9-1-10: 2010 College Football Picks, Week 1

Hello again everybody...

I'm baaaaaaaaaaack...

Many apologies for the unplanned break in my writing, but I ran into an odd case of a late-Summer cold virus that had me coming home from work, grabbing a bowl of soup, two shots of NyQuil and heading straight to bed for about a week.

Usually I get a cold around the first cold-snap of Fall and the first warm-snap of Spring, so where this late-August nonsense is coming from, I have no idea!

Fortunately, I'm nearly back to 100 percent, so I'm able to be back and at it today. I had to be back with you today because the 2010 College Football season kicks off tomorrow!

I know, it's crazy that it's that time already isn't it? But the pigskin season is upon us, and that means I need to start making picks again! I can't do any worse than last year... or can I?

I'll discuss and give you the first week's slate of games...

Right after the quote.

”The greatest use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.”
- William James (1842 - 1910), American psychologist and philosopher

There are a lot of ways to look at this one. Yes the spot on the Twins Tradition Wall cost a few pennies, but odds are, that inscription will outlast me. And yes, this blog isn't ever likely to make me any money, but the impressions it makes on one or two of you fine folks might just outlast me as well. If that's not reason enough to do something... I don't know what is.

2010 College Football Picks: Week 1

For those of you who are new to Writing for the Cycle, each year I run a weekly column picking college football games against the spread.

Usually I pick four games: three straight up, and then one ”WftC Flier Pick”. What's the Flier Pick? It's simply a game that I don't count unless I win it. Does that completely de-legitimize my picks? Of course it does! But it's fun, and a WftC tradition, so there you go.

In 2008, I went 33-17 (.660) on my College Football Picks. In 2009, I went 22-26-1 (.458). This year, goal number one is to get back above .500. If I can get close to my 2008 numbers, great. If not, so be it.

So without any further ado, let's break down Week 1 in college football, shall we?

First up, three games I looked at, but didn't pull the trigger on:

Saturday 9/4 - Texas -30.5 at Rice (2:30 ESPN): Usually I stay far, far away from 30+ point spreads, but I nearly broke that rule on this one. Yes, Texas lost QB Colt McCoy to the NFL (though the way his preseason is going in Cleveland, I wonder if he'd rather have another year of college eligibility), but Mack Brown's teams don't rebuild, they reload. Remember the hot-stretch that Garrett Gilbert had against Alabama in the National Championship game? Yeah. The 'Horns will be just fine.

Saturday 9/4 - Oklahoma State -15.5 vs. Washington State (6:00pm FSN): I really wanted to bet this one, but I had too many games I liked more. OSU lost Dez Bryant to the pros but still has a lot of weapons and WASU should be just as god-awful this year as they've been in previous years. Two touchdowns-plus isn't too much to lay at home when the match-up is this lopsided.

Saturday 9/4 - Nebraska -37.5 vs. Western Kentucky (6:00pm Find a Good Bar): We here at WftC are going to be watching the Cornhuskers very closely this season due to a mid-October trip I'll be taking to Lincoln. Again, picking this game would've violated the 30+ point rule, but since it's a home game and WKU is a perennial doormat, I wouldn't have felt bad about breaking it.

But I didn't make any of those games my official picks. Which games will be the official picks?

As always, were I to have the wherewithal to make a worthwhile wager... these are the games I'd be betting on:


Thurs 9/2 - Minnesota -3 at Middle Tennessee State (6:30pm, ESPNU): The Golden Gophers went 6-7 (3-5 in the Big Ten) in 2009. The Blue Raiders went 10-3 (7-1 in the Sun Belt) in 2009.

Well those two records look awfully disparate. So why am I laying three with the Gophers? Simple. Big Ten vs. Sun Belt.

Regular readers know I can't stand the Gophers. I'm loathe to pick them at any time. Sure, last year I got in a habit of picking them hoping to put a whammy on them with the horrible luck I was having.

This isn't that.

This is simply recognizing that while I still don't see the Gophers winning more than six games, this will be one of the six. Minnesota's bigger, stronger and faster than MTSU.

And if that's not enough, the Blue Raiders had to suspend their starting quarterback for accepting a loan which violated NCAA rules.

That's enough for me to lay the three, take the Gophers and laugh gleefully if I turn out to be wrong!


