Now that we've predicted the outcomes of all 700 week 1 SEC games, it's time to turn our attention to this week's national games of interest. If you thought my SEC picks were off-the-mark, you're going to love these predictions. I'll be keeping a running tally throughout the season, so you can keep track of how much more you know about about picking college football games than me. (Spoiler alert: a lot!) No matter what else you do with the information in this post, though, Don't Bet On It!
No. 24 Boise State (+7) v. No. 13 Michigan State (Friday)
Why You'll Watch: These two teams handed the Dawgs two of their losses last year, and you're dying to know how Boise State fares in the post-Kelen Moore era. As an added bonus, it's two top twenty-five teams playing on a Friday night!
The Lean: The Broncos are replacing 16 starters, including the winningest QB in NCAA history, their starting RB, their top 2 WRs, and most of both lines. But I'm still picking Boise to cover. Why? In 2008, they fielded one of the most inexperienced teams in the country and won 12 straight with a freshman QB, and in 2004 they returned only 10 starters and went 11-1 with another freshman under center. Chris Petersen knows how to prep his teams for a big game, and Michigan State isn't exactly an offensive juggernaut. Plus, Sparty only gets 12 starters back itself. This is going to be a low-scoring, defensive struggle, which I'm thinking will be decided by a late field goal.
Notre Dame v Navy (+17) (in Dublin, Ireland)
Why You'll Watch: Kickoff is at 9 a.m. on Saturday, when there isn't any other live football on. Like all True Americans, you're rooting for Navy to beat Notre Dame for the third time in four years.
The Lean: You have to take the Midshipmen and the points here. Brian Kelly's Irish squads haven't been able to put together a complete game, and Navy's triple option exploits lapses in defensive coverage. The option also keeps opposing offenses off the field, which minimizes the number of chances an offense has to recover from, oh, I don't know, turning the ball over in the red zone (which the Irish did more than all but one other FBS team last year).
Miami (-2) v. Boston College
Why You'll Watch: So you can pump the theme from The Benny Hill Show and enjoy the derp.
The Lean: The HURRicanes have a ton of blue chip talent, and their offense can only improve with the departure of arm-punter Jacory Harris. While the 'Canes' defense is suspect, the Eagles' offense is below average at best.
Hawaii v No. 1 USC (-40)
Why You'll Watch: USC is the number one team in the country, and Lane Kiffin might decide to go for the two-point conversion after every TD.
The Lean: Just take the Trojans. Hawai'i is going to be terrible this year, and Lane Kiffin is enough of a jerk to run up the score.
Arkansas State v No. 5 Oregon (-35.5)
Why You'll Watch: With a 10:30 p.m. (EST) kick, it's the best dessert choice to round out a full day of gorging on college football. Plus, Oregon's offense is really, really fun to watch.
The Lean: Dude. It's obviously Oregon.
SMU v Baylor (-10.5) (Sunday)
Why You'll Watch: Both of these teams are too polite to stop someone from entering their endzone, and, while you know that defense wins championships, deep down inside you love a good shoot-out.
The Lean: The Bears may have lost their Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, star receiver Kendall Wright, and leading rusher, but their defense couldn't possibly be any worse. Plus, they return eight starters on that side of the ball, and quarterback Nick Florence could turn out to be pretty good on the other. SMU may be picking up former Texas QB Garrett Gilbert, but the rest of the team is in shambles. And it's not like you're actually picking a June Jones coached team to perform on a national stage. (See, also, Falcons, Atlanta.)
Ga Tech v No. 16 Va Tech (-7.5) (Monday)
Why You'll Watch: It's Monday night, no other games will be on, and you like watching Georgia Tech get beaten up. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the triple option is fun to watch when it gets going.
The Lean: The Hokies are actually a good team, but the Jackets are just an novelty. This is Globetrotters versus Generals, Ninja Turtles versus Foot Clan, the Road Runner versus Wile E. Coyote. Come at me, (little) bros!