We're trying something new with picks this year, what with a whole 19 (!!!) "writers" calling the games. Don't recognize them? Stay tuned tomorrow...
Our very own DJ Carver will be tracking records and results this year, so feel free to make all your "'writers' watching the games" cracks (also, the "writers" thing has been excellent from practicing proper quotation-within-quotation use!) now before we show y'all up!
A couple points of order:
- Picks are made both straight-up (SU) and against the spread (ATS).
- There are no lines for games against FCS competition, but that doesn't mean "writers" can't pick the upset (ooh, foreshadowing)!
Michigan @ Utah (-5.5) || 7:30PM, Fox Sports 1
Straight-Up: Utah, 13-6
Against the Spread: Michigan, 10-9
Thomas Speth: Michigan 30 Utah 28- HAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRBBBBAAAAAAUUUUUGGGGHHHHH.
Creighton M (cmpceleny): Harbaugh shows up strong in the first half of his debut, but the ghost of Al Borges (he's dead, right?) will ruin the second half for the Wolverines as per usual
Aaron Yorke: Utah 17, Michigan 13: Both of these clubs have questions at quarterback and both are going to want to run the ball a lot. The difference maker will be Utah's ability to pressure whomever Jim Harbaugh chooses as UM's starter. Utah causes more turnovers and wins in a slugfest at home, but it will be close.
MNWildcat: Sure, the Utes beat the Wolverines in the Big House, but this is a new Michigan that, for all the questions surrounding HARBAUGH'S four-man QB1, will take on a much tougher identity than previous years. An improved Michigan D gets to human giant QB Travis Wilson for multiple sacks and interceptions, and [insert QB here] manages a sputtering Wolverine offense to a couple scores. *Michigan 20, Utah 13.
#2 TCU (-14) @ Minnesota || 8PM, ESPN
Straight-Up: TCU, 19-0
ATS: Minnesota, 10-9
TS: TCU 40 Minnesota 21- But it's still totally THE YEAR Minnesota wins the Axe back or something
AY: TCU 38, Minnesota 17: Minnesota doesn't throw well enough to catch up if they fall behind. And fall behind they will because of TCU's dynamic offense. I know Minnesota was solid in pass defense last year, but that unit wasn't tested by many pass-happy offenses.
MNW: The Horned Frogs are good. There's no questioning that. And I made the mistake last year of thinking that the Gophers could find a way to slow them down. I'll make the same mistake this year. TCU 27, Minnesota 20.
#5 Michigan State (-18) @ Western Michigan || 6PM, ESPNU
SU: Michigan State, 19-0
ATS: Michigan State, 15-4
TS: MSU 45 Western Michigan 28- Future Illinois Coach PJ Fleck would probably best more Big Ten teams with his roster than the one he's about to inherit but not MSU
AY: MSU 35, WMU 10: It's weird that this game is on the road and Western is supposed to challenge for a MAC title in 2015, but I am too high on the Spartans to not see them winning handily in this one.
MNW: Someday you'll be getting killed in these games as a real live Big Ten coach, PJ Fleck! Something to look forward to. *MSU 41, WMU 7.
Kent State @ Illinois (-14.5) || 8PM, BTN
SU: Illinois, 18-1
ATS: Kent State, 16-3
TS: Illinois 35 Kent Stater 17- If Purdue was better I could've used the MattJones18 shoutout properly
CM: I had Kent State covering, but Tim Beckman's firing is worth at least a couple of touchdowns. The strong showing will be enough to give the fans in Memorial Stadium enough false hopes to get them through Halloween. Over/Under on how many times the BTN crew mention Beckman before halftime: 13.5
AY: Illinois 27, Kent State 3: The Illini changed coaches just a week before the season started, but that might be a good thing given what we've heard about Tim Beckman's reign. Illinois still has enough talent to lay a beatdown on a Kent State squad that was no match for Power Five competition last year.
MNW: The rudderless Illini sputter out of the gate, as was their general MO in the 2014 non-conference season. Bill Cubit burns a Tim Beckman effigy in the locker room at half, though, and the Illini bunch two TDs around the end of the 3rd and start of the 4th to hold off the Golden Flashes. Illinois 31, Kent St 21.
