College Football Picks And Preview: Week 1
What follows is our take on every game over week 1… or zero, or whatever the hell they’re calling it. We don’t do lines and over-unders and such Not one of those pages. This just our picks. If you followed us last year, you know we hit just over 82% on the year, so, being pretty impressed with ourselves, we’re doing it again. We’re not experts, but if you read what’s out there, neither is anyone else. Share your thoughts below… let us know what you thought!
UAB is fresh off its surprise Conference USA Championship in 2020, and is loaded for a potential repeat run. But Jacksonville State isn’t your standard FCS warm-up game. This was a playoff team last season that boasts a solid run D… the run game is one of UAB’s strengths. And they’ll be able to put up points with their explosive passing game. Should we be on upset alert? Probably not. As is usually the case in match-ups like this, the FBS team is just going to have more talent. But this won’t be a blowout.
UAB 38 Jacksonville State 7
Tell me if you’ve heard this one before… Greg Schiano has the Rutgers football program on the rise. But it’s just as true this time as it was the last. With the Scarlet Knights at least looking for a bowl bid in 2021, Temple…. One of the worst teams in college football at the moment…. Is a good place to start.
Rutgers 41 Temple 14
The Citadel may keep things interesting for a quarter or so as Coastal gets used to their option attack, but Coastal is just a far better team. The Chanticleers will be looking to make an early statement so this one could get ugly.
Coastal Carolina 56 The Citadel 13
The Sharks are a school just getting their football legs (fins, maybe?) under them, and while FIU isn’t expected to be a very good team this year, they shouldn’t have much of an issue dippatching with LIU.
FIU 31 LIU 14
This could easily be the best game of Week 1. Boise State is the blueprint of success for non group of 5 teams, and UCF is on the verge of becoming, well… the new Boise State. Both teams boast high octane offenses. The Broncos D gets a slight edge, with one big exception… the secondary. And the Knights are built to exploit that particular weakness. This game will be full of fireworks, but the Knights will just put up too many points at home for the Broncos to keep up in the end.
UCF 45 Boise State 35
Western Illinois won’t put up much in the way of resistance; this isn’t even a very good FCS team. The Cardinals have issues, but nothing the Leathernecks are built to take advantage of.
Ball State 38 Western Illinois 17
The Bulls defense is expected to be dominant in MAC play in 2021, and the Seahawks will be no match. Buffalo should be able to easily outmuscle Wagner with the running game. This won’t be close.
Buffalo 56 Wagner 6
Weber State was an FCS playoff team last season, one built on being dominant physically. That serves them well down there, but it won’t do much against the Utes. The Wildcats may keep it interesting for a while, and this shouldn’t be an embarrassing loss, but it will be a decisive loss just the same.
Utah 38 Weber State 16
The Bulls were bad in 2020, so saying they should be improved isn’t saying much. But they will… not that it will look that way against the Wolfpack. The D will be no match for QB Devin Leary and his arsenal of skill players, and a D that returns almost everyone should shut the Bulls down.
NC State 52 USF 7
This should be another fun game to watch. App State is loaded in 2021, with pretty much everyone back from last year and talent at all of the skill spots. ECU can score as well, so there should be plenty of highlights here. The Pirates won’t be able to keep up in the end, though… App State will handle business in a high scoring opener at home.
Appalachian State 41 East Carolina 31
Tulsa’s D is their strength, and UC Davis will be no match for it. This won’t be the most exciting game to watch (Unless you’re a Golden Hurricane fan, of course)… the ball won’t spend a whole lot of time in the air. Tulsa will grind out a decisive win.
Tulsa 31 UC Davis 17
The Buckeyes head into 2021 with a Heisman candidate under center who has yet to take a snap. How? Because the kid is surrounded by NFL level talent at every position, including possibly the best WR corps seen in college football in decades. That being siad, expect the Buckeyes to pound a Minnesota D that couldn’t stop anyone on the ground in 2020. The Gophers should keep it close early, but like everyone else in the Big Ten, they won’t be able to keep up.
