2018-08-30 06:09

And now the real fun starts.

This week is week 1 and most teams do run on the field and will battle it out for the first time of the season.
As you may know, the first 3 to 5 weeks are not THAT packed with top games, since many teams do have their non-conference games scheduled and that does include often cupcake games between very good teams against not so good teams or even worse.
Some teams do still regularly schedule FCS teams as opponents, which I dislike.
From my point of view, those games do not have much purpose except to push the win numbers one number higher (if the FBS team wins, which sometimes not happen) and to support the FCS team with money.

But there is hope I guess.
I think many good teams did see, that they can benefit from a bolder scheduling, so maybe we will see longterm a shift in scheduling.

It all starts Thursday, but the 4 games I did s e l e c t are on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

I selected this 4 games as the BLOCK OF GRANITE TOP GAMES FOR WEEK 1

Sat. Sep. 1
#6 Washington @ #9 Auburn
A great game I have to say.
Washington is guided by Chris Petersen in his 5th season.
So far he did bring the program a division title and a conference title.
This is only tarnished by the fact he did only win 1 of 4 bowl games and did only to manage to get a playoff spot once, in which they lost in the semis.
I think many fans and many insiders are waiting for the season the Huskies become a real powerhouse, a team which does dominate.
Remember that Petersen was the reason Boise State did become a national known program.
His predecessor did win, no question about that, but the team did peak with Petersen in the ranking at #4 in 2009.
So if he was able to do that with the Broncos, what can he do with a team like the Huskies?
So far they did peak also at #4 at the end of the season in 2016, even after a Peach Bowl loss.
This season?
Believe it or not, this could become the best we have ever seen of them.
Double digit win total is very likely.
Division title also, and the conference is also in reach.
Actually they are right now likely to win all games, which only a few ones a bit more open, with this game against Auburn the most open one.
Gus Malzahn is leading Auburn in his 6th season now and he has so far only a division title in is pocket.
Not the kind of success Tigers fans want to have.
They want conference titles and national championships, and at most, Iron Bowl wins.
Last season was Auburns best so far, winning the division (and losing to Georgia for the SEC title) and winning 10 games.
But they lost in the bowl against later self-claiming national champion UCF.
Malzahn is 1-4 in bowls and 2-3 in Iron Bowls.
And this season, we will see either a winning team in Auburn definition (so SEC champ, Iron Bowl winner) or they will likely not even win 10 games.
They do face Washington this week, and also Georgia and Alabama on the road.
IF they win all those, they will be the top team, no doubt.
But I doubt they win all those games.
The betting line is -1.5 for Auburn, which means this is a coin toss game.
I'm not sure what to think here.
Home advantage is clearly at Auburn side.
Coaches experience is Petersens, while Auburn did almost lose every game against a ranked opponent in week 1.
In this case here I do follow my heart, which favors Washington.
A close game for sure, but one the Huskies will win.
Huskies win.

Sat. Sep. 1
#14 Michigan @ #12 Notre Dame
Jim Harbaugh is in his 4th season and the pressure is growing to DO something (means winning a national championship).
So far he managed only to stay in mid field of the BIG10 and had his worst season so far with 8-5 last year.
I'm not sure whether it helps that there is no official Offense Coordinator right now.
So play calling will be handled by the HC with some influence by the other coaches.
That sounds maybe good, but often you have your head full as HC, so being also OC could be problematic.
Michigan got a new QB in Shea Patterson, who transferred from Ole Miss and was given a waiver on the 1 year suspension period, means, he can play right away.
Patterson did play good at Ole Miss and went out of the depth chart when suffering a concussion and never returned.
Officially he did transfer because he was lied regarding penalties the program does get and got from the NCAA.
They do face only Notre Dame as big non-conference team, beside that they should win the other ones.
Inside the conference they have of cause again a heavy schedule, facing rival MSU and Ohio State and also Penn State and Wisconsin.
Good luck with that, because they will have a hard time getting through that untouched.
It all starts with the first game, if you like to make the playoffs, because that Notre Dame game is big.
Somehow Brian Kelly is in his 9th season with the team and for sure one of the most successful one in the past 20 years.
But beside the heavy defeat against Alabama in the BCS championship game in 2012 (which they would have had to vacate in case of a win anyway because of NCAA violations) he did not manage much in terms of Notre Dame expectations.
In 2016 the team did fell to 4-8, but rebounded to 10-3 in 2017 including a bowl win.
This season many say he could get into the championship game.
Their schedule is good enough to push them into the top 4, if they win all games, or max lose 1 game, like the upcoming one.
I personally have doubts they will push themselves into the semis, they did so often look OK or good and then when a very good team did show up, they failed.
Right now they are favorites in all games in some previews and the line for the upcoming game is -1.0 for Notre Dame, so basically nothing.
Home advantage does not mean much in this rivalry game, but in the last 4 games the home team did win (2011 to 2014), in 2010 did Michigan win at South Bend.
Overall does Michigan lead the series 24-17-1.
Not much.
I expect a close game and it depends heavily, whether Michigans new QB comes out and plays with the plays Jim does whisper in his ears.
If that clicks, Michigan wins.
If that does not, the Notre Dame defense will likely take over.
Did I mention a new DC at Notre Dame, so the defense might also not work 100% in the first game.
In doubt the home team, right?
Notre Dame wins.

