Our original predictions are in black; all the red is after the fact. We went 85% accurate overall, as did Vegas. Some of these out-of-conference openers are always going to be blowouts…
Louisville v Alabama (in Orlando) — ‘Bama by 14? Try 34, when Tua Tagovialoa gets under center for the Tide. His skills will make Alabama unstoppable this season. ‘Bama wins it all this season; write it down!
James Madison (FCS runner-up) at North Carolina State – NCS by 6, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it flips either way! Turns out it was eleven, but I had the right idea. JMU is as good as last year.
North Carolina at Cal-Berkeley – Cal by 5. Only because they relaxed in the second half! I was roundly impressed with former Boise State asst coach Justin Wilcox’s second year opener at the helm of my brother’s alma mater. They looked solid! On the other hand, Larry Fedora’s team continues to deteriorate from year to year.
Richmond (trad FCS powerhouse) at Virginia (trad ACC doormat) – we have Richmond by 7, although Vegas thinks VA takes it. We’ll see… Vegas was right, although overall we beat them by a very slim margin. UVA won easily, 42-13.
Texas at Maryland (in Landover) – Texas by 14. Hah. Maryland’s chaos ended the moment they started with an intentional 10-men on the field penalty (which Texas graciously refused) to honor their late lineman on the first play. Then they wiped the Longhorns out.. FUN F)ACT! Maryland is 2-22 in their last 24 games versus ranked opponents. Both wins were against Texas, these past two season openers. (Stop ranking the Longhorns until they DO something!)
Michigan at Notre Dame – Irish by 3. Should be a great game! If you like Notre Dame domination, it was!
Florida Atlantic at Oklahoma – OU by fifteen at home…but oh, if FAU can stay close…Oh my. What a rout. Oklahoma looked magnificent against a highly-overmatched FAU team. By the time it was 49-0, the umpire was doing some tackling on the Owls’ behalf.
Nicholls at Kansas – We actually see the Southland Conference team as a three point fave against the Big 12’s basement king at home. Nicholls took LSU to the wire last fall… I got to listen to this game’s last hour or so on radio. The KU announcers are amazingly pessimistic – when they got a gift possession after a muffed punt on the TEN YARD LINE, they were just worrying that they would hang on to the ball and get at least a field goal out of it! WHAT? Touchdown, boys – touchdown! Needless to say, Nicholls in overtime. Foregone conclusion…
Ole Miss v Texas Tech (in Houston) – TTU by five. Ole Miss by twenty.
Tennessee at West Virginia – Mountaineers are a 16-point favorite at home in our book; Vegas calls it ten. Will Grier called it five TDs and WVU by 24. They looked good; perhaps Tennessee just looked bad.
Washington State AT Wyoming! – playing at altitude, Wazzu is only a four point bet in Laramie.The Cougars eventually pulled away, 41-19.
Washington v Auburn (in Atlanta) – Vegas thinks Auburn by 1 1/2; we say the Huskies by five.What a rough game! Neither team’s defense would break in the red zone. Auburn got in one more time – that was the difference. Both teams were strong.
BYU at Arizona – Brigham Young is an 18–point underdog to a team with a new coach. How the mighty have fallen..Sometime, it seems, the mighty get back up. BYU 28, Arizona 23.
Middle Tennessee at Vanderbilt – This has been a pretty good rivalry recently: we see this game as dead even on neutral ground. Vandy by three at home, please. Or 32. I’m not picky.
North Carolina A&T at East Carolina – the defending HBC national champ is a ten point favorite AT FBS East Carolina! And after edging Jacksonville State last week, I believe in them! And even after a difficult first half when only a pick-six kept them alive, A*T came back to win in the second.
Villanova at Temple – the Big Five Philly rivalry should see the FBS Owls beat their FCS rivals by nine; Temple’s too good for Villanova. Apparently not! ‘Nova by two!
Central Arkansas at Tulsa – A great intersectional matchup! Traditional sources like the FBS Tulsa team at home; We think CAU is too good for the Golden Hurricane and favor them by 2. Alas, CAU’s new coach loses his opener with the team, 38-27.
SMU at North Texas – UNT by five. Should be good! It was only okay. 46-23, UNT.
Marshall at Miami of Ohio – Another great interconference game: Marshall’s getting better and should win by a field goal. Or a TD, 35-28
Old Dominion at Liberty – LU’s first game as an FBS school, and we think they’ll be a two-point favorite at home. Enjoy it while it lasts…It might last longer than I thought. Liberty waxed the Monarchs, 52-10, and it may not have been THAT close.
Idaho at Fresno State – The U of I’s first game as an FCS team goes against an old rival who’s succeeding in the FBS, and the Bulldogs are a 19-point favorite. FSU 79, Idaho 13. Yeeeeesh.
Boise State at Troy – we think the Broncos will win on the road by 12. Or 36. Turns out the Broncos are pretty good this year. On the road, facing a team that was 11-3 last season, the Broncos never looked headed. And they may have the next hot “thing” on the sideline: the “turnover throne”. ‘Nuff said.
On Thursday, Montana State upended Western Illinois on the road, 26-23. Saturday, their rivals, the Montana Grizzlies, travel to Northern Iowa and are two-point underdogs. Here’s hoping they pull the upset as well. Strangely, they obeyed to the letter! Montana won by the exact same score: 26-23!
Sunday, we see the Miami of Florida and LSU game as a toss-up, and on Monday Florida State is a six-point choice over Virginia Tech. We were dead wrong about that toss-up: LSU is the real deal thie season, mostly because they’ve found a QB.
And finally, three big HBC games to kick off the season:
Grambling at Louisiana-Lafayette – No, ULL isn’t a traditional HBC, but this is a big game for the Grambling State team to prove its interconference mettle against a decent in-state FBS team, and we see the Rajun’ Cajuns as just a two-point favorite at home against GSU Nope, 49-17, Louisiana.
On Sunday, Prairie View A&M is a two-point favorite over North Carolina Central at a neutral site (Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium), both hoping to meet there again in the Celebration Bowl in December. Great game! Prairie View pulled away at the end and won by 16.
And the annual “Turkey Day Classic” matchup of Alabama State and D2 Tuskegee University (won last year by Tuskegee 14-6) has now been moved to the first game of the season, so that both teams can look at post-season action. We think ASU is the underdog again this year. Barely! They won in overtime, 26-20. There’s a lot of parity in those Historically Black Colleges, no matter what the division.
UNEXPECTED STARS in Week One: Appalachian State (on the 11th anniversary of the most famous upset in CFB history) almost did it again, taking Penn State to overtime before falling, 45-38… Was surprised to see Arizona State look so good against UTSA, 49-7, in Herm Edwards’ opener after a decade out of coaching. .. Probably even more surprised to see Chip Kelly’s first game be a loss to lowly Cincinnati, turning on a safety of all things… Hawaii put on its second big show of the season already, hammering the Naval Academy 59-41 (but it wasn’t that close). Coach Nick Rolovich has them rolling…Howard University almost pulled off its second season-opening upset, this time falling just short against Ohio U….Utah State also came close to defeating Michigan State, losing by just six…North Alabama welcomed itself to division one football by upsetting powerful Big Sky champ Southern Utah, 34-30… Maine demolished national hopeful New Hampshire, 35-7!… We had Butler as a 33 point underdog at Youngstown State, before they won that game, 23-21… Finally, the only upset from a Division 2 team over an FCS club came in the HBCs, where Morehouse upended Arkansas-Pine Bluff 34-30 as well.
LATER in the week, we’ll lay out our forecasts for week two.