HN Staff’s Six-Pack of College Football Games – Week 1
IOWA CITY, Iowa – The Hawkeye Nation staff returns for another season of picking the outcome of six college football games against the Las Vegas line. These are for entertainment purposes only:
Wyoming (+11.5) at Iowa
Rob Howe: Josh Allen will get his and the Cowboys will cover, but they’ll also be riding out of town with an 0-1 record. The Hawkeyes prevail, 27-17.
Jon Miller: I think the Hawkeyes open the season with a win, and I also believe they will cover this line. It was upwards of +13 in the heart of the summer but has been bet down since then. This is a prediction based on some faith that Iowa’s defense will be able to put together a good pass rush, that the Iowa offense will run the ball, a lot, and keep Wyoming’s QB Josh Allen off the field, and that Wyoming’s loss of so many playmakers from one year ago won’t be solved for them in Week One.
Sean Neugent: In the five years former OC Greg Davis coached, the Hawkeyes averaged 30 points per game in the season opener. I really like this Iowa offense under OC Brian Ferentz and believe his play calling is worth at least seven more points than Davis (with all due respect). The Wyoming offense brings one huge weapon in this game with QB Josh Allen who is widely considered the top 2018 NFL quarterback. I think the Hawkeyes, especially without suspended CB Manny Rugamba, will yield over 300 yards to the Cowboys QB, but when push comes to shove keep him mostly out of the end zone. I see the Hawks running wild on the Cowboys, riding Akrum Wadley and James Butler to a 37-24 victory. Allen gets a garbage time touchdown to make it look closer than it appears.
David Schwartz: It might not matter how good Wyoming QB Josh Allen is. Wyoming lost a lot of good skill-position players. Even if the replacements are solid, they won’t be that solid in Week 1. So the
question is whether Iowa, with its own questions at the receiver position, will cover. I don’t think they will. So, I like Iowa to win straight up, but I’ll take Wyoming plus the points.
Mitch Smith: All the talk has been about Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen, but the Hawkeye defense will step up big time and quash at least some of the Cowboy QB’s hype. I like Iowa to cover the 11.5.
NC State (+4.5) at South Carolina
Rob: A mighty SEC team at home only being a 4.5-point favorite against an ACC also-ran is a travesty. ESPN is appalled. That said, the Wolfpack comes into the season as a serious sleeper. I’ll take the points.
Jon: NC State has a chance at a real good season this year, so I will take the Wolfpack to cover
Sean: Both teams are coming off lackluster seasons and seem to matchup well with each other. NC State has a lot of question marks in its secondary, so I think the home team takes this one. The Gamecocks win, but are unable to cover, 27-24.
David: The Wolfpack might be the ACC’s surprise team. South Carolina is on a downward trajectory with little hope in sight. NC State getting points looks like the right choice.
Mitch: Remember when Will Muschamp was a highly sought after coach? Both of these teams should be improved this year, but NC State’s defense will be too much for the Gamecocks. I’ll take the Wolfpack plus the 4.5.
Michigan (-3.5) v. Florida in Texas
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Rob: In a game that features two offbeat coaches, I’ll take the shirtless Harbaugh ahead of the guys riding naked on a shark. That dude also leads a team crippled by suspensions. Take the Big Ten and throw the points.
Jon: Florida’s opening game suspensions has me going with Michigan, where I would have gone with the Gators otherwise.
Sean: On paper, I think this is a great matchup. Both teams feature good defenses, while having suspect offenses. Florida is also without suspended WR Antonio Callaway, the best playmaker for the Gators. With his absence, I see the Wolverines having more offense in this one, so I will take Michigan to cover, 20-10.
David: Michigan is going to make this game ugly. Florida’s suspensions will certainly factor in, but this should be a tight one. Straight up I like the Wolverines by a field goal, so let’s go with Florida plus the 3.5.
Mitch: Is Florida even going to have enough players to field a team on Saturday? Michigan D-Coordinator Don Brown will be dialing up the pressure on the inexperienced Gators. I’ll take the Fighting Harbaughs minus the 3.5.
Florida St. (+7) v. Alabama in Atlanta
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Rob: Even though Nick Saban hates puppies, he has assembled an embarrassment of riches. It’s tempting to take the seven points with a Seminole program also among the most talented in college football, but I will take the Tide to cover.
Jon: Taking The Tide, with confidence. I think we could see another Week One boat race for them, like we witness last year when they torched USC.
Sean: The only thing I’m sure of in this game is that Chick-Fil-A will be open inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium, home to the Atlanta Falcons. Not only will fans be able to enjoy some fast-food chicken, but also a No. 1 vs. No. 3 battle to open up the season. Like Michigan-Florida, this game should be a defensive battle. It is rare for the Crimson Tide to lose during the regular season under Nick Saban and I do not see it happening in week one. Bama wins, but the game is a push, 24-17.
David: Alabama’s defense is always good, but this year’s might be historic. I’ll lay the points and roll with the Tide.
Mitch: The Crimson Tide haven’t lost a season opener since 2001, and that isn’t going to change. Alabama will win this one by more than a touchdown.
Colorado St. (+5.5) at Colorado
Rob: It won’t receiver the hype surrounding other games this weekend, but it will be one of the most hotly contested. The teams don’t like each other and are pretty evenly matched. I’ll take the visitors plus the points.
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Jon: This might be my most confident play of the week. I’ll take Colorado State and the points.
Sean: Colorado is replacing a lot on the defensive side of the ball with eight new starters. To make matters worse, they open up playing a team who torched Oregon State in week one, 58-27. CSU QB Nick Stevens had 334 yards and three touchdowns last week in the Rams win. It will be an offensive slugfest and a high scoring matchup, but I’ll go with the Rams over the Buffaloes in this one, 42-37.
David: This is a big, weird spread. The Buffaloes lost most of their defense and CSU has a high-powered, experienced offense. Because I have no clue why Colorado is so heavily favored, I’ll take the
Rams in Boulder with the points.
Mitch: The Rams got shellacked in this game last year, but their high-powered offense will get the better of the Buffaloes in the 2017 edition of the Rocky Mountain Showdown. I’ll take CSU.
Ball St. (+6.5) at Illinois
Rob: That Illinois is less than a touchdown favorite at home against a mediocre MidAmerican Conference opponent isn’t a good sign for Lovie’s longevity in Champaign. Against my better judgement, I’ll take the Illini to cover in what should be one of their few wins this season.
Jon: Illinois is going to play SOOOOOO many young players this year, and Week One seems like an upset waiting to happen. But Ball State went 4-8 last year and they return just nine starters of their
own. Big Ten bodies will win in the end, and I will take Illinois to cover…but just barely.
Sean: Ball State averaged 220 rushing yards per game in 2016. They are going up against a Fighting Illini team who struggled to stop the run last season in allowing 219 yards per game. Advantage Cardinals. But, while Ball State has a decent pass rush, their secondary is very weak. Illinois should be able to pass all day on the Cardinals as the offense coasts to a comfortable win. I’ll go with Illinois to cover, 45-34.
David: Illinois covers, but I don’t feel good about it.
Mitch: Both Illini football fans will be in for an ugly game in Champaign. Ball State might have what it takes to pull off an upset. At the very least, I think they’ll keep the game within a touchdown. I’ll take the Cardinals plus the 6.5.