Saturday, September 6, 2014

You Never Know

I knew I would miss at least one of my first–week picks. I always do.

But I was shocked that it turned out to be the South Carolina–Texas A&M game.

After all, the Aggies are playing without Johnny Football, who has jumped to the pros. They were starting a largely untested quarterback — and, as far as I could tell, they had the same defense as last year.

Plus they were playing in South Carolina. Everything pointed to a big South Carolina win.

Instead, Texas A&M won, 52–28. Astonishing.

We have some good games lined up today. Nearly everyone in the Top 25 is in action.

Idle: #6 Georgia

  • The Citadel at #1 Florida State, 6:30 p.m. (Central) on ACC Network and You know, I really can't think of any kind of scenario, short of one in which all of the Seminoles' starters are either suspended or killed, that would make a victory for The Citadel possible. I pick Florida State.
  • Florida Atlantic at #2 Alabama, 11 a.m. (Central) on SEC Network: Did you read what I wrote about The Citadel–Florida State? Substitute Alabama for Florida State, and the same thing holds true. These two actually have met once before, in 2012, and Alabama won the national title that year. Will history repeat itself? I don't know, but I think it will in this game. I take Alabama.
  • #7 Michigan State at #3 Oregon, 5:30 p.m. (Central) on Fox: This is the most intriguing game of the week — unless you're a Notre Dame or Michigan fan. These teams have met four times, twice at each school, and the home team has won every time.

    Of course, this is a series that hasn't been renewed since 1999. The first three meetings were lopsided. The one that was played in 1999 was within a single score. I expect this one to resemble that game, and I take Michigan State in an upset.
  • #4 Oklahoma at Tulsa, 11 a.m. (Central) on NBC or ESPN2: I taught journalism at OU for four years, and I was always astonished that this wasn't a regular thing. I mean, Norman and Tulsa are only a couple of hours apart.

    To be fair, the schools have played each other 26 times since their first meeting in 1914, but it isn't an annual affair. On a few occasions they have played each other in back–to–back seasons, and about a third of the time they play in Tulsa, as they are doing today. The Golden Hurricane has lost its last seven meetings with the Sooners and hasn't beaten OU in Tulsa since 1942. Oklahoma will win.
  • San Jose State at #5 Auburn, 6 p.m. (Central) on ESPN2 or ESPNU: Auburn is tough to beat, especially at home. San Jose State won't accomplish it. I pick Auburn.
  • Virginia Tech at #8 Ohio State, 7 p.m. (Central) on ESPN: I really thought these schools had faced each other in the past, but I was surprised to learn that this will be their first–ever encounter in football.

    Ohio State is so hard to beat at home. The Buckeyes haven't lost there to a conference foe since Penn State beat them in 2011, and a nonconference foe hasn't won in Columbus since Southern Cal did it in 2009.

    And Tech is not an automatic 10–win team anymore. Tech was a very above–average 8–4 during the regular season last year before losing to UCLA in the Sun Bowl. What's more, Tech very rarely plays a Big Ten team — only twice in the last half–century — and both were in bowl games.

    All in all, I expect Ohio State to win.
  • Lamar at #9 Texas A&M, 6:30 p.m. (Central) on SEC Network: This should be a foregone conclusion. I pick Texas A&M.
  • Northwestern State at #10 Baylor, 6:30 p.m. (Central) on Fox Sports Networks: Same as the Aggie game. It's a payday for Northwestern State. Baylor will win.
  • Memphis at #11 UCLA, 9 p.m. (Central) on Pac–12 Network: There seems to be no way for Memphis to win this game. Got to take UCLA.
  • Sam Houston State at #12 LSU, 6:30 p.m. (Central) on SEC Network: Does anyone think Sam Houston State can win this game? I don't. I feel comfortable picking LSU.
  • #14 Southern Cal at #13 Stanford, 2:30 p.m. (Central) on ESPN: This could be the best game of the day, and I have to take Stanford to win.
  • #15 Ole Miss at Vanderbilt, 3:30 p.m. (Central) on ESPN: Historically, Ole Miss wins nearly 80% of the time the Rebels host the Commodores. But when the game is played in Nashville, the Commodores hold a slight edge.

    But Vandy has lost two of the last three times the Commodores have hosted the Rebels. I have to take Ole Miss.
  • Michigan at #16 Notre Dame, 6:30 p.m. (Central) on NBC: This series dates back to the late 19th century, but the schools haven't met every year. And Michigan leads the all–time series, 21–16–1, thanks largely to victories in six of the last eight meetings.

    But the Irish look to have the better team this year. Much better. I have to take Notre Dame.
  • #17 Arizona State at New Mexico, 6 p.m. (Central) on CBS Sports Network: These schools have faced each other 28 times, but the last meeting was in 1977 so, for all intents and purposes, it is a brand&new rivalry. In its first incarnation, Arizona State won 80% of the time — but four of New Mexico's five victories came at home. The last win, though, came on Nov. 28, 1942. Arizona State won the next 17 — and seems sure to win today.
  • Western Illinois at #18 Wisconsin, 11 a.m. (Central) on Big Ten Network: I can't imagine the Badgers losing at home to Western Illinois. I have to take Wisconsin.
  • McNeese State at #19 Nebraska, 11 a.m. (Central) on ESPNU: Likewise, there seems to be no way McNeese State can win this game. Go with Nebraska at home.
  • #20 Kansas State at Iowa State, 11 a.m. (Central) on Fox Sports 1: Believe it or not, Iowa State actually holds the all–time edge in this series — and will hold the edge after today's game, win or lose.

    But K–State has won seven of the last eight meetings, and I really don't see any reason to expect that to change. I take Kansas State.
  • San Diego State at #21 North Carolina, 7 p.m. (Central) on ESPN News: These schools have met only once — in the 1998 Las Vegas Bowl — which was won by San Diego State. North Carolina evens the series today.
  • East Carolina at #21 South Carolina, 6 p.m. (Central) on ESPN2 or ESPNU: The Gamecocks are sure to be smarting after that whipping against the Aggies last week. And I'd hate to be East Carolina today. The Gamecocks rarely lose back–to–back road games. The last time was in 2012 when they lost to LSU and Florida. And they haven't lost back–to–back home games since 2006. I take South Carolina.
  • South Carolina State at #23 Clemson, 11:30 a.m. (Central) on ACC Network and I simply see no way South Carolina State can win this game. I take Clemson.
  • #24 Missouri at Toledo, 11 a.m. (Central) on ESPN: Missouri beat Toledo at home last year, 38–23. Toledo might be able to pull off the upset as the host team — and I do think Missouri will prove to be not quite as good as the hype suggests — but today I will go with Missouri.
  • Murray State at #25 Louisville, 6 p.m. (Central) on Murray State won't win this game. 'Nuff said. Take Louisville.

Last week: 21–1

Season: 21–1

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