Brad’s world famous weekly college football picks are back! If you recall, I got off to a red hot start with my picks last year before finishing with a perfectly mediocre 75-75 record. In 2009, however, I posted an impressive 78-62 mark, and I hope to replicate that kind of success this season. All of the spreads below are from the World Sports Exchange’s opening lines and are ordered based on my personal confidence in each.
Pick # 1 (Lock of the Week): Syracuse (-6.5) vs. Wake Forest- Each week as soon as the lines come out I try to guess the point spread in each game. I typically come with 3 points one way or the other on each game, but on this one, I was way, way off. I couldn’t believe Syracuse was favored by less than a touchdown here! My Demon Deacons got beat by an average of 37.8 points per game against bowl teams on the road last season with their only road victory coming against a dismal 2-10 Vandy squad that actually outgained Wake in that game. Now, they have to make a long road trip into a unique indoor facility and play another bowl team from 2010. The Deacons may end up being a little better than they were last season but they are still nowhere near being able to contend with a BCS bowl teams on the road. The Cuse win this one big.
Pick # 2: Missouri (-18.0) vs. Miami-OH- There are many 25+ “blowout” point spreads this week, and I can’t believe this isn’t one of them. The Redhawks are nowhere near as good as they were last year and Missouri is a solid preseason top 25 team that can put up a ton of points on people with their spread offense. I know the Tigers will have to break-in a new quarterback this season, but this should be a smooth transition game for James Franklin against a defense that gave up 51 points to Missouri last season.
Pick # 3: Stanford (-30.0) vs. San Jose State- If you want to bet the Cardinal in this game like I do, then get it on it fast because the line is going up, up and away. Opening at 28.5 it is now up to 30 and rightfully so. I still like this spread though at anything under 35, and all that needs to be said here is that Stanford is one of the best 5 or 6 teams in the country in my opinion and San Jose State is one of the 5 or 6 worst.
Pick # 4: Colorado State (-5.5) at New Mexico- It’s interesting that the Mountain West has a conference game the very first week of the season and it’s even more interesting that this line is only 5.5 points. I am actually predicting the Rams to bounce back from a disappointing 2010 campaign and make a bowl in 2011. Meanwhile the New Mexico program is a sinking ship right now that will inevitably lead to the firing of Head Coach Mike Locksley. Keep in mind that when these two teams met last year a much worse CSU team blew out the Lobos by a score of 38-14. I realize that now the Rams must go on the road to play New Mexico, but I don’t think that’s going to matter too much. For even though Albuquerque is a tough place to go play a basketball game, the same can’t be said about football.
Pick # 5: Fresno State (+10.0) at California- Have linesmakers forgotten what has made Fresno State famous? The Bulldogs always play well in road games against mediocre BCS programs. Each of the past four seasons Fresno has beaten a BCS conference opponent, and this is probably their best chance of doing so in 2011. Jeff Tedford once again has a mediocre-to-bad Cal squad that is capable of losing to anybody ranked in the top half of Division 1-A. Fresno also doesn’t have to make the cross country trip that it typically has to do in order to play BCS conference foes. The Bulldogs will make this is a battle and might even come away with a victory.
Pick # 6: Indiana (-7.0) vs. Ball State- The Hoosiers aren’t going to be very good this year, but they should be good enough to beat one of the worst BCS teams in the country by at least a touchdown in a neutral site game.
Pick # 7: Houston (-3.5) vs. UCLA- Case Keenum is back and ready to put up obscene numbers against a UCLA defense that was lit up several times on the road last season. Also, UCLA was the team that ended Keenum’s season last year, so I imagine he’ll likely be looking for revenge in this one. The Bruins may keep this one close for a while, but the Cougars should win by a least a touchdown as they are the better team and are playing at home.
Pick # 8: Southern Cal (-22.5) vs. Minnesota- This line should be about 35 points, and I think the only reason it’s not is the fact that the Golden Gophers play in a BCS conference. What people should realize though is that Minnesota is actually much worse than many bad non-BCS teams and will probably only win one or two games all season. Matt Barkley will have a field day against the Gophers porous defense, and even though the Trojans only beat Minnesota by 11 points in 2010, USC has improved since last year and Minnesota should be worse.
Pick # 9: Tulsa (+24.5) at Oklahoma- Oklahoma may be the most talented team in the country this year, so I’m a little hesitant about betting against them at home. However, Tulsa is my # 3 surprise team in 2011, so I feel like I need to put my money where my mouth is and call for the Golden Hurricane to keep this game close for 4 quarters. I also really like the fact that this line has shot up from 21 points to 24.5 points in the last 24 hours.
Pick # 10: Mississippi State (-29.5) at Memphis- Unlike the Tulsa spread I just mentioned, this line is getting worse for me as it has jumped from 27 to 29.5. However, I’m still going to take the Bulldogs here, as they beat the Tigers by 42 points last year and should be even better in 2011.