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Senior College Football Columnist

Picks: Clemson, LSU and Washington win close ones; Bama rolls

Keith Price and Washington have a tough opener against Boise State. (USATSI)
Keith Price and Washington have a tough opener against Boise State. (USATSI)

Once again, we will be picking games. I'll have predictions on every Top 25 game up by Thursday morning this season. If you're crazy enough to bet money on these, don't blame me. If you wanna do that, Dodd was hot last year. He may be a better option. Each week we'll have the upshot, including our records against the spread. Here are this week's guesses:

Thursday

South Carolina 23, North Carolina 16: The Heels have a very underrated QB in Bryn Renner and will keep it interesting, but ultimately their young O-line will be overmatched by Jadeveon Clowney and company.

Southern California 45, Hawaii 21: Norm Chow thinks he has another Carson Palmer in Taylor Graham, but the transfer QB will be rattled by a fierce Trojans front that forces some UH mistakes.

Saturday

Florida 33, Toledo 14: Matt Campbell brings a good MAC team with some potent skill talent to the Swamp, but the Gators have too many athletes and QB Jeff Driskel will show lots of improvement this fall.

Ohio State 49, Buffalo 6: UB has one player who would start anywhere, star LB Khalil Mack. Unfortunately, the rest of his teammates will be overmatched by Urban Meyer's squad.

Texas A&M 48, Rice 17: Even without Johnny Manziel, the Aggies would've rolled, but add in the energy A&M will get from the anticipation of Manziel taking the field in the second half and it figures to be an electric scene at Kyle Field all day. And a long day for the Owls.

Wisconsin 59, UMass 3: The Gary Andersen Era in Madison starts with a cupcake, an opponent that was 1-11 with an O-line that surrendered 32 sacks. The Badgers and their new 3-4 scheme will roll.

Oklahoma State 24, Mississippi State 20: I liked the Cowboys to win by a wider margin before the news that OSU lost LT Devin Davis for the season with a torn ACL. I'll stick with the home team in large part because I think O-line coach Joe Wickline can get OSU on track and the Cowboys have a strong recent history against SEC opponents.

Notre Dame 38, Temple 13: Brian Kelly's team is bigger and more physical, especially on the D-line, which will dominate the day.

Michigan 45, Central Michigan 10: Devin Gardner and the talented Michigan backfield will take control right away as the Wolverines cruise.

Oregon 69, Nicholls State 3: The Ducks could score 100 on Charlie Stubbs' team if they wanted to. New UO coach Mark Helfrich will let off the throttle by halftime.

Alabama 30, Virginia Tech 7: Logan Thomas may be improved, but the team around him is far too inexperienced to hang with a loaded Crimson Tide team.

Oregon State 34, Eastern Washington 14: EWU is a very good FCS program led by standout defender Ronnie Hamlin. The Eagles will hang around a bit before the Beavers pull away in the second half.

Oklahoma 28, Louisiana-Monroe 16: Kolton Browning and his teammates are experienced and dangerous, but these Sooners are more focused than that Arkansas team ULM knocked off last year.

Clemson 38, Georgia 33: Two shaky defenses. Two experienced QBs. I'll go with the more talented quarterback (Tajh Boyd) playing in the more potent scheme and the home-field advantage.

LSU 17, TCU 16: Lots of talent on defense to go with two unpredictable quarterbacks. The Horned Frogs, 14-10 against ranked opponents under Gary Patterson, won't be intimidated. Still, I'll play the hunch and go with the Tigers to rally late.

Texas 58, New Mexico State 6: NMSU is one of the worst teams in the FBS. This one'll get ugly in a hurry as all the UT RBs run wild.

Nebraska 47, Wyoming 13: Cowboys QB Brett Smith is good, but he and his teammates will be overmatched especially on D, where a porous run defense will be shredded by Taylor Martinez and Big Red.

Washington 27, Boise State 21: Steve Sarkisian's squad will kick off the renovated Husky Stadium opener in style as Keith Price shows he has moved past his shaky 2012.

UCLA 33, Nevada 20: Good QB matchup here. Don't be surprised if Cali native Cody Fajardo gives a young Bruins secondary fits. He was very sharp in two games against Pac-12 competition last year although Brett Hundley should do even more damage against the visiting Pack.

Northwestern 30, Cal 27: The Wildcats are one of the best teams in the Big Ten, but this isn't an easy road trip and Sonny Dykes will be able to keep NU off balance for awhile.

Sunday

Louisville 45, Ohio 20: The Bobcats knocked off Penn State to open the season last year, but this is a much tougher test against a faster Cardinal team led by standout QB Teddy Bridgewater.

Monday

Florida State 28, Pittsburgh 14: Expect plenty of fireworks from budding Noles star Jameis Winston, who will play behind a strong O-line that should hold up pretty well against a tough Panthers defensive front, the strength of their team.

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