Week 1 College Football Picks

Well folks, Thursday night is in the books, and college football season is officially underway. And through just a few games, we’ve already learned a lot.

We learned that Stephen Garcia actually looks like a quarterback this year. And that USC’s defense looks to be in real trouble. We learned that Jacory Harris might throw for 50 touchdowns in 2010. And that it only takes Dave Wannstedt a few quarters to get in mid-season form.

Anyway, with the appetizers out of the way, it’s time to get to the main course. And we’re going to do it by dusting off my Friday picks column, back by the popular demand of none one in particular.

After a slightly above .500 2009 season, I worked hard in the weight room all winter, and expect to do even better this year. I’m even hoping for a New Year’s Day bowl appearance.

As always, the home team is in bold, and the point spreads are provided by our pals at BetUS.com.

(Be sure to bookmark this page, or download Aaron’s iPhone/Android App for free, to get notified every Friday when Aaron posts his weekend preview!)

NOTRE DAME (-11) over Purdue: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. NBC

You all know that I could go on and on about Brian Kelly, but I’ll spare you. Mainly since I always feel a little weird talking about the guy, like I’m so doting dad watching his kid score a goal in soccer or something. Yayyy Brian!

Either way, Notre Dame wins this game big. I keep hearing about how good new Purdue quarterback Robert Marve is, which is nice. It is. Of course what I’m not hearing about is the severe lack of talent around him in West Lafayette. The cast of Friday Night Lights has more pure football skill than the Boilermakers.

Also, does “Danny Hope,” really sound like the name of a coach you want to back? To me Danny Hope sounds more like the leader of a lousy grunge band, than a Big 10 football coach.

As in…

“Next on stage, put your hands together for Tulsa’s newest underground sensation… It’s Danny Hope and the Outsiders!!” Come on now.

UConn (+3) over MICHIGAN: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ABC

To put it as simply as I can, it really comes down to this: Based on across the board talent, UConn is the better team. Really, it’s not even close. But because the uniforms say “UConn,” and “Michigan,” this line is the way it is. I’ve been touting my UConn Huskies for a whole month, and I’m not backing down now.

(Random side note: I don’t know if I speak for every Big East fan, or if I’m pulling this out of my you-know-what, but in a weird way, I’m actually going to be rooting for Michigan in this game.

Let me explain: Obviously, Rich Rodriguez left West Virginia in about as ugly a way as he possibly could’ve. It got nasty. It got personal. The two sides are still fighting over custody of Noel Devine. Again, it was really, really bad.

At the same time, Rich Rod was pretty much the patriarch of the new Big East, and along with Pat White, single-handedly kept the conference afloat when everyone was saying their automatic BCS bowl bid should stripped. If West Virginia doesn’t go into the Georgia Dome and beat Georgia in the Sugar Bowl a few years back (yes the Sugar Bowl was in the Georgia Dome. Remember, this was right after Hurricane Katrina), I honestly don’t know where the Big East is right now, or what your perception of the league might be. Every school and coach in this conference owes a debt of gratitude to Rodriguez.

Because of that, I wouldn’t be upset to see Michigan get the win on Saturday. I’ll be rooting for UConn, and honestly expect them to win. But after all he did, I just don’t want to see Rich Rod go out like this.)

Kentucky (-3 ½) over LOUISVILLE: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ABC

I don’t know, there’s something really fishy about this game to me. Especially since last year, Louisville only lost by four on the road, despite being coached by the village idiot Steve Kragthorpe. Is Charlie Strong enough to swing this game the other way? I’m not sure.

I’ll take the ‘Cats, but I’m not really comfortable doing it.

Washington (+2 ½) over BYU: Saturday, 7:00 p.m. CBS College Sports

Maybe it’s because of the conference expansion talk. Maybe it’s because this game is being televised by a network that only 36 American households get. Or maybe, with TCU-Oregon State and Boise-Virginia Tech, America is just tired of talking about “the small school vs. the big boys.” But for the life of me, I can’t understand why this game isn’t getting more hype.

Anyway, I like Washington in this game, if only because I don’t think Jake Locker came back for his senior year to lose the season opener. If he wanted to do that, Locker could have just gone to the NFL, gotten drafted by the Bills, been making a lot more money than he is now, and be dating one of those girls from upstate New York with a cute face but a really big ass that hangs out at pool halls on Friday night’s. Doesn’t sound half bad to me.

So what’s my point in all that? I’m not sure. I think it’s that I like Washington to win this game.

Northwestern (-4 ½) over VANDERBILT: Saturday, 7:30 p.m.

When discussing this affair, I’ve previously expounded the virtues for which I think Northwestern will be an astoundingly superb squad over these next several fortnights…

(Did I sound smart? Sorry, figured I’d try to spruce up my vocabulary just in case any Northwestern or Vandy grads were reading and were impressed enough to offer me a job. Guess it didn’t work.

Either way, what I was trying to say, is that I’ve already explained why I like Northwestern this season. They win this one comfortably. 

TCU (-13 ½) over Oregon State (Dallas, TX): Saturday, 7:45 p.m. ESPN

I don’t really get why everyone thinks this one will even be close. Oregon State is the slowest starting team in college football. Period. They make Ron Zook’s Illinois teams look like the 2008 Patriots by comparison.

