Friday Football Picks, Week #1
Well, even after a sub-.500 season against the line last college season, and a bowl season that left a lot to be desired The Diner is undeterred. Pressing on, we’ll get after it again this season. Without further adieu, here are the picks from the first week of the NCAA season…with a lot of yawners to choose from.
Auburn vs. Louisiana-Monroe (+26): This game has a little intrigue for Auburn fans for several reasons. First, the Auburn nation wants to get a real look at the spread offense and new defense, both under new coordinators. Second, there are lots of new faces on both sides of the ball. Third, the Warhawks beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa last season. I think this one will be close at the half, but Auburn’s too deep and will win. However, I think Auburn will be a little sluggish. Diner Prediction: Auburn 31, Louisiana-Monroe 13
Alabama (+4.5) vs. Clemson in Atlanta: I’ve gone back and forth on this one. Earlier in the week, I thought Clemson was hungrier after 9 years of being just above average and loaded with talent. Then they popped off in the media. Then I thought Saban might be downplaying the Crimson Tide a bit as he’s been uncharacteristically quiet. The Bama faithful are whispering about this being there year, too (so, what’s new?). I see it as a toss up…with Bama’s defense being just a little better. I think Bama will win outright. Diner Prediction: Alabama 23, Clemson 20.
Memphis (+7.5) at Ole Miss: For some reason, Houston Nutt hasn’t made much noise in Oxford. And, Memphis might be an upper tier team in their conference. But I think there’s been a little talent left from Orgeron’s disaster of a tenure in Mississippi. He could recruit but he couldn’t coach. Nutt can get a lot out of a little, like he did at Arkansas. The Rebels are at home, and I’m a little scared about giving more than a TD because Nutt’s teams weren’t ever an offensive powerhouse until McFadden & Jones showed up. But I’ll give the points and take Ole Miss. Diner Prediction: Ole Miss 27, Memphis 17.
Oklahoma State vs. Washington State in Seattle (+7): This is one of those games where I think you have to look at the overall programs. Money, from T. Boone Pickens, is flowing into Stillwater like nobody’s business. While the Cougs have a nice program, OSU is getting serious and they’re hungry. Good head coach. Good quarterback, too. I think the Big 12 prevails here. Diner Prediction: Okahoma State 30, Wazzu 20.
U.S.C. at Virginia (+19.5): U.S.C. is going to be much more sharp than Virginia early in the season. While the Cavaliers are an improving team in the ACC, the Trojans have stockpiled talent just waiting to get into the games. This one will be men among boys, and if you saw another middling team from the ACC get throttled by five TD’s by a middling SEC team last night, you’ll see what the best in the PAC10 will do to a middling ACC team. Diner Prediction: U.S.C. 45, Virginia 13.
Missouri vs. Illinois (+9) in St. Louis: While Illinois has improved significantly under Ron Zook, the Missouri Tigers have become a serious threat to compete for the Big 12 conference championship (of course, it helps with them being in the North division). Mizzou has a quarterback than can play with the best of ’em and has been on the big stage before. Last year, Illinois was throwing into the end zone on the last play of the game to tie, it won’t happen this year. Mizzou is going to be really good. Diner Prediction: Missouri 34, Illinois 21
Michigan State (+5) at California: The biggest problem in Berkeley right now is that there are hippies sitting in trees to prevent the athletic department from building a football weight room & such next to the stadium. But the problem isn’t their football team. The Golden Bears don’t have the muscle the Spartans have, but as the Big 10 always learns the hard way, speed kills. And the Bears have speed and athleticism and home field. Diner Prediction: Cal 27, Michigan State 21.
Colorado vs. Colorado State (+11) in Denver: The Buffs have been constantly improving the last few years while the Colorado State has been in steady decline. It’s a rivalry game, but it’s too early for the Rams to know what kind of team they have, while the Buffs know they’ll be improved. The only question in my mind is whether or not Colorado covers, but they’ll win. Diner Prediction: Colorado 28, Colorado State 14.
Kentucky (+3.5) at Louisville: Another rivalry game early in the season. Last year, Kentucky won on a miracle pass from Woodson in the last minute at home. I’m of the opinion that you don’t lose a player like Woodson and then go on the road and beat a team that’s about as good as you are. While I’d like to think an SEC team getting points is great, I think it’s not enough in this case in what should be pretty high scoring. Diner Prediction: Louisville 31, Kentucky 24.
Tennessee at U.C.L.A. (+7.5): All eyes are on the Gators and Dawgs in the SEC east. Nobody’s talking about the Vols. Nobody. But Phil Fulmer can coach, and he might just have more than folks think in Knoxville. If there’s a sleeper team in the SEC, it’s the Vols. I mean, was anyone else paying attention when UT throttled Georgia (everybody’s darling pick to win it all this year) by three TD’s. They’ve got plenty of talent. And I think they’re going to make a statement in Los Angeles in a big way. Diner Prediction: Tennessee 35, U.C.L.A. 20.
So, the first football picks are in, patrons. What do you think?