Cincinnati at UCLA
Don’t expect the up-tempo fun show you might be expecting right out of the gate from Chip Kelly’s Bruin team. Cincinnati will try to get physical, but this will be a different UCLA defense as it holds up well in a workmanlike win.
Predicted Line: UCLA -13
May Prediction: UCLA 38, Cincinnati 20
Current Actual Week 1 Line: UCLA -17
Washington vs. Auburn
Auburn didn’t have a lot of fun in Atlanta over its last two games of last year – getting rocked in the SEC Championship and losing to UCF in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. It can’t lose this time around, even though Washington will be Pac-12 championship good, with a defense that can hold up throughout, and an offense that will be brutally efficient. It’ll be an SEC home game, but welcome to the big statement by the Dawgs.
Predicted Line: Auburn -3.5
May Prediction: Washington 26, Auburn 24
Current Actual Week 1 Line: Auburn -3.5
Central Michigan at Kentucky
It seems like this should be a close, tough battle between a steady MAC program and a mediocre SEC one. Nope. The Chippewas will need a while to load up, and the Kentucky defense will take advantage with a good performance in the opener.
Predicted Line: Kentucky -13
May Prediction: Kentucky 34, Central Michigan 17
Current Actual Week 1 Line: Kentucky -19
Ole Miss vs. Texas Tech
Texas Tech really, really, really needs this. Ole Miss will have an offense, but it’ll start to show a little bit of wear after all the NCAA issues kicked in. The Red Raider passing game will go off, the Rebel passing game will go off, and in the end, Kliff Kingsbury will get a huge victory in a firefight.
Predicted Line: Ole Miss -3
May Prediction: Texas Tech 38, Ole Miss 34
Current Actual Week 1 Line: Ole Miss -1.5
Coastal Carolina at South Carolina
Yeah, Coastal Carolina Joe Moglia might be back, and South Carolina might have a way of keeping mediocre teams in games, but the Gamecocks will be terrific. The offense will show that this really is a team worthy of the expectations with an easy opener.
Predicted Line: South Carolina -27
May Prediction: South Carolina 44, Coastal Carolina 9
Current Actual Week 1 Line: South Carolina -30.5
West Virginia vs. Tennessee
Despite not being all that far apart in the college football matchup world – around 400 miles – this is the first ever meeting. The Jeremy Pruitt era starts out at Tennessee, but this needs to be a big statement from a good West Virginia team with realistic dreams of playing for the Big 12 title. The Vols will show off a little offense, but this will be Will Grier’s national statement in a strong Mountaineer win.
Predicted Line: West Virginia -6.5
May Prediction: West Virginia 31, Tennessee 27
Current Actual Week 1 Line: West Virginia -9
North Carolina at Cal
Cal made a big early statement last year with a win over North Carolina, and North Carolina made a big early statement that it would be bad with that loss. The Tar Heels will be far better, but the Bears will be one of the Pac-12’s surprise teams. The Cal D will be fantastic in Berkeley.
Predicted Line: Cal -5.5
May Prediction: Cal 30, North Carolina 20
Current Actual Week 1 Line: Cal -6.5
Washington State at Wyoming
Wyoming will start out the season against New Mexico State, and with that likely early win, the offense should show off a little bit of improvement. The defense, though, will continue to be fantastic. This might be a rebuilding year for Wazzu, but the offense will do enough early to coast through a rocky second half.
Predicted Line: Washington State -6.5
May Prediction: Washington State 27, Wyoming 20
Current Actual Week 1 Line: Washington State -4
Bowling Green at Oregon
Bowling Green will be a lot better with a more consistent offense, and even a little bit of a defense from time to time … just not this week. After an embarrassing bowl performance against Boise State to end last year, watch out for the Mario Cristobal era to kick in for real at Oregon.
Predicted Line: Oregon -29.5
May Prediction: Oregon 55, Bowling Green 20
Current Actual Week 1 Line: Oregon -28
Old Dominion at Liberty
It’s the debut for Liberty in the FBS world, with a veteran team built up by Turner Gill – it should be ready to roll right out of the gate. But Old Dominion – after a disappointing season – should be far stronger, sharper, and just good enough to survive and emotional opener for the Flames.
Predicted Line: Old Dominion -6
May Prediction: Old Dominion 26, Liberty 23
Current Actual Week 1 Line: Old Dominion -5.5
Michigan at Notre Dame
And now it’s all back on. The last time we saw these two kids go at it, Notre Dame whacked around Michigan in a 31-0 uggo – and things didn’t get a whole lot better for the Wolverines the rest of the way.
The Wolverine defense will handle the Irish ground game from the start, with the Irish offense bogging down way too often. The big story will be Shea Patterson, as he’ll get over a few early mistakes to come up with a big second half – and the win.
Predicted Line: Notre Dame -2.5
May Prediction: Michigan 27, Notre Dame 17
Current Actual Week 1 Line: Michigan -1
Louisville vs. Alabama
Does it matter who the quarterback is for the Crimson Tide? How Nick Saban juggles the Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts situation will be the real story as Alabama does what Alabama does what it does in season openers. Louisville will be far better than it’ll look against the preseason No. 1 team.
The Bama defense will be fine after a few shaky early Cardinal drives, but it’ll be the ground game – and the quarterback rotation – that will make the headlines.
Predicted Line: Alabama -24.5
May Prediction: Alabama 41, Louisville 13
Current Actual Week 1 Line: Alabama -27
Navy at Hawaii
Hawaii will start out the season going to Colorado State, but the revved up run-and-shoot attack will have to be on from the start against the Navy option attack. The Rainbow Warrior defensive front won’t be able to get off the field enough for the offense to take control of the game, but it’ll be an interesting shootout.
Predicted Line: Navy -13.5
May Prediction: Navy 38, Hawaii 24
Current Actual Week 1 Line: Navy -15
Sunday, September 2
Miami vs. LSU
The true prove-it game of Week 1, the Canes and Tigers will get the night to themselves with the loser in big trouble considering the schedule both teams have ahead. Is this when the Miami offense starts to find more pop and explosion, or is the defense going to have to carry the day?
Neither will happen against a jacked up LSU team that will surprise on the lines with a tough, pounding day from the ground game and a fantastic performance from the defensive front. LSU won’t look like it’s back to SEC championship form, but it’ll be a big moment for Ed Orgeron.
Predicted Line: Miami -2.5
May Prediction: LSU 23, Miami 20
Current Actual Week 1 Line: Miami -3
Monday, September 3
Virginia Tech at Florida State
It’s the ACC opener and the beginning of the Willie Taggart era. Considering Clemson will almost certainly be the star in the Atlantic, and Miami is going to be nasty in the Coastal, it might just be an elimination game in the conference race right out of the gate.
Here’s the problem – will the FSU offensive line be appreciably better? The Hokies defensive front will be frothing at the mouth from the start, jumping all over the great Seminole running backs to slow down the attack. It might not be a brilliant performance, but with the upset win on the road on a Monday night, Virginia Tech will be the big story to come out of Week One.
Predicted Line: Florida State -4
May Prediction: Virginia Tech 23, Florida State 20
Current Actual Week 1 Line: Florida State -5.5