My Week 1 rankings will be up tomorrow (Tuesday) evening-ish. Until then, let's see how we did picking games...
Wake Forest @ Baylor (+12)
The Demon Deacons have been solid the last few years. The Bears haven't.
The Call: Wake Forest by 14
The Result: Wake Forest 41-13
The Deacons looked pretty good right off the bat. It's gonna be a long season for the Bears.
NC State (+13.5) @ South Carolina
Is this the year Steve Spurrier turns the Gamecock's fortunes around? Or maybe it's the year Tom O'Brien turns the Wolfpack's fortunes around. One of these two needs to get better, dammit.
The Call: South Carolina by 17
The Result: South Carolina 34-0
That was an ugly first half, dear lord. What has happened to the old Ball Coach? Developing QB's was supposed to be his thing, but three interceptions in the first 20 minutes? The Gamecocks are going to have a rough time of it in the SEC this year.
Oregon State @ Stanford (+3)
Both of these teams pulled off some good wins over #2 teams last year, the Beavers over Cal and then the Cardinal over USC. They should be able to build on those - but one of them will be behind right from the start. The Beavers are going to be stronger this year though.
The Call: Oregon State by 10
The Result: Stanford 36-28
The Cardinal looked better than I thought they would, but they're gonna need to shore up that D pretty quick. Oregon State needs to stop the turnovers or they're not gonna be very happy in the valley next week vs Penn State.
Virginia Tech @ East Carolina (+9.5)
This one's tricky. The Pirates gave the Hokies a good scare in Blacksburg last year, and some people are calling for them to win outright this year (they do have the home field advantage). But let's not forget - the Hokies finished 11-3 last year, their only losses coming to national champion LSU, BC (which they avenged in the ACC Champ. game), and 12-1 Kansas in the Orange Bowl. There's some questions about their offense, but the D should be fine. They'll pull out the W again, but it'll be close again.
The Call: Virginia Tech wins, but East Carolina covers the spread
The Result: East Carolina 27-22
Solid special teams and D from both sides, but not much good offense. I'm not sure how much this says about the Hokies chances in the ACC this year - they still could have a decent run. The Pirates are looking like the class of the CUSA - good for them. Props to all those who called the upset.
Hawaii @ Florida (-34.5)
This isn't even going to be entertaining. Unless you like it when Tebow runs for 200 and throws for 300, that is. (Well, he might get some numbers, but he'll be sitting less than ten minutes into the 3rd quarter.) The question is how will the Florida D hold up? This won't be much of a test, but they should be okay. 35 points is a lot of ground to make up though...
UPDATE: Harvin is out. The offense won't be as potent, but they'll still dominate. I'm sticking with my original call.
The Call: Florida by 38
The Result: Florida 56-10
The Gators are looking good in all areas, while the Warriors are going to be rebuilding this year, as we suspected. Tebow's numbers weren't very Tebow-ish - as long as they win like that it won't really matter.
USC (-19.5) @ Virginia
Kudos to the Trojans for traveling to a BCS school to start the season, and kudos to the Cavaliers for scheduling one of the toughest teams in the nation. I'm proud of you both. The Trojans have a lot of questions on offense, but their D should be dominant. The Cavaliers might score once or twice, but the Trojans won't score much more than that.
The Call: USC wins, but Virginia covers the spread
The Result: USC 52-7
Uh-oh, folks - the Trojans have an offense. McKnight needs to protect the ball better, but they were looking better than advertised at all offensive positions. Of course the Cavalier D isn't the same as they were last year, but still. They need to regroup, and next week against Richmond should be a good opportunity.
Utah (+3.5) @ Michigan
Another intriguing matchup. Michigan has Rich Rodriguez, sure, but they don't have a QB, O line, or basically anybody on offense who is going to be able to work Rodriguez's system right out of the gate. The D is suspect too, but they might be solid. It won't be a matter of preparedness like it was last year against App State - the Wolverines are gonna be ready to play this one. But so are the Utes.
The Call: Utah by 10
The Result: Utah 25-23
Gutsy play from both teams. The Wolverines looked awfully shaky, but they hung in there and made it a game at the end. Props to the Utes for going to a BCS school and knocking them off - they might be in for a stellar year, and a victory like this will surely help. Sakoda's got one hell of a leg.
Appalachian State @ LSU (-?)
