We're all undefeated right now.
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It's so great to have football back and in our lives again. Since I slowly work on opponent previews (especially the season opener) well in advance and this post is dependent upon locking in spreads the season has officially arrived for me when it comes time to write this article. Welcome back, everyone!
Now on to the picks for week one...
*A quick reminder that I do not list games against FCS opponents in which there is no spread but of course we all have to choose a team to win the game nonetheless.
BYU (-16.5) at UConn
The Bob Diaco era in Storrs gets underway with an interesting matchup against BYU. Bobby D's defense performed pretty well against the Cougars over the past two seasons but now his roster is full a bunch of scrappy Northeasterners and not nationally recruited Domers. There's a feeling that Diaco's first season is going to be a tough transition--and UConn wasn't very good last year anyway--and that likely begins with a big loss.
No. 7 UCLA (-21) at Virginia
Tempting to take the underdog here because everyone is doubting the Cavaliers and the Bruins have to make a cross-country trip and play one of those early trap-like (or at least not cover the spread-like) noon games that are over before half the country even knew it began. I will not allow myself to give in to the temptation.
No. 5 Ohio State (-16) at Navy [Baltimore, Maryland]
Pick: Ohio State
I'm expecting Navy to be pretty good this year and this spread dropped only a little bit after the season-ending injury to Braxton Miller. Is it high enough to feel good about the Middies giving the Buckeyes a huge headache at FedEx? No, it is not. I like Meyer's defense and the entire off-season to prepare for Navy.
Florida Atlantic (+22) at No. 22 Nebraska
Pick: Florida Atlantic
My first underdog pick of the opening week comes in favor of a team that finished 2013 winning 4 straight games. I'm not calling for an upset here but a little bit of a closer game than expected.
West Virginia (+26.5) at No. 2 Alabama [Atlanta, Georgia]
Pick: West Virginia
No doubt Alabama is still loaded and ready to roll but dang that's a lot of points for a team breaking in a new quarterback. I think The Holgo can get his offense do to some flashy things late and sneak in for a late cover.
Rice (+21) at No. 17 Notre Dame
Arkansas (+19.5) at No. 6 Auburn
One of my rules is to stay away from large spreads between two SEC teams. My gut is saying Arkansas covers (they lost by only 18 points to Auburn last year coming off a bye week) and that's tough to ignore. I just like that Tiger offense and they'll be playing their first game at Jordan Hare since the miraculous field goal return. I'll take a jacked up home crowed and faith in Malzahn over Bielema.
No. 16 Clemson (+7.5) at No. 12 Georgia
This is kind of a must-win game for Georgia. They are the home team, ranked higher, and look to be stronger on offense. However, Clemson's defense is shaping up to be nasty. I just think Richt & Co. do enough to walk away with a win and cover.
Louisiana Tech (+38) at No. 4 Oklahoma
Pick: Louisiana Tech
Skip Holtz took over a 9-3 program and the Bulldogs went 4-8 last year. It's pretty much been all down hill since that 2011 opener for Holtz. That said, I think the Sooners are getting a little bit too much love to cover a spread this large. That's a ginormous spread!
Fresno State (+21.5) at No. 15 USC
The last time these teams suited up it was against each other in their bowl game and USC won that game by 25 points. The Trojans haven't been going through some good stuff right now but they should have enough talent to breeze past a Derek Carr-less Fresno State.
No. 1 Florida State (-18) at Oklahoma State [Arlington, Texas]
Pick: Florida State
The experts aren't expecting Okie Light to have a very strong year. Especially, I don't believe the Cowboys are predicted to have a good defense. Perhaps their offense, normally quite strong, can make up for it. I'll take the defending champs to win something like 42-21.
No. 14 Wisconsin (+5) at No. 13 LSU [Houston, Texas]
Pretty soon Leonard Fournette will be unleashed on college football. I predict glorious running back things.
No. 25 Washington (-17) at Hawaii
Does this feel low? What does Vegas know? Will U-Dub be a little sleepy from the flight? Maybe they'll take some time to settle in under new coaching? I don't know, Hawaii usually doesn't come close to competing against the upper level teams in the power conferences.
SMU (+33) at No. 10 Baylor
A couple years ago I wouldn't have been comfortable with this line but now I don't even blink. A little Sunday night prime time action on Fox sounds a lot like Baylor is going to drop 55 on the 'Stangs.