Highlights: Great start to the year on the Upset of the Week pick. Also I totally called Auburn and USC struggling mightily against seemingly inferior opponents as well as BYU winning a defensive battle with Ole Miss.
Lowlights: Massively overestimated Georgia and underestimated LSU as well as the impact of Miami's suspensions (more on that in just a bit). I also don't know why I thought I should take a crack at picking Colorado/Hawaii. Maybe I should exercise some veto power over my plan to pick every game that's on basic cable.
The Rest: Picked Michigan and Ohio State to obliterate Western Michigan and Akron. Big whoop. Overestimated Tulsa's competitiveness against Oklahoma (Sooners even covered the spread, totally screwing over anyone who made a parlay with my "Out-of-Whack Spreads"). West Virginia beat Marshall a bit more comfortably than I expected as well.
-First of all, if there was any doubt how much the Canes missed those eight suspended starters, I can only assume it's been put to rest. Stephen Morris, despite a stellar performance that will likely get lost in his unimpressive numbers, sorely missed Travis Benjamin's blazing speed and Aldarius Johnson's height and length, especially on a few slight overthrows that were very nearly touchdowns (although it bears mentioning that the young, inexperienced fill-ins on the UM receiving corps did a tremendous job, especially Allen Hurns). The defensive line missed Marcus Forston's and Adewale Ojomo's massive bodies and strong push up the middle as well as Olivier Vernon's speed off the edge in the pass rush (and Allen Bailey's for that matter). But what they missed the most was Sean Spence's monstrous presence in the heart of that defense, especially in pass coverage over the middle--as well as the absence of Ray Ray Armstrong over the top. Danny O'Brien continually found chunk after chunk of yardage between the hash marks that normally would be negated by Spence's and Armstrong's keen instincts. Of course, it could have been a lot worse for the Canes. They battled through extremely difficult odds and displayed incredible mental toughness for such young guys in a hostile environment--the future is bright indeed for the Golden Canes, sanctions or no sanctions. They have twelve days to prepare to play host to an also-suspension-depleted Buckeye team and they'll have Benjamin, Forston, Spence, Ojomo, and Jacory Harris back (and I still don't know how he could possibly still be the starter but we'll have to see how that goes) so we'll see then what kind of team this will be (at least this year).
-I think it's safe to say that nobody improved their Heisman stock in Week 1 more than Baylor QB Robert Griffin III. 21-27 for 359 yards and 5 (yes, five) touchdowns--not too shabby. Doing that against a TCU defense that gave up 54 points and 7 touchdowns combined in five road games last year is damned impressive. "RG3" will have four more games in which the Bears will be favored (if not heavily favored) to work out any kinks to speak of and pad his stats a bit before a trip to College Station followed by a bye week, then at Oklahoma State, hosting Missouri, at Kansas, and closing out by hosting Oklahoma, Texas Tech, and Texas. Keep your eye on this kid, not just for the Heisman but in the NFL Draft next spring.
-By the way, what the hell happened to TCU's secondary? It was like a game of NCAA Football 12 where the A.I. on the secondary was turned all the way down, deep ball after deep ball sailing over their heads. Give RG3 credit for being able to drop the football into a milk crate from 40+ yards but the TCU secondary had no answer for those deep balls. And while we're on the subject of lousy performances in the secondary this weekend, in spite of the fact that they won, Auburn's back four were exposed over and over again by Utah State (yes, Utah State...the Aggies...) and that's deeply troubling if you're a Tigers fan. This is somewhat of a down year for QBs in the SEC but Auburn still has to face Stephen Garcia, Aaron Murray, and Tyler Wilson(/Bobby Petrino), all on the road. Even Jordan Jefferson and John Brantley could give this group fits. Phillip Lolley and Tommy Thigpen better coach these kids WAY up or they're liable to get pantsed by the more formidable gunslingers in the SEC.
-I've been a college football fan for over 20 years but this past Thursday marks the first ever time I've attended a football game of a team representing the school I'm attending. In the pouring rain, no less. Pretty fucking cool. FIU dominated North Texas 41-16 but it was 28-0 at the end of the first quarter. Mario Cristobal has something special going on just up the road from "Death Penalty U" (and stands to benefit immensely from the inevitable sanctions against the Canes). I don't know that it would surprise me if they made a run at an undefeated season and a BCS bowl but that's expecting quite a lot. We'll see how they do at Louisville this Friday on ESPN.
