Photo Courtesy of Fox Sports.
Welcome to Week 1 of College Football everyone! It’s been a long time without it, but we have made it back to the season. In addition to the season starting, this article is the official launch of the College Football section here at Hardwired for Sports, where you can expect to see at least a couple articles every week. As for this weekend itself, this is going to be a very exciting opening weekend. With big time non-conference battles taking place, we can expect fierce competition and the kickoff to an exciting season of college football.
Click read more below to see each game on the docket for this weekend. My picks for each game are written in caps. However, these predictions are not relative to the point spread at the bottom of each write-up. The spread is listed to show who is the favorite and by how much. Nonetheless, let’s get to these games.
South Carolina Gamecocks @ VANDERBILT COMMODORES, 8:00pm ET
Although not a battle of preseason ranked opponents, this should be a fun game to jumpstart the 2016-2017 College Football season. South Carolina’s new head coach Will Muschamp is yet to release who his starting quarterback will be for this game, and it will be interesting to see how he utilizes his QBs. Nonetheless, you can be assured that Vanderbilt’s defense will be ready for any test that will be thrown their way. Zach Cunningham is a big-time talent and it will be up to him and the rest of the Commodore defense to slow down any sort of rhythm a Gamecock quarterback could develop.
Line: Vanderbilt -4.0.
Kansas State Wildcats @ 8 STANFORD CARDINAL, 9:00pm ET
Much like the game above, this is your ticket for football on Friday night. Kansas State might have finished under the .500 mark last season with a 6-7 record, but they suffered through a multitude of injuries, including an ACL tear to starting quarterback Jesse Ertz, who makes his return on Friday. On the other hand, the Cardinal have one of the best players in all of college football in Christian McCaffery. McCaffery is clearly a front-runner for the Heisman Trophy this season after setting the NCAA record for all-purpose yards last season. It will be a tall order for the Kansas State defense to contain him, and I don’t think it will happen.
Line: Stanford -14.0
5 LSU Tigers @ WISCONSIN BADGERS, 3:30pm ET (Lambeau Field)
Leonard Fournette is one of the best running backs in the country at LSU, but don’t sleep on Corey Clement. Like always, the Badgers come to play with a strong running game, but there are lots of questions surrounding their ability to throw ball. Senior Bart Houston has been announced as the starter, but he has only thrown 51 total passes in his first three years at Wisconsin. On the defensive side of the ball, it will be an interesting night as LSU’s new defensive coordinator Dave Aranda faces off against the defense he built at Wisconsin. Will we see the same Badger defense that finished top-2 in the country last year? Will we see Leonard Fournette start his Heisman campaign on a high note?
Line: LSU -10.0
3 Oklahoma Sooners 15 HOUSTON COUGARS, 12:00pm ET
This is a huge game for Houston. Quarterback Greg Ward Jr. and company have a lot to prove in their first game of the season. The team finished 13-1 last season and grabbed a nice bowl victory against Florida State. However, with such a weak schedule, the Cougars will need to take advantage of every chance they get to prove to the Playoff Committee that they can earn a spot. Oklahoma, on the other hand, brings back a whole chunk of their very potent offense that lost in the semifinals of the Playoff last season. This should be a fun game and certainly has the possibility to become a shootout.
Line: Oklahoma -11.5
16 UCLA BRUINS @ Texas A&M, 3:30pm ET
UCLA might be the preseason ranked team in this battle, but one does not just go into College Station and leave easily. Josh Rosen is a tremendous talent to lead the Bruins, but how well with the sophomore handle the pressure of the 12th Man. On the other side of the field, the Aggies bring graduate transfer Trevor Knight and defensive superstar Myles Garrett to the field. Aside from the quarterback battle, watching Rosen’s blind side battle between Garrett and OT Conor McDermott will be a huge part of this game.
Line: Texas A&M -3.o
22 NORTH CAROLINA TAR HEELS @ 18 Georgia Bulldogs, 5:30pm ET
North Carolina Junior QB Mitch Trubisky had only limited playing time last season, but he was impressive in that time, finishing 40/47 for 555 yards, six touchdowns, and zero interceptions. And he has plenty of weapons around him. Elijah Hood returns as the second-leading rusher in the ACC last season and Ryan Switzer is as exciting as any player in college football. Georgia’s offense is much less stable, but Nick Chubb is one of the best running backs in the country and he can make a huge impact. Without either team bringing top-notch defenses, this should be a fun offensive game.
Line: Georgia -2.5
20 USC Trojans vs. 1 ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE, 8:00pm ET (AT&T Stadium)
As always, Alabama brings an incredible defensive line to the table, but USC returns a very good front line to protect quarterback Max Browne. Along with Browne, stud wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster is among the best in the country. Still, I find it unlikely that the Crimson Tide falls at home on opening weekend. Look out for a big performance from Derrick Henry in this one.
Line: Alabama -11.5
2 CLEMSON TIGERS @ Auburn Tigers, 9:00pm ET
Auburn might have home field advantage in this battle of Tigers, but Clemson has the talent advantage. Deshaun Watson is a Heisman frontrunner with a spectacular ability to prolong plays and make accurate throws in the pocket and on the run. He is paired in the backfield with Wayne Gallman who rushed for over 1500 yards last year. Auburn’s offense is not nearly as potent as it has been in the past, but it is still a very solid defensive unit. Still, Clemson’s offense will be just too powerful for them in this contest.
Line: Clemson -7.5
10 Notre Dame Fighting Irish @ TEXAS LONGHORNS, 7:30pm ET
Notre Dame might be a preseason top-10 program this year, but they also return very few of their starters from last season. On the bright side, however, they bring back both DeShone Kizer and Malik Zaire at the quarterback position. Outside of those two (who are presumably both going to see a lot of the field), there are a lot of question marks for the Fighting Irish. Texas, on the other hand, is quite shaky at quarterback. Tyrone Swoopes and Shane Buechele are not great, and they need to have an above-average performance to knock off ND. However, their running attack can be leaned on heavily to carry the offense and their defense is up to the challenge posed by the Irish’s talented quarterbacks.
Line: Notre Dame -3.5
11 Ole Miss Rebels @ 4 FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES, 8:00pm ET
And here is possibly the best game of the weekend (if Monday counts as part of this weekend). Dalvin Cook is another Heisman candidate playing this weekend and he is electric in the running game. The Seminoles are starting redshirt freshman quarterback Deondre Francois, but Cook is someone to rely on. For the Rebels, they can count on senior quarterback Chad Kelly, who enters his final season as a top NFL Draft prospect. With two big programs and two big superstars in play, this should be fun way to round out the opening weekend.
Line: Florida State -4.0
And that’s all I have for now, so this is me…signing out. -Lukas.