College Football Week One Picks

09/01/2011 10:12 AM

It’s game day, as Louisville and Murray State will kickoff the 2011 college football season tonight at 6 on ESPNU, followed by UK and Western at 9:15. Here’s a look at my Week 1 crystal ball.

Thursday night
Murray State (+28.5) at Louisville-I originally picked the Cards 56-10 in my game-by-game predictions, but I do think Chris Hatcher’s passing attack might be able to strike on U of L’s untested corners a couple of times. But the Cardinal defense will put enough pressure on Murray QB Casey Brockman to keep this one from being too close.
Louisville 48, Murray State 24

Kentucky (-18) vs. Western Kentucky-For UK and Joker Phillips, this is bigger than just winning. They need to win AND look good doing it to erase the foul taste left in fans’ mouths after the BBVA Compass Bowl debacle. Greg Brohm and I talked with WKU play-by-play man Randy Lee on the Morning Sports Buzz Thursday, and the Hilltoppers seem confident. With Randall Cobb and Derrick Locke now gone, Western feels like they’ve closed the speed cap and can keep the Cats from going crazy offensively (UK scored a combined 104 points in the teams last two games). I don’t think Kentucky scores 63 like they did last year, but I think they’ll score enough and limit Bobby Rainey enough to cover the spread. Not by much, though.
Kentucky 38, Western Kentucky 17

Friday
TCU (-4 1/2) at Baylor-I think Gary Patterson might be the best coach in the country. But this is a tough road opener for a Horned Frogs team that lost a lot from last year’s 13-0 squad. Baylor isn’t the same patsy it used to be, and they have one of the nation’s most electrifying QB’s in Robert Griffin. I’m going with the Bears in an upset.
Baylor 20, TCU 17

Saturday
South Florida (+10) at Notre Dame-Here we go again. Another year, another Fighting Irish team that’s overrated in the polls. Actually, I do believe ND is on the right track under Brian Kelly, and a user-friendly schedule could get them to 10 wins. The Bulls are legit, though. I really like Skip Holtz, and USF has the kind of speed that could hurt the Irish. This is also a huge game for the Big East. I see USF giving Notre Dame all it wants with the Irish prevailing on a last-second field goal.
Notre Dame 27, South Florida 24

BYU (3) at Ole Miss-Houston Nutt needs this one bad, and no one really knows what to expect out of BYU after a disappointing 7-6 campaign and its new status as an independent. Look for Nutt to grab a huge win and keep the buzzards away-for the moment.
Ole Miss 23, BYU 21

Boise State (-3 1/2) vs. Georgia-There’s a lot at stake here. If the Broncos want that long-awaited chance to play for a national title, they’ve got to have this one. Georgia’s Mark Richt needs a bounceback year. He can get the ball rolling on that with a win. I remember sitting it my living room watching a decent, but not great Georgia team destroy Boise 48-13 back in 2005. I know Boise’s come a long way since then, but I can’t get that vision out of my head. It won’t be nearly as easy this time, but I see the Bulldogs coming away with a hard-fought win.
Georgia 31, Boise State 27

Oregon (-1) vs. LSU-Hopefully the game on the field won’t look anything like the mess these two programs have created off the field. I wasn’t a Jordan Jefferson believer, anyway, so I don’t think his loss is as big of a deal as people are making it. But the Tigers are also without another top playmaker in WR Russell Shepard, and they also have to replace 1,147-yard rusher Stevan Ridley. Oregon and its dynamic backfield of QB Darron Thomas and RB LaMichael James seems like a safer pick.
Oregon 38, LSU 27

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