College Football Picks: Predicting Final Scores for Every Game in Week 1

Auburn takes on Washington in Atlanta in a pivotal non-conference showdown

The Week 1 edition of picking every game on the college football schedule is highlighted by a huge SEC vs. Pac-12 showdown between Auburn and Washington in Atlanta, a great rivalry renewed when Michigan visits Notre Dame and an intriguing battle on Sunday night that pits LSU against Miami (Fla.) in Arlington, Texas. Here is every game in Week 1.

 

Thursday, Aug. 30

 

Central Conn. State at Ball State

The Blue Devils from Central Connecticut State won eight games last season in the FCS ranks, but they lost badly to Syracuse (50–7) in their only game against an FBS foe. Ball State should be improved in 2018 — assuming the Cardinals have better luck with injuries. Ball State 34, Central Conn. State 20

 

Kennesaw State at Georgia State

Kennesaw State reached the FCS quarterfinals in 2017, the program’s third year of existence. This will not be easy for Georgia State, which lost to an FCS team (Tennessee State) in last season’s opener. Georgia State 30, Kennesaw State 27

 

New Mexico State at Minnesota

New Mexico State is on pace to rush for negative-108 yards in 2018 after its abysmal offensive performance in a Week 0 loss at home to Wyoming. Minnesota won’t gain a ton of yards either but shouldn’t have to break too much of a sweat. Minnesota 28, New Mexico State 7

 

UCF at Connecticut

One of the fiercest rivalries in all of sports will be played for the sixth time ever. UCF holds a 3–2 advantage and has won two straight over the hated Huskies. UCF 41, Connecticut 14

 

Missouri State at Oklahoma State

The first game of the post-Mason Rudolph era will not be close. Missouri State went 3–8 last season and gave up 72 points in a Week 1 loss at Missouri. Oklahoma State 54, Missouri State 20

 

Northwestern at Purdue

It’s the only Power 5 league game on the opening Thursday of the season — and it’s a pivotal contest for two teams that figure to be jockeying for position in the Big Ten West all season long. Purdue 30, Northwestern 28

 

Savannah State at UAB

UAB enters its second season back in action with high hopes after shocking the college football world by winning eight games in 2017. UAB 54, Savannah State 10

 

SE Louisiana at ULM

SE Louisiana lost its only game against an FBS team last year, dropping a 51–48 heartbreaker to Louisiana in Week 1. Now, the Lions head to Monroe to face a ULM team that continues to improve under third-year coach Matt Viator. ULM 41, SE Louisiana 21

 

Wake Forest at Tulane

This is a fun Week 1 matchup that will feature a true freshman quarterback for Wake Forest (Sam Hartman) against a senior for Tulane (Jonathan Banks). This is a key game for the Green Wave, who hope to take a big step forward in Willie Fritz’s third season. Wake Forest 27, Tulane 24

 

Weber State at Utah

Weber State is a quality team that won 11 games and advanced to the FCS quarterfinals a year ago. Utah, however, is also a quality team, one that should contend for the Pac-12 South title in 2018. Utah 38, Weber State 14

 

Northwestern State at Texas A&M

The Jimbo Fisher era begins in College Station with a tune-up for the big Week 2 showdown against Clemson. This will not be difficult for the Aggies. Texas A&M 51, Northwestern State 13

 

UC Davis at San Jose State

San Jose State went 2–11 in 2017, with one win over an FCS team (Cal Poly) and one against an FBS team (Wyoming). Brent Brennan really could use a solid win to start out his second season with the Spartans. San Jose State 30, UC Davis 20

 

Friday, Aug. 31

 

Syracuse at Western Michigan

This is very important game for Dino Babers as he embarks on his third season at Syracuse. It will be hard for the Orange to get to six wins if they don’t pick up the first one on Friday night in Kalamazoo. Syracuse 48, Western Michigan 28.

 

Monmouth at Eastern Michigan

Eastern Michigan is hoping for better luck after losing five games by five points or fewer plus another game in overtime en route to a disappointing 5–7 record in 2017. Eastern Michigan 34, Monmouth 13

 

Army at Duke

This is a tough opener for Duke, which lost to Army, 21–16, last November in West Point. The Black Knights closed the 2017 season by winning eight of their last nine, highlighted by victories over Duke, Navy and San Diego State. This is a good team. Army 28, Duke 24

 

Utah State at Michigan State

Utah State welcomes back a ton of key contributors on both sides of the ball and could emerge as Boise State’s biggest competitor for the Mountain Division title. Michigan State, however, is the better team. Michigan State 38, Utah State 17

