The Diner’s College Football Picks, Week #1
The Diner has been picking college football games against the point spread for years, and we’re coming off one of our better seasons…last year we went 65-57-1 against the point spread, and 18-16 in the bowl season. We’ll see how we do this year, and surprisingly, there are a lot of good matchups to start things off (and, as usual, last night we learned that a middle-to-lower tier SEC team can win against the upper echelon of the ACC. Not to mention that the PAC-10’s 2nd best team can’t even beat the best of the WAC–doing nothing to help their reputation as USC +9 spares):
On to the games:
Louisiana Tech (+13.5) at Auburn: Auburn’s rebuilding, kids. New coach and 22 freshmen/redshirt freshmen are on the two-deep roster. The entire secondary is starting true freshmen. Only 75 guys on scholarship. Granted, there’s been lots of positive buzz about new coach Gene Chizik (a very curious hire) but the cupboard is apparently bare on the plains. LaTech fired off 8 wins last year and went to a bowl. In fact, Auburn interviewed their coach before hiring Chizik. So, here’s the deal: I think Auburn has more talent, but it’s young. This team will struggle (they scored 7 touchdowns in 8 SEC games last season and have the quarterback they demoted as their starter), and may even be behind in the 4th quarter. I think Auburn will squeak out a win, but there’s not a chance they’ll cover the point spread unless things aren’t as bleak as the faithful have been led to believe. Diner Prediction: Auburn 20, Louisiana Tech 17.
Virginia Tech (+6.5) vs. Alabama in Atlanta: There’s a lot of Hokie hype as there always is, just like last year when some ACC team is paraded out as a media darling (like Clemson) and ABC tries to sell us on the idea that this game has early national title implications. It doesn’t. Tech is overrated, and while Bama has question marks like an inexperienced offensive line and a new starting quarterback, it’s safe to say that Bama’s defense (returning 9 starters) is scary good. This one will look a lot like last year when the Tide took Clemson to the woodshed and it was over by halftime. This one won’t be over that early. But it will be by the end of the 3rd quarter. Diner Prediction: Alabama 28, Virginia Tech 10.
B.Y.U. (+22) vs. Oklahoma in Dallas: OU is legit. There’s a lot of talk about their young offensive line, but with returning Heisman winner Sam Bradford and their propensity to run up points against the Big 12 defenses (which have a ways to go before they get to SEC status), and well, BYU’s defense isn’t as good as 3/4 of the Big 12’s. They moved this game to the coolest stadium mankind has ever seen for recruiting purposes and those recruits will get to see HD replay after HD replay on the 60-yard long, 20-yard high video screen that hangs over the field. Diner Prediction: Oklahoma 49, B.Y.U. 21.
Georgia (+5) at Oklahoma State: Oklahoma State is getting a lot of hype for being the 3rd best team in the Big 12 South. And no question that Dez Bryant is the best college receiver in the country, with an experienced quarterback at the helm in Zac Etheredge. And they’re at home. But there has been turmoil this week in Stillwater, and Georgia is known for being road-warriors under Richt (30-4 in his tenure). Granted, they lost Moreno and Stafford, but something tells me that this’ll be the week the Cowboys fall from the national pedestal. Diner Prediction: Georgia 24, Oklahoma State 20.
L.S.U. at Washington (+17.5): Seriously? The 2nd best team in the S.E.C. this year against a Pac-10 lower-tier team? L.S.U. hasn’t lost to a Pac-10 team in 30 years, and they won’t Saturday night. Even on the road, this one’s over early. Diner Prediction: L.S.U. 35, Washington 10.
Navy (+21.5) at Ohio State: I think Ohio State will ride Terrell Pryor for all he’s worth. And he’s worth a lot now that he’s got some experience under his belt. Navy will try to keep the ball away from Ohio State with their option offense and shorten the game, but the Buckeyes will score when they get it. The question is how often will they get it, and my guess is enough to rout the Midshipmen. Diner Prediction: Ohio State 45, Navy 17.
Baylor (+2) at Wake Forest: Baylor has hope, and his name is Robert Griffin. Watching him play last season was great and he’s to Baylor what Pryor is to Ohio State. He makes things happen and he can win with his arm or his feet, and he’ll enjoy the chance to showcase what he can do against a subpar Wake Forest defense. I really like getting points on the road for these Bears. They’re better than most people might think. Diner Prediction: Baylor 30, Wake Forest 24.
Colorado State (+10.5) at Colorado: This one was moved to the Buffs home stadium rather than the Broncos’ field in Denver. And the Rams are livid about it. Their fan base will be very small and while the Buffaloes struggled against them last year, this is still a case of better talent top-to-bottom. Even though neither team has announced who will start, talent will win out over gamesmanship. Diner Prediction: Colorado 28, Colorado State 17.
Ole Miss at Memphis (+17): Jevon Snead. An Ole Miss team ranked in the top-10 to start the season for the first time. Enthusiasm is extremely high in Oxford, and while I think the Rebels will fall a couple of times to better SEC west foes, the enthusiasm is for real. They’re looking to make a statement, and while Memphis would win in a basketball game, this ain’t basketball. Look for Ole Miss to try to wow the voters in this one. Diner Prediction: Ole Miss 41, Memphis 20.
Miami (+6) at Florida State: Remember when this game mattered? Both teams are down, and when both teams are down, go with experienced coach and big-time home environment. I maintain that the Seminole throwing the flaming spear into the 50-yard-line logo before kickoff is the most underrated college tradition going…which sets the faithful into a frenzy. Nothing more than a hunch here, but…Diner Prediction: Florida State 20, Miami 10.
There you have it, patrons. What do you think?