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2012 College Football Week 1 Predictions: Louisville, Kentucky, Cal, Michigan State and More

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My favorite time of year is finally here.. What makes it especially sweet this year is Pezgordo and I are getting to make our own college football picks on our own site without getting lost in the clutter of ten thousand other people doing the same. And being able to make our own rules as we go. Like I did in the RX Forum, I’m looking forward to getting imput and comments from you guys on these games.

As I’ve been doing for almost the last 10 years, I’ll be doing the star system to rate the strength of my plays. Two stars ** is my average play, and the one you will see me make the most. A three star play *** simply means I feel it is a stronger play. And a rare four star **** (Best Bet) is my strongest play.

Out of the 129 plays I made last season, only 21 of them were 3 star plays, and only 3 of them were 4 star plays. The rest just being 2 stars. This season I’m also going to approach my betting a little different than I have in the past. Although the strength and opinion about each pick will differ from game to game, my bets will all be the same 1 unit for each game.

I’ll be starting my thread on Tuesday of each week. And I’ll be putting in my plays as the week goes. I’m going to follow what I did last season with the number of games I play each week by trying to keep my number of plays at around 7 each week. If I can’t find 7 plays in one week, I won’t force a play just to get to that number. I was much more selective last season, and it paid off with a nice profit. I hope I can do the same this year. Best of luck guys. Let’s crack some nutts and make ‘em apologize!

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Kentucky (+13.5) over Louisville **

First, I’ll say I wasn’t that fond of this game when I first looked at it. Mainly because I’m not a fan of UK head coach Joker Phillips going up against Charlie Strong. But, I also look at UK this way, they couldn’t get any worse on offense than they were last year, yet they still pulled out 5 wins. Plus they’ve unearthed some playmakers at WR that should make UK more of a threat this year. Especially against the non-elite teams of the SEC and the teams on their non-conference schedule.

I also think UK’s win on the road over Tennessee in the last game of the season had to revitalize this program at least a little going into this season. When I look up and down their rosters, I basically see two teams with about an equal amount of talent. And when I look at Louisville, I’m seeing a team who is getting hyped by the media to win the Big East (is that saying much?) coming off a 7-6 season in which they overachieved while also losing two games at home to both FIU and Marshall. If these two teams schedules were reversed, I doubt seriosly if Louisville would have had any better of a record than UK. Louisville also beat only two teams last year by this spread, Syracuse and Murray State. Beating a home state rival in the first game of the season by a couple touchdowns is maybe asking too much. I prefer to ride with the SEC team. You don’t get DD very often going against this conference. Especially from the Big Easy. I’ll roll the dice with the Cats.

California (-10.5) over Nevada **

Cal is a team I very nearly put on my spread beating teams list. I think they could be both underestimated this season by the linesmakers and a little better, especially on defense than people think. Nevada on the other hand might be a little overhyped this season. And a second place finish to Boise in the MWC might be ambitious thinking. Especially since Nevada will be breaking in new coordinators on offense, defense and special teams. The revenge factor will be alive and well for this game.

Cal will certainly remember the embarassing beating Nevada gave them on national TV a couple years ago. Cal will also be playing for the first time in a year in their new refurbished digs in Berkeley. So even though this is a laid back tree hugger fanbase we’re talking about, I believe the excitement factor should be much higher than normal for this game. And da Bears will actually feel like they have a homefield advantage. Granted, Nevada’s Pistol offense gave Cal all kinds of fits back in 2010. But part of the problem there was Cal being on the road with their first Pac-12 game on board the next week. This time instead of a week they’ve had the summer to prepare for the Pistol, with no significant game on board the next week. Expect a fired up Cal to take it to Nevada, who historically is not known for playing good defense on the road in these early tilts against BCS teams. I can see more of the same happening here.

Michigan State (-6.5) over Boise State **   

I’m getting the line now because I’ve seen a few 7′s pop up. Bookmaker still has it at 6.5. Which is important in a game like this where I don’t anticipate a lot of scoring from either side. The bottom line for me with this game is the difference between perception and reality. The perception is Boise will be, well Boise this season. And I don’t believe that to be true in any sense of the word. For one thing, they lost 7 first team all conference picks, including Kellen Moore, who was the winningest QB in NCAA history. And have only 7 starters back from last year. In fact, to give you an idea of the job Peterson will have to do, he had 20 starters back in 2010, 14 starters back in 2011, and now just 7 back. Boise isn’t the experienced team going on the road that we’ve seen the last 2 years against Virginia Tech and Georgia. This is a true rebuilding year for Boise. 

If nothing else, I ask you guys to think about one thing in this game. How many teams have lost very talented 4 year starters at QB and have come back a strong offensive team the next season? Ask Texas how well it worked out for them when 4 year starter McCoy graduated. Or with Houston and Case Keenum, who broke all kinds of NCAA passing records. Houston went 10-4 in 2009, then Keenum got hurt for all of 2010 and they went 5-7. Then he came back last year and they went 13-1. The great QB in modern day football is a valuable commodity. That’s what Kellen Moore was to Boise. Boise will have just two starters back on defense. Even though I don’t think their defense will fall as far as people think, the problem in a game like this against a BCS team will be depth. Boise lost all 4 starters up front. While MSU  has 4 starters back on the OL. The trenches is where I think the game will ultimately be won. I think it’s going to be one of those typical Big 10 wear-down jobs after Boise puts up a good fight. And Sparty will end up on top.

Florida International (+3.5) over Duke **

Normally I don’t look for many situational angles in the first week of the season, nor do I put a lot of weight on injuries unless they are key injuries to the QB or other important skill players. But with this game if you combine both of these factors I’m thinking it could be a problem for Duke. First we have the revenge angle. Normally I don’t take this angle too seriously. But the way FIU lost their game to Duke last year after outplaying them all over the field but the scoreboard, it has to be a bit of a thorn in the side. Especially given that almost everybody is back off that team. The other factor here are the injuries to Duke. Like I said, normally I don’t take it too seriously unless it is an important skill player.. But the problem here are the numerous injuries that we have with Duke.

If you get out your Phil Steele or other preseason mag you’ll find 17 starters back for Duke. If you count the injuries to their starters since that mag came out, we’re talking about the Dukies being down to just 12 returning starters. Barely half of their team. I think this is going to be a problem for Duke in these early games. Especially given the fact that these players are out for the year.  Although they are a BCS team, I find it hard to believe that a school like Duke has much in the way of quality depth below these starters. But the thing that put it over the top with me are the numbers. FIU simply had better offensive and defensive numbers than Duke last year. Now I know being in the conference like the Sunbelt their numbers are usually going to be better because of the weaker competetion. But in FIU’s case, they are much better. I won’t bore you with the stats.

I’ll just say FIU is a much more balanced team on offense, And a big selling point with me is they are much better in rush defense than Duke. And with this, just keep in mind Duke returns just half their team off of their poor defensive numbers. FIU returns their entire defense intact from their bowl game. Medlock takes over the QB duties for FIU, but keep in mind that Cristobal saw a lot of upside with this kid last year, and started him in two games in place of first string QB Carroll, but probably would have started him in the last 4 games if he hadn’t gotten hurt. I don’t see  as much of a  dropoff with FIU’s offense as I do Duke’s defense with their injuries. This was the difference for me. I’ll happily take the points.

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