NCAA College Football Week 1 Picks - Early Games

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NCAA College Football Bowl Week 1 Early Games

All times Eastern

Click here for late games.

Saturday, August 24

7:00 pm #8 Florida Gators (-7, 47) vs. Miami (FL) (at Camping World Stadium) - If 2018's results are any guide, the Gators hold a huge edge in the college football 2019 opener.

Florida started fast and finished well, compiling a 10-3 record overall. They opened the season 6-1, the sole loss to an improved Kentucky squad, and finished with four straight wins after losing back-to-back games to Georgia and Missouri. The gators closed out with a 41-14 trouncing of Florida State and a 41-15 romp over Michigan in the Peach Bowl.

The Hurricanes played poorly in the second half of the season, losing four straight conference games - to Virginia, BC, Duke and Georgia Tech - before evening their conference record at 4-4 with wins over Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh. Their 7-5 record earned them a spot in the Pinstripe Bowl, at which they promptly flatlined, losing to Wisconsin, 35-3.

Miami will start Jarren Williams, a red-shirt freshman, at quarterback, which may spell big trouble. The Gators had a solid defense in 2018. They are returning many starters and a had a top 10 recruiting class. The score may be low, as both teams sport strong defensive units. Miami was #15 nationally, allowing 18.2 points per game. The Gators gave up 20.4.

Coin Flip: Miami

Prediction: Gators 24 Hurricanes 10

10:30 pm Arizona Wildcats (-11, 74) at Hawaii Rainbow Warriors - Sneaky good might be an appropriate moniker for this season's Hawaii squad. They were 8-5 last year before losing, 31-14, to Louisiana Tech in the Hawaii Bowl, so they've got something upon which to build.

Cole McDonald, who threw for 3,875 yards and 36 TDs in the 2018, returns to guide the offense and the Rainbow Warriors have shown plenty when they have the ball. They scored 30.8 points per game, ranked 50th nationally. They were not, however, very proficient on defense, allowing 35.4 ppg, ranking them 111th overall.

2018 was not very pretty for the Wildcats, as they innings 5-7 and to of the bowl picture. Some of the losses were substantial, like the 45-18 defeat at Houston, a 42-10 loss at Utah, and a 69-28 beatdown at Washington State. They were a meager 1-4 on the road. Arizona scored 31.3 points per outing last year, good for 43rd overall. The Wildcats allowed 32.6, ranked 99th last season, suggesting that the offense will go up and down the field in this contest.

Coin Flip: Hawaii

Prediction: Rainbow Warriors 48 Wildcats 31

Thursday, August 29

7:00 pm UCLA at Cincinnati (-2 1/2, 59 1/2) - Smart money says the Bearcats can take care of business at home against the Bruins, who were miserable in 2018, checking in with a record of 3-9. Cincinnati had an incredible season, going 11-2, capped off by a 35-31 win over Virginia in the Military Bowl.

The Bearcats whipped the Bruins, 26-17, in a similar opening weekend meeting, at UCLA, last year.

Coin Flip: Cincinnati

Prediction: Bearcats 31 Bruins 20

8:00 pm Georgia Tech at #1 Clemson (-36, 59 1/2) - Not much to figure except how good are the national champs at defending their title. A perfect 14-0 last season, culminating in a national championship with a 30-3 rout of Notre Dame, the Tigers will be rarin' to go against a conference foe.

Last season, the Tigers played at Georgia Tech, winning, 49-21, which is not quite the margin expected here. Being at home, Clemson may shut out the Yellow Jackets in the first half and coast to an impressive victory. Tech was 7-6 last season, and 0-2 against ranked opponents.

Coin Flip: Georgia Tech

Prediction: Tigers 54 Yellow Jackets 10

10:15 pm Utah (-5, 48) at BYU - This rivalry reunion last occurred in November of 2018, with the Utes taking it to the Cougars, 35-27. BYU, an independent, might have thought better to stay in the Mountain West, because they've not done well. They were 6-6 last season, and won the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, 49-18 over Western Michigan, but were not impressive.

Utah was ranked most of last season, and finished with a thud, losing the PAC-12 championship to Washington, 10-3, then dropping a 31-20 decision to Northwestern in the Holiday Bowl. Considering the score of last year's fracas, the Cougars stand a chance at an upset.

Coin Flip: BYU

Prediction: Cougars 23 Utes 20

Friday, August 30

7:00 Wisconsin (-13 1/2, 57 1/2) at South Florida - The South Florida Bulls were last year's Jekyl and Hyde, winning their first seven before losing six straight, ending with a 38-20 defeat in the Gasparilla Bowl, to Marshall. Blake Barnett returns at QB for the Bulls, and if he has some help on the outside, the South Florida offense should flourish.

Wisconsin had an up and down season, going 7-5 before a 35-3 pasting of Miami in the Pinstripe Bowl. RB Jonathan Taylor returns, but the Badgers really need some defense. South Florida figures to give them a tussle here.

Coin Flip: South Florida

Prediction: Badgers 30 Bulls 24

9:30 Purdue (-10, 58 1/2) at Nevada - The Wolf Pack was 8-5 last season, but they were nothing special at home, going 4-2. Nevada likes to throw the ball around, but Purdue has a solid secondary and play in the rugged Big 10, so they should manage to run away with this one.

After an 0-3 start, Purdue went 6-4 last season, including a 49-20 blowout of the Ohio State University. They can play big.

Coin Flip: Nevada

Prediction: Boilermakers 38 Wolf Pack 20

10:30 Oklahoma State (-15 1/2, 73 1/2) at Oregon State - This is not a fair match-up. Oregon State was the dregs of the PAC-12 last year, checking in with a 2-10 record and one of the worst defenses in the nation. How they figure to keep the Cowboys from running up the score is a realistic question.

OK St. was nothing special, going 7-6, including a win over Missouri in the Liberty Bowl (38-33), but they score loads of points and the Beavers probably won't be able to keep pace.

Coin Flip: Oregon State

Prediction: Cowboys 56 Beavers 31

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