Week One Predictions
Posted By:Brett Haynes - Greenville, SC Tags: college football
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After staring at these games all offseason, it finally dawned on me that I need to pick my winners. Just 13 hours from now the season will kick off. We made it back.
Wake Forest (0-0, 0-0) at Syracuse (0-0, 0-0) - 8:00 Thursday, ESPN3.com - The Demon Deacons take 17 returning starters on the road to face a Syracuse team that is bouncing back. The Orange went from two wins in 2009 - Head Coach Doug Marrone's first season - to seven wins a year ago. Marrone brings back 13 guys, eight of which are on offense. Quarterback Ryan Nassib threw for 2,334 yards last year, and will add a few hundred more against Wake Forest. The Deacs will put up a fight, but it gets loud in the Carrier Dome and this team will have the full support of the Orange crowd who are eager for a big season....Syracuse, 35-24.
#20 Mississippi State (0-0, 0-0) at Memphis (0-0, 0-0) - 8:00 Thursday, online TV - Suddenly, Memphis is on the mat. After being somewhat respectable for years, they went 1-11 a year ago and do not have much coming back for 2011. MSU, meanwhile, is trying to step up in the toughest division out there, the SEC West. Under Dan Mullen, the Bulldogs have become a solid team. I see them going into Memphis and winning this game behind quarterback Chris Relf and a defense with nine guys back for more. Memphis may make a little noise early on with a home crowd. But MSU is the better team and should win unless a major catastrophe happens...MSU, 28-13.
#14 TCU (0-0, 0-0) at Baylor (0-0, 0-0) - 8:00 Friday, ESPN - Everyone likes to bash TCU's schedule, but this is a tricky little opener. Baylor is not the slouch of days gone by, though they are also not a giant of the industry, either. But on the road, this has the potential to be a tough task for the Horned Frogs. The Bears won seven games last season and bring back nearly all of their offense. TCU, on the other hand, returns just eight guys total that started a year ago. But I have said it before and I will say it again, Gary Patterson is a great coach, and I will pick him every time in a 50-50 type of game. TCU will win this game close, based on a strong defensive effort...TCU, 26-20.
Appalachian State (0-0, 0-0) at #13 Virginia Tech (0-0, 0-0) - 12:30 Saturday, ESPN.com - There is not a team more familiar with going into a Big Boy's house and winning like App State (at Michigan '07). And there isn't a team in the nation that struggles early on like VT (lost to James Madison in second game of '10 and to East Carolina in '08). So this one could be fun! But despite Tech's early season shenanigans of past, and the fact the ASU will not be intimidated, I see VT not letting it happen again. The Hokies will be focused, and they have some good players. The Mountaineers are also without former quarterback Armanti Edwards, who led a lot of that magic in years past...VT, 36-20.
South Florida (0-0, 0-0) at #16 Notre Dame (0-0, 0-0) - 3:30 Saturday, NBC - No matter what happens at ND, when you see the name you think "surely they are about to start winning again." So since they are at home, against a team with - literally - a fraction of their history (USF football program began in 1997), and are coming off of a bowl winning season, this is an obvious pick, right? Wrong. I am not yet sold on the Irish, even though I wrote before last season what a great job I thought Brian Kelly would do in South Bend. Instead, they were average in his first year...South Florida is led by BJ Daniels, who is experienced and very exciting, but has to watch throwing an intereption at the wrong time...The Bulls are going to give ND everything they want and then some in this game, but I am going to take the Irish to win at home. Yes, there was once a day where this was a laugher. Those days are gone....Notre Dame, 26-24.
Chattanooga at #10 Nebraska (0-0, 0-0) - 3:30 Saturday, TV - This is one of those games that I have a hard time filling up a capsule with sentences! If you are Nebraska, there are three things you want from this game, ideally: a shutout, big numbers for quarterback Taylor Martinez (Heisman campaign begins), and no injuries. Besides that, this is simply a tasty practice and not much more. Fans can get back to Lincoln, find their old friends and get back into the swing of things. But really, this should be an easy win for the Huskers and I will be surprised if Chattanooga finds the end zone....Nebraska, 42-3.