#21 Stanford (-12) @ Northwestern || 11AM, ESPN
SU: Stanford, 19-0
ATS: Stanford, 12-7
TS: Stanford 38 Northwestern 20- *checks to see if game is at Ryan Field, sees it is, strongly considers amount of voodoo there, prepares to regret predicting comfortable win by team in cardinal and white"
CM: Stanford 42 Northwestern 39: Northwestern impresses in the Nerd Bowl. Stanford is put on red alert for most of the game, but ultimately pound Northwestern into submission
AY: Stanford 30, Northwestern 14: The Cardinal disappointed last year but finished with dominating performances over UCLA and Maryland. Plus, their ground-and-pound approach will be tough for Northwestern's soft run defense to handle. I'm thinking Stanford challenge Oregon in the Pac-12 North this year, and that means a less-than-optimal opening game for the Wildcats
MNW: An improving 'Cats D keeps this one closer than expected, but Game Manager Kevin Hogan outduels Savior Clayton Thorson, throwing a late TD to help the #21 Cardinal avoid the upset. Stanford 24, Northwestern 17.
Illinois State @ Iowa || 11AM, BTN
SU: Iowa, 17-2
TS: Illinois State 27 Iowa 20- the road to 4-8 begins in the most Iowa way ever, a completely uninspiring non-conference loss
CM: The Hawkeyes figure out Tre Roberson early, completely shut him down and HAHAHAHA......sorry. For real this time: Iowa keeps an otherwise lopsided game close with a barrage of punts and field goals before Drew Ott takes some of his magical supplements at halftime (which are later revealed to be raw eggs) and wins the game single handedly on a last-second turnover so improbable that of course it happened.
AY: Iowa 24, Illinois State 21: Apparently the Redbirds lost to the might North Dakota State Bison in the FCS title game last year. That means this one gets uncomfortably close for Iowa.
MNW: No matter what, we will be entertained. Unless Iowa rolls. But Tre Roberson and the Redbirds have the firepower to entertain us. Iowa 31, Illinois St 20.
Richmond @ Maryland || 11AM, ESPNU
All the writers chose Maryland to win.
TS: Maryland 30 Richmond 14- at least Maryland and Iowa scheduled good FCS teams?
CM: Maryland will stomp Richmond, because seriously spiders of any kind can just go straight to hell
AY: Maryland 35, Richmond 9: It will be rough sledding for the arachnids as they attempt to puncture the turtle's tough exterior shell
MNW: I won't even pretend I care. Maryland a lot, Richmond substantially less.
Norfolk State @ Rutgers || 11AM, ESPNNews
All the writers chose Rutgers to win.
TS: Rutgers 34 Norfolk State 7- I don't care what conference you're in, this game still sucks.
AY: Rutgers 49, Norfolk State 3: At least the other Big Ten teams are playing FCS programs that did well last year.
MNW: WHEN WILL THE ANTI-RUTGERS BIAS END?! See: Maryland. Rutgers X, Norfolk St X-30.
Penn State (-7) @ Temple || 2:30PM, ESPN
SU: Penn State, 18-1
ATS: Penn State, 14-5
TS: Penn State 28 Temple 20- in curious to see how much the Happy Valley cult will hype Hack for Heisman after a good game after beating a meh AAC team. My guess is an obscene amount.
cpmc: Temple wins 28-24: Temple's offense is going to be much more polished than it was last year, and I think we'll see fewer turnovers. As for Penn State: Hackenberg? More like Quackenberg! Right? Because of all the ducks he'll be throwing? Whatever.
AY: Penn State 14, Temple 10: The Owls can hang around if they avoid the costly turnovers that they committed during last year's game in Happy Valley. On the other hand, if Penn State can run the ball on Temple again, this game could be more relaxing. For now, I'm going to wait for the offense to show me something.
MNW: The Owls have a sneaky-scary defense. I am hitherto unconvinced in Penn State's offense. Hence, irregardless of results in 2014, I believe that the Owls keep this one close at "home." Penn State 20, Temple 17.
