Iowa State successfully started off play for the Big 12 last evening with a 34-17 win over North Dakota State in Ames. And, Oregon looked feeble on offense in losing to Boise State 19-8 on the blue carpet in Idaho.
Here are my thoughts on this weekend's slate of games of interest.
Missouri vs. Illinois, St. Louis: Line - Illinois by 3. The post-Chase Daniel/Jeremy Maclin/Chase Coffman offensive era starts at Mizzou with Blaine Gabbert making his debut at QB. The Tigers have owned this series recently but last year Juice Williams, the Illini QB, burned MU for 451 yards passing. Has Missouri improved its defensive issues? Can the MU run game take pressure off of Gabbert in week one? My prediction - Illinois by 4.
Kansas hosting Northern Colorado: No line. The only thing interesting about this game will be the chance to see KU's key reserves including Kale Pick, the back-up to Todd Reesing. We won't know much about Kansas until after next week's game at UTEP. This one will be a blowout. My prediction - Kansas...by a lot.
Kansas State hosting Massachusetts: No line. Bill Snyder returns to the sideline at the stadium which displays his and his family's name. Interest is high in the Wildcat Nation and a win should come relatively easy on Saturday night. It'll be three weeks, when KSU plays at UCLA, before we know much about this team. My prediction - KSU by 14.
Oklahoma vs. BYU, Arlington, TX: Line - OU by 25. The Sooners received bad news this week with the injury to super TE Jermaine Gresham. But, Oklahoma will over-match #20 BYU and win this one easily under the big screen at the new Texas Stadium. My prediction - OU by 30.
Baylor at Wake Forest: Line - Wake by 2. Baylor is quietly being picked by many to be bowl eligible this year. Starting with a win on the road against a quality ACC opponent would help others take notice. My prediction - Wake by 5.
Oklahoma State hosting Georgia: Line - OSU by 6. This is one of the marquee match-ups of weekend #1. OSU comes in with its highest pre-season ranking in school history. Georgia is picked second in the SEC East behind Florida. A key will be how OSU's offensive line plays against the strength of Georgia's defense--the D-line. It'll be a classic battle of a high-powered Big 12 offense against one of the SEC's stout defenses. Home field will be the advantage. My prediction - the Cowboys by 6.
Alabama vs. Virginia Tech, Atlanta: Line - Alabama by 6. The Hokies took a hit when star RB Darren Evans injured a knee and was lost for the season. Both teams have tremendous defenses so this will be a low-scoring game. I'm going with the strength of the SEC over the ACC on a neutral field. My prediction - Bama by 10.
Others of interest:
Upset of the week: Nevada over Notre Dame in South Bend.
State rivalries: Colorado over Colorado State in Boulder; Florida State over Miami on Monday night.