Steve Spurrier and South Carolina kick off the CFB season tonight on ESPN.
It's here. The wait is finally over. Get ready boys because tonight we play for keeps. College football is by far and away my favorite sport. I love it. And while I usually start getting goosebumps on Saturday when ESPN's College Gameday starts up for the first time, tonight is the official kickoff to the college football season. With a few big games on tap, here are some of the things I will be looking for, along with college football picks for each game.
UTEP at Buffalo (-3.5)I grew up a few hours from Buffalo so I know what kind of football program they had there before Turner Gill arrived. What he's done with the Bulls is one of the most amazing coaching jobs I've ever seen. To think they may have a chance at a bowl game this season is unbelievable when you consider that just a few years ago this program was a laughingstock. Tonight Mike "It's Rolling Baby" Price and UTEP visit Western NY in what is a big game for each squad. Both teams have explosive offenses and questionable defenses, so expect to see a lot of points on the board tonight.
Tommy's Pick: Over 59
Vanderbilt at Miami, OH (-4)This is my forum play for tonight and I took Vandy +4 points. I know Miami is expected to compete in the MAC but Vandy isn't a MAC team. They play in this other conference called the SEC. When I look at this line, I see tremendous value here. Both teams are led by their defenses, so I can see a close, low-scoring game here. Vandy's secondary, led by all-everything CB D.J. Moore, is actually one of the better units in the SEC. The Commodores will certainly miss WR Earl Bennett but other than that, I think they'll be fine. I expect the MAC conference to better overall this year but any time one of those teams is giving four points to an SEC squad, I have to take the points, even if it's Vanderbilt.
Tommy's Pick: Vanderbilt +4
NC State at South Carolina (-14.5)I'm really looking forward to watching this game tonight. I think both of these teams are going to be vastly improved this year. Everyone is talking about the Gamecocks and while I think this could be a breakout year for Steve Spurrier at South Carolina, don't underestimate the Wolfpack. This is Tom O'Brien's second year in Raleigh and he's equipped with a strong stable of running backs and what should be a solid defense. The question for both teams is at quarterback. I give South Carolina's Tommy Beecher an edge over NC State's Russell Wilson and I think that will be the deciding factor tonight. However, 14.5 is too many points in this one.
Tommy's Pick: NC State +14.5
Wake Forest (-11.5) at BaylorWake is a popular pick on the forums and to be honest, they should be. I keep hearing how Jim Grobe doesn't blow teams out on the road. That may be true in the past but don't you think some of that has to do with the fact Wake wasn't always overflowing with talent? That's not a problem this season. The Demon Deacons are loaded on both sides of the ball. Led by quarterback Riley Skinner and future first-round corner Alphonso Smith, there are very few holes on this Wake Forest team. The same can't be said for Baylor. When I did my power rankings, the Bears rated as one of the worst teams in college football. Art Briles will win at Baylor, it just won't start tonight.
Tommy's Pick: Wake Forest -11.5
Oregon State (-3) at StanfordThis is a tough one to call. I was originally siding with the Beavers here but when I looked at the game closer, I really Stanford's defense heading into the season. People are making a huge deal because the Beavs lost their entire starting front seven but last year reserve ends Victor Butler and Slade Norris combined for 19.5 sacks. I see both defenses dominating this game with points being hard to come by. I still like the Beavers to come out on top because I think overall they are more talented but the under makes more sense to me than trying to pick a side.
Tommy's Pick: Under 45.5
Troy (-6.5) at Middle Tennessee StateI really have no opinion on this game. Troy lost a ton of production off last year's explosive offense, while the Blue Raiders return just 10 starters from a year ago. I think Middle Tennessee is going to be able to score some points this year but their defense looks atrocious to me. Because of that, I think Troy will be able to score easily tonight, even with an inexperienced quarterback under center.
Tommy's Pick: Over 53.5