Week 1 of the college football season is finally upon us, and right away, we have games that could have a big impact on the BCS and bowls at the end of the season. Each week, I'll highlight some games of interest and make some picks, straight up and against the spread.
Hurricane Isaac has already put a damper on the start of things. Texas A&M's debut as a member of the SEC will have to wait a week as the Aggies' game with Louisiana Tech has been postponed until Oct. 13. That means they will now make their SEC debut next week in a conference game at home against Florida.
Alabama (-14) over Michigan --Obviously, there's a lot on the line here in terms of the national championship picture. While it pays to lose early if you're going to lose, the loser is still in trouble. Denard Robinson and Michigan's offense should give the Tide's defense some problems, but I don't think they can do enough damage to win the game.
South Carolina (-7, cover) over Vanderbilt -- The Gamecocks are one of five SEC teams starting the year in the top 10. Some think an upset is brewing here. I'm not buying it. Vandy is an up-and-comer, but USC-East has too many big weapons on both sides of the ball.
Michigan State (-7, cover) over Boise State -- The Broncos have a TON of talent to replace, including college football's all-time winningest QB, a star RB, and their entire front 7 on defense. I still think they are the class of the non-AQs, but they may not look like it this week.
Tennessee (-3½) over N.C. State -- Vols coach Derek Dooley's pants are on fire, and he's probably going to have to do better than 6-6 to hang on another year. Winning at N.C. State would be a nice step in that direction
Notre Dame (-15½, cover) over Navy -- This game is in Dublin, Ireland and Navy is the home team. Yeah, right. Everett Golson makes his first start at QB and he'll do it without RB Cierre Wood, but against Navy, the Irish should still be able to have their way.
Penn State (-6) over Ohio University -- Many people think Frank Solich's Bobcats could run the table and be this year's BCS rep from the non-AQ leagues. This is the toughest game on their schedule. The Nittany Lions figure to come into this with a chip on their shoulder and something to prove, but I wonder how this team will handle adversity on the field this season.
Clemson (-3½, cover) over Auburn -- Clemson is one of the favorites in the ACC and ranked 14th, while Auburn is considered no better than fourth best in its own division of the SEC and unranked, yet they are only a field goal underdog. I think that says something about the relative respect for each league, but I think Clemson will earn their ranking for one week anyway.
UPSET OF THE WEEK: Washington State over BYU (-12) -- Each week, I'll pick a team that's at least a TD underdog to win outright. This week, it's Mike Leach swinging his sword in his Wazzu debut.