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NCAA College Football 2010-11 Week 1 Picks

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Fearless Rick's 2010-11 College Football Week 1 Picks - Early Games

Rick Gagliano | September 2-4, 2010

All times Eastern - Click here for late games.

Thursday, Sept. 2

Minnesota (-2 1/2, 48 1/2) at Middle Tennessee, 7:30 pm - A wicked opener in which the lines have moved from -3 for Middle Tenn. to the current -2 1/2, favoring the Golden Gophers. This is a battle of speed versus brute force, and the Tennessee heat may have a say in the final outcome. It's expected to be very hot - in the 90s and humid, working in favor of the Blue Raiders.

Minnesota only returned two starters on defense, and the offense is a kind of plodding attack that has a tendency to bog down. The Blue Raiders have issues of their own, as starting QB, Dwight Dasher, has been suspended by the NCAA and will not play. Dasher was the Sun Belt offensive player of the year in 2009, so his loss means JUCO transfer Logan Kilgore will be taking snaps. That should work in Minnesota's favor, though it's unclear how well the defense can respond with so many new faces.

Look for Middle Tennessee to employ some trickery and snatch a win. This is a huge game for their program, which was 10-3 last season. The heat and overall team speed will prevail in the late stages of what could be a very entertaining start to the college gridiron season.

Prediction: Blue Raiders 31 Golden Gophers 23

Marshall at Ohio State (-28 1/2, 47 1/2), 7:30 pm - We all know about Tyrelle Pryor, QB of the Buckeyes, but the focus should be on running backs Dan "Boom" Herron and Brandon Saine. Either or both could have a huge impact on this game. Marshall is being very ambitious in their scheduling, as they host West Virginia next week. An 0-2 start is virtually guaranteed. The defense lost a couple of good defensive ends. Last season, the Thundering Herd ventured to Virginia Tech, where they were lambasted 52-10. Similar outcome looms large here.

Prediction: Buckeyes 45 Thundering Herd 7

Southern Miss at South Carolina (-14, 46), 7:30 pm ESPN - It's been a long time since Steve Spurrier has had a team with national aspirations, but this could be his year as he takes over the play-calling on offense. QB Stephen Garcia enters his second year behind center and he's got full complement of receivers back from 2009. They should be able to put up points on the Southern Miss defense and allow the Gamecock defense to put pressure on Golden Eagles' QB Martevious Young. A few turnovers are expected, which SC can turn into scores. This ought to be a rout.

Prediction: Gamecocks 41 Golden Eagles 14

Pitt at Utah (-3, 50), 7:30 pm - Both teams are coming off successful campaigns in 2009. both finishing at 10-3 after bowl game wins. The Utes have the dual advantage of home field and a returning starter at QB, in Terrence Cain, who is efficient though unspectacular. The Utes will probably run at Pitt more often than throw, but that could prove troublesome as the Panthers are geared to stop everything on the ground or above it.

Tino Sunseri will start at QB for Pitt and his best weapon is undeniably RB Dion Lewis, the scat-back who rushed for 1799 yards as a freshman. Utah may have the crowd on its side, but Pitt has more weapons and Sunseri may be better than anyone expects.

Prediction: Panthers 27 Utes 24

USC (-21, 54) at Hawaii, 11 pm ESPN - OK, some people still think the Trojans can contend in the PAC-10 and end up within the top 20 or so teams in the nation, but their secondary will be put to the test on the road here, as Hawaii has quarterback Bryant Moniz back along with receivers Greg Salas, Kealoha Pilares and Rodney Bradley. USC has lost a boatload of starters on defense over the past two seasons, and Lane Kiffen replaces Pete Carroll amid a swirl of controversy. Southern Cal should be up to the task, especially with an offense facing one of the worst college defenses in the country. The last time these two met, in 2005 - when Hawaii was coached by June Jones and the run-and-shoot actually ran and shot - USC blathered them 63-17.

Prediction: Trojans 52 Warriors 14

Friday, Sept. 3

Arizona (-15, 60 1/2) at Toledo, 8:00 pm - Toledo was 5-7 in 2009 and will be breaking in new players everywhere, including at QB and running back. Arizona isn't too big on defense, but against MAC opponents, they should be just fine. The Wildcats are pretty well-loaded on offense, and should have little problem scoring on Toledo, which allowed 30 or more points in 10 of 12 contests last season. All the Wildcats have to do to win on the road is not turn the ball over.

