With the first weekend of the 2009 college football season staring us down, I'm going to try and provide everyone with some upsets to look for, and some games that look like they may be close but I view as locks.
This is something I'm going to try to do every week, and would love for everyone to let me know what they think about my picks, and if you have any of your own. So here we go.
Teams that should be on upset alert
Notre Dame hosting Nevada
Notre Dame has cracked the top 25 based mostly on hype and a beat down of Hawaii in their bowl game in Hawaii. I'm sorry if I'm not buying the hype of a team that finished the regular season at 6-6, including a home loss to Syracuse in the latter part of the season.
I know Notre Dame has a lot of bigtime recruits, but potential doesn't mean anything especially when your counterpart on the field has one of the nation's top quarterbacks, Colin Kaepernick, and a Hall of Fame coach, Chris Ault.
Look for Nevada to not only push the Irish to the brink but come away with the victory in South Bend and demolish the Irish's hopes of a BCS bowl.
Maryland at Cal
Maryland pulled out an eight-point victory last year at home against Cal. This year the game is at Cal which should be an advantage to the Golden Bears.
However, while Cal may have one of the best running backs in the country, they don't have any leadership at the quarterback position.
If Cal can't get steady play out of the quarterback position then look for Maryland to walk away with a W or at least make it a lot closer than the 21-point spread.
LSU at Washington
I'm not calling for an upset in this one, but it should be a lot closer than the 18-point spread. I know Washington was winless last year, but they are always competitive with Jake Locker under center.
Many of the Huskies struggles last year could be blamed on terrible quarterback play, but Locker not only solidifies that position, but makes it the strength of the team, and that's a great place to be your strongest.
LSU on the other hand isn't strongest at the quarterback position. While a quarterback controversy never materialized between Jordan Jefferson and Russell Shepard, the quality of play that we will see from Jefferson remains a big question mark. Yes, he played well in the Peach Bowl, but he was very inconsistent before that game.
I wouldn't be too shocked to see the Huskies shock the world, but, if I were betting the game, I would take Washington to cover the 18 points.
Games people think will be close but are really locks
Georgia at Oklahoma State
Everyone knows about the talent that Oklahoma State returns on offense and the talent that Georgia lost on offense.
However, OSU showed in the Holiday bowl that it has no other receiving threat outside of Dez Bryant, which is especially more true today than last year with the departure of tight end Brandon Pettigrew.
The OSU defense is also very suspect, even under new defensive guru Bill Young.
Georgia did lose two first-round draft picks, but Joe Cox and Caleb King are more than adequate replacements.
Georgia also has their own bigtime receiver with A.J. Green and a deeper talent pool on both sides of the ball.
The last time these two got together, Mike Gundy was billing his team as the best offense in the country only to end up getting smacked by Georgia. Expect Georgia to be up to the road challenge and end Oklahoma State's high hopes for 2009 early.
Missouri at Illinois
This seems like a slam dunk in favor of Illinois even though they are only a seven-point favorite.
Missouri lost a ton of players after 2008 but does return two standouts in linebacker Sean Weatherspoon and running back Derrick Washington. Those two shouldn't be enough to carry the rest of the inexperience on the team over a very experienced and athletic Illinois.
Expect Illinois to win and cover the spread.
Alabama vs. Virginia Tech
The loss of Darren Evans for Va. Tech will be prove to be huge for the Hokies.
The Alabama defense and ground attack will keep the game to a low-scoring affair, and the 6.5-point spread seems about right. Look for Alabama to win this game in classic SEC style with tough D and a bruising ball-control offense with the occasional bigtime play to Julio Jones.
So there you have it: the Week One upsets and locks. Let me know what you think, and I don't want any retroactive trash talk if you can't say something before the game first.
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