After months and months and months and months of waiting like this bear, football season finally kicks off today. The sweet smell of fresh-cut artificial turf, the scrumptious taste of Nick Saban over-signing recruits, and the silent sound of stars (and the NCAA) getting paid fill the air. Wait, preseason NFL has been going on for weeks, you say? I repeat, football season finally kicks off today.
Tonight at 5 PM CT (God’s time zone, IMO), 2015’s first FBS game, first traditional rivalry game, and first game stupidly played at an NFL stadium mark the official beginning of the 2015 campaign. Following the matchup between North Carolina and South Carolina, a full weekend slate of collegiate matchups stretches to Monday, when the highly anticipated Ohio State-Virginia Tech rematch punctuates the opening week.
With football back, so is DCIAB’s annual series where Harry, Matt, and I make horrible jokes and say other stupid things, and for some reason you guys choose to read them. Last year, our results looked like the bottom half of the NBA Eastern Conference, with Matt taking home the title belt with a 40-45 record, three games ahead of Harry and four ahead of defending champion Bob. Even though all three of us finished below .500, it is absolutely vital that you remember that the three of us are still smarter and know more about sports than you. Don’t forget that. If you forget, then you are stupid, and what you must remember is that you are stupid. I call this the DCIAPC Paradox. [ED Harry: I can tell you’ve spent all summer reading PFTCommenter. Also, this is funny.]
Of course, a huge part of our series is reader involvement. We had fantastic participation from a number of you guys last year and are excited to have you back, as well as some new friends, who are always welcome. Major congratulations to Creed Tucker’s 42-38 record, beating out all other readers (and us) in both total wins and win percentage.
We cannot wait to get started with a fresh slate of picks this year. As a reminder, each week, the three of us give picks and quick analysis of our three respective schools (Northwestern, Miami, and Illinois, provided they are playing FBS opponents) as well as our biggest national matchups, totaling five picks each week. Additionally, anyone whose name doesn’t start with the letter “X” can make his or her picks in the comments section, of course along with some stupid or smart commentary. We will keep track of everyone’s picks each week and continually update our leaderboard. Also, we pick against the spread because we are not [redacted profanity because my editor is a fucking pussy].
TO THE MATCHUPS (all times God’s time zone and lines from Bovada, God’s sports gambling site):
Kent State at Illinois (-14.5), Friday, 8 PM, BTN
Stuff happened at Illinois last week. Let’s see if Illinois can #overcomeadversity and get past that stuff against a team from the MAC, the Big Ten’s second division.
Bob: It seems like the obvious pick is not-Illinois no matter what here, but Kent State finished 2-10 with a -28.3% F/+ in the MAC last season, putting them greater than 20 points below last year’s Illinois outfit. The question, then, is whether KSU is six points better relative to Illinois than they were last season. Regardless of the result, the narrative here will be annoying: If Illinois plays well, the players were playing determined/for revenge/for Bill Cubit/something else stupid; if it underperforms, the players’ heads couldn’t possibly in it. I was really really really close to having faith in the Illini here, but then I recalled that they did not beat anyone by 14.5 points all season, so now isn’t the time to expect them to do so. Kent State +14.5
Harry: I know nothing about Illinois and I know less about Kent State. Somehow, that is possible. Kent State +14.5
#21 Stanford (-12) at Northwestern, Saturday, 11 AM, ESPN
After Northwestern had a weak showing to kick off last year in Evanston against Stanford’s rival, Cal, freshman quarterback Clayton Thorson in his first start looks to be better than the Denver Broncos’ third-string quarterback.
Bob: I go to Northwestern. I follow the team closely. I have no idea what to expect from it this Saturday. Basically, the team has far more upperclassmen than people realize and starts a more talented QB/RB combination than most teams in the country, and I think has a good chance of covering the spread and performing pretty well. That said, Stanford was better last year than people gave it credit for. Its five losses last year were all to top-25 teams, with four of them coming on the road. The Cardinal closed out the year with an impressive 31-10 victory over #8 UCLA in Pasadena followed by a 24-point bowl victory over Maryland. I like their chances in week one against a freshman QB and a team that has struggled in opening weeks. Stanford -12
Matt: I’m sorta down on Northwestern this season. I could come to regret it, and I think the future of the program is going to be just fine for Pat Fitzgerald, but it’s hard for me not to think this year is a rebuilding one. I think Purdue and Northwestern will fight it out for the 6th spot in the Big Ten, even with the somewhat tumultuous nature of the Illini program right now. I try not to pin anything on freshman quarterbacks, even talented ones, and I’m not sure Northwestern is going to be able to score this season. Prove me wrong, Wildcats! Stanford -12
Harry: Because things have always gone so well in the history of DCIAPC when we all pick the same team, I’ll ride the positive momentum from that and take the Cardinal. (Note: Things rarely go well when we all pick the same team and momentum does not exist in sports.) Stanford -12
Louisville at #6 Auburn (-11), Saturday, 2:30 PM, CBS
Someone decided that both these teams are good this year, so another great year of college football on CBS opens with this high-potential, maybe-neither-of-these-teams-is-actually-that-good matchup in Atlanta.
