After a long, hard slog in the desert, college football is back. And with it, the Rev’s weekly picks are back.
Thus kicks off the best time of year. Find a TV, a comfortable chair, lots of refreshing beverages, and sit down and take in all the beauty this weekend. Here we go:
10 points: #15 VIRGINIA TECH (0-0) at East Carolina (0-0): Last year’s ACC champion Virginia Tech will field another strong team this year, led by a strong defensive unit and stellar special teams play. You could probably write that about every Frank Beamer coached team, and it’s a prime reason VT has won 10 or more games four years running – a feat matched only by USC.
9 points: #2 USC (0-0) at Virginia (0-0): The Men of Troy make their way east to beat up on what should be a game but ultimately outmatched Cavaliers squad. Get past this game and all eyes turn to their September 13th match-up with Ohio State in Los Angeles.
8 points: Utah (0-0) at # 24 MICHIGAN (0-0): For Michigan fans’ sake, let’s all hope this one doesn’t end up the way last year’s home opener went.
That’s painful to watch and to listen to.
7 points: Washington (0-0) at # 20 OREGON (0-0): Despite losing QB Dennis Dixon and dynamo RB Jonathan Stewart, Oregon’s a 14 point favorite at home against the Huskies. Part of that is because nobody really expects a lot of great things out of this up-and-down team Ty Willingham has cobbled together at U-Dub. The other part of it is the fact that Autzen Stadium is damn near impossible for visiting teams. When the crowd noise gets around 125 db, as Ducks fans have been known to do, I think your ears start to bleed.
6 points: OKLAHOMA STATE (0-0) at Washington State (0-0): OK State coach Mike Gundy is one year older, so he’s that much more of a man as the 2008 season rolls around. Plus it helps that OK State has a pretty potent offense and WSU is projected to finish at the bottom of the Pac-10. Pokes prevail on the road vs. the Cougars.
5 points: TCU (0-0) at New Mexico (0-0): The Horned Frogs are a 6.5 point favorite on the road and have won three in a row dating back to 2005 vs. the Lobos. Good enough for me.
4 points: Syracuse (0-0) at NORTHWESTERN (0-0): It’s quite an understatement, but coach Greg Robinson’s tenure at Syracuse has been a disaster – he’s 7-28 at three years at the helm. A loss to Northwestern this weekend would make an already bleak season outlook that much worse for the Orange.
3 points: Alabama (0-0) at # 9 CLEMSON (0-0): Clemson enters 2008 with sky-high expectations of capturing an elusive ACC title and berth in the BCS bowl bonanza. Which probably means they will go 8-4. ‘Bama will be better in their second year under Nick Saban (incidentally, if you want to see how your salary stacks up to his, check out this depressing link courtesy of the Birmingham News), but it’s tough to see them really reestablishing themselves as the class of the SEC West just yet. Clemson’s version of Death Valley is a tough place for visitors to play, so I expect the Tigers to prevail in a squeaker.
2 points: Michigan State (0-0) at CAL (0-0): I’m taking Cal because I just don’t know what to make of Michigan State. I think the Spartans will get better as the season rolls along, but this is quite a reach to travel cross country and beat the Bears on their home field. Cal beat up on Tennessee last year when the Vols traveled west; I expect they’ll eke out a close one against MSU this weekend.
1 point: #19 Illinois (0-0) at # 7 MIZZOU (0-0): The Illini and the Tigers renew their cross-river rivalry in the annual edition of the “Bragging Rights” game at the Edwards Jones Dome in St. Louis. This isn’t quite Michigan – Ohio State, but this still a big-time rivalry - loyal reader Greg in St. Louis tells us that this game sold out in about five minutes.
The Illini have high expectations heading in to 2008 and should be a solid second place pick in the Big Ten. Counter that with the prognostication going on in Columbia, where the folks are downright delirious. There’s a lot of hype around this Mizzou football team, and a lot of people think the Tigers can challenge for the national title. This one is too close to call, but since I have to choose, I’ll take the Tigers in a nail-biter.
SEASON RECORD: 0-0