August 28, 2008

College Football Picks - Week 1

Welcome back for another exciting season of college football! Every week, I'll be breaking down some of the biggest games, as well as addressing some of the biggest scores, rumors, and trends.

The first week of any season is always tough for betting (as I noted yesterday), and this year is no different. However, there are some very intriguing games worth paying attention to.

The Big Games
CLEMSON (-4.5) over Alabama - Huge expectations are yet again hovering over Clemson, and the talent is certainly there. Bowden has the talent assembled and his team has started strong recently. On the other hand, this is Saban's second season in Tuscaloosa and expectations aren't exactly low. This is a huge game for both squads and the neutral site (Georgia Dome) doesn't hurt the drama. Clemson is the more talented team, and I'm taking them on that basis. Clemson's (slim) shot at the national title hinges on this game.

Saban needs a couple big wins this year to keep the Tide alumni happy.

MISSOURI (-8.5) over Illinois - Played in anonymity last year, both teams ended up in the top 10 last year. This year, both teams are likely to be good again, but I think the loss of Mendenhall and others will hurt Illinois more. This will be worth watching to see which teams will back up their Cinderella stories from last year.

Tennessee (+7) over UCLA - Rick Neuheisel's first game is no cupcake. Both teams have plenty of talent, but the experience of the home-and-home with Cal the last two years should really benefit Tennessee. I think the Vols' physical presence will be enough for a victory on the road. If UCLA and Neuheisel pull out this victory in their first game, look out Pac-10!

Can Brian Johnson and the Utes win in the Big House?

The Interesting Weird Matchups
Utah (+3.5) over MICHIGAN - A new year, a new coach, same old story for Michigan. Last year, App State and Oregon were Michigan's first two home games and both teams were quite talented. This year, Utah is the subject of a lot of buzz from the MWC and could be legitimate BCS at-large contenders. Meanwhile, Michigan must adapt to a new coach, new system, and new starting QB. I don't think they're ready yet.

Southern Cal (-18.5) over VIRGINIA - It doesn't matter whether Sanchez is healthy or not. USC is much, much better. Unfortunately, this could be a preview of Cal-Maryland. I don't think this will be close at all. Don't forget UVa's stellar showings against Wyoming to start the last couple seasons.

RUTGERS (-5) over Fresno State - Rutgers lost Ray Rice and struggled down the stretch last year with him, so they had some issues to work through. However, Fresno isn't as dangerous now that teams know how good they are. Plus I think Fresno has fallen off a little since their peak 5ish years ago. This won't be a blowout but Rutgers will prevail, even though Fresno is a strong favorite to win the WAC this year.

Football starts in less than 10 hours! Go Terps and Yellow Jackets!

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