This week brings us the first full slate of football of the year, so now I'll be submitting 5 NCAA as well as 5 NFL games a week. Like Kevin, I went 2-2-1 in college games last week in an apparent celebration of mediocrity.
Saturday (Home teams in CAPS)
Michigan (+4) over NOTRE DAME
This line looks like it's giving Notre Dame about 2-2.5 points too much credit. I was able to watch a good chunk of each of these teams' games last week, and I came away with this: Michigan played like they knew they were better than UConn, while Notre Dame did not play like they knew they were better than Purdue. Even though the Irish won 23-12, they failed to put the game to bed several times in the second half and got a big break from an excessive celebration penalty after a Purdue TD made it 20-12 late. In my amateur opinion, these teams are a pretty even match in terms of talent, but I don't know if Notre Dame has the athletes on defense to contain Wolverines QB Denard Robinson. Games between inexperienced quarterbacks are won on discipline and raw playmaking ability. There's no question Robinson holds the edge on playmaking ability, so if he can take care of the football there's no reason Michigan can't win the game.
OKLAHOMA (-7) over Florida State
I may end up kicking myself here for going against my first instinct, but I cannot get over the fact that the public has been going to town on FSU all week (most books have had the line move about 2.5-3 points in favor of the Seminoles in the past 72 hours). Oklahoma looked like garbage last week and has many of the makings of a slight downturn in the Big 12, but on the same token that does not exactly mean Florida State is totally ready for prime time yet. I do like the overall outlook for the Seminoles program this year, but you may have to chalk this one up as a valuable learning experience for Christian Ponder and Jimbo Fisher, one that they can draw upon come November. If my one-eye-on-the-TV 11pm research has been accurate, Oklahoma has not lost in Norman since 2005.
ALABAMA (-12) over Penn State
True Freshman QB + defending national champs + Bryant-Denny Stadium + night game = Roll Tide. If I were Nick Saban I'd wear a Bear Bryant houndstooth hat to disorient Joe Paterno and make him think it's 1979 again. Alabama by at least two touchdowns here, even without Mark Ingram.
Oregon (-12) over TENNESSEE
These two teams won their openers by a combined score of 122-0, so this is the first test either team will face this year. For me this is an example of how you can't let history blind you too much. Normally you'd be all over Tennessee plus double digits in a night game with 100,000+ fired up fans in Knoxville, but the only thing normal about this Tennessee team is the uniforms. The Ducks should run circles around the depleted, post-Kiffin Volunteers. I won't discount the fact that Tennessee has a lot to prove, so a close game after 3 quarters wouldn't shock me.
Stanford (-5.5) over UCLA
I have to be honest and say I'm throwing a blind dart here by taking a Pac-10 late game, but Stanford is a very well coached team under Jim Harbaugh and has one of the better (and significantly experienced) sophomore QB's in the country in Andrew Luck. UCLA quarterback Kevin Prince is about as banged up as Ricky at the end of Not Another Teen Movie, so that's enough to make me lay the 5.5 on the road with Stanford.
NFL Week 1 picks coming out on Friday