With college football season just days away, we’re introducing a new feature here at DCIAB: it’s the Don’t Call It A Picks Competition! From Week 1 through the BCS Championship Game, the three of us will make picks against the spread of five games each week, with a twist—our alma maters’ games will be in the bunch every week. Will we choose loyalty or the desire to win the competition? Let’s just say it would suck to be Matt right now. At the end of the competition, the loser will have to eat a live goldfish deal with the shame of finishing last. This will be a weekly feature, publishing every Thursday afternoon during the season.  Anyone is invited to pick with us in the comments and we’ll throw the standings of the peanut gallery up each week. If you finish first, you’ll win a 56-inch Sony LED HDTV courtesy of Best Buy nothing, but won’t you have a good time doing it?

Without further ado, here are the five games this week. As they will be every week for consistency, the lines come from Danny Sheridan. All game times are eastern.

Friday, 8 pm, ESPNU 

Florida Atlantic at Miami (-31.5)

The Hurricanes open up their 2013 campaign hosting their in-state Sun Belt buddies from Boca Raton. This one will be a laugher, but can Miami cover a 32-point spread with a shaky defense?

Saturday, 12 pm, BTN

Southern Illinois at Illinois (-24)

If you thought Miami was opening with a dud, check out who the Fighting Illini are bringing in. Hopefully for modesty’s sake the boys from Champaign can put a whopping on their 1-AA foes.

Saturday, 8 pm, ABC

#5 Georgia (-2.5) at #8 Clemson

A big chance for Clemson to legitimize itself under the bright lights of Saturday Night Football against a premiere SEC opponent. Is Clemson finally ready to step up in a big moment?

Saturday, 9 pm, ESPN

#12 LSU (-3) at #20 TCU

Another chance for the SEC to get yet another annoying victory in a big game, as offensively-challenged LSU rolls into Forth Worth. Avert your eyes from this contest, as these teams might combine for 15 points.

Saturday, 10:30 pm, ESPN

#22 Northwestern (-3) at California

Bob’s school starts out the season as the only one of our three in the polls (although Miami is right on the cusp). They’ll be tested immediately in a tough road game that we’ll have to stay up way too late to watch.

Harry’s Picks

Let’s take these in order, shall we?

FAU vs MIA Students here at the U are pretty fired up about the 2013 season and big things are expected out of this team. Anything less than nine wins and a Costal Division championship would be a disappointment, but I think this line is a little high. Considering FAU only lost to Alabama by 33 last year, I’ll take Florida Atlantic +31.5. Miami should still win this one by four touchdowns.

SIU vs ILL Boy do I feel bad for the fans that have to attend this game; we won’t spend too much time on this one. Illinois is bad, but SIU isn’t even a division 1-A team. Maybe I’m giving them too much credit, but I’ll take Illinois -24. I’m assuredly going to regret this the second Riley O’Toole takes the field.

UGA vs CLEM Georgia is a top-tier SEC team, but LSU was at least near that level last year and Clemson beat them in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl. Death Valley will be absolutely rabid Saturday night and this is a big chance for Clemson to launch itself into the national championship race. While the SEC seems to win every one of these primetime showdowns, I’ll take Clemson +2.5. The points and the home field advantage are too much for me to roll with the Dawgs. Also, don’t forget that I’m now #ACC4Lyfe. That y is not a typo, I’m just cooler than you because I misspell wordz on purpose.

LSU vs TCU Do I really have to pick Zach Mettenberger on the road in a harsh environment? While that terrifies me, I don’t think TCU’s offense can stand up to the Tigers’ stingy D, and LSU’s offense will eke out enough to cover the spread in a game so ugly it will make Kirk Ferentz squeal with glee like a little girl. Give me LSU -3.

NW vs CAL While picking Northwestern as a road favorite certainly makes my stomach crawl due to their past performance in big road games (as any Northwestern fan can tell you, these games usually don’t end very well for the ‘Cats), this line seems low. Other sites have NU as a 6-point favorite and I’ve even seen one have Wildcats at 10.5! Maybe Danny Sheridan knows something we don’t, but I’m going to say that he doesn’t and take Northwestern -3. Like with my Illinois pick, I am assuredly going to regret this and end up carving “NEVER TRUST NORTHWESTERN ON THE ROAD…OR AT ALL” into my dorm room wall repeatedly with my fingernails.

