Sunday, August 28, 2016

College Football 2016: Week One Games of the Week

Here is a look at my picks for games of the week for week one of the college football season:

Thursday 9/1
Appalachian State at Tennessee
The Mountaineers have a history of going to marquee stadiums and pulling out wins. This may not be their big chance for a win over a Power Five program, but they may get one this season. Appalachian State, if they lose, may not likely lose many more this season.
Tennessee is under more pressure than Appalachian State to win this football game, and Butch Jones is in big need of a fast start. A loss here may be an indicator of how the season may go moving forward, and I am not sold on Tennessee overall. There is a chance for Appalachian State here, but it's a long shot.
Pick: Tennessee

Western Illinois at Eastern Illinois
This is a marquee FCS opener for two rivals from different conferences. Western and Eastern are both in position to push for an FCS playoff bid, but the winner here gets a huge head start in that process.
Pick: Western gets the road win.

Duquesne at Youngstown State
Duquesne is vulnerable at the top of the Northeast Conference, but a road win at Youngstown would show the nation that the Dukes are not ready to step back just yet.
Bo Pelini is still trying to get the Penguins back to the top of the mountain after a 5-6 start last season in year one. Pelini needs this win to start the season, but it won't be easy, not even at home.
Pick: Youngstown State and Bo Pelini get their quick start.

Montana State at Idaho
This will be a Big Sky game in 2017 once Idaho drops back down to FCS football. For now, it could be a preview of what is to come. The Bobcats are looking for consistency and have a new coach in Jeff Choate. They also need to find a QB for 2016, and so that will be a huge task heading in. Idaho just needs to show that they still care in a lame duck season.
Pick: Idaho

Friday 9/2

Kansas State at Stanford
The Friday night schedule in week one is rather thin for meaningful games, and this game is not exactly top shelf, but Ryan Burns will get the start at QB for the Cardinal, and he will go up against what is usually a stout and physical defense. Luckily, he has been working against his own defense in workouts, so he knows how that will be.
Kansas State has been slipping in recent seasons, and if the Wildcats start off slowly, Bill Snyder may start to consider when the end of his run will be.
Pick: Stanford

Toledo at Arkansas State
This is a top shelf Group of Five tilt between two conference contenders from the MAC and Sun Belt. This is also game one of the Jason Candle era as head coach of Toledo. Candle takes over for Matt Campbell, who left for Iowa State (questionable move in my book). He has a relatively stocked roster, and Toledo will bring their A game.
Arkansas State will be one of the three best teams in the Sun Belt, and Blake Anderson has a solid roster heading in. The Red Wolves would love to get a huge start at home, and it will take everything they have to get there.
Pick: Arkansas State

Saturday 9/3

Oklahoma at Houston
Oklahoma is a top five program in my book heading into the season. They are loaded at every position, but will it be enough to get by a massive road test against a Houston team that crushed Florida State in the Peach Bowl?
Houston is coming off of a huge season in 2015, and would love to join Oklahoma in the Big 12. If Houston can claim an upset here, there is no argument against them. If Houston loses this game, they may not lose another, and could find themselves in the NY6 bowls again. If Houston wins, Oklahoma may lose the only shot the league has of making the four team playoff.
There is a ton on the line.
Pick: Oklahoma

Western Michigan at Northwestern
On the surface, this is not a typical game of the week, but Western Michigan is trying to prove that they are right there with Houston as far as being a dominant Group of Five program, and they have one of the fastest rising young coaches in the nation in PJ Fleck. WMU can really run up the offense, and they will challenge the Northwestern defense at every turn.
The deal is that Northwestern has a very strong defense, and they can really shut down the best offenses when they want to. Northwestern needs to solid start to their season, and if they fail at that, this is a team that could spiral, as they did two years ago. This is a must get for Northwestern, yet Western Michigan has less to lose.
Pick: Western Michigan

UCLA at Texas A&M
Nobody really knows what to expect out of the Aggies in 2016, and Kevin Sumlin is squarely on the hot seat. He has hired former UCLA OC Noel Mazzone to run the offense, and Mazzone will have Oklahoma transfer Trevor Knight to work with, but Knight never really showed consistency in Norman, and Mazzone has never showed consistency as a coordinator. Making matters worse is that UCLA will know what he is going to do, because he is as predictable as they get.
The drawback on UCLA is that this, historically and on average, is a game that the Bruins tend to lose. College Station is a tough place to play in, but the Bruins should have the edge. Why, then, are they the dog here?
Pick: Texas A&M

LSU vs. Wisconsin (at Green Bay)
Wisconsin lost their best OL to injury this week for the season, and Leonard Fournette of LSU was in a walking boot last week. That really shakes up expectations for this game, especially for a Badger unit that struggled on offense at times last fall. LSU is an outright favorite if this game is in Baton Rouge, but it's not. LSU is also having an emotional time, as the city is under water due to flooding. They may use that as a launching pad to a win on the road, but playing Wisconsin anywhere in the state is never an easy route to a win. This is a flip for me.
Pick: LSU, but very narrowly.

