Week 1 of the College Football season gets into full swing starting tonight. I’m going to go through some of this week’s games and pick the winners of both national marquee match-ups and local South Carolina schools.
Georgia Tech at #1 Clemson (-37) – Tonight – 8:00 PM – ACCN
The defending National Champs look to defend home field as their 2019 campaign kicks off tonight with conference rival Georgia Tech. The Tigers bring back some of the best young talent in the FBS on the offensive side of the ball. QB Trevor Lawrence leads a ferocious offense that looks to break plenty of NCAA records this season. Clemson’s defense lost a ton to the NFL this off-season and has a lot of young guys that are looking to leave their mark. A new look Georgia Tech offense will be just the test these young players need to start the season. It will be a good marker going into next week against Texas A&M.
Geoff Collins was named the head coach following the retirement of Paul Johnson at the end of 2018. Collins is coming off a 15-10 two-year stint at Temple, and he brings with him a spread attack, which is a brand new look for the Yellow Jackets, who for over 10 years ran a triple option offense. There are a lot of question marks for Georgia Tech coming into the year, both on offense and defense, as the defense will also be playing under a new scheme this season. Probably a reason the Tigers are currently a 37 point favorite over GT tonight.
Clemson wins big tonight. Clemson – 52, Georgia Tech – 13
South Carolina (-11) vs. North Carolina – 8/31 – 3:30 PM – ESPN
The Carolina’s get set to clash on Saturday at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. The Tar Heels got rid of Larry Fedora in the off-season and brought back former coach Mack Brown. The 2018 Tar Heels finished with a 2-9 (1-7) record, but that easily could have been 7-4. They had at least five games last year that were decided by 7 points or less. I expect UNC to fare a little better this year with Mack back at the helm. Not sure if it necessarily starts that way though.
South Carolina didn’t have the 2018 they wanted either as they went 7-6 with an ugly shout out loss to Virginia to end the year. Head Coach Will Muschamp hasn’t exactly had the best of times in Columbia. I personally didn’t think that was the right hire for the Gamecocks to begin with. One thing Carolina does do good at is winning the opener. They are 8-1 since 2010 in their season opening contests. A good sign coming into this game. Senior QB Jake Bentley has continued to improve, but I believe is completely out-shadowed by True Freshman Ryan Hilinski. I expect to see this kid get some playing time on Saturday.
South Carolina – 27, UNC – 20
Duke vs. #2 Alabama (-33.5) – 8/31 – 3:30 PM – ABC
Can we all just take a minute and appreciate the fact that Duke is less of an underdog to Alabama than Georgia Tech is to Clemson? I mean, it’s not a whole lot of difference, but look at ESPN at least giving the Blue Devils a little credit. I think we can all say that it would be sweet to see Duke upset the Tide on Saturday, but that ain’t happening. Tua and the Tide are on a mission this year Duke is going to get every ounce of frustration taken out on them.
Alabama – 56, Duke – 17
Virginia Tech (-4.5) at Boston College – 8/31 – 4:00 PM – ACCN
A really good ACC Conference game that no one is really talking about. The Hokies and Eagles set to revisit an old Big East rivalry on Saturday. Virginia Tech has had its ups and downs over the last couple of season, especially last year after finishing 6-7. Tech has a lot of talent coming back and a schedule that perfectly sets them up to get to the ACC Championship game. I did pick them to win the Coastal Divsion. Couple all of that with the fact that long time Defensive Coordinator Bud Foster is retiring at the end of the year, I think VT comes out on Saturday hungry for a winning season. The “Lunch Pail” defense gets it done against BC.
Virginia Tech – 24, Boston College – 14
#3 Georgia (-22.5) at Vanderbilt – 8/31 – 7:30 PM – ESPN
All I can say for this SEC East match-up is… Poor Vandy. Coming into this year, Georgia is the second best team in the SEC and the favorite to repeat as East Division Champs. Vanderbilt on the other hand, continues to be the bottom dweller of the league. The Commodores haven’t had a winning season since James Franklin’s last year at the school in 2013. The Dawgs are going to tear up Vandy.
Georgia – 45, Vanderbilt – 7
#11 Oregon vs #16 Auburn (-3.5) – 8/31 – 7:30 PM – ABC
Probably the best game on Saturday night, I’m actually a little surprised that Auburn is opening up as big as a favorite as they are. 3.5 may not seem like much, but I personally think that Oregon has the better team and better chance to win this game. They have, arguably, the best quarterback that will be eligible for the draft this year in Justin Herbert. The Ducks are one of my pre-season favorites to make the College Football Playoff at the end of the year. That being said, I’m riding with the Ducks in what will be a thrilling shoot out in the heart of Texas.
Oregon – 49, Auburn – 41
Houston at #4 Oklahoma (-23) – 9/1 – 7:30 PM – ABC
An interesting game to start the year, Houston is definitely going to be a contender this year in the American Conference. But trying to go into Norman and knock-off the #4 team in the country is no easy feat. Oklahoma has a, not so new face, under center with Alabama transfer Jalen Hurts. Oklahoma has a ton of weapons on offense, which is good because they didn’t play much defense a year ago. Houston shouldn’t be too much of test for the Sooners, but you never know. I think its closer than the “experts” think.
Oklahoma – 45, Houston – 31
#9 Notre Dame (-19) at Louisville – 9/2 – 8:00 PM – ESPN
The first full weekend of college football ends with a sleepy game in Kentucky on Labor Day. I mean, who did the scheduling for this game? This is the best we could do for the Labor Day night game? The Irish win this game before they even take the field. Louisville’s defense was so bad a year ago, DIII Earlham could have scored enough points to win. (For anyone who doesn’t get that reference just google Earlham Quakers. Spoiler, they cut football last year after a 53 game losing streak). Notre Dame wins by a large margin.
Notre Dame – 56, Louisville – 14
Let’s move onto some other local upstate games with some SoCon Picks.
Charleston Southern at Furman – 8/31 – 1:00 PM
I like Furman to have a really good 2019 season. They are my pre-season favorite to win the league. The Paladins are young, but are a really talented group. The defense should be one of the best in the conference. There may be some messiness out of the gates, but I think Furman ultimately pulls away and starts 2019 off on the right foot. Go Dins!
Furman – 31, Charleston Southern – 20
Wofford at South Carolina State – 8/31 – 6:00 PM
Last year’s SoCon Co-Champions and coach’s Pre-Season favorite travel down I-26 to Orangeburg to take on the Bulldogs. Wofford has a great rushing attack and will look to put that on show against a middle of the road defense. In this battle of canines, I think it’ll be the Terriers topping the Bulldogs.
Wofford – 28, SC State – 17
Mercer at Western Carolina – 8/31 – 6:00 PM
This is the only conference match-up this week in the SoCon. Both of these teams finished toward the bottom of the league a year ago and will both look to get that first conference win under their belt. Western was just terrible last year, but they have R-SR QB Tyrie Adams, who is a game changer and a first team All-SoCon player. Both teams have talent, but I think Mercer has just a little more. I’ll take the Bears.
Mercer – 35, Western Carolina – 21