BEFORE we get into our predictions, here’s a reminder that we’re going to be starting our team-fantasy conferences next week! You’ll see two different productions:
(1) the SBAC, or the Smarter Balanced Athletic Conferences, with the 130 FBS teams (and ten top FCS clubs) divided geographically into fourteen ten-team conferences where they can play a representative cross-section of teams over the nine-week season, followed by a sixteen-team playoff to determine a FAIR champion. You decide how your group chooses its teams – since it seems obvious that Ohio State stands a better chance than Ohio U does, you may want to do some sort of rotating draft in each conference (“Fred” picks first in this one, second in the next one, third in the next, and so forth), or just randomly draw for teams in conferences or across the country.
(2) the Relegation Leagues, where the top 36 teams are split into four nine-team leagues and play to choose a champ to enter into the four-team CFP at season’s end; meanwhile the Level Two leagues have the next 36 teams, playing for the chance to win their league and MOVE UP to the top league next year, while the bottom team in League One is relegated down into League Two. The same is true of Level Three (and in our deluxe model, we include all 255 teams in six levels!) Here, you can each choose more freely because the leagues are much more evenly balanced – or you can still draw randomly, or rotate draft choices, or however you choose. (Draft to avoid relegation? Relegated clubs owe the winners a bonus…)
The conference layouts will be released NEXT WEEK, and the first round of games will come up that Saturday, SEPTEMBER 22. Results will be derived by starting with each team’s ELO-Following Football rating, and then adjusting their score by how far they exceeded or failed to reach their expected target in the game they actually played that weekend. We will publish those results each Monday following the games. (And let us know how you choose to set up your team fantasy league, as well as if it’s working out well for you!)
All right, here’s this week’s key predictions!
ACC – Boston College @ Wake Forest (Thursday). We have the Eagles by one in a tight game. Vegas consensus and the Sagarin ratings both think BC has four points or so on Wake.
Florida State @ Syracuse – Seminoles by nine? Vegas says 3.5, and they may be right – I won’t be surprised if the Orange wins.
Georgia Tech @ Pitt – Ramblin’ Wreck by one, says our board.
Miami FL @ Toledo – Nine point Hurricane favorites. (Vegas says 10.5; Sagarin says seven.)
BIG TEN – Ohio State @ TCU – the big game of the weekend, IMO. We have the Buckeyes by five, but the pros think it’s going to be two TDs or so.
Rutgers @ Kansas – On the other end… after breaking their long road losing streak, we think they win again at home by three.
Troy @ Nebraska – hard to know how much trouble the Cornhuskers’ issues really are, but we have them as seven point favorites over a pretty good Trojan club. Vegas is even more bullish, saying 11 points. We’ll see…
South Florida @ Illinois – USF by nine (ten at LV) …. may not be enough.
BIG TWELVE – Oklahoma @ Iowa State – Sooners are expected to roll, even on the road, by thirteen. (Or 17 or 21…)
USC @ Texas – we have this game DEAD EVEN. Two flawed teams should make for a very interesting game! (Other punters have it split fairly evenly for the two teams…)
Houston @ Texas Tech – is also a DEAD EVEN game, although after last week’s display we’re leaning Houston’s way. (Vegas also goes one point towards the Cougars…)
Boise State @ Oklahoma State – For the life of me, I’ve checked our system for bias, and I can’t find any. Yet despite the fact that OSU Is a 3.5 point favorite on Sagarin and at Las Vegas, we have Boise as a one point favorite. Hmmm….
PAC-12 – Washington @ Utah – Possibly the best game in conference this season – these are the best teams in each division, by ELO-FF rating, and while UW is the favorite, it’s in Salt Lake City. We like the Huskies by two; Nevada says six.
Oregon State @ Nevada… we think Nevada upsets the Beavers by four. Vegas agrees.
California, Oregon, and Stanford… by 35, 43, and 38, respectively.
SEC – LSU @ Auburn – maybe one of the most interesting SEC games of the year! Auburn by six, half of that because of the stadium. (LV says ten.)
Alabama @ Ole Miss – The Rebels are one of the Top 25 teams at home, and almost invincible at home. So far they’ve routed a top FCS team by sixty and defeated Power Five power Kansas State by three TDs last week. Despite all that, they are eighteen point underdogs at home. (And it’s 21 in Vegas, and 25 on Sagarin.) So they must be playing Alabama.
Vanderbilt @ Notre Dame – After last week’s close call against Ball State, where they only won by eight, nobody can be more than an eight-point favorite against the Irish. So Vanderbilt are eight-point underdogs.
Group Of Five – Arkansas State @ Tulsa – Dead Even.
Tulane @ Alabama-Birmingham – The Green Wave are eight-point favorites in Alabama. (Four in Vegas.)
Eastern Michigan @ Buffalo – Buffalo’s a two-point favorite.
New Mexico State @ New Mexico – four points towards the visitors in the in-state rivalry.
San Diego State @ Arizona State – our numbers point to SDSU (by two), but it’s hard to bet against the Herm Edwards train as it goes rolling through all the pre-season predictions of his failure. I’m thinking Vegas is probably right this time to pick ASU.
Wofford @ Wyoming – It’s not that we particularly think that the Cowboys being two-point favorites is that big a deal. It’s that we’ll hardly ever get to see another game when “Wofford” is the first team listed alphabetically in a game.
FCS – Rhode Island @ U Conn – We have this mid-range Colonial FCS team dead even on the road against the “Power Six” Connecticut Huskies, 2011 Orange Bowl performers. How the mighty have fallen...
Montana @ Western Illinois – Montana’s a one-point favorite in their continued tour of the powerful Missouri Valley Conference, which is a daring and intelligent way to prepare for the tough Big Sky schedule and the potential FCS playoffs beyond that. We’ll see how it goes…
South Dakota @ Weber State – Similarly, USD is doing something akin in their prep for the conference season. It’ll be a challenge to go to Big Sky favorite as five-pt underdogs.
Samford @ Mercer – After the Bulldogs’ stellar performance against Florida State last week, you’d think conference rival Mercer should be a fifteen-point piece of cake.
Nicholls @ McNeese – Here’s a great battle in the Southland Conference for two teams near the top. McNeese is a touchdown favorite, and while they may or may not be able to challenge Sam Houston State, they’ve got a great shot at the playoffs.
San Diego @ Harvard – Two very different teams: the first week of the Ivy League’s season, hosting a team that’s been up against some tough customers already in September. It’s that advantage that makes the Toreros four-point favorites.
North Carolina Central @ South Carolina State – Finally, in the MEAC, two of the HBCs hoping to challenge NC A&T for the spot in the Celebration Bowl We have the home team by one.