Prediction: Wildcats 42 Rockets 17

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Saturday, Sept. 4

Eastern Illinois at Iowa (no line), 12:00 pm - This game is off the board for any number of reasons, not the least of which are a couple of suspensions to Iowa players for drinking-related offenses and the unexpected departure of running back Brandon Wegher, who left the team for "personal issues." Also, Eastern Illinois went 8-4 and played in the FCS playoffs last year, so they are no pushovers. Add to that the numerous scares Iowa faced in a tumultuous 11-2 season, including their season opening, 17-16 win over Northern Iowa, which was the result of two late blocked field goals. Stay tuned. Somebody is sure to put up a line.

As of Saturday morning, there's still no line posted, so if you get the chance, take the Hawkeyes if they're giving less than 15, otherwise, skip it. They should win this one going away.

Prediction: Hawkeyes 28 Panthers 10

Colorado (-12, 46) vs. Colorado State, 2:00 pm - The usual rivalry game for Colorado bragging rights should go to the Buffaloes, as they come out of the Big 12, but Colorado went 3-9 last season and are just 16-33 under coach Dan Hawkins and just 2-4 ATS the last four times they've played the Rams. The Rams took last year's contest, 23-17, but also finished the season at 3-9, though they have a stronger defense than last season and running back Leonard Mason could have a big day against a vanilla Buffalo defense.

Prediction: Rams 24 Buffaloes 21

Purdue at Notre Dame (-10, 55), 3:30 pm - Lots of talk coming out of South Bend on how the Fighting Irish will be back in the spotlight with new head coach Brian Kelly coming in from Cincinnati. Kelly likes an up-tempo style offense with emphasis on the passing game and will rely on junior Dayne Crist to make it go. Crist is coming off a torn ACL and will be replacing Jimmy Clausen, a true thrower, who made the move to the NFL.

Purdue is already banged up with several offensive starters out and a defense that was OK, but not great last year. The issue is replacing all four starters in the secondary, which plays right into Notre Dame's game plan. Expect plenty of action, and a possible runaway by the Irish, as they have a pretty good defense and should be up for this one.

Prediction: Fighting Irish 34 Boilermakers 20

Texas (-30 1/2, 58 1/2) at Rice, 3:30 pm ESPN - Even if Texas isn;t as good as they were last season, when they met Alabama for the national championship (and they might be better), Rice poses no problems for the Longhorns. Texas has blinded the Owls for as long as anyone can remember. Our data goes back to 1995, and Texas is a solid 10-0 either home or away. The last two times the Longhorns took the trip to Rice, the results were similar, winning 48-7 in 2003 and 52-7 in 2006.

Rice was 2-10 in 2009, with wins over Tulane and Texas El Paso, which doesn't inspire much confidence. Besides, the Owls were dead last in offensive production in Conference-USA last year.

Prediction: Longhorns 63 Owls 6

Connecticut at Michigan (-3, 52) - It's year three for head coach Rich Rodriguez, so it's time for the Wolverines to either step up or shut up. The road has been a bumpy one in Ann Arbor, and after a 5-7 season - and no bowl game for the second straight year - the natives are getting restless. The Wolverines have a quality QB in Tate Forcier, but need to show up on defense against the often-overlooked Huskies, themselves coming off a magical 8-5 season which culminated in a 20-7 win over South Carolina in the PapaJohns.com Bowl.

UConn can move the ball on the ground with the best of them and will certainly have ample scoring opportunities here, but Michigan is no ordinary team and the Big House is no ordinary environment. The Huskies enjoyed their share of big breaks last season, but, as is often the case, turnovers and scores won't come as easy this season. There are plenty out there calling this the upset of the week, but Michigan being favored by just three indicates that this should be a contentious envirnoment. Go against the "designer pick" and take Michigan. The Wolverines will back up their coach.

Prediction: Wolverines 31 Huskies 21

All times Eastern - Click here for late games

Copyright 2010, 2011, Rick Gagliano, Downtown Magazine. All rights reserved. Downtown Magazine is located in the Uinted States of America and is not affiliated with the National Football League or the NCAA. For more information, contact us here. Use of this site is for entertainment purposes only.


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