Troy (0-0, 0-0) at Clemson (0-0, 0-0) - 3:30 Saturday, ESPN3.com - Most Tiger fans see the name Troy and think this will be a cupcake game. And while CU will be favored considerably, they better not take Troy lightly. The Trojans are no strangers to playing D-1 teams. Clemson QB Tajh Boyd has just 63 career throwing attempts, and it hasn't been especially pretty so far (33 of 63 with four scores and three picks), so we will know a lot more about Boyd - and the Tigers - following this game. To me, the biggest diference in the game will come in the form of Tiger tailback Andre Ellington. Injured for the second half of last season, Ellington is one of the ACC's premier backs and will be on a mission in 2011. Do not be surprised to see him score three touchdowns, pacing the Tigers to a 1-0 start...Clemson, 38-13.
BYU (0-0) at Ole Miss (0-0, 0-0) - 4:45 Saturday, ESPN - This game could be labeled as a run vs pass game. BYU has been known for decades as one of the top passing programs nationwide.They may not play much D, but they can toss it around pretty good! Jake Heaps returns for his sophomore season after throwing for 2,316 yards last year. Senior JJ Di Luigi is a threat as a receiver for the Cougars from the runing back position. Ole Miss will counter by running Brandon Bolden. An insider tells me Bolden is a beast (5'11", 221 lbs), and if he can pick up first downs leaving the BYU offense on the sideline, then that is the key to winning this game...This is a very tough pick. Ole Miss will have the home-field advantage, so I should go with that. But I think BYU will put up big numbers in 2011 with Heaps back, and they get a win here via the air game. Ole Miss will go up early, and score on the Cougar D, but BYU will score a bunch, too...BYU, 37-32.
#12 South Carolina (0-0, 0-0) vs. East Carolina (0-0, 0-0) - 7:00 Saturday, ESPN3.com - Bank Of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC - Steve Spurrier will lead his most hyped South Carolina team to date out on the field to play the Pirates of Conference-USA in the opener. Though this game is being played at a neutral site, the crowd should be well over 50% Gamecocks. An easy win should be expected, but USC better be careful not to overlook this game as ECU has played in the C-USA Championship Game in two of the last three seasons and are not a bad program. The following week is the big game in Athens, and those in garnet have had that one circled all summer long. The Gamecocks have more talent, but again, must stay focused. If they do focus, they win by 30. If they don't focus, this could be a scare. All said, USC fans should enjoy the highlight reel plays in this game, and hope for no injuries to a starter...South Carolina, 40-17.
#3 Oregon (0-0, 0-0) vs. #4 LSU (0-0, 0-0) - 8:00 Saturday, ABC - Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, TX - My remote control will get a workout flipping between this game and the Boise-UGA game. LSU will put the SEC's big-game reputation on the line against an Oregon team that is currently the class of the West coast. The Tiger defense - always one of the nation's best - will have to play exceptionally well as the Tiger offense may struggle down QB Jordan Jefferson. Oregon scored a ton a year ago against the SEC defense of Tennessee (48 points), but not so much against the SEC defense of Auburn (19 points) three months later. I see Oregon having a hard time scoring on the athletes which LSU has on defense. But I also see LSU having a hard time scoring on Oregon as their QB is out. I think this game lives up to the hype, with LSU - once again - finding a strange way to win close....LSU, 20-18.
#5 Boise State (0-0, 0-0) vs. #19 Georgia (0-0, 0-0) - 8:00 Saturday, ESPN - Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA - In the other can't miss game of the evening, the Dawgs of UGA look to right the ship under Coach Mark Richt. The Dome will be a sea of red and black, with rabid fans eager to see their squad back in the national scene. But even with the pandomonium that is sure to be, Boise State will be ready. Though missing stud receiver Titus Young to graduation, the Broncos return Kellen Moore and the gameday coaching of Chris Petersen, one of the nation's best...BSU may play but a few tough games a year, but they know how to win those games when they get in them. The Dome will be an all-Georgia atmosphere, but I think Boise State will be focused on the task at hand...Boise State, 35-31.
Miami, Fl (0-0, 0-0) at Maryland (0-0, 0-0) - 8:00 Monday, ESPN - Luckily for the ACC, here is a nationally televised game the league can't lose! The Hurricanes and Terrapins take center stage for ESPN's Labor Day game. Both squads will be under the guidance of a new coach as Al Golden takes over for the U and Randy Edsall will start his tenure on the Terp sideline. Based on home-field advantage and the fact that Maryland has had a far less distractive offseason, I feel it wise to go with Maryland in this one. Miami has some talented players (not quite like the days of old), but I feel they have a lot to get straight before Golden can enjoy some success with the 'Canes....Maryland, 27-20.
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