For tonight's games, I agree with Kyle (and Chris Fowler) that Mississippi State could beat South Carolina. But I think Simeon Rice will have a couple of big plays, and I think the Bulldogs are still a year away. So, something in the neighborhood of a 24-14 Gamecocks victory.
The other one we picked is Northwestern at Miami (Ohio). The story line here is going to be the sudden offseason death of Randy Walker, the Northwestern coach who used to be at Miami. I think the emotional surge from the Wildcats will give them a lead early, and they'll have enough talent to hang on, so I'll say 28-24 Northwestern.
I'll have picks for Saturday's games tomorrow sometime.
ESPN's Bruce Feldman posted the other day some bookmaker's odds for the Heisman. ("Insider" subscription req'd.) The front-runners were: Brady Quinn at 3-1, Adrian Peterson at 4-1, and Troy Smith at 9-1. If you gave me $100 to bet at these odds, I think I would divide my pot in this wise:
$40 on Peterson;
$30 on Quinn;
$20 on Kenny Irons at 27-1;
$10 on Smith.
The Heisman dark horse will be Cal's Marshawn Lynch, but there's no reason to think Brady Quinn won't be the front-runner all year long. I suppose the Heisman voters will let Beano Cook die happy for predicting that one correctly.
One thing I have been meaning to post about, but never found the time, is my suspicion that a big hidden factor this season will be the new 12-game regular season schedules. To accomodate a twelfth game, most teams opted to play twelve games in a row without a bye week. I think it will be interesting to see how the kids hold up to that slog. Some teams are going to be exhausted come late-season rivalry week. The teams who were able to build an off week into the sked may be very lucky. I haven't looked at all the schedules, but one thing that did catch my eye was that Oklahoma has a bye week before the Red River Shootout, but Texas plays a game. Now, granted, that game is against Sam Houston State. But a game is a game, and someone could be injured for Texas, while the Sooners will have a week to rest up, to throw a new wrinkle into their game plan, or just watch a little more film. I think the missing bye weeks are going to be worth keeping an eye on this season.
I, too, will be going to a game this opening weekend: Duke's home opener against Richmond. I expect that game will be closer than Kyle's. The Devils had to suspend their quarterback for the year over a plagairism charge, so who knows what kind of offense they'll be able to run. We're all expecting big things from defensive tackle Vince Oghobaase, though. But Richmond is a quality opponent, and the Spiders could bite the Blue Devils. I'll try to remember to take some pictures from Wallace Wade Stadium, the prettiest place in the country to watch bad football.