Hobbitcore's College Football Corner (Week 1)
So, it being the week before college football FINALLY begins--and me being the absolute college football NUT that I am--it’s obviously the perfect time to celebrate by unveiling/resurrecting a “column” I have been writing on and off for several years now. At first I just posted it on a message board I frequented, then I started posting it in a blog I had but now that I have this lovely medium, I’ll be sharing it with all you lovely people.
|ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL?!|
Here’s the basic gist of it: I analyze and make predictions on ALL of the college football games on basic cable or network TV (with some exceptions for other particularly interesting matchups) including one UPSET OF THE WEEK and one GAME OF THE WEEK. It starts with HEADLINES from the previous week in college football (except this time where you just get this rambling introduction since it’s the first week) including how I did on last week’s picks (Highlights, Lowlights, The Rest, my record overall and my Upset of the Week record). For the Game of the Week, I go a little more in-depth, giving each team three “Keys to the Game” and also actually attempting to predict the score rather than just picking a winner. Then after all the picks I offer a few special treats:
-Out-of-Whack Spreads (games where I feel that one team is either favored by too much, not favored by enough, or flat out shouldn’t be favored at all; a.k.a. games I would bet money on if betting on amateur sports were legal; note: when a team has a negative number [-7] next to their name it means they’re favored by that number and when a team has a positive number [+9] it means the other team is favored by that many)
-My Heisman Ballot (my top three heisman candidates)
-BCS Predictions (who will win each conference [including divisions and conference championship games], what BCS bowl each will be placed in, and who will win each BCS bowl matchup)
Now that we’ve gotten the formalities away, let’s get right to it--I can barely contain my excitement...
No. 9 South Carolina at Vanderbilt -- ESPN -- Thursday, 7pm
Don’t really need to say much about this one. This is a preseason game for the Gamecocks and a free SEC win.
Hobbitcore sez: South Carolina
Washington State at Brigham Young -- ESPN -- Thursday, 10:15pm
OK, OK, I know no one cares about these middle-of-the-night west coast games. Except me. Especially this one because, as boring as it probably will be, it’s the second nationally broadcasted game of the year. I honestly don’t know anything about either of these teams other than the fact that Mike Leach is now the head coach at WSU. I’m not sure if that puts them at an advantage or disadvantage in this game--depends how quickly they’re catching on to his offense and how much of it he has installed. Oh, I also know that BYU is in its first year as an independent program in football. My gut says the Cougars are going to win.
Hobbitcore sez: Washington State, I guess...
|Which team will miss its star QB more?|
No. 24 Boise State at No. 13 Michigan State -- ESPN -- Friday, 8pm
#13 seems like kind of a high ranking for a team that just lost one of the best QBs in the country in Kirk Cousins. Of course Boise State being ranked at all is debatable with the loss of one of the best college QBs ever, Kellen Moore. Should be interesting to see which new starter does a better job filling the enormous shoes left behind by his predecessor. In the end, however, Michigan State’s defense will overpower the Broncos.
Hobbitcore sez: Michigan State
Northwestern at Syracuse -- ESPN2 -- Saturday, 12pm
Poor Syracuse is gearing up for next week’s showdown with #1 USC whereas Northwestern doesn’t play a ranked team until the middle of October. The only thing I really know about either of these teams is that Northwestern QB Dan Persa is very dangerous both running and throwing the ball and I doubt Syracuse has an answer for him.
Hobbitcore sez: Northwestern
Southern Miss at No. 17 Nebraska -- ABC/ESPN2 -- Saturday, 3:30pm
Don’t count Southern Miss out of this one. I don’t think they’ll win (especially not in Lincoln) but I do think they’ll surprise a lot of people by keeping it relatively close. This is a team that went 12-2 last year including a 49-28 walloping of Houston that may have kept them out of a BCS bowl and the Golden Eagles were also 14th in the nation in points scored last year.
Hobbitcore sez: Nebraska
Bowling Green at No. 23 Florida -- ESPN -- Saturday, 3:30pm
Ugh. I don’t even wanna talk about the Gators beating up on some lowly cupcake. Although I’m somewhat interested to see who comes out on top in their QB battle. Also I can’t wait for a full season of bitching and moaning about Urban Meyer coaching Ohio State now. But anyway...
Hobbitcore sez: Florida
Miami (FL) at Boston College -- ABC/ESPN2 -- Saturday, 3:30pm
I’m terrified of what my Hurricanes are gonna look like this year. The Nevin Shapiro sanctions have yet to be handed down (expect that to happen in the next couple days) and we lost a TON of talent from last year. Still, there are a few rising stars left and Stephen Morris finally gets his shot at starting QB. I have faith in Al Golden that he will coach these kids up and possibly even make a run at a first-ever Coastal Division title.
Hobbitcore sez: Miami
No. 14 Clemson vs. Auburn -- ESPN -- Saturday, 7pm
Clemson just has too many weapons for an Auburn team that has been flailing since Cam Newton’s legendary 2010 season. I think Clemson might be my pick to finally break through the glass ceiling and win the ACC this year.
