Saturday, September 3, 2005

Week One Picks

Miami vs Florida State (Sept. 5) Miami -3

FSU has got to be coming into this game with a chip on their shoulder. They are three point underdogs at home! But FSU has some serious questions at quarterback and on the offensive lines, where both tackles were lost from last season. The Seminoles will look to rely on running backs Leon Washington and Lorenzo Booker; Booker and Washington are the best pair of running back in the ACC. Miami returns a stout defense that should be one of the nation’s best. They have some questions of their own at quarterback as Kyle Wright will be starting his first game after receiving spot action last year. The Hurricanes have won 6 in a row in this series and have historically played well at Doak Campbell Stadium. FSU must be able to protect Drew Weatherford and allow him to make some easy throws early to get him in a rhythm. Booker and Washington will have to provide a 1-2 punch against a Miami defense that did have problems against the run last season. Miami must show the ability to run the ball against the Seminoles. The ‘Canes have won the war in the trenches during this current run and this has been a major factor in their success. Both teams have speed and talent all over the field, but this game should be low scoring and go down the wire. Bobby Bowden is in the waning years of his career and may not have too many more opportunities to beat Miami. All streaks do come to an end and this may be FSU’s year. Look for FSU to win and cover.

#13 Georgia vs #18 Boise St Georgia – 7

The best matchup of the weekend may be UGA and Boise St between the hedges. Georgia comes into this game with a huge size advantage, but Boise should be able to match them when it comes to skill. UGA has struggled against teams who spread the ball out in the past also. The Bulldogs have three tailbacks who have seen significant playing time and the entire offensive line. DJ Shockley has finally been handed the rains and will rely heavily on future first day draft pick TE Leonard Pope, while a new receiving corps learns the ropes. With this game not starting until 6pm, the heat will not be as big of a factor, but as we saw in the Liberty Bowl last season, Boise just doesn’t have the size to beat a time like UGA right now. Look for Georgia to cover.

#16 Auburn vs Georgia Tech Auburn -7

Auburn is looking to erase memories of two seasons ago when into Atlanta heavily-favored, but got dominated 17-3 by an undermanned Georgia Tech team. Gone are Caddy, Downtown Ronnie Brown, Jason Campbell, and Carlos Rogers from a 13-0 Auburn team of 2004. Look for Auburn to use its size advantage on both sides of the ball to pound the ball on offense and put pressure on Tech quarterback Reggie Ball on defense. Tech has the advantage at the skill positions and has a sold defense returning. This game will be decided by the play of Ball; no surprise to Yellow Jacket fans. In Reggie’s 14 wins as a starter he has thrown 18 TD; in 11 losses he has thrown 2 TD. The Tigers are a big unknown this season. Look for Tech to cover and possibly pull of the upset.

NC State vs #8 Virginia Tech Va Tech -4

This game looks to be one of the best in the ACC this weekend. NC State was the only ACC team to defeat the Hokies last season and they did it in Blacksburg. Va Tech will have Marcus Vick at quarterback along with a sold defense returning. NC State was the number one defense in the country last season in terms of yards given up, but lost defensive coordinator Reggie Herring to Arkansas. The Wolfpack defense possesses two of the best defensive ends in the country and will try to contain Vick. NC State’s offense last season was anemic at best. Jay Davis returns with Bobby Washington running the ball for the ‘Pack. Virginia Tech just has too much returning talent for NC State to overcome. Look for Virginia Tech to cover.

Clemson vs Texas A&M Texas A&M -1.5

Last season, the Aggies steamrolled the Tigers in College Station 27-6. Charile Whitehurst looks to regain his Sophomore season form, while Reggie McNeal will be looking to jumpstart the Aggies into a potential Big 12 title season. Texas A&M returns more talent than does Clemson, but may get a taste of its medicine when it comes into Death Valley for this Saturday night tilt. Tigers fans are eager to see their team back in action after missing out on a bowl appearance last season. Clemson hired new offensive and defensive coordinators in the off season, which may provide fresh air into each of those units. Something tells me Texas A&M is overrated this season. They lost to Baylor last season and got destroyed by Tennessee in the Cotton Bowl. Clemson will find a way to win this game in the waning moments. Look for Clemson to win and cover.

Florida vs Wyoming Florida -23

The Urban Meyer era begins in Gainesville under much anticipation. The Gators return some of best receivers in the nation and quarterback Chris Leak is entering his third season as the starter. Leak will be required to run more than in seasons past, but will still be primarily a drop back passer. Wyoming finished off last season on a high note by upsetting UCLA in the Las Vegas bowl and comes in expecting to win. The Gators have too much speed for the Cowboys and the heat and humidity will be brutal. Still, Florida may experience a few bumps in their first game under a new system and Wyoming is no pushover. Look for Wyoming to cover ever so slightly.

#3 Tennessee vs UAB Tennessee -23.5

The Vols come into this game as 23 point favorites and ranked third in the preseason polls. Erik Ainge was named the starter last week winning the job over Rick Clausen. Look for Tennessee to pound the Blazers with running back Gerald Riggs, Jr. Riggs finished last season strong and looks to lead Tennessee back to the SEC Championship and possibly at a place on Heisman balloting. The Volunteers return most of their defense including All-American candidate Jesse Mahelona roaming the middle of the line. Look for Tennessee to cover in this game.

Virginia vs Western Michigan Virginia – 34

Some may say, wow, that is big spread, but Western Michigan may be just that bad. UVA returns Wali Lundy and Marques Hagans in the backfield behind big tackle D’Brickshaw Ferguson on offense. The defense should be strong again due to a great linebacking corps led by Ahmad Brooks. I normally do not like big spreads, but look for UVA to cover.

Duke vs East Carolina Duke -3

Duke is not that bad, as wins over Georgia Tech and Clemson the last two years has proven. East Caroina, well, they are at home. Ted Roof is doing a good job at Duke and should be improved this year. Look for Duke to go on the road in Greenville and cover.

Maryland vs Navy Maryland -12.5

Maryland struggled last season in its fourth season under Ralph Friedgen and looks to rebound against an old rival Navy this weekend. Navy has been a good team as of late under Paul Johnson, but may not have the size to pull of the upset against the Terps. Still, Maryland is still trying to find a quarterback to run Friedgen’s complicated system and the defense does have some holes. I see Maryland’s size wearing down the Midshipmen in the second half, but Navy will make things interesting. Look for Navy to cover.

Louisville vs Kentucky Louisville -22

The Cardinals will to pounce on the Wildcats once again this season as the Bluegrass state rivals meet in Lexington. Louisville has built themselves into a legitimate powerhouse and it showed in a win over Boise St in the Liberty Bowl and a narrow defeat against Miami last season. Kentucky, well, basketball season cannot come soon enough. Brian Brohm will take over the offense this season for the Cards and they should not miss a beat. Look for Louisville to cover and not be close.

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