Man vs. Woman vs. Machine: Week 1
Where one man takes on both his girlfriend and his Playstation in a battle to beat the spread.
Man vs. Woman vs. Machine is a feature that runs every Thursday afternoon. It is here that Tom Fornelli fights against the rising tide of female empowerment and technology to ensure that men everywhere can at least claim that college football is still theirs. He does this by picking a set of games against the spread against his girlfriend, Lynn, and his Playstation 3.
You might think that losing to both my girlfriend and my Playstation last year would cause me to reconsider the entire notion of Man vs. Woman vs. Machine. You might think that losing last season would have been such a blow to my pride that there was simply no way I would run the risk of embarrassing myself in front of the entire Internet.
You might think these things, but you'd be wrong. No, friends, I merely lost a battle. The war still wages on, and though I'm a bit bruised and bloodied, I will not quit.
If the war analogies don't work for you, how about the fact there just isn't any chance in hell I'm going to let my girlfriend win this competition and let her hold it over my head for the rest of time by not bringing this feature back?
Man vs. Woman vs. Machine is back. And this time….it's personal.
Vanderbilt Commodores vs. South Carolina Gamecocks (-8) - Thursday, 7pm (All times Eastern)
Man - Just looking at this matchup on the surface, it should be easy. Vanderbilt is supposed to be the pushover of the SEC East, but that's just not the case anymore with James Franklin in charge. Last season the Commodores -- can I call them the Commies? -- were 7-0 against the spread at home, and that includes a 3-0 mark as home underdogs. The Commodores are also 3-2 against the spread against the Gamecocks since 2007, so after looking at those trends and realizing the opening weekend of the season is when crazy things happen, I feel like the Commies are my only choice. Abolish all private property and anchor down! Pick: Vanderbilt
Woman - Yeah, South Carolina should have this match locked down faster than Jadeveon Clowney can scarf down a Caw Caw Creek Burger on a greased pretzel bun. But at Vanderbilt Stadium last year, the Commodores were 7-0 against the spread and they are itchin' to pluck the Gamecocks. Gamecocks win it, but not by 9. Pick: Vanderbilt
Machine - The Machine has no political affiliations, nor does it care about mankind's history or habits. South Carolina wins this one going away, 34-13. Pick: South Carolina
NC State Wolfpack vs. Tennessee Volunteers (-7) - Friday, 7:30pm
Man - It's pretty much now or never for Derek Dooley in Knoxville, as he has his most experienced team to date. Unfortunately for Derek the only thing I can base my prediction on is what I've seen from both these teams in the past, and Tennessee hasn't shown me a whole lot lately, going 4-8 against the number last year. There's also the fact that in the last ten years North Carolina State is 7-0 against the spread when the game is played a neutral site. So all of that plus the fact I just find it hard to rely on a man who would wear these pants makes me have to go with the Wolfpack. Pick N.C. State
Woman - Davy Crockett was under less pressure at the Alamo than Derek Dooley is at the Georgia Dome this weekend. Spoiler alert: This doesn't end well for either of them. Meaningless factoid: Last time the Wolpack and Vols met, this movie was actually opening at your local theater. Pick: N.C. State
Machine - It's a clean sweep for the Wolfpack, as The Machine sees N.C. State winning this game outright, 24-17. Pick: N.C. State
Michigan State Spartans State" data-canon="Michigan Wolverines" data-type="SPORTS_OBJECT_TEAM" id="shortcode0"> (-7 ½) vs Boise State Broncos - Friday, 8pm
Man - Boise State has been a destroyer of BCS foes for quite a while now, and this is the first time they've actually been an underdog in any game since they were given 10 points before their matchup against Oregon in 2008. There's a reason they're an underdog, though. Not only is Kellen Moore gone, but the Broncos return only seven starters total. Michigan State has some new starters in important positions as well, but I think the atmosphere of East Lansing and a suffocating defense will be enough in this one. Pick: Michigan State
Woman - Last year, I wouldn't have hesitated to pick the Broncos and points but they are not the same team and this is Spartan Stadium. Broncos coach Chris Petersen has a 6-0 record in openers. After this weekend, 6-1. Pick: Michigan State
Machine - The Machine isn't going against Boise State until Boise State gives it a reason to. Broncos win 27-13. Pick: Boise State
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (-16 ½) vs. Navy Midshipmen - Saturday, 9am
Man - We're going to have to get up early for this one boys and girls, but if these two teams were willing to cross an ocean to play a football game, we can at least give up an extra hour or two of sleep. As for which way to go, I really don't have a lot of faith in either direction. I can see Notre Dame winning this one easily just as clearly as I can see Navy pulling off the "upset." So, in the end, I did what anybody with half a brain would do in such a situation. I flipped a coin. It has just as good a shot at being right as I do. Pick: Notre Dame
Woman - I don't care if this game is at Pot 'O Gold Field being officiated by drunken leprechauns, I will never, ever pick Notre Dame and a 16 1/2-point spread. By the way, I got a sneak peak of the halftime entertainment the city of Dublin is providing and it promises to be epic. Anchors away! Pick: Navy
