The season got off to a great start last night, as I went 2-0 and picked the Stanford-Oregon State upset straight up. I could go on all day about my skills (and trust me, I have), but we’ll delve right into Saturday’s schedule to see if I can’t keep this up.
USC (-19) at Virginia
USC just doesn’t lose non-conference games. It’s not really even a point for debate. While the Trojans are capable of stubbing their toe once or twice during the Pac-10 schedule (see Stanford, 2007), they seem to have this extreme desire to beat the living tar out of any team from another BCS conference. The last non-Pac 10 team to beat SC in a regular-season game was Kansas State in 2002. What this means is that Virginia doesn’t have a chance to score more than 10 points, much less win.
USC 31, Virginia 9
Washington (+13.5) at Oregon
Ty Willingham is basically been given the win-or-else decree, and I’m not quite sure if the Huskies have enough to really win. Sure, they have the REV all-stars in RB Chris Polk, QB Ronnie Fouch and DB Marquis Persley, but they haven’t beaten Oregon since 2003. The Ducks lost quarterback Nathan Costa – their best bet to fill the dynamic dual-threat role of Dennis Dixon – for the season to injury, so their long-term prognosis is sketchy. I think the Huskies keep it close, but lose to the Quackers again.
Oregon 33, Washington 24
Michigan State (+4.5) at California
A rare quality non-conference matchup in week one. The Spartans are making a lot of noise in Big Ten country, talking big things after making their first bowl since 2003 a year ago. Meanwhile, Cal is kind of resting in the weeds after their topsy-turvy 2007. However, I think the Golden Bears are going to strike in this game. MSU has a great running back in senior Javon Ringer, but Big Ten teams almost always lose on the West Coast. I don’t see MSU, which is basically a less-functional Arizona State without the scads of drop-dead gorgeous women, being able to come West and take this.
California 30, Michigan State 20
Oklahoma State (-7) vs. Washington State, Seattle
I will admit that I don’t know the first thing about the Cougars this year. I know they have a new coach, but yeah, besides freshman quarterback and Colony graduate Daniel Simmons, I don’t know if I could name five other players. Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy is back (cue “the I’m a man, I’m 40” clip) with his band of mediocre Cowboys. Okie State seems to go 6-6 or 7-5 every year, which would be enough against a raw Wazzu bunch.
Oklahoma State 37, Washington State 21
Aww heck, I can’t resist the temptation.
Alabama (+4.5) vs. Clemson, Atlanta
Definitely the non-conference game of the day, this matchup is a battle between two teams looking to get past to their lofty pasts. The Tide look to be a factor in the SEC race again in their second year under Nick Saban while the Tigers look for their first ACC title since before Florida State entered the conference in 1992. There’s a lot of hype around Clemson, which the Tigers usually don’t react to very well. I don’t think they will in this game either. Alabama in the upset.
Alabama 28, Clemson 24
Illinois (+8.5) vs. Missouri, St. Louis
This bordering-state rivalry has blossomed in the recent past, with first Missouri and then Illinois coming up with breakout performances. You should expect a lot of points in this game, as the Tigers averaged over 40 points a game last year under Heisman Trophy candidate Chase Daniel, while the Illini boast an exciting run-based spread attack (when not playing USC in the Rose Bowl) led by quarterback Juice Williams. Expect Illinois to give Missouri all it wants in this game, but for the Tigers to barely dodge a big challenge to their national-title hopes.
Missouri 35, Illinois 28
Utah (+3) at Michigan
National pundits have called this an upset special pick for the Utes, calling it similar to Michigan’s historic loss to Appalachian State a year ago. Those national pundits are idiots, as a Utah win in this game would not be that shocking. The Utes have been one of the better “mid-major” teams for years, putting a 44-6 beating on UCLA last year, while Michigan has a new coach, a new system and is starting a walk-on quarterback in this game. So I’m picking Utah right? Nope, I’m going with the “true” upset.
Michigan 20, Utah 14
Straight-up record: 2-0. Record against spread: 2-0.