I don't usually pick games that involve DI-AA teams, but this one's different. The reigning champs for their respective divisions, sure, but make no mistake - this is all about the Mountaineers huge upset last year in the opener at Michigan. They're not going to be able to sneak up on anyone this year, and LSU should be ready. If the Mountaineers pull of the W, it won't be a bigger surprise than last year, but it'll have much bigger ramifications for college football as a whole. If the Tigers win, as they probably will, all the SEC fans will use it as more ammo against the Big 10. That's gonna be annoying. There's no line here, so we'll have to make up a reasonable one...
The Call: LSU by less than 24.5
The Result: LSU 41-13
Pretty close on the spread. This serves to again stress the magnitude of App State's win in the Big House last year, but more importantly it shows that as much as we love football, it's secondary compared to other life events - hang in there, Louisiana.
Alabama v Clemson (-5)
Both of these teams need this one bad. The Tigers needs to start strong if they're going to have the season that everyone expects them to, while Saban needs this to keep people drinking the Tide-red Kool-Aid.
The Call: Clemson by 13
The Result: Alabama 34-10
Oh, Tigers. That was certainly the whuppin', and the Tide looked solid & played hard throughout. But here's the thing - can we please stop with all the excess hyperbole? The result of this one game doesn't mean that Clemson is going to have a bad year, and it doesn't mean that the Saban rebuilding project is automatically in high gear. Sure, it might turn out that this game was important when we look back in December, but it's also possible that Clemson could be back in the Top 10 and Alabama could be 6-6 again - it's just way too early to tell. So let's just tone it down a bit, huh?
Michigan State @ California (-4.5)
The Bears are a mystery. They started off so strong last year, beating up on Tennessee and making it to #2 in the rankings, but then they fell right out of their oak tree perch. A QB change might be what it takes to get over the hump this year. The Spartans usually follow the same pattern - might they want a little revenge on the Bears for stealing their schtick? Tough call...
The Call: Michigan State by 7
The Result: California 38-31
Nice start to the season for the Bears, but they've had those before. They're gonna have to sustain for people to believe in them more. The Spartans can still do some good things, but a win would've set them up for possible great season.
Illinois v Missouri (-8.5)
The Big Rematch. Both of these teams had great seasons last year, and both should be at least .500 this year. Expectations are a bit higher for the Tigers who are returning their Heisman-hopefuly QB. There's no Oklahoma on the schedule this year, so that's a plus for them too.
The Call: Missouri by 10
The Result: Missouri 52-42
Right on the money. Both teams looked solid a point, not so much at others. But they both are gonna be tough conference foes.
Kentucky @ Louisville (-3.5)
I admit, I don't know as much about these two as I should. They both are very different than last year when they were led by solid QB's, and this season might be downers for both. Which one can keep for skidding back to obscurity?
The Call: Kentucky by 6
The Result: Kentucky 27-2
Amazing how things can fall apart so quickly. (I'm referring to both the Louisville program, the start to this season, and this game all at the same time.) The Wildcats should be 4-0 heading into their October game against Alabama.
Colorado (-12) v Colorado State
These two played a solid game last year, but I don't think it'll be nearly as close this year. Hawkins should have his Buffs ready to go.
The Call: Colorado by 17
The Result: Colorado 38-17
Both the Buffs and Rams looked pretty decent tonight. Solid matchup.
Fresno State @ Rutgers (-5.5)
I'm really looking forward to this matchup - two teams with a lot of fight who have had to work hard to build up their reputations in the last few years. But the Bulldogs won their last three games last year (including vs Kansas State and their bowl game against GA Tech). Look for them to be at or near the top of the WAC this year.
The Call: Fresno State by 7
The Result: Fresno State 17-7
Solid effort by the Scarlet Knights, but they just couldn't turn the corner when they got into the Bulldog's backyard. Nice performance by Pat Hill's squad - the visit by Wisconsin next week is going to be as big, if not bigger.
Tennessee @ UCLA (+7.5)
Big SEC-Pac 10 matchup. Teams with a ton of history. Lots of national exposure. Being played in the Rose Bowl.
The Bruins are gonna get destroyed.
The Call: Tennessee by 24
The Result: UCLA 27-24 in OT
Wow, what a game. Count me dead wrong - all credit to the Bruins for fighting and perservering through a pretty disastrous first half. The Vols' D was pretty solid throughout (until the fourth quarter, at least), but that offense - damn. They were just sloppy the whole game. That veteran O-line needs to get back to form before the showdown with the Gators in three weeks...
Not too bad of a start to the year, though I missed bad on some of the marquee matchups. Overall, I was 10 of 15 straight up, and 9 of 15 against the spread. I'll take it.