The return of college football means the return of gambling on college football, and with that comes the glorious return of Picking the Pac! With a busy week one, the breakdowns will be somewhat truncated, but feel free to chime in with your own picks and discussion in the comments.
Northern Arizona @ Arizona State, No Line*
2021 was a weird and unpleasant season in Tempe and the offseason was more of the same. The Sun Devils will break in a new QB, two new coordinators, and most of a new offense. Florida transfer Emory Jones is one of the few QBs in the country who could replicate some of Jayden Daniels’s mobility, and Wyoming RB transfer Xazavian Valladay (a Scrabble superstar) should blunt the impact of losing Rachaad White. It may be a long season for the Sun Devils, but it should start off on the right foot.
ASU 37 – NAU 10
*If you’re desperate, you can find FCS lines on sketchy offshore sports books, but not reputable ones like our illustrious sponsor, DraftKings sports book.
TCU @ Colorado, TCU -14
Like ASU, Colorado had to completely rebuild its roster due to transfer attrition. The most important question revolves around one of the returners- will QB Brendon Lewis be able to pass enough to keep teams from loading up against the run. New OC Mike Sanford had some success with run-heavy offenses at Minnesota. I’m not high on the Buffs for the year, but I’m always wary of a bit road favorite.
TCU 31 – Colorado 19
Bowling Green @ UCLA, UCLA -23.5
Bowling Green was bad across the board last season with one notable exception- they had one of the most effective pass defenses in the country. Something tells me that Chip Kelly and Dorian Thopmson-Robinson won’t mind targeting the poor run defense and will try to send a message about their intent to compete with a big win in week one. The only question is whether the Bruin defense will give back enough points to make the generous spread close.
UCLA 45 – Bowling Green 17
Arizona @ San Diego State, SDSU -6
The Wildcats have lost 23 of their last 24 games, so bringing in 41 new players through recruiting and transfer was probably the right move. Still, I will err on the side of continuity early in the season and the Aztecs return seven starters from a very good 2021 defense. Arizona should be better, especially with Jayden De Laura taking the place of last season’s QB mess, but it’s going to take time to start consistently beating solid opponents. As an added bonus for viewers and fans, this game will be the grand opening of SDSU’s new Snapdragon Stadium.
San Diego State 28 – Arizona 20
Oregon @ Georgia, Georgia -17, game played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta
Georgia was among the best teams in the country last season at absolutely everything last year, which is probably why they won 14 games and the National Championship. The Bulldogs replace five defenders drafted in the first round last year, but the talent is there to step up even without the experience. Dan Lanning knows the Bulldogs well, but no level of expertise will overcome this well-oiled machine.
Georgia 45 – Oregon 24
UC-Davis @ Cal, No Line
The Bears might have some early growing pains while breaking in a whole slew of new offensive starters. Purdue transfer Jack Plummer looks like the starter at QB and might be the most important of the bunch. Davis is not an elite FCS team, though they are coached by former Boise St and Colorado HC Dan Hawkins.
Cal 27 – UC-Davis 10
Rice @ USC, USC -32.5
What do you do with a five TD spread? The ingredients are in place for a tremendous blow-out. Rice was quite bad in 2021, especially on defense. Lincoln Riley has the scheme and motivation to announce his presence in a big way. Still, USC has had a lot of roster overhaul in the last year, and it’s hard to envision the Trojans running up the score with the second-string in the game late.
USC 48 – Rice 17
Utah @ Florida, Utah -2.5
The Gators as dogs in a non-conference game at the swamp is bizarre, but I understand it. As much as I trust Billy Napier to rebuild Florida as a perennial contender, it’s extremely difficult to change the program’s entire culture in week one. Meanwhile, Utah returns so much talent at so many key positions. And great as Napier was at Louisiana, he does not have a coaching advantage over Kyle Whittingham. The Gators still have a pure talent advantage with five-star recruits sprinkled through their underachieving roster. The skill level and home crowd give them more than a puncher’s chance, but this Utah roster is more finely-tuned.
