I know what you’re thinking.
Christian, you went 50-30-2 picking against the spread last year. Shouldn’t you be on a beach somewhere drinking booze out of a coconut?
Yes, I made some good picks last year. OK, great picks. Many people are saying they were outstanding picks, even. But those picks were for entertainment purposes only. So the only payoff for being really good at picking winners is the satisfaction of being right, in addition to a few back-pats from my closest, degenerate friends, and I have a lot of those.
That said, we’re back at it again this season, hoping to replicate last year’s success and maybe have a little fun while doing it. As always, all point spreads come courtesy of VegasInsider.com, and all lines are for entertainment purposes only, unless you can find some other purpose for them. I’m all ears.
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(Also, as always, our pick for the Washington game will come in a separate post the day before the game.)
(Also, I already misfired on my against-the-spread pick in the Cal-Hawaii game. So much for momentum.)
2015 final record: 68-23 straight-up, 50-30-2 against the spread.
2016 record: 1-0 straight-up, 0-1 against the spread.
Southern Utah at Utah, 5 p.m., Pac-12 Networks (Utah by 30) -- What to make of Southern Utah? Let’s see. They won the Big Sky last season. They return 15 starters. But they lost some important players, have a new quarterback and are picked to finish in the middle of the pack in the Big Sky this year, and this opener in Salt Lake City should be all Utes. Troy Williams, by the way, is making his Utah debut at quarterback. The pick: Utah 49, Southern Utah 17.
Oregon State at Minnesota, 6 p.m., Big Ten Network (Minnesota by 9) -- The Gophers were picked to finish fifth out of seven teams in the Big Ten West division. The Beavers were picked to finish sixth out of six teams in the Pac-12 North division. What do those two facts have to do with each other? Nothing, really, but I still don’t think OSU will win this game. The pick: Minnesota 31, Oregon State 20.
Colorado State vs. Colorado, 5 p.m., ESPN (Colorado by 7.5) -- There is at least some reason for optimism in Boulder this season, as the Buffaloes return most of their starting lineup from a year ago and could reasonably compete for bowl eligiblity. Beating their rival in this season-opener in Denver would be a good start. Tacoma native Sefo Liufau throws four touchdown passes and leads CU to a two-score victory. The pick: Colorado 35, Colorado State 21.
Kansas State at Stanford, 6 p.m., FOX Sports 1 (Stanford by 16) -- The Cardinal don’t have to fly across the country and wake up and play early and all that, like it did last season in that embarrassing loss at Northwestern. Don’t expect such an upset in this season opener. The pick: Stanford 38, Kansas State 17.
UCLA at Texas A&M, 12:30 p.m., CBS (Texas A&M by 3) -- I picked the Bruins to win the Pac-12 South. But I don’t feel great about their chances in this one. This is UCLA’s fifth season-opening road game in the last seven years. The Bruins went 2-2 in the first four of those. I sense a third loss coming here, though Josh Rosen can prove a lot about himself if he can lead UCLA to victory. The pick: Texas A&M 31, UCLA 27.
UC Davis at Oregon, 2 p.m., Pac-12 Networks (no line) -- No line? Who cares, then. The pick: Oregon 105, UC Davis 2.
USC at Alabama, 5 p.m., ABC (Alabama by 11) -- Max Browne’s first career start comes in a neutral site game against the No. 1-ranked team in the country. It will be interesting to see how the Trojans match up with ‘Bama from a talent perspective -- my guess is they’ve got the guys to hang around -- but beating the Tide with a rookie starter at QB, even in Arlington, Texas, is probably asking a bit much. But! Let’s call it a USC cover. The pick: Alabama 28, USC 20.
Eastern Washington at Washington State, 5 p.m., Pac-12 Networks (no line) -- It seems silly for Pacific Northwest teams to continue scheduling EWU. Only bad things can happen when the Eagles come to your town. But this EWU team doesn’t appear quite as strong as some in recent years, and I doubt the Cougars will allow themselves to overlook another Big Sky opponent after the Portland State fiasco last season. The pick: Washington State 51, Eastern Washington 20.
BYU at Arizona, 7:30 p.m., FOX Sports 1 (BYU by 1) -- This game is in Glendale, not Tucson, and reports indicate that BYU fans are buying a decent amount of tickets. Taysom Hill is back at quarterback for the Cougars, and here’s a guess his 2016 debut is a happy one. The pick: BYU 27, Arizona 24.
Northern Arizona at Arizona State, 7:45 p.m., Pac-12 Networks (no line) -- The visiting Lumberjacks were picked by both the Big Sky coaches and media to win that league this year. But I bet the Sun Devils could win the Big Sky, too. The pick: Arizona State 42, Northern Arizona 21.