|Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel|
-Gee, what could possibly be the biggest story of the college football offseason? That's a noodle of a scratcher. How about The Self-Destruction of Johnny Football? What I'm really looking forward to is how he responds on the field after all the hoopla and distractions. Most ESPN experts feel confident that once he steps on the field, all the distractions will melt away and he'll be relieved to finally be playing football again under the bright lights and that makes total sense to me. He's clearly a kid that doesn't shy away from the spotlight and tends to play biggest in the biggest moments. But he's also 20 years old and a sophomore and I just don't feel confident that he can set aside the distractions and focus on preparing himself to play football. The preparation is where it gets you, not the games. If he starts making mental errors against the Tide in Week 2, everyone is gonna know why...
CLICK "READ MORE" FOR PICKS ON BAMA/VATECH, LSU/TCU, AND GEORGIA/CLEMSON
|Ohio State QB Braxton Miller|
Buffalo @ #2 Ohio State -- ESPN2 -- 12:00pm
What the what?! How did this possibly end up on national television? Aren't there any other decent games on? Oh. Wow. No there really aren't. So unless by "Buffalo" we're talking about the Bills, Ohio State is probably winning this game. The only question is how many records Braxton Miller breaks.
Hobbitcore sez: Ohio State
Rice @ #7 Texas A&M -- ESPN -- 1:00pm (UPSET ALERT)
What's this? Why, it's the first emergence of the Upset Hobbit! And he's here to tell us that the Aggies better be VERY careful of this one. Johnny Football is suspended for the first half and Rice has averaged more than 28 points per game 4 of the last 6 years. If Rice's coaches are worth their salaries, they'll be looking to strike early and often, putting a lot of pressure on what should be a versatile Aggie defense. If they're up to the challenge, Manziel should be able to come in after the intermission and blow it open but the Aggies MUST take this offense seriously. With all the distractions, if I'm Kevin Sumlin, I'm very concerned about how prepared my guys are for this game. I'm gonna go with A&M (I don't believe in Rice THAT much) but they better not be sleepwalking or they could find themselves in a real fight.
The Upset Hobbit sez: Texas A&M, but by "less than the experts think" as they say...
Mississippi State vs. #13 Oklahoma State -- ABC/ESPN2 -- 3:30pm
This will be a fun little neutral site, SEC vs. Big 12, great offense vs. great defense matchup. The Cowboys might have caught the Bulldogs in a down year and I have a feeling they're gonna roll.
Hobbitcore sez: Oklahoma State
|Penn State Head Coach Bill O'Brien|
Syracuse vs. Penn State -- ABC/ESPN2 -- 3:30pm
I really like the job Bill O'Brien has been doing with Penn State and I think he continues to build on that success this year. It's not going to be easy with another years of postseason banishment but I think O'Brien gets these guys inspired to have a great season much like Urban Meyer did with Ohio State last year.
Hobbitcore sez: Penn State
|Alabama QB A.J. McCarron|
#1 Alabama vs. Virginia Tech -- ESPN -- 5:30pm
Welcome to Ouchtown. Population: Hokies.
Hobbitcore sez: Alabama
Washington State @ Auburn -- ESPNU -- 7:00pm
In Year Two, it should be interesting to see how well Mike Leach has integrated his system with the Cougars. Or maybe we'll just get to see that Leach isn't the magician he was once thought to be at Texas Tech. I think Auburn has the talent advantage here and Gene Chizik should have success.
Hobbitcore sez: Auburn
|TCU QB Casey Pachall|
#12 LSU vs. #20 TCU -- ESPN -- 9:00pm (UPSET ALERT)
And the Upset Hobbit reappears! This is a VERY intriguing SEC/Big 12 matchup. TCU was rolling last year until QB Casey Pachall got arrested and suspended. With Pachall back and a very good defense, Gary Patterson's crew could give LSU real problems. I'm actually going to go as far as to go out on a limb and call for the upset. It's kinda lame to go "Upset Alert" twice and not pick the underdog either time. I wouldn't do this if it was in Death Valley but at a neutral site: Go Frogs!
The Upset Hobbit sez: TCU
GAME OF THE WEEK/UPSET OF THE WEEK
#5 Georgia @ #8 Clemson
And for his Grand Finale, the Upset Hobbit reemerges for one final act. Both teams lost a ton of talent to the NFL but both are still stacked and both have star quarterbacks in Aaron Murray and Tajh Boyd. I have to give Boyd and Clemson's defense the benefit of the doubt, if only because the Dawgs' D lost a lot of guys. Add to that the fact that it's in the other Death Valley and I just have to go with the Tigers. It's going to be incredibly close, though. The Dawgs are for real and will win the SEC East but Clemson is a legit national title contender.
Hobbitpick: Clemson 27, Georgia 24
|Clemson QB Tajh Boyd|
Keys to the Game
-Shut down Sammy Watkins
-Contain Tajh Boyd
-Shut down Sammy Watkins again
-Establish a running game (with Boyd if you have to)
-Feed the beast (Todd Gurley) early and often
-Keep Aaron Murray's jersey clean
(Heisman Ballot will return next week)
Out-of-Whack Spreads (i.e. games I would bet on if betting on amateur sports were legal)
-Ohio State (-34) over Buffalo
-Louisiana Tech (+14) over Maryland
American Athletic Conference (formerly Big East): Louisville
ACC: Clemson over Miami
Big XII: Texas
Big Ten: Ohio State over Michigan
Pac-12: Stanford over UCLA
SEC: Alabama over Georgia
National Championship: Alabama over Stanford
Orange Bowl: Clemson over Michigan
Sugar Bowl: Texas A&M over Notre Dame
Fiesta Bowl: Texas over Louisville
Rose Bowl: Ohio State over Oregon