Ohio State 41 Minnesota 27
The Vols are in rebuilding mode,and starting the season against one of the worst teams in college football may be just what the doctor… and new coach Josh Heupel… ordered. Look for Tennessee to dismantle the Falcons.
Tennessee 35 Bowling Green 10
Western Kentucky imported a whole slew of offensive talent in the off season, and an average FCS team is just what they need to cut their teeth on. The Hilltoppers will be a kid playing with a new toy; expect them to score early and often.
Western Kentucky 52 UT Martin 10
This looks to be the best Lobos team in years… not that that’s saying much. But they’ll win a few games, and this will be the first of them. It will be a fun game to watch; HB has a high flying offense that will put up some numbers. But they have no D whatsoever, and New Mexico will run over them.
New Mexico 38 Houston Baptist 28
If you’re looking for an FCS win over a FBS team in 2021, this is a good place to start. The Eagles were a playoff team last season, and boast a passing game that is lights out. Put that together with a UNLV team that couldn’t stop anyone in 2020, and you won’t just see an fCS team win, you may see them win big.
Eastern Washington 45 UNLV 31
The Sam Howell Heisman campaign begins here. He doesn’t have the weapons he did last year, but we’re still talking about the best QB in America heading into 2021. The Hokies improved over the season last year, and are always a tough out at home. Howell will carry the ‘Heels to an opening day road win, but it could be a close game.
North Carolina 38 Virginia Tech 28
Duke wasn’t very good in 2020, but their best game by far was against this Charlotte team. The 49ers will be better, and likely won’t get blasted again, but this will be another sizable Blue Devils victory.
Duke 38 Charlotte 21
After a opting out as a team in 2020, the Monarchs will at least be fresh. That might be all they really have going for them. There were a few additions through the portal, but nothing that’s going to make them competitive. Wake Forest will be better than the team that collapsed against the Badgers in last year’s bowl loss, and will have no trouble with ODU.
Wake Forest 49 Old Dominion 13
St. Francis is starting up again after opting out in 2020, and while they won’t be bad, they won’t be much of a threat to the Eagles. This one shouldn’t be close.
Eastern Michigan 45 St. Francis 17
Make no mistake, the Kansas will be bad in 2021. They’ll beat the Sioux this week, but it could be close. Enjoy it, Jayhaws fans. You probably won’t see anything resembling another W this year.
Kansas 27 South Dakota 20
The Spartans were a disappointment in 2020, but one of the highlights was a win over these Wildcats. While Northwestern won’’t be as good as they were last year, they’ll still do what Northwestern does; play solid, fundamental football, solid D, and don’t make mistakes. This should be a low scoring affair, but the Wildcats should pull away at home.
Northwestern 24 Michigan State 14
Northern Colorado is another team that opted out in 2020, and while they’re not exactly starting over, they’ll be no match for the Buffaloes in this in-state match-up.
Colorado 45 Northern Colorado 13
The Jackrabbits were just a step away from an FCS National Title last season, and are going to be just as good in 2021. The Rams aren’t expected to do much this year, and that will be the case this week. South Dakota State won’t just win, but should do so comfortably.
South Dakota State 35 Colorado State 17
The Sooners are locked and loaded, and a rare season opening road game against a lesser opponent won’t provide much resistance. The Green Wave should keep it close early… home field emotion and such, but they’re simply outgunned on both sides of the ball here.
Oklahoma 51 Tulane 14
Both of these teams had down years in 2020, and both are looking to bounce back in 2021. The Badgers are the more likely of the two to do so. This will be a statement game; the Badgers D will control the Nittany LIons, and this one will be over by halftime.
Wisconsin 31 Penn State 14
There’s a whole new coaching staff at ULM with some big names, but they won’t change anything in week 1. Kentucky has plenty of holes to fill, but this is a good week to break in the new starters. The Wildcats will win, and win big.
Kentucky 63 ULM 14
BC was underrated last year, and will be better in 2021. Colgate has an offense that most high school teams could stop. This one could be over before the first quarter is.
