Fearless Rick's 2016 College Football Picks - Week 1 early games

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NCAA Week 1 Late Games


WEEK 1 NCAA Football

All times Eastern

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Thursday, September 1

7:30 pm Appalachian State at Tennessee (-20, 58) - Entering their third season as a Division 1 school (Sun Belt), the Mountaineers should not be taken lightly after they posted an 11-2 mark in 2015.

Tennessee is coming off its best season in some years, going 5-3 in conference and 9-4 overall. They finished last season with a 45-6 demolition of Northwestern in the Outback Bowl on January 1 and should continue to impress. While the Mountaineers are a solid second-tier college team, the Vols may be a Top 10 type this season.

Coin Flip: Appalachian State

Prediction: Volunteers 38 Mountaineers 14

8:00 pm South Carolina at Vanderbilt (-3 1/2, 42 1/2) - Following the hasty departure of head coach Steve Spurrier last season, the Gamecocks weren't exactly up to their fighting reputation, losing seven of their last eight, the lone win over the Commodores, 19-10. Revenge for Vandy will be an opening-week SEC win and a head start in the SEC East. Candy was 2-6 in conference play in 2015, 4-8 overall.

Coin Flip: Vanderbilt

Prediction: Commodores 26 Gamecocks 13

8:00 pm Rice at Western Kentucky (-16 1/2, 62 1/2) - Champions of Conference USA, the Hilltoppers had a bang-up season in 2015, culminating in a 45-35 victory over USF in the Miami Beach Bowl and a 12-2 mark. They were unbeaten in conference play, with losses only at LSU and Indiana. Western Ky is looking for respect and a shot at a bigger bowl presence this season. Rice, also in Conference USA, should prove no problem as the Hilltoppers smashed them last season, 49-10. Expect a similar result here.

Coin Flip: Rice

Prediction: Hilltoppers 54 Owls 13

Friday, September 2

8:00 pm Colorado State at Colorado (-8, 56) - Annual ritual of in-state but out-of-conference rivals moves back to week one as both teams look to improve over last season's disappointments. The Buffs were 4-9 (1-8 in the PAC-12), while the Rams started off last year 3-5, but finished with a 4-0 flourish before losing to Nevada in the Arizona Bowl, 28-23.

The two have split this series the last four seasons, Colorado winning in OT last year. It's the Rams' turn.

Coin Flip: Colorado State

Prediction: Rams 33 Buffaloes 30

9:00 pm Kansas State at Stanford (-16, 47 1/2) - The Wildcats slumped to a 6-7 record last season and may be a little improved, but their maturation will take time.

Stanford is projected as a national champion contender with Heismann candidate Christian McCaffrey in the backfield one more year. This should be an entertaining game, if only to see how many yards McCaffrey runs up on K-State.

Coin Flip: Kansas State

Prediction: Cardinal 45 Wildcats 17

Saturday, September 3

12:00 pm Oklahoma (-10, 68) at Houston- Are the Sooners contenders or pretenders? Following an 11-2 season ending with a 37-17 mauling by Clemson in the national semifinal, there are still questions about Oklahoma's ability to go all the way.

Houston poses an interesting challenge, ranked #15 preseason, after they won the American Athletic conference and then ripped Florida State, 38-24 in the Peach Bowl for a stellar 13-1 season. Being at home, the Cougars will not be intimidated by Oklahoma nor will they respect the "big conference" moniker that the Sooners maintain. Could be a huge upset.

Coin Flip: Oklahoma

Prediction: Cougars 31 Sooners 29

12:00 pm Missouri at West Virginia (-9 1/2, 50) - The Mountaineers were just 4-5 in the Big 12 last season, 7-5 overall, and won the Cactus Bowl by a nose, 43-42 over Arizona State.

The Tigers had a hobble 1-7 mark in the SEC and were just 5-7 overall, didn't make it to a bowl game, and had almost no offense last year, scoring just 36 points in their final six losses. It's no wonder the home team is heavily favored here, as even the suspect Mountaineer defense should be able to tame these Tigers.

Coin Flip: Missouri

Prediction: Mountaineers 34 Tigers 22

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