Another college football season is upon us, and that means another four month long opportunity to risk your paycheck on the athletic performances of 18-22 year old amateurs (being coached by millionaires) who may have flunked a test*, broken up with their girlfriend, or could very well be hungover or stoned. This makes it a much safer alternative to trusting your nest egg to coked up Wall Street professionals.
And while the Ags have an unplanned bye this week, throwing down way-more-cash-than-you-should on a few games can give you an endorphin rush similar to seeing your own team in action. It's science.
The wagering season got off to a stellar start last night, with Vandy covering as a home dog versus South Carolina, and a miracle over hitting as Minnesota topped UNLV in 3OT in a tard fight for the ages. If you weren't awake in the wee hours of the morning watching that instant classic on an illegal internet stream, you missed out.
All lines sourced from Pinnacle. Yes, thanks to Uncle Sam, you can't play there with a United States bank account. But if you don't have an offshore bank account, I have to question your commitment.
On to the picks.
* A joke, of course. No self respecting athletic department would enroll their star football players in courses with an actual risk of failure. Keep leading the way, Tarheels.
FRIDAY NIGHT APPETIZER
Spared from the more common under-under-card nature of a Friday evening WAC affair (Or Big East, because LOLBigEastFootball), week one offers us a couple of major conference headliners.
THE GAME: BOISE STATE +7 at MICHIGAN STATE
Boise State returns [checks media guide] a paltry seven starters from last year's Kellen Moore and Muscle Hamster Doug Martin led squad. The Bronco D has to replace a whopping nine starters. There was also turnover on the coaching staff, with assistants like A&M's Marcel Yates and Florida's Brent Pease leaving for bigger gigs. Chris Petersen likely hasn't finished all the neural implants in new QB Joe Southwick in time to face a sufficiently liquored up East Lansing crowd and what looks to be a reliable-until-the-inevitable-late-season-implosion Spartan defense.
THE PICK: MICHIGAN STATE -7
THE GAME: TENNESSEE -3.5 vs. NC STATE
This is a neutral site affair in the Georgia Dome, sponsored by everyone's favorite gay-marriage-opposing peddler of delicious chicken sandwiches. The Vawls bring back nine starters on a respectable defense and beer bottle and football slingin' Tyler Bray at QB, along with a capable group of WRs. NC State, meanwhile, returns an anemic running game and Tom O'Brien as head coach. (This is where any Tennessee fan reading this immediately screams that Dooley is worse.)
THE PICK: TENNESSEE -3.5
SATURDAY MAIN COURSE
With so many delicious options available, it's tough to pare down a card... aw... screw it, here are some games you can throw money at while parked on your couch and soaking up the pixels of HD college football goodness.
THE GAME: NOTRE DAME -15 vs. NAVY
This one is coming to us live from the green isles of Ireland. So get up early, grab a beer, and enjoy watching Brian Kelly threaten to disembowel his quarterback after another red zone turnover. But be warned: The Paul Johnson era chippiness has worn off and Navy's pretty terrible these days.
THE PICK: NOTRE DAME -15
THE GAME: CLEMSON -3 vs. AUBURN
The second half of the opening weekend festivities in Atlanta delivers hot Tiger-on-Tiger action. Clemson brings back talent at the skill positions, and Auburn has serious questions at quarterback. On paper, that looks like an advantage for Clemson. But that's just what Clemson wants you to think. Dabo's group will forego the usual torrid start this season and deliver a soul crushing defeat in week one.
THE PICK: AUBURN +3
THE GAME: MICHIGAN +14 vs. ALABAMA
This contest at Jerryworld opened with the Tide favored by 8 at some outfits, and has been steadily bid up by the public and pros to 14. Michigan has Denard Robinson, speed merchant and purveyor of the most beautiful arm punts you'll ever see, and is coached by Certified Michigan Man & Governor of New Jersey* Brady Hoke. Bama has a roster of freakish football mutants who live in constant fear of Nick Saban and something called The Process, which we all know is just a tire iron used to induce medical redshirts as needed.
* All fat white guys look alike, you see.
THE PICK: ALABAMA -14
THE GAME: ARKANSAS STATE +37 at OREGON
Gustav Malzahn has his Arkansas State debut half a continent away in the den of auditory pain that is Autzen Stadium. Gus's tricked out up tempo attack is cute and all, but Chip Kelly has a new group of pre-wired Nike speedbots (including one-time A&M commit Bralon Addison) installed and ready to play pinball with the stadium scoreboard.
THE PICK: OREGON -37
THE GAME: SMU +8.5 at BAYLOR
RG3 ain't walking out of that locker room, Bears fans. Unfortunately, quite a few members of your 'defense' are, and the Tarp of Shame isn't renowned for its home field advantage. Nick Florence is serviceable at QB and any Art Briles coached team should be able to move the ball and score some points. But June Jones is on the other sideline, and as the diamond-adorned ladies of Highland Park will attest, he's been known to score on occasion himself. RB Zach Line is back after an injury cut short his 2011 campaign, and the Mustangs have former Texas QB Garrett Gilbert as a trigger man. It's also worth noting that Craig James Killed Five Hookers.
THE PICK: SMU +8.5
THE GAME: GEORGIA TECH +7 at VIRGINIA TECH
If you're still throwing down cash at this point and looking here for advice, then please seek help. Plus, I don't pick Georgia Tech games at the risk of pissing off Paul Johnson. HAHAHA JUST KIDDING PAUL JOHNSON IS ALWAYS PISSED OFF.
Good luck and enjoy opening weekend, y'all. And for the love your retirement account, please don't follow my picks.
SEASON RECORD: 0 - 0