Boston College 49 Colgate 3
2020 saw the Wolverines field their worst team in decades, and 2021 has all of the markings of a last chance for Jim Harbaugh. The Broncos, on the other hand, are loaded, one of the MAC favorites this year. Does that work out to an unlikely upset in the Big House? Of course not. Still a MAC team. Michigan may struggle, but hope doesn’t die until Washington comes to town next week.
Michigan 38 Western Michigan 21
The Huskies will win one game in 2021… this one. If they can play the whole game they way they did in the first quarter against Fresno State, they should even win big.
UConn 31 Holy Cross 7
This is an interesting match-up of two evenly matched (albeit average) teams. In almost every imaginable way. When it’s that close… bet the home team.
Kansas State 27 Stanford 24
Army’s D was the best in the country last year, and should be almost as good in 2020. Georgia State’s D is no slouch either, but the entire LB corps is inexperienced and doesn’t match up will with Army’s option attack. This will be a surprisingly dominant victory for the Cadets.
Army 24 Georgia State 6
The ‘Huskers can make all the mistakes they want and they’re not going to lose to Fordham, and after this week…. That’s probably a good thing. It’s hard to imagine Scott Frost isn’t in danger of getting canned at any moment… this team is in disarray. What Nebraska needs is a good old fashioned 70 point @ss whoopin. To look and feel like… well, Nebraska again. What we’ll get is a win that’s not nearly as dominant as it should be. No excuse for a team with a good QB who’s been there since Nebraska joined the Big 10 and as much talent as they have to be this bad.
Nebraska 41 Fordham 24
The Ducks once again head into 2021 as one of the conference favorites. Fresno isn’t exactly a warm-up game; the Bulldogs had a practice game against UConn to warm up, and looked good in it, so don’t expect Oregin to roll here.
Oregon 38 Fresno State 27
After years of rebuilding (and rebuilding some more) the Razorbacks might finally be returning to relevance. Rice should be better than they were, but that’s not saying much. Thumping the Owls to start the year should be a confidence boost for Arkansas.
Arkansas 49 Rice 10
The Academy is always in rebuilding mode; it’s what the military schools do. But this year they’ll be playing from behind with the rest of college football enjoying a super senior season. A game against a bad FCS team in Lafayette will give them a chance to iron out the wrinkles.
Air Force 45 Lafayette 6
There’s a lot of talk about the Hurricanes knocking off the Tide, and it’s easy to see why that’s a popular view. Folks need to remember, though, that this is ‘Bama. This squad has more talent than some NFL teams. They won’t just roll over Miami; D’Eriz King will keep the Hurricanes close for most of the game. But in the end… yeah. Still ‘Bama.
Alabama 41 Miami 31
The Redhawks always seem to play the Bearcats tough, although they never actually win any more. This week won’t be any different. The Cincinnati D will keep this from being competitive for long.
Cincinnati 38 Miami 13
This is a great match-up to start the year. The Hoosiers weren’t as good as they looked last year, but with Penix Jr. back under center they could be in 2020. But can they beat the Hawkeyes at home? The Hawkeyes are under the radar, mainly because they aren’t great at anything; this is just a good old fashioned solid fundamental football team. Opening day, at home… look for the Hawkeys to grind one out.
Iowa 27 Indiana 24
Marshall looked amazing through 7 undefeated games last year, but along the way it turned out they just hadn’t played anyone and they weren’t that great, after all. This is a similar team; better than average, but not great. They’re a better team than Navy. They may struggle against that option attack at first, but it should be over by the third quarter.
Marshall 35 Navy 10
The Terps showed some flashes of brilliance on O last year, but not many. And when they weren’t being brilliant, they were awful. It’s a year later, and a full offseason… if the Terps can cut down on mistakes, they won’t be bad. The Mountaineers aren’t expected to be any more than average in 2021. It will be close, but the Terps should out-average West Virginia.
Maryland 20 West Virginia 17
The Bulldogs offense under Mike Leach was supposed to make a statement in 2020. They did, but that statement was “We suck at offense.” Expectations are high now than they’ve got a year under their belt. La Tech is a good measuring stick to start the year; good enough to offer some resistance, but not good enough to beat Mississippi State if they stink it up again.