Machine - The Machine is wary of any human that wants to spend so much time on the water. Pick: Notre Dame
Syracuse Orange vs. Northwestern Wildcats (-2 ½) - Saturday, Noon
Man - Northwestern was one of those teams last season that decided to do the opposite of what I picked every time. I didn't much appreciate it. I also don't appreciate that the Wildcats were 5-8 ATS in 2011. What I do appreciate is that four of those wins came on the road where the Wildcats were 4-2 versus the number. Considering Syracuse was 3-9 overall and only 3-4 at home, I'm going to go with the purple here. Man, first I pick Vanderbilt and now I'm picking Northwestern. Nerds are taking over this sport. Pick: Northwestern
Woman - The Wildcats are 1-5 against the Orange in their last six meetings, 0-3 in the Carrier Dome. That means 0-1 in 2012. Pick: Syracuse
Machine - While The Machine doesn't see Syracuse winning this game, it does see them covering that spread as Northwestern wins this one 21-20. Pick: Syracuse
Boston College Eagles vs. Miami (-2 ½) - Saturday, 3:30pm
Man - Let's get one thing clear: Anybody who tells you they know what's going to happen in this game is flat out lying to you. Nobody knows. There are just way too many variables in play here. Everything from suspensions and injuries to locker room dissension. In reality, this is a game Miami should win on talent alone, but Miami has long been talented and that hasn't kept it from being inconsistent. So I'm going to go against my better judgment here and take the team that has as many returning starters on offense as the other team has period. Pick: Boston College
Woman - Let's ask the really important question: Who's going to have the best parties this weekend? Man, it's close but based on their storied jello shots heard 'round the world, I have to go with the Eagles. Pick: Boston College
Machine - The Machine swears that Nevin Shapiro gave him nothing for this pick. Pick: Miami
Clemson Tigers (-3 ½) vs. Auburn Tigers - Saturday, 7pm
Man - This is one of the more interesting match ups of the weekend, but it's not one that forced me to think too much. I know the last time we saw Clemson the Tigers were getting 70 points put up on them in the Orange Bowl, but it's not wise to base your opinion of a team on one performance after it had a month off. No, I just choose to look at all the talent this Clemson team has on offense, and even without Sammy Watkins , I think it's just too much for an Auburn defense that was very mediocre last season to handle. Pick: Clemson
Woman - Last year, Dabo Swinney's squad posted its first win against Auburn since 1951. With an explosive offense (and an Auburn team still in flux since becoming Cam-less), their next win's coming much quicker. Pick: Clemson
Machine - The Machine has Clemson winning this game as well, but not by enough as a late interception return by Demetruce McNeal gives Auburn a late cover. Clemson wins 34-31. Pick: Auburn
Alabama Crimson Tide (-12 ½) vs. Michigan - Saturday, 8pm
Man - Yeah, this is the game we've all been waiting for. Two of the sport's most storied programs opening their seasons against one another. I spent a lot of time trying to figure this one out, but at the end of the day, while I don't fear The Machine in this column, I do fear the machine coaching Alabama. Give Nick Saban his best offensive line ever, and a defense that may have new starters but is still a defense coached by Nick Saban full of Nick Saban recruits, and I'm sorry Big Blue. Unless Denard Robinson goes Cam Newton, I just don't see this happening for the Wolverines. Pick: Alabama
Woman - I've uncovered Nick Saban's game plan against Michigan and Brady Hoke. Pick: Alabama
Machine - Seems The Machine is jealous of Saban and has Michigan winning 24-13. PAAAWWWWL, WHY THEY LETTIN' THAT MACHINE PICK GAMES ANYWAY? Pick: Michigan
Louisville Cardinals (-14) vs. Kentucky Wildcats - Sunday, 3:30pm
Man - The last time Louisville was favored against Kentucky was when it opened the season against the Wildcats at home in 2008, just like this season. Well, the Cardinals lost that game 27-2. That being said, I'm buying into Louisville, Teddy Bridgewater and Charlie Strong this season because there's a reason this is the only team from the Big East anybody is paying attention to. It's a good team! Pick: Louisville
Woman - Hatfields and McCoys? More like Jolie and Aniston. Pick: Louisville
Machine - It's a clean sweep as The Machine foresees Louisville winning this contest 35-20. Pick: Louisville
Virginia Tech Hokies (-7 ½) vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets - Monday, 8pm
Man - I'm just not very confident in Virginia Tech when it comes to season openers. Yeah, last season the Hokies destroyed Appalachian State, but they've had some problems in September. They were also 4-9-1 against the number last season, including a 1-5 mark while favored at home. All that plus the fact that the Hokies return only three starters on offense makes me lean toward Georgia Tech here. I'm not saying the Hokies are going to lose, but I think the Yellow Jackets are going to keep this close. If for no other reason than their honey comb helmets. Pick: Georgia Tech
Woman - I was a big fan of the Yellow Jackets last season - that win against Clemson still has me buzzed - but they have yet to prove they've put together all the pieces. Add to that a night game at Lane Stadium against one of the most reliable teams in college football and I'm taking the road more travelled. Pick: Virginia Tech
Machine - The Machine not only picks an upset here, but does so in blowout fashion as Georgia Tech wrambles on through for an easy 37-13 victory. Pick: Georgia Tech
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