2008 College Football Picks: Week 1

"I'm back baby!"
- George Costanza

Appropriate on several levels isn't it?

The day has finally arrived. The 2008 college football season begins in earnest tonight and I'm so giddy I can barely contain myself. Don't worry though, I'm about to begin another full day of State Fair broadcasts, so my giddiness will be tempered shortly.

But it won't be completely eliminated. College football just jazzes me up like that. I can't be stopped, they can only hope to contain me! And that's how I feel about this year's picks. I'm thinking that last season was a warm up, and now I'm ready to hit my stride!

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For those of you who weren't on the email list last year, here's basically how it works. Each week I select 3 games to pick against the spread. I not only offer you, my dear readers, my picks, but solid arguments to back them up.

But I don't just stop at 3 picks. Oh, no, no, no. In addition to the 3 standard picks, you get a bonus "Flyer Pick of the Week". Last year's email recipients will recognize that as my "exotic pick". This is where I make a pick that I have no legitimate argument for, but rather am picking based on pure emotion (and that can be positive or negative). If I win, I'll crow about it the following week. If not, I don't mention it. Fair? Probably not, but it's my blog and I write the rules baby!

So let's not dilly-dally. Without further ado, I give you the Week 1 edition of The Sports Take's 2008 College Football Picks.

Were recreational gaming legal, and were I to have the wherewithal to make a worthwhile wager, these are the games I'd put my money on:

Minnesota -8.5 vs. Northern Illinois: The Gophers won one game last year. The Huskies won 2. Is "Clash of the Titans" copyrightable in this case?

The Gophers are in the second year of head coach Tim Brewster's spread offense, so the players, led by sophomore QB Adam Weber should be far more comfortable with the scheme than they were in last year's opener. And that should give opposing defenses a pause. Even with their horrible record, Weber averaged 292 total yards per game. Now he's got a year of experience under his belt and more talent around him.

The Huskies had all kinds of problems on defense last year, surrendering an average of 494 yards per game. And it doesn't look like they've significantly upgraded their talent.

Put those two factors together, and there's no question the Gophers are going to score points in bunches. The only question is whether they can keep NIU off the board enough to cover the 8.5. As bad as the Gopher defense was last year, I think they have enough to get that done. Brewster has a big-time freshman class and brought in a bevy of junior college transfers. There should be enough talent there to upgrade the defense. Somewhat.

I'm going to this game, so if I can manage it, there'll be a running game commentary next week!


Hawaii +34.5 @ Florida: Yes, I picked the Gators to win the SEC. Yes, I think they'll smoke the Rainbows. The talent-gap here is large. And there's no question Florida will win by multiple scores.

But it's rare in these games that a huge margin like that gets covered. If for no other reason than eventually Florida head coach Urban Meyer will start putting 2nd and 3rd-string players into the game to get them some experience.

That should allow Hawaii - how far have they fallen? - to keep the margin of loss under 35 points, giving us a win.

Take the Rainbows, take the points and chalk up a win.


California -4.5 vs. Michigan State: It was suggested to me by a loyal reader that I didn't give Cal enough love in my preview yesterday. Hopefully this helps mollify him.

Cal's a talented club, they just happen to reside in a league with a lot of talented clubs. They could easily be the 3rd place club this year. Especially if Oregon's QB situation remains the mess that it is currently.

Michigan State went 7-6 with a bowl berth last year under first year head coach Mark Dantonio. There's every reason to think that the Spartans will improve as they digest his system.

But Week 1, on the road at a solid Pac 10 school? I'm not sure they have enough to hang with the Cal offense.

The Bears win by a touchdown and cover the 4.5 and we go 3-0 in Week 1.

Think I'm wrong? We'll see next week!

Finally, it's time for the Flyer of the Week pick:

Nebraska -14.5 vs. Western Michigan: This is the kind of game that Nebraska used to win 63-doughnut. Not so much the past few years. But now former defensive coordinator Bo Pelini returns as head coach, so Husker fans are praying for a change in fortunes.

Now let's get down to why I'm really picking this game. For those of you who didn't catch the comment yesterday, my good friend, loyal Husker fan, and Sports Take reader Lon from Forest Lake wrote the following:

I have extremely mixed feelings about you having mentioned Nebraska. :-)

On the one hand, "Yay! Nebraska!"

On the other hand, "Dan mentioned Nebraska..."

So there you go. Now if I win, I'm officially Nebraska's good luck charm and he has to suck up to me. And if I lose, then it's his fault for taking the cheap shot in the first place! See?! This is one I can't lose! And those are the best picks of all!

That's it for this week's picks. Generally I'll do a Monday column recapping how my picks worked out, but since Monday's Labor Day, you can expect that column on Tuesday.

But The Sports Take isn't done for this week. Tomorrow I'll be back with the Peek at the Picks and the DFTU. Be sure to check back for those. Until then, thanks for reading!

1 comment:

  1. I think you're a shoe-in on the Hawaii pick.

    And just 'cause you might get one NU pick right, doesn't make you a good luck charm. Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

    2-2, if you include the exotic. :-)