We are back into the swing of things, and it feels so good.
Every week on Friday I will give you a brief rundown of how your Saturday should look from a television-watching, or game-attending perspective, to try and help you navigate your way through each glorious Saturday with college football. In years past, I have taken the easy road by selecting only winners, but our editor has taken me off the JV team. We are moving up with the big boys, into a league with such star players as Michael Jordan... Charles Barkley... and our very own, John Daly? This year we have gambling lines!
I'm going to keep a tally at the end of each piece so you can track my rookie year performance to prove to myself why I should never put real money on 18-year-olds. So follow along, give me your picks, tell me why I'm wrong, and how much more money you would have made this season than me.
Samford at Georgia State 7:30 p.m., ESPN3- If your into "scouting" Arkansas opponents, Samford -- the week two opponent -- will open its season in the Georgia Dome versus Georgia State. The game is on ESPN3, giving you a chance to see former Heisman winner and the Bulldogs coach Pat Sullivan's squad.
Rice at No. 7 Texas A&M 1:00 p.m., ESPN, TAMU(-27)- This circus features Johnny Football quest to defend his Heisman as he will presumably start the second half. And good for him. The game and the fans alike will to benefit from him playing, and he appears to be one of the only obstacles in the way of the Crimson machine from Tuscaloosa. Early season games can produce some absurdly high spreads you don't see in conference play. With Manziel on the Heisman hunt and losing a half for padding stats, the Aggies cover.
Mississippi State vs. Oklahoma State 3:30 p.m., ABC, OK State (-11)- Here's your chance to shine Dan Mullen. Both teams are bucking the norm by taking on real opponents to start the season and upping the ante by playing it at a neutral site game. The Cowboys are one of those teams that can't not score points when they are up big, so I expect them to cover the spread here.
Louisiana-Lafeyette at Arkansas 4 p.m. Fox Sports South, Ark (-10.5)- The last thing I want to see leading the The Advertiser out of Lafeyette, Louisiana is "Ragin' In La'Fayetteville." If real work doesn't work out for me, headline writing is in the future. Just ask Brent Holloway. I worry about mobile quarterback Terrance Broadway, but not enough to think our Hogs take the 'W.' As for the spread, I'm not as sure, but I'll begrudgingly, yet optimistically take Arkansas by 11 but just barely. Razorbacks win 31.6-21.
Nicholls State at Oregon 4 p.m., Fox Sports 1, Ore (-59)- Don't watch this game with the other, more entertaining games that will be on, but I just wanted to demonstrate to you some of the ridiculous lines the first few weeks can give us. Here's my under pick.
No. 1 Alabama vs. Virginia Tech 5:30 p.m., ESPN, Ala (-20.5)- Alabama: traditionally great against the spread, traditionally great in prime-time openers, been favored in every game since Mike Shula left. Not really, but they are a safe bet, even at 20.5. I am buying in to the hype until a Nick Saban team proves me wrong.
No. 5 Georgia at No.8 Clemson 8 p.m. ABC, UGA (1.5)- Both teams have had their failures in big spots, but showed promise their big spots a season ago. Experienced players are all over the offensive side of the ball for both squads and, if the two quarterbacks can settle in, the Tigers and Dawgs will put up some points up on the board. This one is simple to me (although I know taking road teams are taboo). SEC! SEC! SEC! They win and cover, in typical SEC vs. out-of-conference matchups.
No. 12 LSU vs. No. 20 TCU 9 p.m., ESPN, LSU (-4)- This game could be the most entertaining of the night session. Gary Patterson and Les Miles had their own passive "Bielema-Malzahn" argument from the comfort of their own press conference rooms. Now the two will meet in what should be a low scoring game. Like defense? Your welcome. Again, my SEC allegiances cause me to take LSU, in a game that LSU wins 11-6.
No. 20 Boise State at Washington 10 p.m., Fox Sports 1, UW (-3.5)- An underrated matchup that could have huge BCS implications. So Louisville is being compared to the Boise State of old, with a chance to run the table against a weak schedule, but wait. Boise can get an upset here and do the same thing, thus setting up the BCS Championship to (literally)end all BSC Championship game: American Conference vs. Mountain West. Taking the points and Boise.
A native of Arkansas now calling the Hogs from yonder in Georgia, you can follow Graham on Twitter @grahamreaves or read his blog, On My Mind In Georgia.