NCAA Week 1 Picks - Late Games

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NCAA Week 1 Late Games

All times Eastern

Click here for early games.

3:30 pm #1 Alabama (-19 1/2, 61 1/2) vs. #14 Miami (ABC) - National champion Alabama lost a load of firepower to the NFL draft. That said, the last time Alabama lost a season opener was 2001, when UCLA held on for a 20-17 win. It was the second straight season-opening win for UCLA over the Tide, winning, 35-24, in 2000.

Under Nick Saban, Alabama has won 14 straight season-openers by a combined score of 566-163, an average score of 40.4 to 11.6. Those wins included victories over six ranked teams No. 9 Clemson (34-10) in 2008, No. 7 Virginia Tech (34-24) in 2009, No. 8 Michigan (41-14) in 2012, No. 20 Wisconsin (35-17) in 2015, No. 20 Southern Cal (52-6), and No. 3 Florida State (24-7) in 2017.

Miami was 8-3 in 2020, but came up duds instead of studs in big games, losing, 42-17, at Clemson, then 62-26 vs. North Carolina. They cheesed it up in the Cheeze-It Bowl, losing to Oklahoma State, 37-34.

Can they win this one? Nope.

Coin Flip: Miami

Prediction: Crimson Tide 42 Hurricanes 20


3:30 pm #17 Indiana at #18 Iowa (-3 1/2, 45) - The Hawkeyes may be favored here, but they'll have to clamp down on potential Heisman winner, Michael Penix Jr., whose season ended with a torn ACL in his right knee, the third time Penix had ended a season prematurely due to injury.

When healthy, Penix is a highlight reel, and if he's good to go here, look for the Hoosiers to pull off the mild upset.

Iowa lost their first two games, 24-20 to Purdue, and 21-20 to Northwestern, but finished with six straight wins. Their Music City bowl game vs. Missouri was cancelled. Spencer Petras returns at QB, as does Tyler Goodson at RB.

Coin Flip: Indiana

Prediction: Fighting Illini 27 Hawkeyes 25


3:30 pm Marshall (-2 1/2, 47) at Navy - The Middies weren't very good in 2020, going just 3-7, a real lowpoint for them, but they're usually capable of bouncing back, employing a triple option ground game and what normally amounts to a heads-up defense.

They may be up against it here, however, as Marshall spent the first seven weeks of 2020 dumping everybody they met, become losing their final three, to Rice, UAB, and eventually Buffalo, 17-10, in the Camelia Bowl. If the Herd can put up a couple of touchdowns, it will be hard for Navy to respond. Marshall's defense was one of the best in the country, holding the opposition in all seven wins to 17 points or fewer.

Coin Flip: Marshall

Prediction: Thundering Herd 28 Midshipmen 14


4:30 pm #23 Louisiana at #21 Texas (-8, 58) (FOX) - Tough to make a case for the Longhorns, losing stud QB Sam Ehlinger to the pros, while Louisiana returns the bulk of their starters coming off a 10-1 season that included wins over Iowa State, Appalachian State, and a lone 30-27 loss to Coastal Carolina, which finished #12 in the rankings at season's end.

The Longhorns had a solid, 7-3 mark in 2020, iwht losses to Iowa State, Oklahoma, and TCU.

Coin Flip: Louisiana

Prediction: Rajin Cajuns 31 Longhorns 27


5:00 pm San Jose State at #15 USC (-14, 59 1/2) - In a battle of Spartans, San Jose State had the best of 2020, going undefeated through the regular season for a 7-0 record and Mountain West championship, topping Boise State, 34-20, in the title game. They did lose to Ball State, 34-13, in the Arizona Bowl, but they are as solid a football team as can be found in the West.

QB Nick Starkel is already making his name known, throwing for four TDs in State's 45-14 win over Southern Utah last week.

This will be a real test for both teams. USC went 5-0 in PAC-12 play before dropping a 31-24 decision to Oregon in the conference championship. They did not play a bowl game. Kedon Slovis, the USC QB, is likely to be better than he was last year, when he threw for 17 TDs against seven picks and completed 67% of his passes. The home Spartans can take this one.