BYU @ Nebraska (-5.5) || 2:30PM, ABC
SU: Nebraska, 11-8
ATS: BYU, 11-8
TS: Nebraska 30 BYU 28- Nebraska wins a wild one with a finish with more shenanigans than Mormons have wives
AY: Nebraska 20, BYU 10: The Blackshirt defense should be well prepared for the BYU option since they play in the Big Ten West, where everybody runs. Plus, the Cougars only return a handful of starters from a defense that allowed way too many points in 2014.
MNW: Turns out Taysom Hill + a bunch of offensive weapons + "Blackshirts" = Offense! BYU 38, Nebraska 35.
Southern Illinois @ Indiana || 3PM, ESPNNews
All the writers chose Indiana to win.
TS: Indiana 48 Southern Illinois 20 - Jesus, I thought we were done playing FCS teams?!? Not sure what our kitchen manager has to do with Indiana's football schedule, but someone has to be held responsible. Was Indiana State not available for you to pull an Iowa?
AY: Indiana 42, Southern Illinois 21: The Salukis allowed 41 points to Indiana State last year, and we all know that Indiana is one point better than Indiana State.
MNW: At least Indiana's really a Big Ten team. I think. Indiana 48, S. Illinois 20.
#20 Wisconsin @ #3 Alabama (-10.5) || 7PM, ABC
SU: Alabama, 18-1
ATS: Alabama, 13-6
TS: Wisconsin 28 Bama 24 - What do you get when you name 5 starting QBs and your top receiver was a top 10 pick against a secondary that returns 7 of last year's 2 deep including all four starters? Zero passing game. ESPN seems to forget to mention that.
AY: Alabama 28, Wisconsin 13: I want to believe in Joel Stave more, but he doesn't provide the type of field-stretching threat under center that you need to threaten the Alabama defense. Wisconsin's only chance is to hold the inexperienced Crimson Tide offense to as few points as possible, but I trust that Nick Saban will have his boys ready.
MNW: Gleeful SEC trolls relish as 'Bama controls a Badger O-line battered by injuries and beset by questions. Joel Stave again becomes confused, attempts the air handoff, and throws interceptions. Narratives abound. Alabama 31, Wisconsin 20.
Purdue @ Marshall (-7.5) || 2PM, FS1
SU: Marshall, 14-5
ATS: Marshall, 12-7
TS: Marshall 31 Purdue 17 - TOOT TOOT MOTHERF*****S. Just kidding Purdue is bad at football
AY: Marshall 30, Purdue 20: It's funny to see the Herd favored here, but it's because they're good (also, they're playing Purdue). Marshall may play in a less prestigious conference, but it put up some seriously impressive point totals last year, including 52 in a crushing win over Northern Illinois in the Boca Raton Bowl. The point is, don't laugh at the Boilers if they lose to Marshall this Friday. Save that just in case they fall to Indiana State.
MNW: The Herd have a question mark as they break in a new QB, but that QB happens to be potentially really explosive with his legs. Oh, and he has a ton of weapons to get the ball to. Oh, and can Purdue score yet? I'm still guessing "no." Congrats, Purdue, you have to go to West Virginia AND get the shit kicked out of you by a C-USA team. *Marshall 51, Purdue 24.
#1 Ohio State (-11) @ Virginia Tech || 7PM, ESPN
SU: Ohio State, 19-0
ATS: Ohio State, 17-2
TS: Ohio State 35 Virginia Tech 10 - Ohio State's out for revenge. They'd win by 40 if they had all their players I feel. Still won't be close.
AY: Ohio State 38, Virginia Tech 16: The Hokies are a run-first team, and if we learned anything from the Big Ten title game last year, it's that Ohio State can shut that down quickly. I'm drinking the Buckeye Kool Aid, and that means they get revenge for 2014 (does it count as revenge if they won the title anyway?) and come out of Blacksburg with a convincing victory.
MNW: A one-leg Revenge Tour for the Buckeyes is a dangerous-ass proposition. And Urban's not telling anyone which QB will run all over the Hokies. This one's over by halftime. *OSU 48, VaTech 17.
Got your own predictions? Think Speth is crazy for taking Illinois State over Iowa and a homer for taking Wisconsin over 'Bama? Let him (and the rest of us!) know in the comments!