-Speaking of pouring rain...anyone who STILL doesn't believe in global warming need only look at the opening week of the college football season in which several games were either delayed or called due to lightning. Tell me you honestly don't recognize the new trend of weather anomalies slowly becoming the norm. Earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes; I generally think people who believe this 2012 business are slightly troubled but every time there's a new weather anomaly, I get a little more nervous about next December 21st...
Florida International at Louisville -- ESPN -- Friday, September 9th, 7:00pm
This is an interesting matchup of a mid-level Big East team and the defending Sun Belt Champs. FIU definitely has the athletes on defense to keep up with Louisville but the interesting thing to watch will be when FIU has the ball. They have a potentially dynamic offense littered with veterans, led by QB Wesley Carroll and WR T.Y. Hilton as well as a solid offensive line but it remains to be seen how they'll match up with BCS conference athletes. Still, Louisville is from the Big East and they're not even a good Big East team. I see Carroll and T.Y. hooking up for at least one game-changing big play being the difference in an otherwise defensive battle.
Hobbitcore sez: Florida International
No. 21 Missouri at Arizona State -- ESPN -- Friday, September 9th, 10:30pm
I kinda think Missouri is way overrated to even be ranked right now. Without Chase Daniel I don't see them doing much of anything. I actually like the Sun Devils in this one.
Hobbitcore sez: Arizona State
No. 3 Alabama at No. 23 Penn State -- ABC -- 3:30pm
Penn State is just totally outmanned here. Alabama may not have much of a QB but they're absolutely LOADED everywhere else. Penn State has NO QB or much of an offense to speak of in general. Alabama blows them away even worse than last year.
Hobbitcore sez: Alabama
No. 12 South Carolina at Georgia -- ESPN -- 4:30pm
Spurrier needs to seriously relax. Stephen Garcia is the guy and he seems to be the only one who doesn't know it. If he would just settle down and let his QB play, this team could be back in the SEC title game this year, possibly even with a (slim) chance of winning. On this day, he will pick apart the underachieving Georgia secondary between the hedges and lead the Gamecocks to a comfortable win.
Hobbitcore sez: South Carolina
Brigham Young at No. 24 Texas -- ESPN2 -- 7:00pm
Again, I get the feeling that the Cougars will give the Longhorns a game with their defense. If Texas can get a running game going, they might run away with it. If not, it could be another defensive struggle for BYU.
Hobbitcore sez: Texas
UPSET OF THE WEEK
Utah at USC -- Vs -- 7:30pm
This is also probably the game I'm most interested in this weekend. Utah's first big Pac-12 test. I can't wait to see what happens in this one. USC was alright on defense last week (albeit against Minnesota) but the offense struggled and Utah is a team that's been playing better defense than most of the (former) Pac-10 over the last couple years.
The Upset Hobbit sez: Utah
GAME OF THE WEEK
Notre Dame at Michigan -- ESPN -- 8:00pm
It was actually going to be Gamecocks/Bulldogs until Georgia got pantsed on national television by Boise State. In spite of the fact that neither team is ranked, this is still a very intriguing game chock full of talented kids with NFL futures. It's also always fun watching the Denard Robinson show--plus you never know when Brian Kelly's going to freak out on the air.
Keys to the Game
-Keep Denard between the tackles
-Play assignment football
-Don't turn the ball over
-Spread the defense (varying playcalling)
-Don't let Denard get hurt
Hobbitpick: Michigan 27, Notre Dame 22
Stanford (-20.5) over Duke
South Carolina (-3) over Georgia
Utah over USC (-9)
My Heisman Ballot (if the voting ended today)
1. QB Robert Griffin III, Baylor
2. QB Kellen Moore, Boise State
3. QB Matt Barkley, USC
ACC: Florida State over Virginia Tech
Big East: South Florida
Big 10: Wisconsin over Nebraska
Big 12: Oklahoma
Pac 12: Stanford over Utah
SEC: Alabama over South Carolina
BCS Championship: Oklahoma over Stanford
Sugar: Alabama over South Florida
Orange: Florida State over Texas
Fiesta: Nebraska over FIU (:P)
Rose: Wisconsin over Oregon