Coin Flip: San Jose State

Prediction: USC Trojans 38 San Jose St. Spartans 21



7:30 pm #5 Georgia at #3 Clemson (-3, 51) - It's a border war. Clemson has to figure out a way to win without Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne, both now in the NFL. DJ Uiagalelei did get two starts at QB when Lawrence tested positive for COVID, leading the Tigers to a 34-28 win over BC and a 47-40, 2OT loss at Notre Dame. As usual, Clemson is loaded, but there are some questions to be answered.

Georgia went 8-2, losing only to Florida and Alabama. They prevailed in the Peach Bowl with a 24-21 win over Cincinnati.

JT Daniels took over the starting QB job midseason from Stetson Bennett and engineered four straight wins. He'll be behind center Saturday night and may be just good enough to get a win for the Bulldogs.

Coin Flip: Georgia

Prediction: Bulldogs 31 Tigers 21


7:30 pm Florida Atlantic at #13 Florida (-23 1/2, 52) - The Owls went 5-4 last season and played solid defense in most of their games, but the offense spotted and stalled out to often. Playing in Conference USA, Florida Atlantic could emerge as a contender, but in this game, they may just be outclassed and out-manned.

The Gators provided a pleasant SEC surprise, getting all the way to the conference championship and falling just short in a 52-46 loss to the Crimson Tide. They weren't themselves in a 55-20 loss to Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl, but they have plenty of upside as head coach Dan Mullen enters his fourth year. Emory Jones is the starting QB, but there are plenty of new starters on both side of the ball.

The Gators may just have reloaded and could challenge for a spot in the national championship playoffs. This game looks like a big walkover.

Coin Flip: Florida

Prediction: gators 41 Owls 13


8:30 pm #16 LSU (-3, 65 1/2) at UCLA (FOX) - UCLA was just 3-4 last season, mostly the fault of a porous defense which allowed 38 points or more in each of their losses. Dorian Thompson-Robinson was just 10-for-20 in the Bruins 44-10 rout of Hawaii last week, and the defense looked more focused. It was a solid tune-up for this meeting.

After winning the national championship in 2019, LSU went through a rebuilding in 2020 (you don't lose a Joe Burrow without a drop-off). The Tigers lost their opener, 44-34, to Mississippi State and never really recovered, ending at just 5-5. Sophomore Max Johnson leads the offense, but this game may be more defense oriented.

Coin Flip: LSU

Prediction: Bruins 24 Tigers 17


Sunday, September 5

7:30 pm #9 Notre Dame (-7 1/2, 56) at Florida State (ABC) - The Irish were 10-2 last season, but were just short of elite, losing their final two games of the season, 34-10, to Clemson, and 31-14, to Alabama, in a playoff semi-final.

QB Ian Book graduated to the NFL, so the starting QB job fell to Wisconsin transfer Jack Coan. With the Irish geared to run the ball and play defense, they're probably good to go with just about anybody behind center. Coan is good enough to lead a disciplined offense with most of the linemen returning.

The Seminoles had too many issues to handle in 2020, from ijuries to a lack of concentration on defense to an offense which just couldn't execute at a collegiate level. Either McKenzie Milton or Jordan Travis will start at QB for the Seminoles.

Coin Flip: Florida State

Prediction: Fighting Irish 44 Seminoles 13


Monday, September 6

8:00 pm Louisville vs. Ole Miss (-10, 75 1/2) (ESPN) - The Rebels ended their 5-5 season on a high note, whipping Indiana, 26-20, in the Outback Bowl and look to build on that .500 mark. As usual, Ole Miss has plenty of offensive prowess and not much in the way of defense. Louisville's defense may have to make a statement here.

The Cardinals were 3-7 in 2020 and have high hopes in the ACC, but they're up against some powerful opponents. As a junior, QB Malik Cunningham may have a breakout season.

This could be the highest-scoring affair of the weekend. Taking the points might prove a winning strategy.

Coin Flip: Ole Miss

Prediction: Cardinals 52 Rebels 45


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