By Chris Carlson
The College Football season is back and all is right in (my) the world. This opening weekend gives fans several ranked vs. ranked games and a whole bunch of mismatches on paper. Whether it’s early season conference matchups or high profile out of conference games, expect the unexpected. Every game, every week counts unlike any other team sport, so buckle up and get ready for the wild ride that is the College Football regular season.
#6 Washington vs. #9 Auburn: The biggest game on paper not only for Week 1, but the best non-conference matchup potentially until bowl season. The winner of this one will have plenty of cache pertaining to strength of schedule for the final playoff rankings. Both teams are capable of qualifying for the National Semifinals and may meet back up again if Auburn loses, due to the Tigers difficult schedule. Both teams return their starting quarterbacks with a slight advantage in favor of the Huskies QB Jake Browning.
Head coach Chris Peterson’s track record when facing highly-ranked teams speaks for itself. In recent years Washington’s defense has been bend but don’t break, featuring a solid defensive line and usually deep in the secondary. The Tigers own the longest FBS-streak in the nation producing 9-straight 1000-yard rushers. Will an offensive line having to replace 4 starters from last year give RB Kam Martin Jr. enough daylight? The location of this game could make a difference with Auburn being closer for fans to Atlanta.
The Pick: Washington 26 Auburn 23
#12 Notre Dame vs. #14 Michigan: Both programs look to rebound after stumbling for stretches of the 2017-18, season. Under Jim Harbaugh the Wolverines haven’t got much productivity from the quarterback position. In walks Ole Miss transfer Shea Patterson to jump start the passing offense and finally take advantage of the all skilled players, the Irish senior starter at quarterback Brandon Wimbush.
The importance of this intriguing Week 1 is crucial considering both teams are faced with daunting schedules ahead. Subpar pass games generally lead to low scoring, smash-mouth football. Jim Harbuagh gets just enough out of his offense to win the game in the closing minutes.
The Pick: Michigan 23 Notre Dame 17
Under The Radar
#8 Miami vs. #25 LSU: Last year the Hurricanes got to 10 wins for the first time in 15 years. Ohio State grad transfer QB Joe Burrow will get the nod under-center for an LSU team that desperately needs help on that side of the ball. Miami redshirt-senior QB Malik Rosier will make a few extra big plays then Burrow to push the Canes over the top in an otherwise closely-contested Sunday night primetime scrap.
The Pick: Miami 24 LSU 20
Saturday Upset Special
The first few weekends are always the most difficult to decipher who’s real and who’s fake. Preseason rankings don’t mean diddle at the start and it generally takes the first month for teams to separate. North Carolina will travel across the country to face California and the Tarheels will have a festive plane ride home pulling of the upset as 7-point road-dogs.
#20 Virginia Tech at #19 Florida State: Both programs have underperformed of late and desperately need to start the season with an early ACC-rivalry win. The Hokies injuries and eligibility issues on defense will be the difference here.
(Honorable Mention: An improved San Diego State will stay with #13 Stanford until the fourth quarter.)
Against The Spread
The 11th ranked Michigan State Spartans will definitely beat Utah State. However, it’s Week 1, many high profile teams come out a tad flat or rusty you might say. Last year the Aggies were young, now with experience look for Utah State to make this relatively competitive and lose by less than the 23.5 points.
-The Heisman Favorites: Wisconsin RB Jonathan Taylor, Stanford RB Bryce Love, Penn State QB Trace McSorley, Washington QB Jake Browning.
-Heisman Darkhorses: West Virginia QB Will Grier, Arizona QB Khalil Tate, Michigan QB Shea Patterson, Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa.
-The Clemson Tigers defensive line is extremely talented and shockingly brought all 4 starters back including DE’s Austin Bryant Sr. and Clelin Farrell Jr. along with DT’s Dexter Lawerence Jr. and Christian Wilkins Sr.
-In 10 seasons at Alabama head coach Nick Saban has 5 National Titles and only 4 home losses.
-Hot Seat Harbaugh: Considering the initial buzz from the hire and salary per-year Jim Harbaugh’s seat as head coach of the Michigan Wolverines is warming up. A closer look may change perception. UM would’ve been 11-2 in his first year if not for the miraculous punt play of the year versus Michigan St. Year 2 he would have gone 11-1 and went to the Playoffs if he didn’t lose against Ohio St. on the final play in overtime. Something to think about when calling Harbaugh overpaid or overrated.
Written by Chris Carlson Host of The College Ball Show Podcast available at blogtalkradio.com/ ropeadoperadio or TheGruelingTruth.Net
Follow on Twitter @RopeADopeRadio