Mississippi State 31 Louisiana Tech 17
This is far from an easy start for Missouri. The Chippewas are loaded, especially on the offensive side. Are they good enough to pull the upset? Probably not. But they should keep it close for a while.
Missouri 38 Central Michigan 27
The only reason UMass wasn’t one of the worst teams of all time in 2020 was that they only got in 4 games. In those 4 games, they scored 10 points. Total. The good news? They’ll probably equal last year’s total in this game. That’s all of the good news.
Pitt 63 UMass 10
The Cowboys should make quick work of an outgunned Montana State team; expect huge ground numbers. The only upset here will be if Wyoming reaches double digits in passing attempts.
Wyoming 45 Montana State 3
The Cyclones begin their National Championship drive with in-state rival Northern Iowa. ISU has struggled historically with the Panthers, but that wasn’t this Cyclones team. This will be destruction on the field.
Iowa State 56 Northern Iowa 6
The Longhorns have coasted for a number of years on reputation alone; the truth is Texas just isn’t a relevant program any more. They still have enough talent to beat even a good Sun Belt team, but Texas will get exposed again this year.
Texas 37 Louisiana 28
The Spartans surprised the world… well, the Mountain West, anyway… last year. And they didn’t look like they were letting up on the gas at all against Southern Utah, although obviously… it was Southern Utah. This won’t be a blowout.. in fact, it’s going to be uncomfortably close for the Trojans. But Kedon Slovis is going to have his way with that Spartans D in the end.
USC 48 San Jose State 38
The Flames should completely destroy Campbell. What’s important here is that there’s a college football team called the fighting Camels. That. Is. Amazing.
Liberty 63 Campbell 3
The Running Bulldogs might have the best logo ever. Unfortunately, there’s nothing else about this team to be excited about The Eagles will roll.
Georgia Southern 41 Gardner Webb 6
Auburn won’t be, well… Auburn this year. But while the Zips will be better… they might actually win multiple games… this will look like Auburn/Akron any other year.
Auburn 56 Akron 7
The Gamecocks are not going to be a good football team this year. In fact, they may struggle with a bad FCS team in Eastern Illinois.
South Carolina 27 Eastern Illinois 21
The Blue Raiders will be too much for below average FCS School Monmouth.
Middle Tennessee 34 Monmouth 10
Once upon a time this would have been a warm-up game for Syracuse; roles have reversed. The Bobcats will beat the Orange, and will do so handily.
Ohio 38 Syracuse 17
Oregon State and Purdue are similar teams… offense heavy with questionable defenses, uncertainty at QB, both just shooting for bowl eligibility. Close game, but Purdue will win the Boring Bowl at home.
Purdue 31 Oregon State 27
Houston will surprise some people this year, and will give the Red Raiders all they can handle.
Texas Tech 38 Houston 35
The Cowboys head into the season as the Big 12’s forgotten team with all of the attention on OU and Iowa State. The Bears provide the definition of a warm-up game.
Oklahoma State 48 Missouri State 10
The Bears are expected to be average this year, but they’ll still be too much to handle for a subpar Sun Belt team.
Baylor 35 Texas State 13
The Colonels won’t be much of a test for Memphis; this one should be over by halftime.
Memphis 52 Nicholls 14
The Mustangs need to get off to a strong start and build some momentum if they’re going to think about even competing for a conference title; destroying Abilene Christian will be a good start.
SMU 59 Abilene Christian 10
The Rockets will tear apart a significantly inferior Norfolk State team.
Toledo 56 Norfolk State 7
The Red Wolves head into 2021 with the post season in mind; a solid thumping of in-state rival Central Arkansas is a good way to kick it off.
Arkansas State 38 Central Arkansas 13
The Jaguars are outmatched, even by what should be an average Trojans team.
Troy 42 Southern 3
What a way to start the season! There are a handful of teams who have been at the top of the college football world for a few years now; Clemson is obviously one of them. Georgia has stayed on the bubble of that group, but 2021 might be the year they break through. There will literally be NFL level talent all over the field for this game, and on both sides. In the end, it will come down to QB play. Both QBs are in the Heisman conversation, but in a game of this magnitude, experience tends to win out.
