Ranking those who carried on while others around them were crushed by failure and/or incompetence.
1. All the head coaches
Undefeated and unscored upon as of this moment.
2. All the coordinators
While there are suspicions, no one is a total moron yet.
3. All the starting quarterbacks
Everyone is still listed as "I think he could have a pretty decent year."
4. All the offensive linemen
Except Bradley Sowell. Wherever he is, he is in last place.
5. All the defensive backs
They still look faster and more athletic than last year.
6. Everyone else
If only this feeling of excitement and hope could last more than one week.
Each week, I'll try to convince myself I could give it all up and pick games for a living. And, each week, I'll learn that such a decision would eventually lead to me living in a storm drain in front of a bus station.
Last season's record: 55-38-1 (.590)
South Carolina (-6.5) at Vanderbilt
Typically, the opening Thursday night game featuring an SEC team is a brutally boring affair, filled with punts, turnovers, missed field goals, and a half dozen more punts. And earlier this week, it seemed like a tropical storm was going to be added to the self-sustaining mess.
Alas, Isaac turned and went a different way, which will deprive us of a waterlogged Steve Spurrier grinding his teeth down to his gums and exhaling hate with every breath. So dry, angry, frustrated Spurrier will be all we get.
Until I see otherwise, Vanderbilt is still Vanderbilt and can't beat teams better than they are, no matter how much James Franklin boasts about culture change and NO FEAR. The only question here is can South Carolina not screw up enough to win by a touchdown. I vote yes and take the Gamecocks and the points.
Tennessee (-3) at North Carolina State (Atlanta)
If Tennessee is going to win, and they probably will, I at least want to see it done with some excitement. It doesn't have to be high scoring excitement, but if Tyler Bray could throw four or five interceptions, followed by an immediate cut to Derek Dooley so we can see his pieces of his soul float out of the Georgia Dome, that would be all I really need. Tennessee to cover.
Buffalo at Georgia (-37.5)
Has the lake effect snow started yet in Buffalo? It would suck to live in Buffalo. UGA to cover.
Bowling Green at Florida (-29)
Sideline reporter: "BOWLING GREEN IS WHERE URBAN MYER GOT HIS START AS A HEAD COACH. AND HE USED TO COACH AT FLORIDA, AND NOW THESE TWO TEAMS ARE PLAYING ONE ANOTHER. SOME ARE CALLING IT THE URBAN BOWL. BACK UPSTAIRS TO YOU GUYS."
Play-by-play announcer: "Haha, great story, [name]."
Color analyst: "And what a great job he did at both schools. Just a wonderful coach. Gonna do great things at Ohio State."
Play-by-play announcer: "Yes, he is. Ok, third and five at the 27..."
/prays for everyone to be strangled by a headset cord
Bowling Green and the points.
Clemson (-3.5) at Auburn (Atlanta)
There's an old Lewis Grizzard joke that says Clemson is Auburn with a lake, which kind of makes this the Williams sisters of college football getting to play each other, minus all the championships and career domination. Clemson will be without all-around good football player Sammy Watkins, but Auburn will counter that by being without a quarterback, running backs, and offense in general.
Despite the threat of a "God-thing" happening, which would mostly be due to Clemson bumblefarting their way around like they so often do, I like Clemson to hold on and get the cover here. Also, it would be nice if Trooper Taylor could hit himself in the eye with his towel. No permanent damage, just enough so that his eye waters for like 20 minutes.
Michigan at Alabama (-14.5) (Dallas)
Since Nick Saban returned to the SEC and got losing to Louisiana-Monroe out of the way (WHAT A MOMENT), a few truths have been established about each of his teams. They're going to play absurdly physical defense, lean on your defense until it falls over, and if he has more than a month to prepare for you, he's going to give you the business.
Denard Robinson is like a player from a video game got dropped into our world and keeps spinning and sprinting his way to yards and touchdowns. However, he doesn't do passing like a player from a video game, well, unless that player's name is Daniel Cobb, which means he only does one thing well. And an offense and/or player who only does one thing well doesn't offer much resistance to a Saban defense. His defense will do everything to take that thing away and beat the holy hell out of you while doing it.
Stripped down to its core, the Alabama defensive game plan will be to hit Robinson on every single play. Make him taste the pain while the offense slowly kicks Michigan to death with field goals, followed by a touchdown to put it away late. I like Alabama to dominate, but not blow-out dominate. Michigan and the points.
SE Louisiana at Missouri
Sadly, no line exists. Can I get an over/under on celebratory jumbo glasses of red wine? One? Two?
North Texas at LSU (-43)
To be prepared for a Zach Mettenberger disaster, I've opened my files and have all of my Josh Booty, Jordan Jefferson, Jarrett Lee, and Jamie Howard jokes at the ready. VERY excited to see what he turns out to be. LSU to cover.
Central Arkansas at Ole Miss
No line here either. COWARDS, YOU ODDSMAKERS, COWARDS I SAY.
For the record, I'd probably take Central Arkansas and the points.
Jackson State at Mississippi State
No line and no championship at stake.
Jacksonville State at Arkansas
No line, but John L. Smith wants to see plenty of people with hot piss.
Kentucky at Louisville (-13.5)
Every fiber in my being tells me Kentucky is horrible and may not crack 200 yards of offense, but I CARE NOT. The part of my brain that stupidly says "I've got a feeling about this one" has somehow managed to pin the part of my brain filled with logic and reason to the floor and won't let it up. This is also why gambling is insane. Kentucky and the points.