Funvee Tailgate BLOG: 2018 College Football Kickoff Weekend

Welcome back to the Funvee Tailgate BLOG, The THUNDERBLOG’s Weekly College Football Series. If you noticed the emphasis on “BLOG,” that is because we also have the Funvee Tailgate Podcast that ties into the blog series. Here’s the iTunes link to go subscribe. For those newer readers, the blog version of the Funvee Tailgate looks at the full slate of Top 25 FBS teams along with a few other selections. I am just returning from the Delaware/Rhode Island game and while Third and Girl’s Blue Hens may have come up short, being at a College Football has me itching for more. Kickoff Weekend means five-straight days of college football. It’s finally time. LET’S FIIIIRRRREEEE IT UP!

Thursday Night Recap:

There was only one contest containing a ranked school Thursday night and it saw the self-proclaimed National Champion UCF absolutely decimate UConn 56-17. The Knights gained over 650 total yards as they hit the road to a “title defense” running on high. While no other games tonight feature Top 25 FBS schools, other scores worth noting are Jimbo Fisher’s first win as Texas A&M coach with the Aggies rolling over Northwestern State 59-7, they play Clemson next week. The other score worth noting is Northwestern getting their first Big Ten win on the road at Purdue 31-27. The Wildcats have now won nine-straight games, the longest active winning streak among Power Five schools.

Big Games This Week:

Friday Night Lights:

Utah State (+23.5) at #11 Michigan State at 7 on Big Ten Network AND Western Kentucky (+36.5) at #4 Wisconsin at 9 on ESPN – I normally don’t acknowledge these types of games but considering this weekend is about absorbing as much football as possible, you should know when these games are on. As I always say for three-plus touchdown spreads, these teams are MASSIVE favorites and should win. Therefore, I don’t include them in my picks, especially against the spread.

San Diego State (+14) at #13 Stanford at 9 on FS1–Finally a game we can sink our teeth into. SDSU shouldn’t be taken lightly as they upset Stanford in San Diego last season and returns many of the same starters. Stanford’s Bryce Love will begin his Heisman campaign in high gear and won’t stop until he arrives on stage in New York this December. Stanford gets its revenge but won’t pull away too far. Stanford wins but doesn’t cover.

Saturday Slate:

While not the most loaded opening weekend, this Saturday will still be jam-packed with action and will wrap up with the return of one of the better rivalries College Football has to offer. #1 Alabama, #2 Clemson, #3 Georgia, #5 Ohio State, #7 Oklahoma, #10 Penn State, #15 USC, #16 TCU, #18 Mississippi State, and #22 Oregon are all MASSIVE favorites and should win. Let’s take a look at the rest of the slate:

  • #23 Texas (-13.5) vs. Maryland at noon on FS1 in Landover, MD–If not for the giant cloud being held over the entire Maryland program, I would’ve thought the Terps would have a shot at upsetting the Longhorns just like last season. However, that cloud will cause too much Terp turmoil hours before this game kicks off. Texas wins and covers.
  • #6 Washington (+2) vs. #9 Auburn at 3:30 on ABC in Atlanta, GA–An incredible between what’s touted as one of the Pac 12’s better offenses and one the country’s best defenses. Washington comes with QB Jake Browning able to air the ball out and RB Myles Gaskin able to barrel over defenses. Auburn’s front seven should challenge Browning and Gaskin. It’ll be close but I’m taking Auburn to win and cover.
  • #17 West Virginia (-9.5) vs. Tennessee at 3:30 on CBS in Charlotte, NC–West Virginia’s offense is going to be a lot of fun to watch but their defense isn’t exactly something to write home about. The Vols will be a good test for the Mountaineers but Will Grier starts his Heisman Campaign on a high note. West Virginia wins and covers.
  • #22 Boise State (-10) at Troy at 6 on ESPNNews–The Broncos will be a fun team to watch all season that likely won’t make too much in the rankings. BSU hosted Troy last season and the Trojans kept themselves in it until late and I’d expect something similar here. BSU wins but doesn’t cover.
  • #14 Michigan (+1) at #12 Notre Dame at 7:30 on NBC–At long last, this rivalry is back. Both schools are CFP hopefuls and while an early loss won’t kill either’s hopes–UM’s less than ND’s, though–a statement win here will certainly help. Michigan has the clear edge defensively but Notre Dame’s defense is no pushover. The QB matchup is stellar with ND’s dual-threat Brandon Wimbush and Michigan’s transfer Shea Patterson. The Michigan defense is dynamic enough to hold Wimbush but this one should be an instant classic when all is said and done. Michigan wins outright.

My Lehigh Mountain Hawks open their 2018 at home on Saturday against St. Francis (PA). Lehigh returns both QB Brad Mays and RB Dom Bragalone, last year’s Patriot League Offensive Player of the year. The Mountain Hawks are poised to make another run at the Patriot League title but hopefully, they can win a good chunk of their non-conference schedule after going 0-5 last year.

Sunday Night Football

  • #8 Miami (-3.5) vs. #25 LSU at 7:30 on ABC in Dallas, TX–No NFL means our weekend of College Football continues on strong. Miami’s high-flying offense might be a bit too much for the Tigers but it will be a clash of differing schools. What makes the difference for this game is LSU’s lackluster offense against the Hurricane defense. I like Miami by a touchdown. Canes win and cover.

Monday Night Football

  • #20 Virginia Tech (+7) at #19 Florida State at 8 on ESPN–Say what you will about Deondre Francois and how he will look returning from injury, but FSU’s defense will be a strong contender for the coveted third spot in the ACC behind Clemson and Miami. VaTech has some question marks coming into the season but they do return QB Josh Jackson and most of their receiving core. It’ll be tough to get by that defense at home, though. FSU wins and covers.

Make sure to check out the podcast for our full in-depth analysis. Let me know what picks you disagree with in the comments.

(cover photo via)

 

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