Finally, it’s here! College football is back! I originally intended this post to be about just FBS, but I had a several requests to include some FCS picks as well. As is usually the case, the first week of games doesn’t offer many appetizing choices. I didn’t want to just throw up a bunch of FBS vs. FCS picks – that’s too easy. The pickings at the FCS level are very slim this week, so there’s not very many this week. As the season progresses, it’ll obviously get much more difficult. Let’s hope my powers of prognostication hold up.
N.C. State @ South Carolina – The OBC is hoping to turn the Gamecocks into winners and opens up the season on ESPN on Thursday night. The SC defense is expected to be the strong point of the team. The Wolfpack are hoping for a better second year under head coach Tom O’Brien, but they are still at least a year away. South Carolina 24, N.C. State 10.
No. 17 Virginia Tech @ East Carolina (Charlotte) – This one is being played at Bank of America Stadium, so there won’t really be any home-field advantage for either team. The Pirates played the Hokies close last season in Blacksburg. VT has some questions to answer this season and I think ECU might have what it takes for the upset. East Carolina 17, Virginia Tech 13.
No. 24 Alabama @ No. 9 Clemson (Atlanta) – Nick Saban brings an improved Alabama team into the Georgia Dome to face the highly rated Clemson Tigers. Clemson is expected to win the ACC this season with a roster loaded with talent. While I still think Clemson will be an underachiever this year, they’ll still beat the Crimson Tide easily. Clemson 31, Alabama 13.
No. 20 Illinois @ No. 6 Missouri – Other than the blowout loss in the Rose Bowl, Illinois had a magical season with their impressive turnaround from years of losing. The Illini return QB Juice Williams and WR Arrelious Benn. Mizzou narrowly missed out on a BCS bowl last year and will be looking to reach the BCS title game this year under QB Chase Daniel. I think the Tigers will be too much for Ron Zook and his team. Missouri 35, Illinois 14.
No. 18 Tennessee @ UCLA – The Vols take a trip into Pac-10 country to face Rick Neuheisel’s Bruins. I don’t think Tennessee will have the type of year they had last season but I think they’ve got the edge in this one. Tennessee 27, UCLA 17.
No. 15 Elon vs. No. 4 Richmond – This is the marquee match-up of the first week of games. Elon finished at 7-4 last year in the SoCon with true freshman QB Scott Riddle passing for 3,817 yards and 31 TDs. Richmond welcomes first-year head coach and alum Mike London back home after former head coach Dave Clawson left for the offensive coordinator job at Tennessee. The Spiders return 16 starters, 14 of which were freshmen and sophomores last season. Richmond won 11 games last year before losing to Armanti Edwards, I mean Appalachian State, in the NCAA Semifinals. I expect the scoreboard operator to be busy in this one. Richmond 42, Elon 28.
No. 6 James Madison @ Duke – This isn’t your typical FBS vs. FCS game. The Blue Devils are famous for their perpetual struggles in football, while the Dukes are a solid football team. As many of you probably remember, they were seconds away from ruining a 3Peat. It’ll be close, but I think David Cutcliffe will have Duke prepared enough to eke out a win. Duke 20, James Madison 17.