Welcome to another college football season, Football Nation readers.
And what better way to kick it off than with the return of the college football picks of the week, which will be highlighted this week by the Alabama-Michigan clash at Jerry World.
Let's get the ball kicked off for another year, shall we?
South Carolina (-6.5) @ Vanderbilt, August 30:
We kick off the action on the first night of the season with this SEC battle between the Gamecocks and Commodores in Nashville.
Both of the Ol' Ball Coach's top stars, Connor Shaw and Marcus Lattimore, come in listed ad probable, which makes it just as probable we'll see at least ten visor tosses from the OBC.
Of course, that would probably happen anyway. As for the game, give me the Gamecocks to cover.
Tennessee (-3) vs. North Carolina State @ Georgia Dome, August 31:
Down in Atlanta, the first of what will be two "Kickoff Classic" contests this year kicks off with the Volunteers taking on the Wolf Pack. The bugaboo about picking early-season games like this is how hard it is to pick a winner, not knowing how things might unfold for the winner.
One thing's clear, though: knowing how crazed they are about football in Knoxville, I think it's safe to say Derek Dooley won't have a pretty one in store if he takes the loss here. Lucky for him, I'm taking his Vols to cover here.
Boise State @ Michigan State (-7), August 31:
If you're familiar with my catalog here at FN, you know that Chris Peterson's Broncos are one of my favorite whipping boys. That being said, I do have to give them a big hand clap for going to a place like East Lansing to kick off this season.
Unfortunately, no matter how many people want to see them succeed, and make no mistake, I don't, replacing Kellen Moore is too big a task for them to have a chance here. Give me the Spartans to win big at home.
Notre Dame (-15.5) vs. Navy @ Dublin, Ireland, September 1:
The Saturday slate gets going bright & early with the Irish playing the Midshipmen in Dublin, where real, actual Irish eyes figure to be smiling on Brian Kelly's charges for once.
While the validity of the Irish as a BCS title contender seems to be a question every year (as well as a yearly bone of contention with the guy who's words you're reading right now), opening with the one team they legitimately own should get them off to a good start, even if it is "across the pond", as they say. Give me the Irish to cover.
Southern Mississippi @ Nebraska (-20), September 1:
In Lincoln, the Cornhuskers open the season with the always-plucky Golden Eagles. What I'm about to say might come off as me dissing the Huskers, but really it just shows my respect for the perennially good Southern Miss program: Nebraska is getting far too many points here. Period.
In my view, there are still too many questions surrounding Nebraska offensively to see them scoring enough points to win by that many. Nebraska wins, but doensn't cover.
Wyoming @ Texas (-30), September 1:
And speaking of teams with too many offensive questions to cover ridiculously large spreads, ladies & gentlemen, the University of Texas. Like Nebraska, you can count on the Longhorns having a BCS-worthy defense, but with the offense still the Bevo-sized elephant (or steer, in this case), in the room, I think the Cowboys can hang around, at least for awhile here.
The Texas defense will ultimately prevail, but one thing we'll learn is that David Ash isn't, never was, and never will be, the answer at quarterback forMack Brown. Texas wins, but fails to cover.
Clemson (-3) vs. Auburn @ Georgia Dome, September 1:
We go back to the Georgia Dome for the Saturday night edition of the Kickoff Classic, which is quickly spawning many great ACC-SEC match-ups, and with all due respect to Tennessee and N.C. State, this is the marquee match-up of the two this year.
And if last year's contest between the two in Auburn is any indication, it also has a lot to live up to. Auburn is still trying to adjust to life A.C. (after Cam), so Clemson, riding high off a BCS bid, should get the season-opening win here. Take them to cover.
Hawaii @ USC (-40), September 1:
Everyone's presumptive BCS title favorite (well, mine anyway), the Trojans, start the seasin with a rarity, that being a non-conference trip to the mainland for the Warriors of Hawaii.
Two other rarities for this one: One, this will, I can say with the utmost certainty be the only time Hawaii shows up in this column.
And two, this will be the one & only time a 40-point spread appears here. Despite USC's abundance of talent, as a general rule, I don't pick teams to cover large spreads like this one. So USC wins, but doesn't cover.
Michigan vs. Alabama (-13.5), @ Cowboys Stadium, September 1:
I'll spare you all the rant I could go on about Bama being such a big favorite here, as they are both in the SEC, and therefore are automatically overrated, and the defending national champs, which does afford them a certain modicum of respect.
But a lot has changed about the Crimson Tide since that January night in New Orleans, namely the fact most of that starting defense will be playing on Sundays in a week's time.
And the high-powered Wolverines' offense led by Denard Robinson isn't the easiest test to break in new guys with. I'm calling for the upset and taking Michigan here.
SMU @ Baylor (-10), September 2:
Well, I guess this week's theme is "teams that are getting too much respect." I'd like to go ahead & apologize in advance to all my Baylor friends for what I'm about to say, but I don't understand how they can be favored by this much over anyone with RG3 now in a Redskins jersey.
Granted, the Mustangs weren't very good at the end of last year, but the Bears are, at the absolute best, a .500 team without Griffin, and I think they take the loss here. Give me SMU in an upset.
And there's this wseek's picks. Stay tuned later this weekend for the illustrious return of the college football awards, and check back here next week to see how much suckage I packed into a ten-game pick column.
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