By Jeremy Dennis
The first Saturday is upon us! Here in Georgia, nothing says fall football like a 105-degree heat index, but I digress. These are my top picks (guesses?!?) for the weekend. Let’s see if I can pick you guys some winners!
Illinois (-17) vs. Akron
Yes, I know Illinois has been some kind of awful since the days of Rashard Mendenhall, but they may be (sort of) turning a corner under Lovie Smith (who looks like the Illini aged him about 26 years in his short stint there). Akron will rue the day they lost Terry Bowden to Clemson. Yeah, I laughed at that sentence too.
Illinois 41 – Akron 13
Toledo (+11.5) at Kentucky
I think with the attrition for the Wildcats and some key experience for the Rockets, this should be a one-score game with the possibility of Toledo winning outright.
Kentucky 36 – Toledo 33
Eastern Michigan (-6) at Coastal Carolina
I have been to an Eastern Michigan. The field is gray. Who does that? Anyway, EMU is a plucky bunch who has actually not been the doormat of the MAC the last couple of years. Heck, they even went to a bowl game in 2017. Coastal Carolina is still finding its way. Traveler’s tip: when in Ypsilanti, go to the Wurst Bar. They have some good grub.
Eastern Michigan 35 – Coastal Carolina 28
Alabama (-33.5) vs Duke
I really don’t have much to say about this one. In the last 10 openers for the Crimson Tide, Alabama is 10-0 versus the spread and have outscored their opponents 6712 to 58*
*Editor’s note: this was not researched and the author may have embellished those numbers a little bit.
Alabama 58 – Duke 12
Boston College (+4.5) vs. Virginia Tech
There are a lot of pundits who think they Virginia Tech will be very good this year. As I recall, those same pundits who were really loving the Hokies last year, especially, against that Old Dominion squad…oops. I have a hard time picking against the Eagles at home despite their improvements in offense over the last couple of years.
Boston College 32—Virginia Tech 31
Iowa (-21.5) vs Miami (Ohio)
By doing a quick offensive comparison, Iowa will outclass Miami on the offensive line and running back. Nathan Stanley will be a three-year starter for the Hawkeyes while the Redhawks will be unsettled at quarterback. While Miami will be a little better than last year on defense, it will be hard to justify them covering three touchdowns.
Iowa 42 – Miami (Ohio) 10
Georgia (-20.5) at Vanderbilt
If the third-ranked team in the country has any problem with the Commodores, I will be surprised. Georgia is turning into Tuscaloosa East, minus the championships. At least Kirby Smart isn’t crotchety old Saban.
Georgia 45 – Vanderbilt 16
Michigan (-33.5) vs Middle Tennessee State
Jim Harbaugh says only those cheaters in the SEC schedule, weak first-week opponents!
Michigan 56 -- Middle Tennessee 7
May your wins be Over and your losses be Under.