking at their 2008 starters. P.J. Hill, the ultra talented tailback, and Travis Beckum, one of the most highly touted TEs in college football. Defensively, the Badgers are senior laden with an elite linebacking crew. It may be his first season as a starter, but senior quarterback Allen Evridge has been around for a while. Look for the Badgers to lean heavily on the run and really pound it to the Zips.

Utah Utes (+3.5) @ Michigan Wolverines: (3:30pm EST, 8-30-2008)

The Utes are very good and should win their conference this season. Michigan lost too many good players and are in the midst of a complete turn-around with their new head coach, Rich Rodriguez. I don’t know what else to say besides this, Utah is the better team with a better mentality and they also have nothing to lose in this one. Sign me up for that every single week.

Oklahoma State Cowboys (-6) @ Washington State Cougars: (3:30pm EST, 8-30-2008)

The Cougars weren’t very good a year ago, usually open the season soft, don’t have much of a home-field advantage during the first few weeks of the college football season, lost their star quarterback to graduation, and don’t have much confidence either. Hmm… I don’t like Pac-10 teams that open their seasons against tougher conferences, and that’s what I think this is. The Cowboys might not finish above .500 and they’ll probably look really bad in some games – but not this one. This is a team that, last year showed they can play tight with Kansas and Texas, beat Kansas State, Texas Tech, and Indiana – so I surely like them against the Cougars.

Michigan State Spartans (+5) @ California Golden Bears (8:00pm EST, 8-30-2008)

This isn’t me loving the Spartans as much as me down on the Bears. Cal has a super talented and amazingly fast sophomore running back in Jahvid Best, but besides that I’m not too impressed. They are supposed to have one of the top rated offenses in the Pac-10, but without a quarterback to deliver the bread, I’m not sure that will be the case. Michigan State’s defense isn’t dynamic, but I think they’ll stack the box and make Cal’s quarterbacks beat them. That’s what will be the undoing of the Bears in Week 1, I just don’t think they can beat the Spartans through the air.

Idaho Vandals @ Arizona Wildcats (-27): (10:00pm EST, 8-30-2008)

It seems like a lot of points, and it is, but I just have a feeling the Wildcats are going to go off for about 45 points in this one. They always run the ball hard and Idaho consistently can’t stop anybody else’s ground game. The Wildcats finished the season well, beating Washington, UCLA, and Oregon before losing to ASU by 3 points. The Wildcats really played well all season last year, losing to Stanford by 1, USC by 7, Oregon State by 2 scores. I like the Wildcats to get a little luck to sway their way this season – but that shouldn’t matter against the Vandals. Idaho was 1-11 in the WAC last season, and I expect much of the same this time around. This game wouldn’t surprise me if it was a 45-7 WIldcat blowout.