Thursday, August 31, 2006

Look Out for the Mountaineers!

Unlike last year where everybody knew from beginning to end it would come down to Texas and USC, this year college football is loaded with contenders for the title. Here is SI's Preseason Power Rankings.

It's hard to argue with Ohio State and Notre Dame in the top two spots. I would, however, move West Virginia up to No. 3 given the great talent they are returning this year. USC and Texas are so deep that, even with the loss of numerous stars from both squads, they can still be counted on to make strong title runs.

At Florida, we get to see if Chris Leak, in his senior year, turns the corner to the greatness that was expected of him. If so ... look out. Auburn, Florida State and Cal are also in the preseason top ten and are not unrealistic picks for a title run. In the second ten, I wouldn't count out LSU or a Miami squad that is fully loaded on defense. Louisville is a longshot for the title, but will field an exciting squad that has a favorable schedule given its two toughest games against Miami and West Virginia will be at home.

Here's this week's picks:

In the best game of the opening weekend, Cal is favored by 2 on the road at Tennessee. Give up the points and take the Golden Bears.

The Irish embark on another incredibly difficult schedule (well except fot the military academies) by traveling to Georgia Tech for a battle with Chan Gailey's Yellowjackets. The oddsmakers have not gotten caught up in the Notre Dame hysteria and have wisely pegged the South Benders as 6 1/2 point favorites. I was actually hoping for an irrationally high line for the Irish, so I could get a gimmee with a tougher-than-expected G Tech squad (jeebus, just think of Calvin Johnson and a usually tough D). Notre Dame will win by a touchdown and just clear the spread. Also with the over/under at 50 1/2, I say bet the under.

USC is favored by 8 at home againt Arkansas. USC is dying to avenge its Rose Bowl loss to Texas. So look for the Trojans to put the wood to the Razorbacks.

In yet another Pac 10 game, we have an intriguing matchup in LA where the UCLA Bruins are favored by 3 in a face off with Utah, the perenial Pac 10 upsetter. This is an extremely difficult pick so early in the season. UCLA is loaded with talent but never seems that well coached. Utah has pretty good talent and always seems well coached. Yet, coaching seems to be a bigger problem for UCLA later in the season (especially in the bowls) so take the Bruins to be prepared for this early season challenge and give up the points.


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