 

Portland State at Nevada

Portland State went 0–11 in 2017 but lost its only two games against FBS teams by 14 points (at BYU) and three points (at Oregon State). I think that says more about the two FBS programs. Nevada 48, Portland State 10

 

San Diego State at Stanford

San Diego State went 2–0 against Power 5 opponents last season, winning at Arizona State in Week 2 and beating Stanford at home in Week 3. This is obviously going to be a tough opener for the Cardinal. Stanford 31, San Diego State 21

 

Western Kentucky at Wisconsin

A few years ago, this would have been one of the more intriguing Week 1 games. But Jeff Brohm is now at Purdue, and the Hilltoppers took a big step back last season. Wisconsin 44, Western Kentucky 14

 

Colorado at Colorado State

The good news: Colorado State rolled up 653 yards and averaged 8.6 yards per snap in its 2018 debut. The bad news: The Rams’ defense gave up 617 yards on 8.5 per play. The really bad news: CSU lost at home to Hawaii, 43–34. Colorado 41, Colorado State 30

 

Saturday, Sept. 1

 

Coastal Carolina at South Carolina

South Carolina should have its way with a Chanticleer defense that struggled to slow down Sun Belt attacks a year ago. South Carolina 48, Coastal Carolina 12

 

FAU at Oklahoma

Lane Kiffin and the Owls will be on a national stage when they play in Norman in Week 1. FAU’s offense will test the Sooners’ D; last fall, FAU came six rushing yards and 17 passing yards shy of becoming the first team since Baylor in 2015 to top 4,000 rushing yards and 3,000 passing yards in a season. Oklahoma 48, FAU 31

 

Houston at Rice

The battle for Houston won’t be much of a battle unless Rice shows significant improvement after its too-close-for-comfort 31–28 win over Prairie View A&M in Week 0. Houston 44, Rice 10

 

James Madison at NC State

James Madison, which has won 28 games in the last two seasons, has emerged as one of the premier FCS programs in recent years. The Dukes won at East Carolina last season but lost their last game against an ACC team — 56–28 at North Carolina in 2016. NC State 31, James Madison 20

 

Kent State at Illinois

Last season, Illinois needed a late field goal to beat a bad MAC team (Ball State) in Week 1. Here’s some advice for Lovie Smith: Don’t let this one go down to the wire. Illinois 37, Kent State 24

 

Ole Miss at Texas Tech

This game might not be too relevant nationally — both teams are picked to finish near the bottom of their respective conferences — but it figures to be one of the most entertaining games on the Week 1 slate. Defensive stops will be at a premium. Ole Miss 47, Texas Tech 44

 

Villanova at Temple

Villanova upset Temple in 2009, but the Owls have bounced back to win each of the last four in the series. Last year, however, the margin of victory was only three points. Temple 33, Villanova 20

 

Oregon State at Ohio State

Ryan Day makes his debut as the interim head coach at Ohio State. It will come against arguably the worst Power 5 team not named Kansas. Ohio State 41, Oregon State 0

 

Southern at TCU

Southern managed only 140 yards in a 45–0 loss at Southern Miss in Week 2 of the 2017 season. TCU is much better than Southern Miss. This will be ugly. TCU 51, Southern 0

 

Texas at Maryland

Just one year ago, Maryland shocked the college football world with a 51–41 Week 1 win over Texas in Austin. Now, the Terps’ program is in disarray. Maryland has some talent, but you have to be concerned about this team’s focus. Texas 31, Maryland 20

 

Texas State at Rutgers

Rutgers will send out true freshman Artur Sitkowski as the starter at QB against a Texas State team that has won only four games in Everett Withers’ two seasons. The Bobcats have recruited well — it’s now time to win some games. Rutgers 38, Texas State 14

 

Furman at Clemson

The average score of Clemson’s last five games against FCS opponents (over the last six seasons) is 55–7. That sounds about right. Clemson 55, Furman 7

 

Alcorn State at Georgia Tech

These teams last met in the 2015 season opener. It did not go well for the Braves, who gave up 476 yards rushing in a 69–6 loss in Atlanta. Georgia Tech 44, Alcorn State 3

 

UMass at Boston College

UMass used a balanced attack — 282 yards passing, 290 yards rushing — to pound Duquesne 63–15 last Saturday. Yards and points will be more difficult to come by this weekend. Boston College 38, UMass 21

 

Howard at Ohio

Last year in Week 1, Howard authored the biggest upset in college football history by point spread, knocking off UNLV 43–40 as a 45-point underdog. Don’t expect a similar result in Athens. Ohio 38, Howard 17

