Week 1 Predictions (weekday games)

This year I’m going to be giving you my picks each week of the college football season. The picks will be divided into three buckets: Must Watch games, Sleeper games, and Other games. I’ll be providing readers with analysis for my Must Watch and Sleeper games. Every game will come with my score prediction with the winner in bold, and what time/channel the game will be on. Additionally, the games will be in order of kickoff time within each group. This edition will only feature Week 1’s Thursday and Friday games. I will post my weekend game picks on Friday morning. Here’s my picks.

Must Watch games

South Carolina 9 @ Vanderbilt 14 (Thursday @ 7pmCST/8pmEST on ESPN)
Woof, this game has rock fight written all over it. It’s pretty ironic that this matchup kicks off SEC play because on paper it is probably the most unappealing SEC game of the season. With South Carolina being down and Vandy still being a question mark on offense, I don’t expect there to be many fireworks. However, I am worried about the plot twist that Muschamp is a much better HC now that he has such low expectations. Even if Will Muschamp outcoaches Derrick Mason, I just don’t see South Carolina scoring many points on Vandy. After all, last year Vandy proved they can consistently shut down mediocre offenses. I think that will be the case again in this year’s SEC opener.
Stat Prediction: Ralph Webb scores 2 TDs

Oregon State 27 @ Minnesota 31 (Thursday @ 8pmCST/9pmEST on BTN)
Minnesota’s talented RB, Rodney Smith, will start the season healthy after ending last year with an injury. His addition coupled with the return of their reliable QB, Mitch Leidner, should be just what the doctor ordered against an Oregon State defense that allowed 42 ppg in conference play. Despite Minnesota being at home, I like for the Beavers to keep it close and score some points behind their new QB, Utah State transfer, Darrell Garretson. The junior threw for 2,500+ yds and 18 TDs while at Utah State. He will bring some much needed stability to Gary Andersen’s offense. Interesting stat, in Tracy Claeys first 5 games as HC last season Minnesota’s ppg increased by 5 while their defensive ppg increased by 7.
Stat Prediction: Minnesota will sack Oregon State 4 times

Kansas State 15 @ #8 Stanford 20 (Friday @ 8pmCST/9pmEST on FS1)
The last time Bill Snyder’s wildcats opened a season on the road was in 2007 as a heavy underdog against Auburn. Josh Freeman and Jordy Nelson led an underrated K-State team into the 4th Quarter with the lead. After Auburn went ahead late, Freeman was leading another drive down the field until a sack, fumble, TD for Auburn ended the Wildcats upset bid. I tell you this story as a reminder to NEVER underestimate Kansas State. I know on paper it looks like Stanford should win this game by 3 or 4 TDs, but Coach Snyder always has his boys ready to fight until the end. Christian McCaffrey will still be the star of this game, but I think you will see some growing pains from Stanford’s new QB Ryan Burns as he faces a scrappy, hard-nosed K-State defense.
Stat Prediction: Christian McCaffrey will have 300+ all purpose yards

Sleeper games

Indiana 39 @ FIU 42 (Thursday @ 6:30pmCST/7:30pmEST on ESPNU)
Last season, Indiana caught the eye of the college football world after taking Ohio State and Michigan to the wire. This season expectations are the highest they’ve been in a while for Indiana football. The only problem is they lose the QB and RB that led IU’s offensive charge. Richard Lagow will be starting his first game at QB tomorrow and I don’t expect it to be a seamless transition. I really like the upset with this game being in Miami, Indiana playing with an inexperienced QB, and FIU’s 9 returning starters on offense. The Panthers let a 4th quarter lead slip away against Indiana last season, but that isn’t going to happen this year. FIU gets the win in a shootout behind QB Alex McGough and strong play from their WR corp.
Stat Prediction: Alex McGough throws for 300 yards

Colorado 30 vs Colorado State 21 (Friday @ 7pmCST/8pmEST on ESPN)
The 88th rendition of the Rocky Mountain Showdown should prove to be another competitive matchup between these two rivals. Colorado HC Mike MacIntyre is hoping to take the Buffs to their first bowl game since 2007. That is within the realm of possibility as they return 18 starters from a team that lost 5 games by one score or less last year. Colorado State does return an impressive backfield from a season ago, but their defense is depleted and I expect Colorado to be able to outscore them.@

Toledo 31 @ Arkansas State 45 (Friday @ 8pmCST/9pmEST on ESPNU)
The one year reign of Pitt QB transfer, Chad Voytik begins Friday night in Jonesboro. I think Arkansas State comes out scoring early and often against a Toledo defense that only returns 4 starters. Toledo had a great 10 win season last year, but with the loss of QB Phillip Ely and HC Matt Campbell I don’t like their chances to keep up with the Red Wolves. Nevertheless, this should still be a fun game between two solid Group of 5 programs.

Other games

Charlotte 17 @ #19 Louisville 63 (Thursday @ 6pmCST/7pmEST on ACCN)

Tulane 19 @ Wake Forest 14 (Thursday @ 6pmCST/7pmEST on ACCN)

App State 24 @ #9 Tennessee 52 (Thursday @ 6:30pmCST/7:30pmCST on SECN)

Rice 20 @ Western Kentucky 45 (Thursday @ 7pmCST/8pmEST on CBSSN)

Army 13 @ Temple 23 (Friday @ 6pmCST/7pmEST on CBSSN)

Ball State 24 @ Georgia State 21 (Friday @ 6pmCST/7pmEST on ESPN3)

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