Friday, September 9, 2016

Off to a Flying Start

In general, I have to be pleased with my first week of college football predictions. I got one of my upset specials and, for awhile, it looked like I might get both. The other ones I missed were outcomes that most people probably missed — Houston over Oklahoma, Texas over Notre Dame, Texas A&M over UCLA — so it's hard to feel bad about those predictions.

Last week is already being called the greatest opening weekend in college football history, but we don't have much of an encore this week. There are no games between ranked teams this week, and most look like the ranked team should beat the unranked one with ease. After all, every ranked team that is in action this week is playing at home — except for #13 Louisville in tonight's game at Syracuse.

There are a couple of exceptions. Virginia Tech is unranked, but the Hokies seem likely to give #17 Tennessee a run for its money. And I hope that my alma mater, Arkansas, is competitive with #15 TCU.

But I have to be realistic about that last one. Maybe Arkansas is good enough to challenge TCU, but the Razorbacks haven't proven that yet, especially not in the wake of last week's 21–20 win over Louisiana Tech. On the other hand, TCU got past South Dakota State by 59–41. No defense in that one.

Idle: #7 Stanford, #12 Michigan State

  • #13 Louisville at Syracuse, 7 p.m. (Central) on ESPN2: From 1985 to 2005, these teams faced each other about once every five years on average. But they have met every year since 2005, and this will be their 15th meeting overall. Louisville leads the all–time series 8–6.

    Syracuse could knot the record at home with a win, but Syracuse has fallen on hard times. I'm inclined to pick Louisville.
  • Western Kentucky at #1 Alabama, 2:30 p.m. (Central) on ESPN2: These teams have met twice before, and Alabama won both by a combined score of 76–7.

    Clearly this is a payday for Western Kentucky. The Hilltoppers have no thoughts of winning. That's good because they won't. I take Alabama.
  • Troy at #2 Clemson, 11:30 a.m. on ACC Network: Clemson won its only previous meeting with Troy in 2011 by a score of 43–19.

    Clemson struggled at times with Auburn the other night, but I figure the Tigers will have plenty in the tank when they take on Troy. Clemson should win.
  • Charleston Southern at #3 Florida State, 11:30 a.m. (Central) on ACC Network: There really isn't much to say about this one. Florida State appears to have one of the best teams in the country, and the Seminoles are playing at home, where they hardly ever lose.

    I am convinced Florida State will win this one.
  • Tulsa at #4 Ohio State, 2:30 p.m. (Central) on ABC: This is the first meeting between these schools, but Ohio State is a lot like Florida State in the sense that the Buckeyes appear to have one of the best teams in the land and they're playing at home. Need I say more?

    I choose Ohio State.
  • Central Florida at #5 Michigan, 11 a.m. (Central) on ABC: Like the Tulsa–Ohio State game, this is the first meeting between these schools.

    Michigan is tough to beat at home, and I doubt that Central Florida is up to it. I pick Michigan.
  • Lamar at #6 Houston, 11 a.m. (Central) on ESPN3: Seeing Houston beat Oklahoma last week reminded me of when I was young and Houston joined the Southwest Conference. No one thought much of the Cougars then — then they emerged as one of the nation's best teams for several years.

    The same thing might be happening now. Houston has leaped into the Top 10 with its win over Oklahoma, and I really don't think Lamar can stop Houston's momentum.

    I choose Houston.
  • Idaho at #8 Washington, 4 p.m. (Central) on Pac 10 Network: Washington has dominated this series, winning 27 of 28 games (the other one was a tie back in 1938). All 28 games have been played at Washington — as will the 29th tomorrow.

    I have heard nothing to suggest that it will change. I pick Washington.
  • Nicholls State at #9 Georgia, 11 a.m. (Central) on SEC Network: I'm not entirely sure about the Bulldogs, but I am sure they can handle Nicholls State.

    My pick is Georgia.
  • Akron at #10 Wisconsin, 2:30 p.m. (Central) on Big Ten Network: Wisconsin won the previous two meetings between these schools, but the scores weren't lopsided. The average score in those games was Wisconsin 43, Akron 24.

