Football is in full swing with the NFL kicking off last night with the Patriots taking down the Steelers. Thankfully, this will be the first in a long list of weekends with both college and NFL football! But let’s focus on Saturday, and college football, for the moment because we already have a week of it under our belts. Last week was a solid opening weekend, but there weren’t really any marquee matchups of note. Yes, we saw Jim Harbaugh’s debut at Michigan, but Michigan as a team isn’t really fun to watch, nor will it be for a while. Alabama took down Wisconsin but, come on, did anyone really think the Badgers would put up that much of a fight? I mean, they have Joel Stave at quarterback? Finally, Monday night’s matchup between Ohio State and Virginia Tech was interesting for a half, but then Ohio State remembered that it was Ohio State and won by 18.
While this week seems pretty dull as well, there is one marquee matchup that we should all be looking forward to later in the evening. So if you have any errands to run in the day or chores to get completed before the wife gets home, don’t feel rushed because you only need to be in front of a TV by 8:00pm (or earlier, depending on when your favorite team plays).
Oregon State at Michigan (-14.5) – 12:00pm, ABC
Michigan and Oregon State had drastically different opening days. Michigan trotted out new head coach Jim Harbaugh and lost to Utah on the road. Senior quarterback Jake Rudock tossed 3 interceptions in the loss and the Wolverines only managed 76 rushing yards on the day. Meanwhile, Oregon State only played Weber State in new head coach Gary Andersen, but looked good in a 26-7 win. True freshman quarterback Seth Collins passed for 2 touchdowns and ran for 152 yards by himself. Still, there’s a reason Michigan is favored by two touchdowns. Oregon State is rebuilding and Seth Collins isn’t much of a passer. Expect Michigan to take advantage of this and make the Beavers get their yards through the air. It’s also Harbaugh’s home debut at Michigan so expect all 100,000 seats to be filled.
The Pick: Michigan 35, Oregon State 20
Meanwhile, Michigan has a player named Butt. Jake Butt. Jim Harbaugh agrees with you that this is funny.
Hawaii at #1 Ohio State (-41) – 3:30pm, Big Ten Network
I’m only mentioning this game because Hawaii’s uniforms are freaking awesome. If there was a uniform playoff, Hawaii would definitely be a Top 4 seed.
But seriously, Ohio State will win by 50.
The Pick: Ohio State 59, Hawaii 6
#9 Notre Dame (-11) at Virginia – 3:30pm, ABC
A week after utterly demolishing Texas, Notre Dame travels to face the Virginia Cavaliers, who are coming off their own beat down at the hands of a true freshman quarterback. Malik Zaire was on fire and Notre Dame’s defense pretty much shut Texas’ offense out. Normally, this would be a game that a Top 10 team would roll over in it’s sleep, but Virginia has always been a potential to be an upset team. They have a couple of good pieces on defense, including former 5-stars Quin Blanding and Andrew Brown, and Notre Dame lost their leading rusher from 2014 for the remainder for the season. The line looks pretty low at -11, so I’ll still call for Notre Dame to win but for Virginia to cover.
