Fasten your seat belts and climb aboard college football's rollercoaster. The exhilaration of victory, the sucker punches to the gut, the humiliation of defeat, the exasperation of officiating (#gopac12) and the finality of total redemption. It is all there for the taking.
We love you, college football. We have missed you college football. Now go ahead and take center stage.
Your minions await. (With money and office pools in hands).
The Top 10 Games to bet on in week one, my picks in italics:
Clemson -34 v Georgia Tech, Thursday*, August 29
I am scared to death for the Yellow Jackets. New coach, only nine starters returning and a season opener date with the reigning National Champions at Death Valley. This is the same team that trucked Alabama 44-16 just seven months ago. What could go possibly wrong here for Georgia Tech?
Utah -6 at BYU, Thursday, August 29
Utah was picked to win the Pac-12. Does head coach Kyle Willingham need extra incentive to make an early statement? His players apparently do not. Ute defensive end Bradlee Anae did not mince words when asked about the Holy War being played in Provo. Dem fighting words.
Army -23.5 v Rice, Friday, August 30
This is Army (11-2). This is Rice (2-11). One is not like the other. Hooah!
Wisconsin -10.5 @ South Florida, Friday, August 30
Let's see now... Badger running back Jonathan Taylor is a two-time All-American who led the FBS in rushing with 2,194 yards last season. Oh!.....he also won the Doak Walker Award. Taylor will be running against the American Athletic Conference's second-worst rush defense. The nation's eighth-worst defense only returns three of its front seven starters. Is that the good news? Or bad?
Florida Atlantic +27 at Ohio State
Can the Buckeyes—without eight offensive starters and flaky head coach Urban Meyer—beat head coach Lane Kiffin's high-flying Owls? Florida State transfer Deondre Francois at quarterback and Alabama transfer BJ Emmons at running back give me reason to pause. Ohio State should win at home but Kiffin will have a few tricks up his sleeves to keep things interesting.
Toledo +12 at Kentucky
I'm a big fan of Toledo head coach Jason Candle. If his Rockets can knock off Kentucky on the road then that may be enough for a Power Five program to lure him away from Toledo, despite his contract extension running through 2023. Yes, the Wildcats had an incredible 10-3 season. Without all-world linebacker Josh Allen and All-SEC safety Mike Edwards, I'm just not buying Big Blue Nation stock (yet).
Missouri -14.5 at Wyoming
The Tigers have a one-year bowl ban cloud hanging over their heads but not one senior chose to transfer out of the program. Impressive. When pundits have doubted Missouri in the past, the team always seemed to rise from the ashes. The Tigers have a losing 6-9 record on the road under head coach Barry Odom. I am betting they play their hearts out this season, more so if their final appeal to the NCAA is granted.
Boise State +4 v Florida State at Jacksonville, FL
I know, I know. The Seminoles are back. Here's the thing—so far, Willie Taggert has not been too impressive in Tallahassee. Going 5-7 last year was a bit surprising, despite all the blue-chippers on his roster. Getting blown out by Virginia Tech, Syracuse, Clemson, N.C. State, Notre Dame and Florida was alarming. Boise State is consistent—the Broncos always play up to their competition, especially against high-profile opponents. Upset alert?
Oregon +3 v Auburn, at Arlington, TX
The Pac-12 has been down for quite awhile while the SEC (sans Alabama) has been flirting with a downward spiral for a few years. Highly-ranked Auburn disappointed its fans with losses to LSU and Tennessee last season. Oregon has a Heisman candidate in quarterback Justin Herbert and his receiver corps will create havoc. Remember the name Juwon Johnson. You have been forewarned.
Notre Dame -21.5 at Louisville, Monday, September 2
I am going to go out on a limb here and predict this game will be over by the half. The rebuilding 'Ville might as well start getting ready for hoops season.
*all games are scheduled to play on Saturday, August 31, unless noted otherwise