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The Big E College Football Picks: Week One

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Finally, we are back to watching hours and hours of college football. It feels so good.

Last year, after a torrid start to the bowl season, I unfortunately ended up a few games under .500 against the spread. It was a huge disappointment and a major shame on my family’s good name.

As a result, I spent three weeks in Las Vegas training with some of the best CFB handicappers in the nation. We studies numbers for hours, investigated coaching tendencies and personalities, and even memorized the playbooks of every BCS team.*

Now, as we enter 2011 I am ready to shine my brightest.

Feel free to join in on the party, and give us your picks as well. I’ll be posting mine every Friday, so let’s see if you can beat me and my fancy professional advice.

Now, on to the games!

*None of this happened.

South Florida (+10) at Notre Dame

Pick: Notre Dame

See the post Irish Seek Their Inner Matador

Northwestern (+3) at BostonCollege

Pick: Northwestern

Honestly, I just don’t think BostonCollege is that good anymore. The Eagles best player on offense will either miss the game or be banged up, and Northwestern is coming in with a very potent quarterback in Dan Persa.

The BC defense might keep this a close game, but I like the Wildcats to break through and win this game on the road. All hail Pat FitzGerald!

Miami-OH (+20.5) at Missouri

Pick: Miami-OH

Miami is one of the better teams in the MAC, and despite some nice talent coming back, Missouri has some question marks with their team.

Typically I like a spread offense going up against a much less talented MAC defense, but this just seems like the type of game that will be closer than most people expect. It’s the first game of the season and Missouri might have some trouble moving the ball in a post-Blaine Gabbert era.

Yeah, I’m being aggressive risky right out of the gate this year.

Akron (+34) at OhioState

Pick: Akron

It is super enticing to bet that the Buckeyes won’t cover this spread, and I’m taking the bait.

I’m damn sure Akron isn’t going to score a single point, so the question then becomes: Can a Bauserman-led OhioState team score 35 points?

I’m probably going to regret this, but OhioState might be a mess offensively this season and there’s no telling what their team psyche will be like this year. I don’t trust Bauserman and I’m staying away from large point spreads with the Buckeyes until I see some potency on offense from them.

Minnesota (+23.5) at USC

Pick: USC

Last year Minnesota stayed with USC and kept it close until late in the fourth quarter. It was the first sign that the Trojans were probably not going to have a good year and were most definitely being coached by Lane Kiffin.

This year the game is at the Coliseum and USC won’t have the disadvantage of coming back from Hawaii. I’ll admit I know next to nothing about the Gophers (who does?) and you have to think Southern California is going to put up a lot of points on the worst team in the Big Ten.

Something to watch will be how physical USC is on both sides of the ball and if they can consistently run the ball on offense. If they struggle in those areas against the lowly Gophers, Mr. Kiffin better start polishing his resume.

Western Michigan (+13.5) at Michigan

Pick: Michigan

Wow, not that big of a spread---Michigan has to cover this no matter what, right?

As much fun as it would be for the Wolverines to be in a close game into the late fourth against Western, it’s probably not going to happen. The most interesting aspect of this game is to see how different Hoke & Co. use Denard Robinson.

My prediction: Robinson will barely run but when he does he will devastate the Broncos. You can bet your bottom dollar that Robinson will run his tail off against Notre Dame though---don’t be fooled by his lack of running in this game if it happens.

I expect the Michigan defense to be improved, but if this spread hasn’t brought Michigan fans back down to earth after inking Brady Hoke, watching their running backs struggle and Robinson missing on a bunch of throws might.

UCLA (+3) at Houston

Pick: Houston

Otherwise known as the second coming of Shaq Evans, who is in the rotation at receiver for UCLA! Good luck getting a quarterback to throw the ball to you, though.

On a more serious note, the Bruins have had pretty good defenses but there is absolutely no way that UCLA can keep up with Houston on offense. UCLA’s offense, particularly their passing game, has been so dreadful as to think that someone is actually sabotaging it on purpose.

With Houston QB Case Keenum now a grown-ass married man coming back for his 14th year of eligibility, the Cougars cover the spread and take home a victory over a BCS team.

BYU (-3) at Ole Miss

Pick: BYU

BYU was a team that was going places by the end of last year, and I’m not really sure where Ole Miss is headed this season…probably nowhere too fun.

Doesn’t this feel like a super weird matchup? I guess that’s a product of an independent BYU, but you rarely see two teams like this playing each other these days. There are a lot of differences on both sides of the ball, from coaches, to players, and beyond.

I have a complete lack of trust in Houston Nutt and believe his days are numbered at Mississippi, starting with a home opening loss in 2011.

Boise State (-3.5) vs. Georgia [Atlanta]

Pick: BoiseState

Is it really wise to expect Georgia to win this game? Outside of QB Aaron Murray what proven playmakers do the Bulldogs have on offense? This won’t be the toughest defense Boise has seen, so will the Bulldogs SEC athletes be able to slow down Boise?

I just see no reason to go against Boise here with their record in big games and plenty of time to prepare. I think Georgia could have a nice season in 2011, but I don’t believe they are quite ready to win a game like this in the national spotlight.

LSU (+4.5) vs. Oregon [Arlington]

Pick: LSU

Doesn’t losing Jordan Jefferson potentially help LSU? Now they can focus on running over Oregon’s smallish defense and actually completing passes in a more pro-style fashion. History has shown us that the Tigers are usually better on offense when they do that.

I know LSU lacks the explosiveness and playmaking ability of Oregon, but how many times do we have to see an SEC team over power a finesse team? LSU’s defense will be just as tough up front as Auburn’s was, the only difference is the Bayou Bengals secondary won’t be a giant black hole like Auburn’s was last season.

I’m taking LSU, and I probably still would have even if they were favored.

Tulsa (+24.5) at Oklahoma

Pick: Oklahoma

I remember seeing this game months ago and thinking it would be a good idea to take Tulsa---OU would be the top team, possibly a little nervous out of the gate against a decent opponent, and Tulsa has a high powered offense.

Now, it’s not a good idea with former Tulsa head coach Todd Graham at Pittsburgh and Tulsa’s All-Everything speed demon Damaris Johnson suspended indefinitely.

The Sooner defense might be tested a little bit, but Landry Jones won’t be throwing 3 picks and only putting up a mere 27 points on a horrific Tulsa defense (that’s what Notre Dame did last year if you weren’t aware).

OU likely pushes towards 50+ points and covers this spread.

Marshall (+23) at West Virginia [Sunday]

Pick: West Virginia

Last year's game was razor thin close, and really Marshall had the game in hand before pissing everything away. What's clear is that West Virginia was likely regressing under Bill Stewart and although his exit wasn't pretty, it likely made the Mountaineers a better team.

Now with Dana Holgorsen calling the plays, West Virginia can get back to putting up a boat load of points and living up to their talent as the best team in the Big East.

What's more, West Virginia has quite the defense too and they should make it a nightmare for Marshall to move the ball. I look for a good sized blowout here.

Enjoy the weekend!