Last week: 0-0

Season record: 0-0

Bob’s Picks

FAU vs MIA According to resident expert Harry Kroll, Miami’s floor is 9-3 this year in an overwhelmingly strong Atlantic Coast Conference. While I do think they will find the Top 25 this year and could potentially play in the ACC Championship game, I disagree that 9-3 is really the “floor,” especially considering that they play Florida and Florida State, yet luckily avoid Clemson. Anyway, they have a cupcake here before facing the Gators next week. FAU should be no problem for the ‘Canes, but giving 31.5 to an unranked and unproven Miami team is too high. Florida Atlantic +31.5

SIU vs ILL I am sorry, but again, I just find this line to be too high. Southern Illinois held their own against some respectable opponents last year and never lost by more than 21, while Illinois only beat one team by more than 24 last season (Charleston Southern). Just like Miami, Illinois should win this one comfortably, but I am not comfortable giving up the points. Southern Illinois +24

UGA vs CLEM This is a great matchup between two teams we should see playing in BCS games next January. Georgia looked very impressive in some of their later games last season, particularly against Alabama in the SEC Championship, and Aaron Murray has really matured as a quarterback. One Heisman candidate matches up against another, Tajh Boyd, who is coming back without his top target from last season, DeAndre Hopkins. Ultimately, I trust this Georgia team’s talent and preparation over Clemson’s, and the homefield advantage will not be enough to stifle the Bulldogs. Georgia -2.5

LSU vs TCU This one is really tough. TCU has not announced its starting quarterback yet (which may be a good or bad thing) and LSU has some suspension issues that have still not been sorted out. While I really do not trust an offense led by Zach Mettenberger and Cam Cameron (yikes) plus a brand-new defense, TCU did not beat anyone nearly as strong as LSU last season, and I don’t see that changing this week. LSU -3

NW vs CAL Cal went 3-9 last year under a highly regarded coach, and they now enter the season under an unproven head coach. Northwestern was 5 minutes and 3 seconds away from being 13-0 last season, which counts for something, and they are returning virtually all of their top players. While Cal’s up-tempo offense and completely new scheme is tough to prepare for in an opening week matchup, Fitz will have the team ready to go against one of the worst defenses in the country last year and a questionable quarterback situation. Ultimately, Northwestern is the stronger, more experienced, and better-coached team here. All signs point to Northwestern winning comfortably (but who knows; it’s Northwestern). Regardless, I’m shocked to see the line this low. Northwestern -3

Last week: 0-0

Season record: 0-0

Matt’s Picks

FAU vs MIA First of all, let’s get this straight: Miami is a much better team. They’re the greatest football team in the world–no, the universe. I truly believe that Miami will win the national title this year, in a thrilling 673-4 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Both safeties will occur in the last 4 minutes, because elite Miami running back Duke Johnson will feel such strong pity in the depths of his soul that he will have mercy on the Jaguars, led by Offensive Weapon™ Denard Robinson. Following this, the Jags will be relegated to the NCAA and renamed the North-East University of Florida-Jacksonville Tabby Cats. Miami will ascend to the NFL and win the 2015 Super Bowl over the defending champion Chicago Bears, 9,001-17. For this game however, Miami will merely be revving their world-dominating engines, and will not be able to cover the spread. That said, backup-quarterback-who-may-not-actually-be-on-the-roster Preston Dewey will finish the game with 8 interceptions and 23 forced fumbles. Florida Atlantic +31.5

SIU vs ILL …YOLO. Illinois -24

UGA vs CLEM Clemson is pretty good at FOOTBAW, but they’re not as hardcore as THE ‘DAWGS. GO ‘DAWGS. (This is my way of saying that this is a pretty even team between two great football teams, but I’m just going with my gut and picking the SEC squad). Georgia -2.5

LSU vs TCU Ummmm… Do people not realize that TCU is pretty bad? Like… not good. Like they’re just not going to be good this year. I apologize to all y’all TCU fans out there in the massive DCAIB readership, but I just don’t see it. Get a QB, then we’ll have a conversation. LSU, on the other hand, is going to have a very successful year. With a good team vs. a meh team with what is essentially a pick ’em spread, I am wont to choose the good team. Louisiana State University -3

NW vs CAL This line is absolutely criminal, to be honest. It’s a very similar situation to the last game, for me at least. As Bob mentioned above, Cal was not just a bad team last year; they were awful. I still don’t quite believe in Northwestern as a 10-win program again this year, but they’re certainly a good team and will beat Cal by two or three scores. This one is easy: Napswestern -3

Last week: 0-0

Season Record: 0-0