Wake Forest Demon Deacons (+7) @ Clemson Tigers: In the end, I think Clemson has a good chance to get away with a win at home. I mean the home team has gotten the win in 6 of the last 7 seasons, but this game is going to be close. And close means take the points, the value is there. Even if Clemson gets off to an early lead, Skinner has the arm to get his team back in it. If the Deacons get off to a quick lead, Clemson will struggle relying on their passing attack to get back in the game. The nod goes toward the 7 points there. I expect a close game. Another plus for points. The Tigers are good in the trenches, boasting one of the conferences best defensive lines, but their secondary hasn’t been great. A plus for Skinner and his 1600+ yards and 15 touchdowns. Offensively the Tigers have had a tough time getting in the end zone. Riley Skinner has been playing very well of late, and I think he’s enough to cover the full touchdown spread in a game that is often very close. I’ll take the points in this middle of the road ACC match-up.
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…
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.
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.
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.
It started off rocky, but in the end, an even record found it’s way into the record books, heading into an exciting December in college football…
Army @ Navy (-19.5): LOSS!
The Rivalry game got me here, what can you do? I thought Navy had the beans to annihilate Army, but as it turned out, the game was close throughout.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons (+3) @ Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets: WIN!
How about the Deacons? On their way to a BCS Bowl game, and all that money for their program. It’s wonderful to see, you know, relatively unknown programs taking it to the ACC. Fantastic, especially when it benefits me.
Connecticut Huskies (+27.5) @ Louisville Cardinals: LOSS!
The Huskies couldn’t hang with a very powerful Cardinal team. Louisville should win their next game as well, bringing a little more appreciation to the Big East.
Air Force Falcons (+17.5) @ TCU Horned Frogs: LOSS!
My Falcons played poorly in a big loss to the Horned Frogs. I thought this was going to be a big win for me, but in the end, the Horned Frogs slammed the door shut on a winning week in college for good ol’ Lucky.
Stanford Cardinal @ California Bears (-28.5): LOSS!
Stanford almost pulled a quick one on the Bears. In the “other” California game that was going down on Saturday, the Bears almost got caught watching USC get downed by UCLA, but they pulled out a close one late, making me a loser again.
Fresno State Bulldogs @ San Jose State Spartans (-3.5): WIN!
San Jose showed why they were a winning team this year, and making it to a nice little bowl game. Fresno lost again. I won a big one.
USC Trojans (-12.5) @ UCLA Bruins: LOSS!
My last loss of the day came when the Bruins ousted the Trojans, in turn making me smile from ear to ear. I thought the Trojans would win easily, but hoped above all else that they’d fail. A win win, I guess. Yeehaw! Dang it! Something in that order.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights (+10) @ West Virginia Mountaineers: WIN!
Rutgers couldn’t’ quite pull out the big upset, as they fell to the Mountaineers by two points in the 3rd overtime of a game that made me late to dinner with the woman. She understood… Right. Anyway, the Knights kept hopes of a .500 Saturday alive by covering.
Nebraska Cornhuskers @ Oklahoma Sooners (-3.5): WIN!
The Sooners won, and just made me think what would have been had they not gotten hosed by Pac 10 officials in a lost that should have been a win against the Ducks. Would the computers have picked OK over Florida if each team had one loss? Who cares, both teams would lose to the Buckeyes.
Arkansas Razorbacks @ Florida Gators (-3): WIN!
Florida won to give me my .500 record I was searching for after losing 5 out of my first 7 Week 14 games. The Gators took advantage of the Razorbacks’ shotty quarterback play, and won their way all the way to the National Title game in Arizona.
Regardless of a “rematch” or a “non conference champ playing for a National Title” I’m interested to see which team the public, or the sports-writers, or the coaches, would vote as the 2nd best team in the country. A 3 point loss to Ohio State in Ohio. I don’t think Florida will make that good of a game out of it. I think Boise State should have gotten a chance. Ideally, Florida wins, barely, and Boise State dominates the Sooners. Then maybe, just maybe, Boise would be the champs. And what a champ they would be!