Bob: Despite going 8-5 last season, Auburn finished 6th in F/+ ratings, 0.2% behind an outstanding TCU team. Louisville is also good, I guess, but it’s going against a team that can put up a ton of points, vastly outperformed its record last year, and returns many key players. Auburn -11
Matt: This game is one of the better match-ups of the weekend, but similar to TCU vs. Minnesota, I just can’t seem to get excited for it. Maybe it’s my distaste for Auburn or maybe it’s my apathy towards Louisville. I suppose I’ll take Auburn. Auburn -11
Harry: While Auburn will certainly enjoy a fan advantage because the game is in SEC territory (pipe down, Georgia Tech, no one cares), this is too many points to give up against a very quality Cardinals defense. Auburn wins, but by no more than 10 points. Louisville +11
#20 Wisconsin at #3 Alabama (-11), Saturday, 7 PM, ABC
It’s the annual painful opening week Big Ten loss to an SEC juggernaut. Let’s hope Tanner McEvoy stays away from this one.
Bob: I like Wisconsin this year despite the fact that Joel Stave is its quarterback. Corey Clement is next in line within the Badgers’ dynasty of stud halfbacks, and the defense will probably be pretty good again. That said, Alabama held the top S&P+ rating for rushing defense, so I like the Tide to shut down the Badger offense and put up some points despite not announcing a starting quarterback yet. Alabama -11
Matt: Alabama is going to k i l l W i s c o n s i n. Alabama -11
Harry: If you looked up the definition of “average” in the dictionary, you would find a picture of Wisconsin football coach Paul Chryst. Alabama -11
#1 Ohio State (-11) at Virginia Tech, Monday, 7 PM, ESPN
The storylines here are obvious. Ohio State won the championship. Virginia Tech was the only team to beat Ohio State last year, and it was a particularly embarrassing loss for JT Barrett and the Buckeyes. Ohio State returns every good player to ever play there. Ohio State will likely be fielding three really good quarterbacks, one of them at H-back.
Bob: Both Barrett and Cardale Jones will take a healthy share of snaps, with Heisman favorite Ezekiel Elliott trailing behind them. Joey Bosa leads a defense that returns everyone and his brother. The only justification for this game being competitive is that Virginia Tech won last year in Columbus, which is a fair claim before we remember just how much better the current Buckeyes team has played. A year ago, Barrett did not know how to play QB, Braxton Miller could not walk, and Jones was completely off the radar, save for his dumb tweets. Urban Meyer and the squad are going to march in and get the job done without much of a worry. This game will not be close. Ohio State -11
Matt: Ohio State is going to k i l l V i r g i n i a T e c h. Ohio State -11
Harry: Virginia Tech is one of this year’s classic TURN UP THE HYPE MACHINE EVEN THOUGH NO ONE IS QUITE SURE WHY teams that college football churns out every offseason. Most of the excitement gushes towards the defensive side of the ball, and while the Hokies should be staunch on defense, they were last year too and that didn’t really go anywhere. Scott Loeffler is somehow still the offensive coordinator of this team, so that huge gorilla remains in the room. You could argue the MAGIC OF BLACKSBURG AT NIGHT keeps VT in this one, but the last time they had a nationally televised night game at home, they lost 30-6 to a 6-7 Miami team in a game that was even worse than the score indicated. This was long and completely unnecessary to this pick, but Virginia Tech isn’t particularly good and I sincerely hope that anyone tabbing them as a “sleeper team” or (someone please hold me I feel nauseated even typing this) ACC Championship contender does not reproduce and continue to populate this planet with their intellect. Ohio State -11