It's that time of year again, boys and girls. Football is here, which means it's prediction time. Next week we'll have a more comprehensive national section, with lots of gambling info, but for this week, just a few modest predictions from your resident writers.
Northern Illinois (+17) at Ohio State
PB: I'm laying the points here, Drew. The concerns about the Ohio State defense are legit, but can NIU really stop the Buckeye run game? No way. Ohio State wins it, 42-13.
AW: Not with you here PB. NIU is not the cupcake they seem. They should have won the MAC title last season and will likely contend again this year. Running back Garrett Wolfe will test all nine new Buckeye starters all game long. NIU covers but OSU wins 38-24.
California (-2) at Tennessee
PB: I like the offensive talent at California. I think it's going to be awfully tough to win at Neyland. What to do? I'll go with my BlogPoll ballot, I suppose. Cal in overtime.
AW: No team fell further faster last year than the Vols. A losing season and a loss to Vandy. Ouch. The schedule sets up nicely for the ugly shade of orange if they can survive this one. They won't. Marshawn Lynch will take advantage of one of his few nationally televised games. Cal wins in regulation by a field goal.
Notre Dame (-6.5) at Georgia Tech
PB: I'm laying the points, and betting a lot. This one's gonna be a two-touchdown spread, easily.
AW: My head says the Irish will score way too much for the Yellow Jackets to hang tough. My heart pounds with disgust for ND. In the first week, go with your heart. Reggie Ball and Calvin Johnson hook up twice but it is not enough. Ga Tech covers. ND 30-24.
USC (-8) at Arkansas
PB: The most interesting game of the weekend, in my mind. That's a tough environment for Booty to break into his starter shoes. Can he handle it? The key to the game is the Razorback run defense. If they can force USC to the air more than they'd prefer, they can hang in. I think the Trojans are going to win. By 8? Hmmm... I'll hedge and take the Razorbacks with the points.
AW: It's a night game in Fayetteville. The Trojans lost Bush, Leinart, White, and all the rest. The quarterback is untested. Blah, blah, blah. Pete Carroll is still the coach and there is still tons of talent on both sides of the ball. Oh yeah and this same Arkansas team lost by 53 points to USC last season. They improve to stay within two touchdowns this year: USC 30-17.
And last, but not least:
North Texas (+41) at Texas
PB: I'm on record all over the place predicting at least a 42 point win in this one, so there's no going back now. And I wouldn't want to. North Texas is not going to score a TD in this game. The only question is how much Texas will. I vote "lots." The defense comes out nasty: 51-0.
AW: I'm with you on this one. The D forces multiple turnovers leading to short and easy drives. McCoy's confidence will continue to rise. Charles and Young will appear to be playing in fast forward. The Horns churn out 200+ yards on the ground. Texas rolls, 49-3.
--PB & AW--