The Regular season is nearly over, and I’ve got to get some big wins to pad the stats for next year. How abouts will I do that? Check it out in my NCAA Week 14 Free Picks….
TOP 5 Bets
- Wake Forest
Army @ Navy (-19.5):
Navy has won the last 4 contests, never by less than 19 points. Army has lost games by 19 or more points 3 times this season, and haven’t covered the spread in any of their last 7 games. Navy has been solid all year, something I’m sure they won’t let get to their heads in this huge rivalry game. Rivalries are tough to play, but Navy has the team to dominate.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons (+3) @ Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets:
GT’s inability to score points will kill them against the Demon Deacons. Everyone was betting on Wake to fold all year long, but now they have a chance to take the ACC Title and swim into a BCS Bowl Game. Watch it unfold before your eyes.
Connecticut Huskies (+27.5) @ Louisville Cardinals:
UCONN has actually played pretty well of late, never losing by more than 6 in their last 3 games, and they haven’t lost a game by 28 points or more all season long. Sure, they have 3 wins, but their record doesn’t show how well they’ve played against some tough teams.
Air Force Falcons (+17.5) @ TCU Horned Frogs:
Despite their 4-7 record, Air Force has played decent football all year long. Their schedule was tough. I like TCU to continue on their winning path, but Air Force should be able to hang around long enough to cover this big spread.
Stanford Cardinal @ California Bears (-28.5):
Against similar competition this year, the Cardinal haven’t faired too well. But with a 1-10 record, and a 2-9 ATS, how can you? Oregon State beat Stanford by 23, USC shut them out 42-0, Arizona State won by 35, UCLA shut them out 31-0, and Navy even smoked Stanford by 28 points. So, as much as the Bears struggled against USC, I’ve got to take them here, in what should be a 42-0 drumming.
Fresno State Bulldogs @ San Jose State Spartans (-3.5):
The 7-4 Spartans host the Bulldogs in a season where these two programs have switched positions. Fresno State has found three straight wins, after starting the season 0-7, but still fails to cover. 1-10 ATS for the Bulldogs. This is the Spartans first real chance to beat the Bulldogs in some time, I’ll take them on Saturday.
USC Trojans (-12.5) @ UCLA Bruins:
This game disappoints too often for me to take the Bruins. Even when UCLA is good, USC always manages to embarrass the Bruins. USC has too much riding on this game, and UCLA has too many pretty boys to touch up the Trojans in the final game of the season.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights (+10) @ West Virginia Mountaineers:
I just have to take the underdog in the crazy Big East. West Virginia has more offensive talent than anyone in the conference, and probably anyone in the country with Pat White and Steve Slaton, but Rutgers has it. And underdogs seem to rally and upset in this conference. The Knights have just won. All season long. Sure one loss, but look at their solid wins. Louisville, UCONN, Pitt, Navy, South Florida, even Illinois is decent. Sure, they play in a lousy conference, but they are a good team, and they have a chance at a BCS Bowl Bid.
Nebraska Cornhuskers @ Oklahoma Sooners (-3.5):
Nebraska has been good since losing to USC, oh and that little mix up couple of weeks against Texas and OK State. Wait, who have they beaten this year? Yes, tell me a god team they’ve handled. Missouri? Colorado? Texas A&M? They’re in for something, because if it weren’t for the referee “hey-ooo, whoops, Oregon Ball!” fiasco, the Sooners would be bidding for a spot against the Buckeyes. Oklahoma’s good. A double digit win at home against Nebraska. That’s my prediction.
Arkansas Razorbacks @ Florida Gators (-3):
After last weeks quarterbacking play from Mr. Dick and the Razorbacks (their best QB-ing was when their start RB, McFadden, stepped up and took shot gun snaps) I can’t take them to upset the Gators in The Swamp. Florida has two signal callers that could push their team to victory in this one, and both will probably make big plays to do so. Chris Leak hasn’t been as good as I thought he’d be, but he’s still a leader, and the Gators will oust the Razorbacks.