    That's decisive but not lopsided. Sounds like a likely outcome for this game. I choose Wisconsin.
  • Texas–El Paso at #11 Texas, 6 p.m. (Central) on the Longhorn Network: These teams have played twice, once in El Paso. The Longhorns won both times, averaging 53 points to UTEP's 10.

    Sounds about right. I pick Texas.
  • Louisiana–Monroe at #14 Oklahoma: After last week's season–opening loss, the Sooners are apt to be surly.

    OU won its only meeting with Louisiana–Monroe three years ago. The score on that occasion was 34–0. Wouldn't surprise me if the Sooners doubled that.

    Oklahoma is clearly the pick.
  • Arkansas at #15 TCU, 6 p.m. (Central) on ESPN: When I was a child, Arkansas never lost to TCU. Never. Then it happened once. It seldom happened again while the Hogs and the Frogs were in the same conference.

    This will be the 69th time these schools have faced each other in football — but the first time as nonconference foes since 1921. The Hogs have won nearly two–thirds of the time — but much has changed in the 25 years since their last encounter. This time, TCU is the team that is ranked. Arkansas is not. In the old days, the Razorbacks were ranked more often than not — and TCU was winless, again more often than not.

    I'm tempted to pick Arkansas as an upset special — for old times' sake. But that was then, and this is now. I have to pick TCU.
  • Iowa State at #16 Iowa, 6:30 p.m. (Central) on Big Ten Network: This will be the 62nd edition of this battle Iowa football dominance. Since 1977, the winner has received the Cy–Hawk Trophy.

    Iowa leads the series by more than 2 to 1, but Iowa State has won three of the last five meetings — including the last two times the game was played at Iowa.

    Based on recent history, I will make Iowa State my upset special.
  • Virginia Tech vs. #17 Tennessee, 7 p.m. (Central) on ABC: Tennessee leads this series 3–2, but the teams have split their two encounters at neutral sites.

    Tennessee didn't look good against Appalachian State last week, so I will make Virginia Tech my second upset special.
  • Nevada at #18 Notre Dame, 2:30 p.m. (Central) on NBC: These teams actually played each other once — in South Bend in 2009. The Irish won 35–0.

    Anyone want to bet Notre Dame blanks Nevada again? The pick is Notre Dame.
  • Wofford at #19 Ole Miss, 3 p.m. (Central) on SEC Network: Ole Miss looked pretty good at Florida State — and should look even better in the home opener.

    The Rebels won't lose this one. I choose Ole Miss.
  • Prairie View A&M at #20 Texas A&M, 11 a.m. (Central) on SEC Network: If UCLA couldn't win at Kyle Field, why would Prairie View?

    This is a no–brainer. Texas A&M will win.
  • Jacksonville State at #21 LSU, 6:30 p.m. (Central) on ESPNU: Another huge mismatch. LSU lost on the road last week. The Tigers, though, haven't lost a nonconverence game at home since 2002.

    They won't lose this time, either. The pick is LSU.
  • Central Michigan at #22 Oklahoma State, 11 a.m. (Central) on FS1: This has to be the most uninspiring Top 25 schedule I have ever seen.

    Oklahoma State should win easily.
  • SMU at #23 Baylor, 2:30 p.m. (Central) on FS1: This is an old Southwest Conference rivalry. It will be the 82nd meeting between these schools, and the all–time series has been quite close. Baylor has 38 wins, SMU has 36, and there have been seven ties.

    SMU hasn't beaten Baylor since 1986, the year before SMU began serving the "death penalty."

    That is a 12–game winning streak for the Bears. I expect Baylor to make it 13 in a row.
  • Virginia at #24 Oregon, 9:30 p.m. (Central) on ESPN: In their only previous meeting, Oregon crushed Virginia 59–10 on Virginia's home turf. That was three years ago.

    This time Oregon is at home. I have to pick Oregon.
  • Florida Atlantic at #25 Miami (Fla.), 5 p.m. (Central) on ACC Network: In two previous meetings Miami emerged as a solid winner both times.

    No change. I pick Miami.
Last week: 17–4

Overall: 17–4

Last week's upset specials: 1–1

Overall upset specials: 1–1

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