Picking Games On Season’s Eve

Last year was a good one picking games for HP. Well, I should say that the regular season was very good, as I went 58 per cent against the spread.

The bowl season, however, was a debacle that I don’t want to talk about.

So, in the spirit of moving on, here’re my picks against the spread for selected games from Week One:

Thursday Night Specials

South Carolina (-6.5) at Mississippi State

Frankly, I am a little shocked at the small size of this spread. Unless rain plays a big part, I don’t think the Bulldogs have improved enough to keep pace with this Steve Spurrier-coached squad. I think that by mid-second quarter we will see that befuddled look on Sylvester Croom’s face that we all know and love. This is a must-win game for South Carolina if it wants to end up going to a bowl and Spurrier will put the pedal to the metal. I like Blake Mitchell as a quarterback and I think he’ll have a big game and help SC cover the spread easily. SC 31, Miss. St. 7

UTEP (+2) at San Diego State

I like UTEP a lot in this one. It’s Mike Price against neophyte Chuck Long, which I think gives the Miners an advantage. Jordan Palmer is back in SoCal for the first time and I think he’ll have a big game. UTEP 35, SDSU 21

Saturday Spotlights

Idaho (+29) at Michigan State

The Spartans always seem to start out strong and they should have no problem with Idaho as Dennis Erickson makes his return to college football. Drew Stanton piles up efficient yardage and several touchdowns. Michigan State 56, Idaho 14

Marshall (+21.5) at West Virginia

This is another line that appears slightly out of wack. The Mountaineers are going to be fired up at home and should cover handily. Steve Slaton will pile up over 150 yards in just over two quarters of play. WVU 59, Marshall 13

Stanford (+11) at Oregon

Stanford, which went 5-6 last year with three narrow losses, could be a surprise team in the Pac-10. Whatever the case, I like the Cardinal offense under Trent Edwards and think this could be a close shootout (imagine that in the Pac-10!) This may be the coming out game for Duck back Jonathan Stewart and I think Oregon will squeak it out at home. Oregon 34, Stanford 27

Louisiana Tech (+21) at Nebraska

The Cornhuskers will want to play things close to the vest since USC looms on their schedule in a couple weeks, but they won’t be able to help themselves and should overwhelm the Bulldogs. You’ll see a resurgent Nebraska ground game for at least this week and the next. Big Red 51, Louisiana Tech 6

Hawaii (-16.5) at Alabama

The Rainbows are not as good on the mainland as they are at home, but they have such a quick-strike offense under Colt Brennan, it will be tough for a slow-scoring team like Bama to pull away. The Tide will win, but it will take a few defensive scores to get it done. Brennan should pass for four bills. Alabama 28, Hawaii 24

California (+1.5) at Tennessee

This is basically a pickem game. As stated over and over on this site, I love Cal’s offensive system and I think the Volunteers are going to have their hands full. It doesn’t hurt that Tennessee’s talent advantage is marginal. Marshawn Lynch has a big game and Cal wins solidly. Cal 28, Tennessee 14

Utah (+3) at UCLA

Utah is a physical team with a budding star in QB Brett Ratliff. UCLA has the very talented Ben Olson at quarterback, but he faces a tough defense in his debut as a starter. If Utah sticks with its shotgun spread offense most of the time instead of going conventional–as it did during key stretches last year–then it should do well. I’m not convinced that UCLA will be much better on defense. Utah 31, UCLA 21

SMU (+26.5) at Texas Tech

SMU is much improved, but Texas Tech is breaking in a new quarterback in Graham Harrell, which means he will get to throw at least 50 times to a slew of talented receivers. The Mustangs are breaking in a new signal caller and I think they will have trouble moving the ball with consistency. Texas Tech 63, SMU 20

USC (-8.5) at Arkansas

The Trojans are reloading again and it doesn’t help Arkansas that it is without its top back Darren McFadden. USC has the most talented team in the country and several now-unknown players ready to bust out after being in the shadow of Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush and LenDale White. Arkansas has the home field and should be inspired on defense, but my feeling is that the Razorbacks will have a lot of trouble scoring. USC 27, Arkansas 9

Notre Dame (-7) at Georgia Tech

Notre Dame should roll against a Georgia Tech defense that gave up 38 against Utah in its bowl. I think the Irish defense will rise to the challenge after being dumped on all offseason. Notre Dame 42, Ga. Tech 17

Florida Atlantic (+34) at Clemson

FAU has a horrible defense and Clemson should pile up a bunch of points. The spread should be covered when freshman phenom CJ Spiller breaks some late touchdown runs. Clemson 48, FAU 13

Memphis (+3) at Ole Miss

Brent Schaeffer should have a nice debut as Memphis has taken a step down from the DeAngelo Williams era. The Tigers will have trouble scoring and the Rebs should grind out enough points to cover. Ole Miss 17, Memphis 6

Monday Madness

FSU (+3) at Miami

This is always a close game, but I just think Miami has better overall talent and coaching than FSU. Kyle Wright has a breakout game and the Canes win. Miami 23, FSU 10

I’ll be back later on Thursday with my Heisman weekend preview.

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About Heismanpundit

Chris Huston, A.K.A. ‘The Heisman Pundit‘, is a Heisman voter and the creator and publisher of Heismanpundit.com, a site dedicated to analysis of the Heisman Trophy and college football. Dubbed “the foremost authority on the Heisman” by Sports Illustrated, HP is regularly quoted or cited during football season in newspapers across the country. He is also a regular contributor on sports talk radio and television.

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