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CFB Week 1 Pick ’em

August 31, 2013

Virginia Tech vs. No. 1 Alabama (-20.5) – It seems like Alabama always has the best luck and gets the benefit of the doubt. Excuse me. Alabama ALWAYS has the best luck and gets the benefit of the doubt. How many times can Oregon miss a field goal? How many times can Oklahoma St., Kansas St. and other teams lose to unranked opponents? How many ‘name’ programs can the Tide schedule, defeat handily and brainwash people into thinking it beat a top team even though the opponent isn’t near as good as it has been?

Welcome to a new college football season, but the same ol’ Alabama. Just like in 2010 and ’11 with Penn St., and last year with Michigan, Alabama plays a ‘name’ school that’s had a ton of success in the recent past but is coming off a down year or won’t be near as good as its name suggests. Virginia Tech is coming off its worst season in at least the past 10 years, only finishing with a winning record thanks to an overtime bowl victory over Rutgers. VT isn’t what it used to be, but will finish with a pretty good record thanks to a weak schedule after today’s game. QB Logan Thomas had a really bad year last year, but should bounce back a bit this year. But no matter how you spin it this game won’t be a contest. VT is missing several starters due to a variety of reasons, and Alabama is just too good, anyways. It’s going to be a rout, just like last year’s season opener. Alabama 34, Virginia Tech 10.

No. 5 Georgia at No. 8 Clemson (+1.5) – Now this is what I’m talking about. A top-notch SEC-ACC showdown, possibly with national title ramifications. Clemson lost its top rusher and receiver from last year’s 11-win squad, but Tajh Boyd, one of the best quarterbacks in the nation, returns along with junior Sammy Watkins, who set the world on fire in his freshman year with over 1,200 yards and 12 touchdowns. Martavis Bryant should be a solid No. 2 receiver, and Clemson returns four of five starting offensive linemen from last year. The Tigers finished sixth in scoring last year, averaging 41 points a game. How tough the Georgia D will be remains a question, as the Dogs lost nine starters, including their top four tacklers, from a unit that was 19th in scoring defense last year. Georgia shouldn’t have any problem scoring as Aaron Murray, Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall are all studs. But Clemson will be just as good offensively, and they proved they can beat an SEC defense in last year’s bowl victory over LSU. They’re 13-1 at home the past two years, too. Clemson 37, Georgia 33.

No. 19 Boise St. at Washington (-3.5) – Outside of the LSU game this is the game I’ve been looking forward to the most for the opening weekend. Boise pretty much always steps up for its big non-conference matchup. In just the last five years, Boise’s beaten Oregon twice (once in Eugene), Virginia Tech in Washington D.C., SEC East champion Georgia in Atlanta, and lost by four to a tough defensive MIchigan St. squad in last year’s opener (Had Boise played MSU later last year I believe the Broncos easily win). Despite just two returning defensive starters last year Boise improved its scoring D by three points a game and recorded 14 more sacks than in 2011. The Broncos return just three starters on D this season, but junior DeMarcus Lawrence (9.5 sacks last year) and senior DT Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe will anchor another strong Boise defense.

That defense will have its hands full, but not as much as it could. Star Washington tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins has been suspended for tonight’s game after a DUI guilty plead from the offseason. ASJ had 69 catches, 850 yards and seven touchdowns last year, and is one of the top tight end prospects in the nation. However, Keith Price will still have options to spread the ball around to. Running back Bishop Sankey scored 15 touchdowns last year (and rushed for 205 yards against Boise in the bowl game last year), and receiver Kasen Williams, who led the team in receptions and yards last year. Boise is 8-4 against top 25 teams in Chris Peterson’s eight seasons as head coach, and if this game was played a little bit later in the season I’d probably pick Boise. But Washington played the Broncos very tough in the bowl game and have home-field tonight. Boise St. 20 Washington 22.

No. 20 TCU vs. No. 13 LSU (-4) – This should be a very defensive-oriented matchup, as both teams have finished in the top 30 of scoring defense each of the past three years. TCU has nine returning starters on defense, and even if stud SOPHOMORE DE Devonte Fields (10 sacks, 8.5 tackles for loss last year) doesn’t play due to suspension, the Horned Frogs still have plenty of playmakers on D. LSU lost like 47 defensive starters to the NFL, but DT Anthony Johnson is the next great LSU defensive lineman, and Lamin Barrow, Craig Loston and Kwon Alexander will help LSU’s back seven really not miss a beat.

But both teams do have the offensive firepower to put some points up. Zach Mettenberger has all the skills to be a top quarterback in the SEC, and he gets his four leading receivers back plus three very good running backs (even if Jeremy Hill doesn’t play today the Tigers’ ground game will be fine). Both offenses can be inconsistent, and LSU reloads as well as anyone in the country on defense. TCU struggled in the Big 12 last year, and LSU always plays well in these games. TCU 16, LSU 20.

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