Saturday 9/4 - Notre Dame -11 vs. Purdue (2:30pm NBC): The Fighting Irish went 6-6 in 2009. The Boilermakers went 5-7 (4-4 in the Big Ten) in 2009.
*- This game is this weeks WftC Flier Pick of the Week

Notre Dame will be a very interesting club to watch this season.

Last year's 6-6 record cost Charlie Weiss the head coaching job. In 2010 Brian Kelly comes over from Cincinnati and assumes the highest profile post in all of college athletics.

Kelly is a defensive coach by training, but his Bearcat offenses were known for putting impressive numbers on the scoreboard. Will he be able to duplicate that success at Notre Dame? Perhaps not right away. But this guy has won everywhere he's ever coached, so I doubt it'll be long before the Irish are a force to be reckoned with.

Purdue head coach Danny Hope is entering his second season at the helm. Last year started with a big win over Toledo, but went downhill in a hurry. The Boilermakers welcome troubled-transfer Robert Marve to take over their QB position. Let's just say, I'm not hoping for a lot.

The Irish are at home. There'll be a lot of buzz on campus with a new coach. I think that carries the Irish to an impressive opening win. We'll lay the 11 and take a flier on the Irish.


Saturday 9/4 - Northwestern -5.5 at Vanderbilt (6:30pm, Find a Good Bar ): The Wildcats went 8-5 (5-3 in the Big Ten) in 2009. The Commodores went 2-10 (0-8 in the SEC) in 2009.

If people weren't convinced that Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald was the real deal coming into the 2009 season, then last year's campaign should have removed most, if not all, doubts. Say what you want about his youth, this guy can flat-out coach. Given Northwestern's recruiting limitations with it's high academic standards, that's a must.

QB Mike Kafka finally graduated (after what seemed like a 10-year career), and the Wildcat offense is now in the hands of Junior Dan Persa. I wouldn't expect much to change. The Wildcats run the spread and run it very effectively.

Their trouble in the past has been stopping the other team from scoring. That shouldn't be a problem against the Commodores.

Vanderbilt ranked 113th in points-scored last season. A paltry 16.3 per game. This year? Well let's just say their coach is bragging up how helpful having a bye-week in the middle of the season's going to be. That's not a good sign.

Yes it's on the road, but 5.5 isn't a ton of points to give, so give them I will! If Northwestern wins by less than a touchdown, I'll be shocked.


Saturday 9/4 - UNLV +20.5 vs. Wisconsin (10pm Versus): The Runnin' Rebels went 5-7 (3-5 in the Mountain West) in 2009. The Badgers went 10-3 (5-3 in the Big Ten) in 2009.

Say what?!

I'm picking for the Gophers and against the Badgers?!

Try to control yourself. It's a little more complex than that.

Not only do I believe that Wisconsin will win this game, but I really think they have a shot at contending for the Big Ten title this season.

That being said, 20.5 is way too many points for Wisconsin to give in a road game out West.

Let me give you some history:

9/12/09 Wisconsin 34, Fresno State 31 (at home)

9/13/08 Wisconsin 13, Fresno State 10 (at Fresno)

9/8/07 Wisconsin 20, UNLV 13 (at UNLV)

Notice a pattern there? All Wisconsin wins... all games that are closer than they seemed on paper going in.

As good as I think Wisconsin could be this season, I don't see much reason to feel this opener is going to be any different.

And that's with knowing very little about UNLV. They were 77th in points-scored and 103rd in points-against. Maybe they'll be better. Maybe they'll be the same.

Either way, if Wisconsin wins by two touchdowns, I'll be happy. More than that's gravy, and when it comes to making college football picks, I never count on gravy.

I'll take the 20.5 and UNLV and celebrate a Wisconsin win regardless.

So there you have them, ladies and gentlemen. Four college football picks for your consideration. Even after delving into the wonder of it all, I still can't believe it's time to kick things off again. But I'll enjoy it all the same!

Pop your popcorn, find a comfortable place on the couch, and stay up late with me as the Badgers kick off at 10 central time!

That's going to wrap things up for me. Thanks again for your patience in my absence.

And until next time... thanks for reading!

1 comment:

  1. I notice you picked teams that will all be in the Big Ten in 2011.