Louisiana Tech at Arkansas
Arkansas could be on upset alert when the Bulldogs roll into town this week. Arkansas fell at home to Toledo last year, and had a lossto UL-Monroe a few years back. Could the trend continue?
Pick: Louisiana Tech

Georgia vs. North Carolina (At Atlanta)
The Bulldogs may have the better RB crew heading in, but UNC has the better all around offense. Kirby Smart is a defensive guru, but is the UGA defense ready for the Tar Heels? UNC also has the better QB in Mitcu Trubisky, and it's not even close.
Pick: North Carolina

Southern Mississippi at Kentucky
Southern Miss is an absolute ten win team in 2016, and I am not even sure how UK is favored in this one. Jay Hopson could get a big win in his FBS and Southern Miss coaching debut, while Mark Stoops needs this win for the Wildcats to stave off the Dead Pool.
Pick: Southern Miss

USC vs. Alabama (At Dallas)
We really do not know much about the Trojans other than they will go with a K Gun attack on offense. Alabama still has not made an official announcement on a starting QB, but is it even necessary? USC has more to prove than Bama does, and that is for certain.
Pick: Alabama

Northern Iowa at Iowa State
UNI is going to be a tough out in the Missouri Valley, and they have had success in this series before. Matt Campbell is hoping to not have his coaching debut in Ames undone by the FCS Panthers.
Pick: Iowa State

Eastern Washington at Washington State
The Cougars fell to a Big Sky team in Portland State last season. Another start like that would be a wreck for a Cougar team that I feel can win ten games this fall. EWU is a top four FCS program, and has the best player in FCS football in WR Cooper Kupp. The Cougars have the best QB in FBS football in Luke Falk. This will be a fun game to watch among the glut of great games this week.
Pick: Washington State

Clemson at Auburn
Clemson should win here, let that be said, but Auburn has a ton to prove. Anytime you can watch Deshaun Watson is a treat, but can the defense do a better job than they did against Alabama?
Pick: Clemson

Arizona vs. BYU (At Glendale)
Arizona needs to find out how committed Rich Rodriguez is to the program after he used South Carolina's opening to get an extension from UA. He is also now thinking about using a 2 QB system, which is bad news for Anu Solomon, who really needs to be the guy. BYU is beginning the Kilane Sitake era after Bronco Mendenhall left for Virginia. This could be anybodies game, but should be one of the more entertaining games in the West.
Pick: BYU

St. Francis (PA) at Montana
This will be a measuring stick game for how far the Red Flashes of St. Francis have come, as they head into the year as a potential favorite in the Northeast Conference of FCS football. Montana will have a huge advantage at home, and Bob Stitt is trying to push the Griz back into the elite of FCS football. The most interesting FCS game on a day where the schedule is thin on high profile clashes.
Pick: Montana

Sunday 9/4

Alcorn State at Bethune-Cookman
A familiar face pops back up coaching the Braves of Alcorn State in Fred McNair, brother of the late Steve McNair, who put this program on the map. Gone is coach Jay Hopson for Southern Miss, but McNair should have enough talent on hand to make a run at the SWAC title. Bethune-Cookman is going to be in the mix in the MEAC under Terry Sims, now in his second season with the Wildcats. He hasn't missed a beat since taking over for the very successful Brian Waters, and the Cats will be ready for this challenge in a high profile HBCU clash on Sunday.
Pick: Bethune-Cookman

Monday 9/5
Florida State vs. Ole Miss (At Orlando)
FSU has had ongoing injury issues at QB with Sean Maguire, but it looks like he will be healthy for this game, at least enough to play. DeAndre Francois is still expected to start. Ole Miss is in the middle of an intensive NCAA investigation that is now spreading, and it could be a huge distraction for the Rebels, even if they do have the best QB in the SEC in Chad Kelly. This game will go down to the wire, but could go either way.
Pick: Ole Miss

No comments:

Post a Comment