Also, did anyone besides me actually watch TCU last year? They didn’t just beat teams, they destroyed them. Eviscerated them. Pillaged the village and burned it to the ground. Am I the only one that remembers that?

LSU over North Carolina: Saturday, 8:00 p.m. ABC

Obviously, because of all the non-sense surrounding this game, Vegas pulled the line. Totally understandable. However, I’m including this one on the docket anyway, because I have a few thoughts and nowhere else to put them. Well that, and I’m hoping to pad my win total for the weekend.

Here are those thoughts:

1. LSU is going to win this game. No surprise there. Even if UNC had all their guys I still liked LSU. And without them? The poor Tar Heels are going to be more overmatched than Ellen Degeneres in a Miss Hawaiian Tropic Contest. At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if Butch Davis gave me a call to see if I have any eligibility left.

Still, can you imagine what would happen if LSU lost this game? I mean, would they even let Les Miles back on the team charter? Would they let him back within the state borders? All I’m saying is that the guy is already on the hot seat. If LSU loses this game, I think we’d have to make up a new word to describe his situation in Baton Rouge. It wouldn’t be pretty.

2. Also, I mentioned this on Twitter Wednesday night, but I want your guys take:

So the rumor floating around is that up to 16 guys on UNC won’t be playing because of all the agent/tutor stuff. But here’s my question: If they do play, what’s the worst that can happen to the program? North Carolina would eventually have to forfeit the game if the players were found to be ineligible, right? 

But if you’re going to lose anyway, what’s really the harm in playing the guys? So what if you have to forfeit later on? Who cares? Isn’t that better than getting embarrassed on national TV?

Cincinnati (+2) over FRESNO STATE: Saturday, 10:00 p.m. ESPN2

Of every game on this weekend’s schedule, this is the one I’m most afraid of.

Quite frankly I’m terrified of it. Terrified of new Cincinnati coach Butch Jones. Terrified of Zach Collaros doing something dumb at the wrong time. Terrified of Fresno’s defense. Terrified of Pat Hill’s mustache. Just terrified.

I’d rather just set my money on fire than sit through the heartburn of this game. Just stay away.

SMU (+14) over TEXAS TECH: Sunday, 3:30 p.m. ESPN

It sure seems like an awful lot to ask of Tommy Tuberville in his first game at Tech to try and slow down SMU’s run and shoot. Plus, I’m not crazy about the 3:30 p.m. start time. I know it was done for TV purposes, but at the same time, it pretty much negates the home field advantage Tech has in Lubbock.

On a different note, after watching June Jones coach at Hawaii for all those years, I think the NCAA should put in some kind of legislation that requires him to always wear a Hawaiian shirt on the sidelines. As a matter of fact I’m starting a petition.

Truthfully, Jones without a Hawaiian shirt is just weird. It’s like seeing Jim Tressel without a sweater vest. Or Les Miles without his hat. Or Ralph Friedgen without a double chin. Just weird.

Navy (-6 ½) over Maryland: Monday, 4:00 p.m. ESPN

Speaking of Friedgen, you think he’s starting to call around and look for realtors yet?

What?? Just asking!!

Boise State (-2 ½) over Virginia Tech (Washington D.C.): Monday, 8:00 p.m. ESPN

Ah, the game America’s been waiting for. Boise and Virginia Tech. Virginia Tech and Boise. If you’re not pumped for this one, just turn in your green card and move to Canada. Please, we don’t want you here.

Anyway, all I’ve been hearing in the lead up to this game is about whether or not not Boise is going to be able to handle Virginia Tech’s physicality. Only, umm, isn’t that the exact same thing we were saying about Boise heading into last year’s Fiesta Bowl? Don’t they return essentially their entire team?

And for those questioning Boise’s physicality, well shame on you, because you should know better. Boise State isn’t a blue-field playing, trick-play running offense anymore. Honestly, they haven’t been for awhile now.

Last year in their two biggest wins, they controlled the line of scrimmage against two teams that were supposed to control them, Oregon and TCU. Each of those teams finished in the top six in rushing offense last year, yet Boise outrushed both. If you remember back to that Oregon game in specific, Boise had a few red zone miscues early and could have won that game by three touchdowns.

Look, Boise might throw out a trick play or two at Virginia Tech Monday night, but at this point, they’re a pretty boring and conventional football team (At least as boring and conventional as a team can be that puts up 42 points a night). In their biggest games, they do what all great teams do, control the clock and play good defense. Monday night will be no different.

Most importantly, all of their biggest wins have come off extended layoff’s. Boise had a month before their two Fiesta Bowl wins, and an off-season to prepare for Oregon. If this were Week 5, I might take Tech. But it’s Week 1, and Boise’s going to be ready for whatever Frank Beamer throws at them.

Truthfully, I don’t even think this one is close.

Boise State 27
Virginia Tech 14

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About Aaron Torres

Aaron Torres works for Fox Sports, and was previously a best-selling author of the book 'The Unlikeliest Champion.' He currently uses Aaron Torres Sports to occasionally weigh-in on the biggest stories from around sports. He has previously done work for such outlets as Sports Illustrated, SB Nation and Slam Magazine.