This year, the Pac-10 season opens up with what looks like a mismatch on paper. When these teams met last year, Stanford completely dominated, and they're even better this time around. Toby Gerhart still leads the offense, they should have a much better quarterback in Andrew Luck, and their run defense should be strong, which makes a big difference, especially since the Cougars don't look like they'll have much of a passing game, especially early on. This could absolutely be another big blowout.
On the Other Hand:
Week one games can be weird sometimes, and after Stanford's major road struggles last year (only beating Washington, and then just barely), there's definitely no guarantee. The Cougars may seem in disarray, but right now with basically zero expectations they have absolutely nothing to lose, and will come out fired up to make this year different from last year's disaster.
Stanford is simply a much better team. Something weird would have to happen for this game to be close, much less an upset. And it's more likely that "something weird" would come at the expense of the home team, given how frequently they coughed up the ball and gave up big plays last year.
Stanford 35, Washington St 13
Oregon (+4) @ Boise St
This looks like an interesting game. Both teams come into the season with a substantial amount of hype, both desperately need this win in order to justify the hype, and both have a number of important question marks. On the "Smurf Turf", Boise has been very tough to beat, not losing a regular season home game since Washington St took it to them back in 2001. And against a Duck secondary that has to deal with the loss of Patrick Chung and Jairus Byrd, the Broncos might have a big day through the air and simply outscore the Ducks.
On the Other Hand:
If the Broncos could have a huge day through the air, the Ducks could have a huge day through the ground. Oregon may have some offensive line issues, but the Broncos' front seven doesn't look very strong, which means they probably won't be able to take advantage. And that means that Jeremiah Masoli and LaGarrette Blount should have huge days running the ball.
This looks like a major shootout; the best bet is probably the over, since it's only 63.5. Overall, I think the Broncos are a bit better, and they're at home, which means that 4 points is probably a touch light, though not much.
@ Boise St 38, Oregon 31
Maryland @ Cal (-21.5)
I just don't buy this as any kind of close game. The Terps lose a massive amount from last year, when they were already bad on the road, it's a week one cross-country road game, and Cal is going to be very well motivated for payback after last year's big upset loss.
@ Cal 42, Maryland 13
Central Michigan @ Arizona (-14)
The real question here is whether Central Michigan is one of the mediocre teams that Arizona makes a living crushing, or whether they're good enough to hang with the ‘Cats, in which case this could actually be an upset. The Chippewas might have the overall talent to hang with them, but Arizona's secondary should put the clamps on CMU's pass-happy offense, and their receivers have the talent to torch the CMU secondary. Unless Arizona gets bad quarterback play, I don't think this is a close game.
@ Arizona 34, Central Michigan 14
LSU @ Washington (+17.5)
If LSU has regained the form they had through 2007, when they were a consistent top team, they could roll, but if they're as vulnerable as last year it could definitely be an upset. My guess is LSU is somewhere in between the two extremes, which means that U-Dub should be able to give them a game at home.
LSU 28, @ Washington 17
San Diego St @ UCLA (-19)
Last year San Diego St was just awful, and while they should definitely be improved, it won't be enough to hang with a UCLA team that's going to be a lot better than they were last year.
@ UCLA 38, San Diego St 10
San Jose St @ USC (-33.5)
With a big game coming up next week against Ohio St, expect USC to give freshman quarterback Matt Barkley as much work as they can to build up his confidence; ditto for the defense, which doesn't have much experience. However, they'll still make some mistakes, and those will be enough for an experienced Spartan team, led by a decent QB in Kyle Reed, to pull the cover.
@ USC 42, San Jose St 10
Idaho St @ Arizona St (NL)
@ Arizona St 45, Idaho St 3
Portland St @ Oregon St (NL)
@ Oregon St 45, Portland St 3
National Games of the Week:
Virginia Tech vs Alabama (-6.5)
Even with their running back injury, I'm surprised to see the Hokies as full touchdown underdogs. Bama should win, but this ought to be a close game.
Alabama 21, Virginia Tech 17
Georgia @ Oklahoma St (-5.5)
Considering the incredible success Georgia keeps on having on the road, I think this line is a touch high, but I still like the Cowboys to pull out the win.
@ Oklahoma St 28, Georgia 24
BYU vs Oklahoma (-21.5)
I think BYU is a legitimately good team, but Oklahoma is the sort of team that flat-out hammers other teams; they crushed Cincy, TCU, Nebraska, Tech and Mizzou by more than this last year, and this year they should be even better.
Oklahoma 48, BYU 17
Missouri vs Illinois (-7)
It's a shame that this series will soon be ending, as it's nice to see a regular early season matchup between teams from different BCS conferences. This year, Illinois just looks too good for Mizzou.
Illinois 35, Missouri 17
Colorado St vs Colorado (-10.5)
This game is usually fun. Before last year, there were six straight games decided by a TD or less, and I think that the Rams have improved enough that we'll see a fairly close game again.
Colorado 34, Colorado St 24
Cincinnati @ Rutgers (-5.5)
The first of two potentially fun Labor Day games. I like Brian Kelly, and he's definitely doing a good job at Cincy, but they've just too many key players to be able to hang with Rutgers, especially in week one. Throw in the revenge factor for three straight Bearcat wins in this series and it's easy to see this one getting a bit out of hand.
@ Rutgers 31, Cincy 17
Miami @ Florida St (-6.5)
Slowly but surely, Miami is getting better. However, I think the ‘Noles are going to make huge strides forward this year, and at home I like them by more than a touchdown.
@ Florida St 28, Miami 17
Notre Dame -14
The Irish may by flaky, and may not be well-coached, but they've got a boatload of talent, and they're playing against a team that doesn't do much on defense, and that has a powerful tendency to get blasted by top 25 teams early in the year.
I'm mildly surprised this line keeps going up. It seems obvious to me that Baylor should be the better team, and even on the road I give them better than even chances at winning. Free points just sweetens the deal.
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