Utah 33 – Florida 27
Colgate @ Stanford, No Line
I would love to know the story behind the Upstate NY, Patriot League Raiders booked this matchup with Stanford. The Cardinal have missed bowl eligibility for three straight years and went 3-9 last season. The stars are aligned for a rebound, led by Tanner McKee. Even if the turnaround doesn’t come, this week should be a dominant win.
Stanford 41 – Colgate 7
Idaho @ Washington State, No Line
This game is off the board for major sports books due to Idaho relegating itself to FCS. Even against a lesser opponent, it will be fun to see Cameron Ward’s first outing with the Cougs. Ultimately, we know he can dominate FCS opposition and doing so with better teammates will not prove much. It will also be interesting to see what kind of progress Jake Dickert’s defense has made. They improved notably last year and will have to maintain or progress to stay in the bowl mix.
Wazzu 38 – Idaho 13
Boise State @ Oregon State, OSU -3
For the first time in a long time, Boise was just ok in 2021 and not very interesting. Hank Bachmeier returns as an experienced QB and it will be crucial for him and his supporting cast to stay healthy to rebound this year. The Beavers also return their QB in Chance Nolan, but lost 1000 yard rusher BJ Baylor to the NFL. Boise will have to run the ball better than they did in 2021 to exploit a mediocre OSU front. Conversely, the Bronco defense is the stronger unit and should be able to put up some resistance to Nolan, Deshaun Fenwick, and a dangerous OSU ground game. This one should be close and entertaining.
Boise State 30 – OSU 27
Kent State @ Washington, UW -22.5
Predicting this game feels like a fool’s errand. Washington has a new coaching staff, a new QB, and new schemes on both sides of the ball. On the other side, I can’t say that I spent a lot of time watching Kent State play last year. Or any other year. Power conference teams usually use these games against non-P5 opponents as tune-ups, but with the rotten memory of Montana still festering, I’m once (very recently) bitten), twice shy.
On paper, Kent State’s ability leans heavily toward the offensive side. They are breaking in a new QB, but return plenty of accomplished skill position players. Notably, Marquez Cooper comes back after rushing for over 1,200 yards last year. A season ago, that sentence would have been terrifying for Husky fans given our run-stuffing ineptitude. With a bigger interior defensive line, safeties playing in the box, and a brawnier fifth DB, there is reason to believe that teams will have to present a balanced attack to beat us this time around. QB Collin Schlee will try to test two new starting QBs in Jordan Perryman and Mishael Powell. It might not be easy to do so since Kent State’s weakest point was it’s O-Line and they have to replace most of that sub-par unit. The EDGE rotation of Jeremiah Martin, Bralen Trice and ZTF will be essential, both in creating negative plays and in keeping things simple for a less proven secondary. Ultimately, with more focus on defensive playmaking, there is a risk of giving up a few more big plays. I expect a few big gainers for the Golden Flashes, but if that comes at the expense of multiple 15-play TD drives, it’s probably a good trade.
The real intrigue will be with UW’s offense. We all want to see the Deboer/Grubb system in Montlake and how Michael Penix performs in it. Kent State’s defense should be a fertile testing ground after giving up nearly 38 PPG last year and ranking outside the top 100 nationally in success rate against the run and pass (UW was 117th against the run, KSU was 125th against the pass and 110th against the run. Imagine UW being as bad as they were against the run and somehow worse against the pass). Without much resistance, the offense can keep it fairly simple. I expect lots of quick passes to the short and intermediate parts of the field. Penix will try to spread the love and get as many receivers involved as possible. The pass will open up the run and Wayne Taulapapa will pile up yards as the game goes on. It might look close through the first quarter, but the Dawgs will get enough stops to assert control by late in the first half and will be able to rotate in some depth, including Dylan Morris, by the fourth.
Washington 38 – Kent State 21
Will UW beat Kent State by more than 23.5?
This poll is closed
Win by more than 23.5
Win by less than 23.5