OBNUG contributor Nick will be predicting outcomes of important CFB games every weekend. His column will run on Thursdays, and it might even have a name before the season's out.
I do love Labor Day. What's better than a thinly disguised holiday at the end of summer that lets us all get prepared for the ensuing football season? If you're smarter than I am, you didn't plan anything for this weekend beyond watching college football and participating in fantasy football drafts. If you're me, however, you agreed to play in a softball tournament all weekend and already finished your fantasy draft, picking the Giants defense mere hours before Osi Umenyiora went down for the year.
Let's get into this upcoming weekend of games. There's really not much rhyme or reason to the games I'll be picking each week. Basically a couple of the interesting national games, a couple of WAC games, and of course the Boise State game. I'll be picking against the spread because it's rather trivial to just say that Boise State will win. However, you wouldn't believe how hard it can be to find spreads on teams nobody cares about (I'm looking at you, Idaho State). Ok, let's get to it.
(20) Illinois at (8) Missouri (-9)
Chase Daniels begins his Heisman campaign against the always spunky Illini. Unfortunately a large part of that spunk has left with Rashard Mendenhall. I think this will be a statement game for Chase Daniels, however I'm looking forward to Zook and the Illini taking down another overrated Ohio State team later this year.
Appalachian State at (4) LSU (-24.5)
Can the darlings from last year pull off another stunner to open the 2008 campaign? Unfortunately for App State, LSU is not a) from the Big 10, b) slow, or c) running an antiquated system. I do think having only a 24.5-point spread does show some respect though.
Washington at (18) Oregon (-13.5)
Boise State's Pac-10 foe from last year faces off against their foe from this year. Oregon will be going with Justin Roper at QB. He looked good in the bowl game against South Florida when he went 17-for-30, 180 yards, and 4 touchdowns. I'm sure they were all screen passes though. For Washington, they still have their wonder kid QB in Jake Locker. Unfortunately I think most people have come to the conclusion that Washington really isn't that good and Boise State played really bad last year.
(17) Tennessee (-7.5) at UCLA
Going by last year's trip to California and the fact that Tennessee has probably been one of the most overrated teams in the past decade, I think it's an easy pick. Oh, and Phil Fulmer's whole routine gets thrown off when he can't get his usual Waffle House pregame meal.
Hawaii at (3) Florida (-35.5)
Only 35.5 points? I would have guessed much more with the reigning Heisman trophy winner, a Hawaii team playing something like eight time zones away from home, no experienced Hawaii QB, a new Hawaii coach, and that debacle in the Sugar Bowl. I'm sure the line will climb higher if Percy Harvin decides to play.
Fresno State at Rutgers (-5)
Fresno usually does well in early games against favored opponents. Maybe Fresno should take some of the preparation and spread it over the remaining games they'll play this season. For Rutgers, Ray Rice has moved on to the NFL which means that Mike Teel will be throwing the ball even more. I'm thinking that should bode well for Fresno.
Idaho at Arizona (-27)
I hope Idaho gets paid well for these games. Arizona is actually turning into a decent team under the other Stoops brother. I don't think the mustache will help here. I don't think mustaches like that kind of heat.
Idaho State at Boise State (-43)
Now, here's a perfect reason why spreads were invented. It was getting too easy to answer the question "who will win?" so they started asking "how much will they win by?" Boise State will have its fair share of new people on the field, but I think that will only lead to more people trying to prove themselves. We'll be seeing two quarterbacks, four running backs, and a slew of receivers that will all want to show what they can do. I haven't known a Boise State team to let off the gas yet.
Pick: Boise State