Georgia 38 Clemson 35
The Gators are expected to take a step back in 2021, and FAU is expected to be improved. Upset? Not even close.
Florida 45 FAU 24
The Mean Green will have the chance to iron out the early season wrinkles against a bad FCS team in Northwestern State..
North Texas 41 Northwastern State 10
The Roadrunners had a breakout season in 2020; the ascention will continue as they knock off a Big Ten team… albeit a bad one. If the Illini come in thinking they accomplished something with that pathetic win over Nebraska, this one might not be close.
UTSA 34 Illinois 28
A bottom tier MAC team is always going to be over matched by a bottom tier ACC team.
Georgia Tech 38 Northern Illinois 14
The Cavs need a warm up game heading into an early rough schedule. The Tribe will provide just that.
Virginia 45 William & Mary 6
The Aggies have some holes to fill, not the least of which is at QB, but having one of the two best RBs in America to lean on will give them time to let the new passing game settle in. The Golden Flashes may keep it interesting for half a quarter or so.
Texas A&M 56 Kent State 14
No one is really paying attention to the Huskies. They won’t surprise anyone when they destroy the Grizzlies this week, but they’ll turn some heads when they go into the big house and do the same thing to Michigan next week.
Washington 59 Montana 10
Vandy will be, as usual, the SEC’s bottom feeder. A decent FCS team in ETSU will keep this interesting, but Vandy will pick up a rare win… their first since knocking off this same ETSU team in 2019.
Vanderbilt 27 ETSU 17
After an off 2020, the Golden Eagles… one of the most consistent programs of the last several decades…. should begin the return to form by stomping Sun Belt doormat South Alabama.
Southern Miss 41 South Florida 13
The Horned Frogs will roll over a severely outgunned Duquesne squad. The only interesting thing about this match-up was figuring out how the h2ll you say “DOO-KANE”.
TCU 49 Duquesne 10
The Bruins answered a few of the questions floating around heading into 2021 in sound fashion, but not as many as it looked like; that wasn’t a very good Hawaii team. This week is another home game, but there’s a team full of SEC talent flying in here now. LSU had a bad year in 2020, but this is still probably a top 5 roster talent wise. And they’ll be hungry this year. UCLA is going to come in with a bit of swag, but they’re going to leave with their tail between their legs. This won’t be close.
LSU 48 UCLA 31
UTEP did look good in week one… this is about to become an actual winning streak.
UTEP 38 Bethune Cookman 10
The Wolfpack were surprisingly good in 2020, and are looking to make some noise in the Mountain West… but this isn’t the Mountain West. Will it hold up against a Power 5 team? This one it will.
Nevada 34 Cal 31
The Wildcats are a program in disarray; just what the Cougars need with new QB Jaren Hall taking over for the departed Zach WIlson. The BYU D will be solid again; this one should be over early.
BYU 41 Arizona 17
The Aggies are back after opting out for 2020. Back to the business of wondering what it would be like if they scored double digit points in a game.
San Diego State 49 New Mexico State 7
The Cougars are expecting to have a strong D in 2021, and Utah State won’t be much an an obstacle. The WSU running game should dominate, giving them a chance to sort out the QB situation.
Washington State 42 Utah State 10
The Warriors are probably going to be angry and looking to make a point this week. Not good news for Portland State. But there is good news… They get to go to Hawaii.
Hawaii 42 Portland State 6
It wasn’t that long ago when this would have been a premier match-up; now it’s little more than a cream-puff game for the Irish… even with it being a home game for the Seminoles. Notre Dame does have issues…. Ian Book is off to the NFL, and almost the entire O-line has to be replaced. The D will still be solid, and will cause havoc on FSU while Badgers transfer Jack Coan gets his feet under him.
Notre Dame 38 Florida State 13
Heisman hopeful Matt Corral has a chance to put his name out there with a flourish to start the season; Louisville lost most of the important pieces of the D, and the Old Miss O should pick them to pieces. The Cardinals have enough left on offense to make things mildly interesting, but not much more than that.
Ole Miss 42 Louisville 24
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