Each year, ESPN.com runs three great College Football games: College Pick'em, College Showdown, and College Football Challenge. For those who play these games, be sure to check BTD every week throughout the season for my expert (Ha-Ha) picks in each game.
Today, I'll make my picks for Week 1 of the College Pick'em game. The concept is simple, just pick the winners of ten games each week and rate them on a confidence scale from one to ten. Besides for that, all you have to do is pick the score of a selected game for the tiebreaker. The game is free to play, and there are multiple prizes you can win:
- The grand prize winner will win a $2,000 Best Buy gift card plus an ESPN College Football prize pack.
- The person who finishes runner-up will win a $1,000 Best Buy gift card plus and ESPN College Football prize pack.
- And the person who finishes with the most points each of the fourteen weeks will win an ESPN College Football prize pack.
To make it easy for us to see how other BTD members are doing, I created a group for Building the Dam. Just click here! Here we go!
All games are on September 3rd, All times Pacific, Confidence points are in parentheses
Utah State @ Auburn, 9:00 AM, ESPN2
Pick: Auburn (10)
I am one of the few people that thinks Auburn will be bad this season. Like fifth place in the SEC West bad. But still, this is the defending national champions, in Auburn, against Utah State. I would be surprised if the Tigers didn't win by at least 28. I've got the Tigers with ten confidence points.
UCLA @ Houston, 12:30 PM, FSN
Pick: Houston (9)
This game will set a tone for the Bruins season, a tone that very well could decide whether Head Coach Rick Neuheisel is back coaching for the Bruins in 2012. I do think UCLA will be improved from last year, and I do think they will have a good season, but I can't see them stopping Case Keenum and this explosive Houston offense.
Keenum is one of the top quarterbacks in the nation and will become the NCAA's all-time leading passer if he stays healthy this year. A confidence of nine might be a little high, but I think Houston wins a relatively easy season opener.
East Carolina @ South Carolina, 4:00 PM, FSCarolinas
Pick: South Carolina (8)
This game has upset alert all over it, and it was these types of games that I would rate too high and pay the price for last season. But I guess I'm doing it again.
If this one was to be played in Greenville, I would actually be picking the Pirates for a upset here. They've got a great quarterback in Dominique Davis and a trio of solid receivers in Lance Lewis, Darryl Freeney, and Michael Bowman. Unfortunately, they only return six starters on defense, which should lead to South Carolina QB Stephen Garcia torching them all day long.
Group the Garcia factor with home-field advantage, and I think the Gamecocks survive their opener.
More picks after the breakBoise State vs Georgia, 5:00 PM, ESPN
Pick: Boise State (7)
This pick may surprise some people, but I love the Broncos in this one. Georgia is a great, talented team, and they will have a great season, but never pick against Kellen Moore and Company in a big game. It's just those sneaky WAC teams that you have to look out for :)
I don't have much of an argument besides for Boise's explosive offense, but I just have a gut feeling on this one.
Minnesota @ USC, 12:30 PM, ABC (California, Minnesota)
Pick: USC (6)
This is a relative no-brainer. The Trojans took care of the Golden Gophers last season in Minneapolis, so nothing should change too drastically this season in LA. The only reason I don't have this ranked higher is due to the suspension of running back Marc Tyler. I don't think it will hurt SC that much, but having to go to a relative unknown sophomore in Dillon Baxter could limit the Trojan offense.
Western Michigan @ Michigan, 12:30 PM, ABC (Michigan)
Pick: Michigan (5)
For some reason, this game reminds me a lot of the 2007 Michigan-Appalachian State upset. The scary thing for Wolverine fans is, Western Michigan is a lot better than ASU. The consensus around the nation is that WMU will either finish at the top or close to it in the MAC West this season, and they would love nothing more than to knock off the players that they were told were better than them all of their life.
This will be Head Coach Brady Hoke's first game at Michigan, which will have the players fired up, but also pretty nervous. Luckily, Denard Robinson, one of the top quarterbacks in the nation, will be under center for Michigan. The Broncos will keep this game close for a half, but they won't be able to contain Robinson all afternoon.
Colorado @ Hawaii, 7:15 PM, ESPN2
Pick: Hawaii (4)
The Buffaloes have a major opportunity to make their first game as Pac-12 member a great one. A trip to paradise, a national TV audience. The only bad thing is, Hawaii is going to have a good football team this year.
The Warriors could have one of the most explosive offenses in the nation, led by a top 15 quarterback in Bryant Moniz. Colorado will answer in senior QB Tyler Hansen, but in the end, the comparison isn't even that close. I'm taking Hawaii in a late-night shootout on the islands.
BYU @ Mississippi, 1:45 PM, ESPN
Pick: BYU (3)
This game hasn't gotten much talk around the nation, but it should be one of the best games of week one, not to mention a great scouting opportunity for Beaver fans.
In the end, the key to a BYU victory will be a solid performance from sophomore quarterback Jake Heaps. The Rebels don't have a lot to answer in with junior Randall Mackey under center, but even if Mackey has a good game, the weak Ole Miss defense won't be able to stop Heaps. I'm taking BYU, but only with a confidence of three since I don't know how good Mackey will be.
Northwestern @ Boston College, 9:00 AM, ESPNU
Pick: Boston College (2)
These two teams look pretty even on paper, and paper is all I have to judge them on since I know nothing about these two teams. Northwestern does return 16 starters from last year to Boston College's 14, but that's the only big advantage that the Wildcats have. With this one being played in Chestnut Hill, I'm taking BC but with only two points of confidence.
Oregon vs LSU, 5:00 PM, ABC
Pick: Oregon (1)
Tiebreaker: Oregon-27, LSU-24
This game really confuses me. On one hand, it's another game against a tough team with a long layoff to prepare for the Ducks, not to mention the distraction of Willie Lyles. But on the other hand, I see Chip Kelly rallying the team after the tough loss in the National Championship, using the Lyles distraction as motivation, and defeating the Tigers.
In my mind, the game will come down to the performance of Jordan Jefferson and Darron Thomas. Jefferson had a mediocre season in 2010, but everyone is saying that he will be the most improved QB in the nation this year. With Thomas, you've got a quarterback that has played in huge games before and knows what it's like under the bright lights.
I do think Jefferson will have a great year, but it will have to start a week later against Northwestern State. I've got the Ducks with one confidence point.
So, there you have it. Make sure to sign up for the game and join BTD's group, then talk about your picks in the comments.