You might have heard, we at The Rivalry, Esq. are not above the sort of self-declared polity that comes with crowning ourselves psychic masters of the college football universe and certifying our predictions each week. Then again, you're not either.
It's back...The 2009 Obligatory Predictions Competition.
This is how we do it. Each week we select five interesting match-ups and predict the outcome. If you don't buy our "expert" opinions, or think you can do better -- enter your picks for all five games in the comments section of the article at least an hour before kickoff (EST) of the first match in question. At the end of the week we'll tally the score and declare a winner. The weekly winner gets to write 500 words on the site about anything college football.
Season Scoreboard. This is no longer just a temporary thing. Each time you earn points, we'll carry them over to the next week in a season-long race to the top. (Sure, this means you'll probably want to try to play each round. But don't sweat it if you miss a few. We'll still crown weekly winners -- so you can defend your fanhood).
Here's how to run up the score:
- One (1) point is earned for a correctly picking the winning team.
- If you pick the winning team, earn an additional two (2) points for correctly identifying the winning spread by seven points or less.
- If you pick the winning team, earn an additional two (2) points for picking a perfect spread (i.e. The PATERNOSGRANDDAUGHTER Bonus)
- Two (2) bonus points are awarded for the "upset pick" -- an upset being defined as predicting: 1. Any AP/BCS Top 25 ranked team to defeat any opponent of higher rank, which in fact does occur, or 2. Any non-ranked AP/BCS Top 25 team to defeat any ranked opponent, which in fact does occur.
Without further adieu, here are our Week 1 Predictions:
1. No. 13 GEORGIA at No. 9 OKLAHOMA STATE, 3:30 p.m. EST (9/5), ABC
GRAHAMFILLER10 predicts OKLAHOMA STATE by 10
You want me to pick OSU because of their returning weapons and the homefield advantage. You want me to pick OSU because Joe Cox throws an ugly ball and doesn’t have oodles of experience. You want me to pick OSU because no one else will and you think I’m an idiot to believe in a Big 12 team with no defense (is there any other kind of Big 12 team?). You win.
LAW BUCKEYE predicts OKLAHOMA STATE by 7
This is the hardest game of the week to predict, and we're not wasting any time by tackling it first. On one hand, Georgia is without perhaps their two most recognizable playmakers of the last decade (Stafford/Moreno). On the other, I have trouble shaking my belief that the Big 12 South is a one-dimensional mirage: high octane offenses propped up by abysmally poor defenses.
I think the Cowboys are the exception to the rule, and I think that because running back Kendall Hunter, wide receiver Dez Bryant, and quarterback Zac Robinson will score enough points to make up for a shaky defensive backfield. The Bulldogs will score too, behind one of the best offensive lines in the country and a stable of backs, but they won't be able to keep up on a pistol whip of a trip outside conference lines.
2. WESTERN MICHIGAN at MICHIGAN, 3:30 p.m. EST (9/5), ABC
GRAHAMFILLER10 predicts MICHIGAN by 7
Oh boy. I envision Michigan struggling early on offense and watching in shock as Tim Hiller drives the Bronco’s down the field methodically for an early touchdown. I also envision the Bronco’s hurdling themselves at Forcier and praying he gets nicked early, if only to get Nick Sheridan on the field as fast as possible. Yes it’s true – Michigan’s 4 star defensive recruits should overwhelm Western in the Big House. But the Wolverines are facing tremendous pressure to win this game. Go Blue...
LAW BUCKEYE predicts MICHIGAN by 14
Two years in a row the Wolverines have tanked in their opener. Let's just say the third time will be a charm for an embattled Rich Rodriguez and a much-improved squad. I see a vaunted spread offense that clicks against a Bronco defense that returns just three starters and an unripe secondary. Meanwhile, Obi Ezeh and Brandon Graham -- stars under the tutelage of Greg Robinson -- will anchor a stronger, more consistent 3-4 defense.
Still, Michigan fans shouldn't breathe a sigh of relief. The true test for the Wolverines remains a week away when Charlie Weis comes to town.
3. MISSOURI v. ILLINOIS, 3:40 p.m. EST (9/5), ESPN
GRAHAMFILLER10 predicts ILLINOIS by 10
For awhile, I’ve had a problem with that T-Pain/Jamie Foxx song "Blame It." I love it, but there’s one line that says Blame it on the Jews and I just felt that was inappropriate. That wonderful culture/people shouldn’t be blamed for your muddled one-night stands. Anyways, I’ve been informed that it’s actually a reference to the Illini’s struggles last year. Apparently T-Pain attended school in Champagne-Urbana and believes JUICE Williams was the cause of last year’s problems. Well Phil Steele and I both believe Williams and Co will improve this year. This turnaround starts against the Tigers from Mizzou. (Sorry Mary Schultz!)
LAW BUCKEYE predicts ILLINOIS by 10
Don't let the absence of rankings fool you. This St. Louis showdown is a huge game for Illinois and the conference. Mighty Mizzou has firebombed Ron Zook two years in a row. It's time for some revenge. Star Tigers linebacker Sean Witherspoon has promised to "squeeze the pulp out of Juice [Williams]." He might get a few good licks in, but this game belongs to the stronger, more disciplined Illini. Talented, but virgin quarterback Blaine Gabbert will struggle early to synchronize Gary Pinkel's signature offense. Arrelious Benn will eat Missouri's shoe-string secondary alive.
4. NORTHERN ILLINOIS at WISCONSIN 7:00 p.m. EST
The Badgers, starting a non-Dustin Sherer quarterback and a non-John Clay running back, will lean on the Huskies until they fall over. Every year, there's a team that can't contain the Badgers rushing attack and ends up surrendering about 400 yards on the ground. This won’t quite be that game, but Bielema wins convincingly. Watch for Chandler Harnisch though – he’s the MAC’s Jake Locker, complete with Melrose Place sounding name. As I wrote here:
LAW BUCKEYE predicts WISCONSIN by 10
Bret Bielema doesn't want your pity, he wants your respect. Free from illusions of grandeur, this is a Wisconsin team that's ready to start anew. Although they'll face a respectable opponent in the Huskies, they'll grind a solid ground attack and tight end audibles to victory.
5. No. 5 ALABAMA v. No. 7 VIRGINIA TECH 8:00 p.m. EST, ABC
GRAHAMFILLER10 predicts ALABAMA by 7
This is the matchup of the week. Roll Tide Roll says:
Of course the easy answer -- and in all fairness, perhaps even the correct answer for 2009 -- is that we will try to replicate the basic strategy employed a year ago: physically dominate our opponents in the trenches in the running game, run it right down their throats, and only throw the football when and where we want to. But the problem with that is that there is no guarantee that the pre-requisites needed.
I have enough faith in that gigantic defense residing in Tuscaloosa to believe the Tide can triumph over a Darren Evans lacking VT team. Bama shows its power in ATL.
LAW BUCKEYE predicts ALABAMA by 7
Two weeks ago I would have said the opposite. But that was before star running back Darren Evans suffered a season-ending injury. The loss of Evans, and his 1,265 yards of production in 2008 will shackle the Hokies. Nick Saban and his ahead-of-schedule Crimson Tide will continue their track record of demonizing ACC favorites in season-openers. Just don't expect this game to look anything like last year's pulverizing of Clemson.
The Hokies deserve to be here, they just will fall a little short.