Sun. Sep. 2
#8 Miami vs #25 LSU
The Miami Hurricanes are favored to win their division (Coastal of the ACC) and might even challenge Clemson for the conference title.
At least that's what the fans want to believe.
Mark Richts got a warm welcome at the U 2 seasons ago (he came from Georgia with a 145–51 record) and now in his 3rd season the expectations are still growing.
The team went from 9-4 to 10-3 last season, won the division first time ever and the first title since they moved from the BigEast to the ACC in 2004 and most wins also since that.
They have all the tools to get into the ACC title game again and if they win 3 crucial games (and win the rest), they might even make the playoffs.
Most important would be the ACC Championship game (likely against Clemson), the second would be the likely 2nd competitor in the division, Virginia Tech on the road, and the first is against LSU, this weekend.
They will have other tough games, but those are the most precious ones, with LSU pending depended on their season results coming.
Because LSU is not out of their self-proclaimed crisis.
After LSU did fire Les Miles in 2016 4 games into the season (with a 114–34 record at LSU) Ed Orgeron was selected as interims coach and got the tag removed for 2017.
He is back for 2018 and the team had 'only' a 9-4 record (a record which was not enough to hold Les Miles) so the fans want a development into double digit figures.
The problem is, they do have a brutal schedule. Miami is first and they are the underdogs.
They have in addition supposed to be close games against Texas A&M and Mississippi State and then also Auburn, Alabama AND Georgia.
Granted, if this team does better than expected, they are on national title path, but who believes in THAT, NOW?
As all those SEC teams they team get instant talent every year, so nothing is impossible, if things would click together.
Remember Auburns title run with Cam Newton? Everyone thought they would be OK, but that QB did push them over the top and the rest did good enough to secure the season.
This could happen at LSU any time, but I doubt it will happen under Ed Orgeron.
Don't get me wrong, I think he is a fine coach, but he lacks something to challenge Nick Saban and therefore will have LSU not at the top.
At least that's how I see it now.
So given all this, I don't think LSU will stand a chance on a neutral field against this Hurricane team.
The betting line is only -3.5 for Miami, but I see them winning with a bigger margin.
Hurricanes win.

Mon. Sep. 3
#20 Virginia Tech @ #19 Florida State
Interesting matchup here.
Virginia Tech has now Justin Fuente for the 3rd season and so far did his team get 10-4 (and division title) and 9-4 as records.
The rising strength of Miami did basically give them a new challenge so whoever will come out of this season and division champ will (hopefully) be more equipped to challenge Clemson for the conference.
Nothing is more boring than an already decided conference (at least in college football).
Most think that they will finish 2nd behind Miami.
I think Fuente might have some more tricks left and we might see some unexpected wins.
Biggest games will be the FSU game this week, the Miami game and the Notre Dame game.
I'm not convinced FSU will dominate as the betting line of -7.0 does hint (if you can call that 'dominate').
Virginia Tech has stability and an increasing Fuente-recruited roster while FSU has a new HC.
While Willie Taggart is not a bad coach, taking over a team always is some sort of shuffle.
Most of the time the team does suffer a bit and hopefully recovers quickly and maybe becomes even better.
Since the last coach was Jimbo Fischer it's hard to say, whether the team under Taggart will become better or worse.
Fischer did leave after a bad season (actually before last regular season game at 5-6) of 7-6.
But before that FSU was very good, so if Taggart wants to be as good as him, the Seminoles will need to win 9 to 10 games.
I don't see them doing that.
And they have a tough schedule. VT this week, plus Clemson, Miami, NC State and Louisville are close or likely lost games.
I think they need at least another season to compete again, which brings me to the first game.
The only plus side I see is, it's a home game.
But with all said and done, I think Fuente can jump into the season with a much more stable team.
So if FSU does not excel on a high level from kickoff forward, VT likely will take this.
Hokies win.

Other interesting games:
Fri. Aug. 31
San Diego State @ #13 Stanford
The Aztecs are one of the hottest teams in the Mountain West and do face off against one of the most stable teams of the PAC12.
Stanford line is -14.5, so they are favored big time.
They should not underestimate the power of SDSU, otherwise this could become an upsets. But Shaw, the Stanford HC, is really a good one, so I think his team will come out prepared and will outplay the guests.
Cardinals win.

Fri. Aug. 31
Colorado vs Colorado State
Rivalry game, the Rocky Mountain Showdown. Colorado has won the last 3 and given the fact they play on neutral ground again and CSU did fail against Hawaii last week, it's hard to see the Rams winning here.
Still CSU is favored by 7.5 points, which is a surprise for me. I stay with Colorado here.
Buffalos win.

Sat. Sep. 1
Ole Miss @ Texas Tech
This might be more open than it looks like.
Tech is quite good at home and Ole Miss is not in best shape right now.
Vegas favors the Red Raiders by 2.5 points.
That feels a bit like an upset.
I go with Texas Tech here, but my guts are not OK with that.
Red Raiders win.

Sat. Sep. 1
Tennessee @ #17 West Virginia.
I have high hopes for the Mountaineers.
If they get their defense right and the offense does produce, they could actually win the BIG12.
They are favored by 9.5 points here and I go with that, since Tennessee has a new coach and even he might be a good one (his first gig as HC) his rebuilding/reshaping will not be perfect on day 1.
West Virginia on the other hand is in good shape.
Mountaineers win.

Sat. Sep. 1
Louisville @ #1 Alabama
This could become a good one or another blowout win for Alabama.
It all depends on the new Louisville QB and how the team does play on their first day.
Alabama will be ready.
I did only put this in, because the names do suggest a big game, but the line is Alabama -24.5.
I hope Louisville does beat that, but I doubt it.
Crimson Tide win.

Sat. Sep. 1
Navy @ Hawaii
Home game and that after last weeks great win on the road.
This could become a great game.
Navy is favored by 10.5 points, but is it to late to start a Hawaii bandwagon?
I have doubts they will win this, but Navy was also not THAT good in the past season, so ...
Ah ... who gives a damn ....
Rainbow Warriors win.

If you does play the Pick'em game with me, don't forget to make your picks!

'Til next time

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