Hobbitcore sez: Clemson
Kentucky at No. 25 Louisville -- ESPN -- Sunday, 3:30pm
Yeah, I know, everyone else is gonna be watching NFL games at this time. Well guess who has two thumbs and cares more about a mediocre college football game than any NFL game. Not only that but this is a RIVALRY game--unequivocally the best kind of sporting event there is. That doesn’t mean I know the first thing about either of these teams. Actually I do know that Teddy Bridgewater and Eli Rogers abandoned the Canes when Randy Shannon was fired in order to play for Charlie Strong at Louisville. I’m not saying these guys just wanted to play for a black head coach but...that’s the end of that sentence. They are some talented dudes, though, so I guess I’ll take the Cardinals.
Hobbitcore sez: Louisville
|Frank Beamer (center left) and Paul Johnson (center right)|
Georgia Tech at No. 16 Virginia Tech -- ESPN -- Monday, 8pm
Screw Monday Night Football, we’ve got ourselves a marquee ACC matchup here. I have a hard time picking against the Hokies in this one because even though Paul Johnson’s triple option is always dangerous, so is Virginia Tech’s defense. I’ve been saying for a while that the ACC has more or less figured out the triple option at this point. It can still do plenty of damage but it’s not taking anybody by surprise anymore and any time a team has more than a week to prepare for it, they usually rip it to shreds. Raise your hand if you think Frank Beamer is any different. Yeah, thought not.
Hobbitcore sez: Virginia Tech
UPSET OF THE WEEK
Ohio at Penn State (untelevised)
Even with all that’s been going on around Penn State this offseason, this still probably sounds a little crazy, especially since the game is in Happy Valley. Keep in mind, however, Ohio isn’t exactly a cupcake. This is a team that came within a FURIOUS Northern Illinois second half comeback (down 20-0 at halftime, won 23-20) of winning the MAC title and still managed to get to 10 wins with a win over Utah State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (no, I didn’t make that name up and neither did The Onion). I think Penn State is just carrying too much baggage and too many scars are not yet healed for them to come out on top in this one. The problem with this pick, of course, is that if I’m wrong, I’m gonna be REALLY wrong: either the Lions come out flat and emotionally distraught or they come out ridiculously fired up and steamroll the Bobcats. My hunch is the former.
The Upset Hobbit sez: Ohio
GAME OF THE WEEK
No. 8 Michigan vs. No. 2 Alabama -- ABC -- Saturday, 8pm
Ohhhhh, baby. Talk about a clash of the titans. Two of the most storied programs in the sport, both ranked in the top 10, on opening weekend. Doesn’t get much better than this. Alabama lost a ton of talent but they still have Nick Saban and they always seem to reload so fast. Michigan has finally clawed its way back to relevance after the Rich Rodriguez debacle. It’s no secret that Denard Robinson will be the most exciting player on the field by far. I can’t wait to see Saban’s defense try to contain him. He definitely won’t be running wild the way he usually does. This is a tough call but when in doubt you gotta go with Saban.
Hobbitpick: Alabama 24, Michigan 16
Keys to the Game
-protect Denard Robinson (they will be coming for him)
-be balanced on offense (if Alabama makes you one-dimensional, they’ve already won)
-minimize mistakes (Saban’s teams know how to make the most of opposing teams’ mistakes)
-contain Denard Robinson (keeping him in the pocket is ideal but keeping him behind the line of scrimmage and out of open field is imperative)
-attack A.J. McCarron (he lost some big time targets from last year so he may be hanging in the pocket a beat or two longer than he’s used to)
-play Saban football (create turnovers on defense, big plays on special teams, play fundamentally sound, mistake-free football)
#9 South Carolina (-7) over Vanderbilt (How are the Gamecocks possibly only favored by 7 in this game? Did Jay Cutler come back to the Commodores when I wasn’t looking?)
Southern Miss (+20) over #17 Nebraska (I already discussed how I think this will be closer than people think)
Michigan (+12.5) over Alabama (Alabama lost too much talent to beat a very good Michigan team by double digits)
My Heisman Ballot
1. Denard Robinson
2. Matt Barkley
3. Landry Jones
ACC: Clemson over Virginia Tech (maybe I’m being a homer picking Clemson over FSU to win the Atlantic Division but whatever)
Big 12: Oklahoma (this is going to be an interesting division this year with West Virginia joining the fray; can’t wait to see them go toe-to-toe with OU and Texas)
Big East: Louisville (actually I have no idea, this conference is even more wide open than before)
Big Ten: Michigan over Wisconsin (Ohio State and Penn State are ineligible for the postseason, leaving the Leaders division open for Purdue, Indiana, or Illinois, provided any of them can get past Wisconsin)
Pac-12: USC over Oregon (USC is on a mission now that they're finally eligible for the postseason again)
SEC: Georgia over Alabama (Saban's gonna need at least one more year to reload)
BCS Championship: USC over Georgia
Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma over LSU
Sugar Bowl: Alabama over Wisconsin
Orange Bowl: West Virginia over Clemson
Rose Bowl: Michigan over Oregon