 

Stony Brook at Air Force

Stony Brook won 10 games last season and finished second in the CAA behind national runner-up James Madison. The Seawolves made South Florida sweat in Week 1 before losing 31–17 in Tampa. This could be a challenge for Air Force. Air Force 34, Stony Brook 20

 

Albany at Pittsburgh

Pat Narduzzi will have his team ready to play after the Panthers needed overtime to beat Youngstown State in the 2017 opener. Pittsburgh 37, Albany 10

 

Austin Peay at Georgia

Remember the name Will Healy. Austin Peay’s 33-year-old head coach has done a tremendous job in a short period of time, winning eight games in 2017 after going winless in ’16, his first season on the job. He’s a future Power 5 coach. Georgia 48, Austin Peay 13

 

Appalachian State at Penn State

App State went 0–2 against Power 5 teams in 2017, but it was a respectable 0–2. The Mountaineers lost 31–10 at Georgia in Week 1 and 20–19 at home to Wake in Week 4. This team expects to play well against every team on its schedule. Penn State 37, Appalachian State 20

 

Central Michigan at Kentucky

Kentucky has had its struggles against Group of 5 opponents in recent years. The Cats have lost only one such game in the last four seasons (at home to Southern Miss in 2016), but far too often the games have been closer than expected. Kentucky 27, Central Michigan 24

 

Marshall at Miami (Ohio)

This is a quality game between two Group of 5 teams with high expectations in 2018. Marshall beat Miami 31–26 in Oxford last season. Marshall 34, Miami 25

 

Northern Illinois at Iowa

This could be trouble for Iowa, which is shorthanded on the offensive line. Northern Illinois played well against quality competition last year, losing by three at home to Boston College, winning by four at Nebraska and losing by six at San Diego State. Keep an eye out for Sutton Smith, who had 14 sacks last year as a sophomore. Iowa 24, Northern Illinois 21

 

Washington vs. Auburn (in Atlanta)

You can make a strong case that this is the most impactful non-conference game of the season. It means more to Washington — which likely would need to run the table in the Pac-12 to make the CFB Playoff if it loses this game — but Auburn would love to start its 2018 campaign with a big win over a top-10 opponent. Auburn 27, Washington 20

 

Washington State at Wyoming

Wyoming’s defense was one of the storylines of a brief Week 0 slate of games, holding New Mexico State to 135 total yards (minus-9 on the ground) in a 29–7 win in Las Cruces. The challenge will be far greater this weekend, but the Cowboys feature some legitimate talent on defense. Don’t be shocked if the Pokes improve to 2–0. Wyoming 30, Washington State 28

 

West Virginia vs. Tennessee (in Charlotte)

The Jeremy Pruitt era begins in Charlotte against a West Virginia team that is capable of scoring a bunch of points. The Mountaineers feature one of the nation’s top QBs in Will Grier and a pair of elite wideouts in David Sills and Gary Jennings. The Tennessee secondary will be tested. West Virginia 31, Tennessee 21

 

Eastern Illinois at Arkansas

It could be a rough first season at Arkansas for new coach Chad Morris, but the Razorbacks should cruise to an easy victory in Week 1. Eastern Illinois went 6–5 last season, with a 38–10 loss at Northern Illinois in its only game against an FCS foe. Arkansas 37, Eastern Illinois 13

 

UT Martin at Missouri

Missouri has feasted on FCS competition in recent years, beating Missouri State 72–43 last season and Delaware State 79–0 in 2016. Expect another gaudy offensive output from the Tigers. Missouri 51, UT Martin 13

 

North Carolina at California

This is one of three Week 1 games involving two Power 5 teams that is not a conference game and is played in an on-campus stadium. (Ole Miss at Texas Tech and Michigan at Notre Dame are the others). California 34, North Carolina 27

 

UNLV at USC

USC’s schedule will not allow true freshman quarterback JT Daniels much time to get acclimated. After this home date with UNLV — a good but not great Mountain West foe — the Trojans play at Stanford and Texas in back-to-back weeks. USC 34, UNLV 17

 

Boise State at Troy

Boise State’s two toughest league games are at home (vs. San Diego State and Fresno State), but the Broncos will be tested twice on the road in non-conference action, with this trip across the country to Troy and a Week 3 game at Oklahoma State. Boise State 30, Troy 28

 

Delaware State at Buffalo

Lance Leipold has won only 13 games in three years at Buffalo, but this should be by far his best team. Anthony Johnson is one of the top wide receivers in the nation. Buffalo 48, Delaware State 10

