Fearless Rick's 2017 College Football Picks - Week 1 early games

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NCAA Week 1 Late Games

NCAA Week 1 Early Late Games


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WEEK 1 NCAA Football Picks

All times Eastern

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Thursday, August 31

7:30 pm Tulsa at Oklahoma State (-17 1/2, 69) - Tulsa returns seven starters on offense and three on defense, one of them running back D'Angelo Brewer, who rushed for 1425 yards in 2016, behind a solid offensive line which should be able to move the ball against any Big 12 defense.

The Golden Hurricane was seventh in scoring nationally last season at 42.5 points per game and their 28.7 first downs per outing were second overall. They were 10-3 in 2016 after a 6-7 mark in coach Philip Montgomery's first season.

The Cowboys had their usual solid season, checking in at 10-3, but they return only five defensive starters, which was their weak spot in 2016, as the defense gave up an average of 26.5 points and 446.3 yards per game, which was tied for 92nd. If Tulsa can run the ball they could spring a huge upset. In any case, those 17 1/2 points are mighty tempting. The Cowboys won the last meeting, in 2011, at Tulsa, 59-33, a meaningless score at this juncture.

Coin Flip: Oklahoma State

Prediction: Cowboys 42 Tulsa 35

8:00 pm Ohio State (-21, 57 1/2) at Indiana - T.J. Barrett will once again lead the Buckeyes offense at quarterback, and they return 8 offensive and seven defensive starters from last year's 11-2 team, finishing on a low note with a 31-0 loss to Clemson in the National Championship playoff.

The Hoosiers were, as usual, a punching bag for the better teams in the Big Ten, but they did manage to win four games, including an upset, 24-21, win over Michigan State. Last season's visit to Columbus produced a 38-17 loss to the Buckeyes, so, flipping the venue should work in their favor, but going against an Urban Meyer team poised for another Big Ten championship and a run at the national title is folly, especially when the Hoosiers aren't elected to have much of a running game.

Coin Flip: Indiana

Prediction: Buckeyes 42 Hoosiers 13

Friday, September 1

8:00 pm Washington (-27 1/2, 52) at Rutgers - The Huskies were surprisingly good in 2016, winning the PAC-12 title with a 41-10 smothering of Colorado in the conference championship game. The Huskies may be a sleeper to get into the national championship mix this season, but the conference is loaded, though Washington may be 9-0 before they meet Stanford on November 10.

That said, Washington has to guard against overconfidence in their opener which shouldn't be an issue for a Chris Petersen coached team. He's 27-14 in three seasons and the two losses last year were to USC (26-13) and Alabama (24-7) in the national championship semifinal.

It's not hard to project a blowout win for Washington here, as the Scarlet Knights were feebly 2-10 last season. Losses of 58-0 and 78-0 to Ohio State and Michigan, respectively, back-to-back last year, defined their season.

Coin Flip: Rutgers

Prediction: Huskies 56 Scarlet Knights 7

8:00 pm Navy (-10, 68 1/2) at Florida Atlantic - The Middies slipped down the stretch last season, losing their final three games after going 9-2 and challenging for the American Athletic championship, which hey lost to Temple, 34-10.

After that letdown, they fell to Army, 21-17, and were upended in the Armed Forced Bowl by Louisiana Tech, 48-45. However, they should come out running hard against Florida Atlantic, despite being in enemy territory, because the Owls were just 3-9 last season and gave up boatloads of points. While they return 18 of 22 starters, that may not be relevant, since the players on the field in 2016 were not very good.

Defensively, Florida Atlantic was at or near the bottom in nearly every category, including points allowed (39.8, 123rd), yards per game (513.8, 124th), rush yards per game (218.3, 126th). This looks like an impossible challenge against Navy and their deadly option offense.

Coin Flip: Florida Atlantic

Prediction: Midshipmen 38 Owls 17

8:00 pm Colorado State at Colorado (-5, 56) - With a win already in their back pocket (58-27 over Oregon State last Saturday), the Rams may be near the top of the class in the Mountain West this year, making this in-state showdown a must-see this weekend.

Colorado State returned nine defensive starters and it showed last week against the Beavers, one of the more explosive offenses in the PAC-12. Beating the Buffaloes, who played for the conference championship a year ago, would put the Rams on the map, with two wins over PAC-1 schools before classes have even begun.

That may be a tough task, as the Buffs went 8-1 in conference, but lost the championship to Washington, 41-10. Their 38-8 defeat in the Alamao Bowl to Oklahoma State exposed their offensive vulnerability. Look for the Rams to clamp down on defense and avenge last season's 44-7 defeat to Colorado.

Coin Flip: Colorado State

Prediction: Rams 31 Buffaloes 24

9:00 pm Utah State at Wisconsin (-27 1/2, 52) - As usual, the Badgers are a hungry bunch and get to open the season at home against something of a creampuff in Utah State, 3-9 last season.

11-3 last season, Wisconsin's only losses were to Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State, the 38-31 defeat by the Nittany Lions coming in the conference championship game. They went on to win, somewhat unconvincingly (probably because they wanted to be in the Rose Bowl), 24-16 over Western Michigan in the Cotton Bowl.

As bad as the Aggies were, they may be worse this year, returning only nine starters total, including their QB and four other offensive starters and just five defenders. Chalk this one down as one of the more lopsided games of the weekend.

Coin Flip: Wisconsin

Prediction: Badgers 59 Aggies 10

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