The Pick: Notre Dame 24, Virginia 17
Iowa (-3) at Iowa State – 4:45pm, FOX
In the game dubbed ¡El Assico! by SB Nation, Iowa looks for revenge after losing 20-17 last year to the Cyclones of Iowa State. New starting quarterback C.J. Beathard and running back LeShun Daniels Jr. led the Hawkeyes to a week one victory over Illinois State and Iowa State pounded Northern Iowa 31-7. Iowa currently leads the series 40-22 and you can expect this game to be a low scoring affair, the same as how the last couple of games in the series have turned out. This is probably the best time to start to make dinner or run some last minute errands, but if you really have nothing else to watch…
The Pick: Iowa 17, Iowa State 10
#19 Oklahoma (-1) at #23 Tennessee – 6:00pm, ESPN
The first interesting game of the day begins all the way at 6:00 when Oklahoma and the Fightin’ Bob Stoops’ travel to Tennessee to take on the very, very young Vols. Last year, Oklahoma ran away with the game 34-10, but expect this year’s matchup to a lot more intense. Baker Mayfield looked good running the new Air Raid system last week and redshirt freshman running back Joe Mixon looked as explosive as he did in high school. It was disappointing to see Samaje Perine’s touches decrease, but Mayfield’s 388 yards and 3 touchdowns through the air alleviated some fan’s concerns. Tennessee’s offense looked good, with Alvin Kamara and Jalen Hurd combining for 267 yards and 5 touchdowns on the ground. Defensively, they gave up 424 yards through the air to Bowling Green’s Matt Johnson, which is concerning considering that Mayfield’s Air Raid attack should be a lot more explosive and efficiently than Bowling Green’s. Tennessee is a very young team and has a lot of good talent, but it might be too early in the year for them to make some noise.
The Pick: Oklahoma 35, Tennessee 20
#7 Oregon at #5 Michigan State (-3.5) – 8:00pm, ABC
Finally, the first Top 10 matchup of the season. Oregon took last year’s matchup after a come-from-behind victory led by future Heisman trophy winner, Marcus Mariota. This year, the Spartans definitely have the quarterback advantage with senior Connor Cook leading the way. The Spartans had a successful opening debut, downing Western Michigan on the road, while the Oregon Ducks had a slightly more difficult time, defeating Eastern Washington but giving up 42(!!!) points to the FCS squad. This matchup will come down to the play of the quarterbacks. We all know that Connor Cook is good and certainly has the looks of a Top 10 pick in the draft, but how will Vernon Adams play in the biggest game of his career? He had a good opening game, but the Spartans defense is a lot more tougher than an FCS team’s.
The Pick: Michigan State 45, Oregon 38
#14 LSU (-4) at #25 Mississippi State – 9:15pm, ESPN
This will be LSU’s opening game after last week’s game was cancelled due to severe weather. Meanwhile, Mississippi State snuck by Southern Miss 34-16 in a game that ended closer than expected. The Bulldogs certainly look more vulnerable than they did last year, but they return the best quarterback in the SEC in Dak Prescott and still have some good talent on offense. Meanwhile, Brandon Harris gets the start at quarterback for the Tigers and has a plethora of talent around him, but will he be able to put it together? Last year was a very bad year for LSU quarterbacks and this season’s success will depend on how much they’ve improved in the offseason. However, LSU does return all-world Leonard Fournette, who is an absolute beast of a running back and can certainly take over a game when needed. I’ll give this game to the Bulldogs because of their experience at quarterback, but this game could have gone differently if LSU had an opening day tune-up like Mississippi State did.
The Pick: Mississippi State 24, LSU 17
#20 Boise State (-2.5) at BYU – 10:15pm, ESPN2
BYU returns home to face rival Boise State after a last-second Hail Mary winner at Nebraska. Unfortunately, they lost senior quarterback Taysom Hill for the season and will have to rely on true freshman Tanner Mangum for the remainder of the season. On the positive note, Mangum isn’t your typical freshman. He was a member of the 2012 class, was an Elite 11 finalist and spent the last three seasons on a mission trip. If his performance last week showed anything, it’s that he’s capable of leading this BYU offense to great things. Boise State, on the other hand, squeaked by Washington but are still a very dangerous team that returns a majority of its starters from last year. They were a trendy preseason pick for a New Years Bowl and, despite the first week’s performance, look capable of rolling over their very weak schedule.
The Pick: Boise State 21, BYU 13
Week two will be filled with a lot of dull games before the Top 25 matchups later in the evening, but there are still some interesting games to fill your time. Michigan State-Oregon is the first big game of the season and is hopefully the first of many psuedo-playoff games that we get to see this year. As for me, I’ll be out sweating by butt off at Florida State-USF at 11:30am. If you don’t hear from me tomorrow, I’ve melted.