Things kickoff Thursday night with a slow spate of games, get turned up a notch with an underrated lone star affair, and peak Saturday night with twin kickoff classics featuring SEC teams. It should be fun. Then there's Sunday and Monday night to nurse you back down before the work week owns your soul for a few more days.While there aren't many big time match-ups - most of the big guys are easing into 2011 with an appetizer of cupcakes and cheesedick sandwiches - there's at least something interesting each night.
Mississippi State 40, Memphis 10 - No, this isn't a classic match up, but it is the first SEC game. The real question here is: Why is Mississippi State going to Memphis? That must've been a Croom-era deal. I like the Other Bulldogs to come out trying to prove their power, and the Tigers should be an easy target to do that against.
Wisconsin 41, UNLV 20 - Enter Russell Wilson. I don't know how Wisky got into this deal with UNLV, having gone to Vegas twice in three years in exchange for one home game, but I do know that the Rebs play the Badgers tough, at least early. That probably won't change this season. But, as Wilson gets comfortable and the run game keeps pounding away, the Badgers should separate and kick start what could be a great year in Madison.
TCU 27, Baylor 23 - A lot of people are over looking this game and I don't know why. Actually, I guess I do know why: the 45-10 beatdown last year. The Frogs are a pretty solid favorite (6'), but Baylor feels like a true wild card to me this season. Robert Griffin is going to give opposing defenses fits, and it could all start with TCU. Tank Carder and Co. will have their hands full in Waco and the Bears should put up much more of a fight this go 'round.
Notre Dame 28, South Florida 27 - Fuck with the Bull, and you know the rest. SoFla is my preseason pick for Big East champ and I think they'll give the Irish all they can handle in South Bend. IND will pull it out late, but this could make for a nice little match-up as Brian Kelly and Dayne Crist settle into year 2.
Ole Miss 32, BYU 29 - The Rebels/Bears/Ackbars will not lose two home openers in a row. But they will try.
Oregon 31, LSU 27 - From my earlier pick: "It's odd to write this about an SEC team, but LSU will have trouble keeping up with Oregon's team speed (insert Cliff Harris rental car joke here). And, if a track meet doesn't break out, we saw in last year's BCS title game that the Ducks can play defense if they need to. I know LSU is on a lot of peoples' short lists, but Oregon's near the top of mine. And, while the trip to Texas and it being opening week might clip Oregon's wings a little bit, the Tigers have too many question marks, especially for such a big game on opening weekend. Oregon 29, LSU 27" The only change to this I'd make is a little more confidence in the Ducks with the recent bad news out of Baton Rouge.
Georgia 34, Boise State 24 - From the earlier pick: "Same song, different verse: if Boise wins, blah, blah, blah, BCS title game. I'm not trying to take anything away from the individuals that make up the BSU program, but this has been their narrative for so long, they don't know anything else. Meanwhile, Georgia has NO expectations and Richt's seat is getting quite warm. If the Dawgs play with nothing to lose, and they should, there could be some re-writes on deck for the Broncos' storyline. Georgia 34, Boise State 24" I'm holding fast to this.
Texas A&M 44, SMU 30 - A&M's edge in Vegas has dropped a point this week to 15, and rightfully so. June-bug might finally have 'his' team down in Dallas. This seems like another under rated Texas tee-up, as there could be some serious fireworks in this one. Defensively, the Mustangs just won't have an answer for Tannehill. Michael, and Co. It should be a shootout early, but the twelfth man should help the Aggies pull away late.
Maryland 23, Miami 22 - I honestly have ZERO idea about this game. I know there's a hurricane (ha!) of problems swirling in Corral Gables and that Jacorry "DeepVerts" Harris will be sitting out, but will that matter against a team that's just so, well, Maryland-y? Maryland games usually seem so boring, so at least there's a little change of pace here. I like both of these coaches, and Al Golden is a reliable enough man to whether the storm, but will that have any impact on this game? Doubt it. Calling it for the new unis: Terps win.