 

Elon at South Florida

Blake Barnett, the Week 1 starter for Alabama in 2016, has resurfaced at South Florida after a stop at Arizona State. Barnett, somehow, is still only a junior and could be the Bulls’ answer at QB for the next two years. South Florida 35, Elon 13

 

Fordham at Charlotte

This is a must win for Charlotte coach Brad Lambert, who is 17–45 in five years at the school. Fordham played one game against an FBS opponent last season. It did not go well; the Rams lost 64–6 at Army. Charlotte 28, Fordham 12

 

North Carolina A&T at East Carolina

East Carolina’s Scottie Montgomery is another coach who needs to win some games. The former Duke wide receiver and Blue Devil offensive coordinator is 6–18 in two seasons with the Pirates thanks in large part to a defense that has been historically bad. NC A&T will not be any easy out; the Aggies have won 13 straight games and are already 1–0 after knocking off fellow FCS power Jacksonville State last weekend. East Carolina 33, North Carolina A&T 30

 

Old Dominion at Liberty

Liberty makes the move from the FCS to FBS ranks this fall and will play the 2018 season as an independent. Last year, the Flames opened the season with a 48–45 win over Baylor. Old Dominion 30, Liberty 21

 

Richmond at Virginia

Virginia has turned to Bryce Perkins, a junior college transfer who began his career at Arizona State, to take over for Kurt Benkert at quarterback. The athletic Perkins will give the Cavs a new look. Bronco Mendenhall hopes he gives the Cavs more wins. Virginia 28, Richmond 17

 

South Carolina State at Georgia Southern

Chad Lunsford was named head coach at Georgia Southern after going 2–4 as the interim boss last season. The Eagles have an opportunity to get off to a fast start, with four of the first five at home. Georgia Southern 37, South Carolina State 14

 

Central Arkansas at Tulsa

Central Arkansas is under new leadership after Steve Campbell bolted for South Alabama after winning 10 games in 2017. Nathan Brown, the former offensive coordinator, is now in charge in Conway. Tulsa 38, Central Arkansas 27

 

Cincinnati at UCLA

The Chip Kelly era begins at UCLA. And it will begin without several key pieces after the Bruins suspended six players for unspecified rules violations. It shouldn’t matter in the opener, but it’s not a good look to start the season. UCLA 35, Cincinnati 17

 

Grambling at Louisiana

Grambling went 11–2 last year but was no match for a bottom-tier AAC team (losing 43–14 at Tulane in Week 1) in its only game against an FBS opponent. The Billy Napier era at Louisiana should begin with a big win. Louisiana 37, Grambling 17

 

Indiana at FIU

Indiana has won a non-conference game on the road in each of the past four seasons, including a 34–13 win at FIU in 2016. (Why is Indiana playing two straight games at FIU?) Indiana 31, FIU 20

 

Jackson State at Southern Miss

Southern Miss would love to keep the momentum going after winning eight games in Jay Hopson’s second season at the school. The Golden Eagles have allowed a total of six points in their last three games against FCS competition. Southern Miss 41, Jackson State 3

 

Louisiana Tech at South Alabama

Steve Campbell makes his debut as the boss at South Alabama after successful stops at Delta State and Central Arkansas. His first game presents a challenge; Louisiana Tech is one of the better teams in Conference USA and will battle North Texas and UAB for the West Division title. Louisiana Tech 41, South Alabama 28

 

Mercer at Memphis

The QB torch has been passed from Riley Ferguson to Brady White, but don’t expect the Memphis offense to slow down too much. The Tigers have averaged more than 36 points per game in each of the last four seasons. Memphis 43, Mercer 17

 

Nicholls at Kansas

This is not a gimme for the Jayhawks. Nicholls played well in its last two games against Power 5 foes, losing 24–14 at Texas A&M last year and 26–2 at Georgia two years ago. Kansas 21, Nicholls 17

 

SE Missouri State at Arkansas State

SE Missouri State was the only team to lose to Kansas last year. The Redhawks went on to win only three games. Not good. Arkansas State 41, SE Missouri State 7

 

VMI at Toledo

It was a tough 2017 season for the Keydets from VMI. They went 0–11 and scored 10 points or fewer in all but three games. This could end up being the biggest blowout of Week 1. Toledo 67, VMI 0

 

South Dakota at Kansas State

Kansas State won its 2017 opener against an FCS opponent with ease, rolling past Central Arkansas 55–19. South Dakota figures to put up more of a fight. Kansas State 41, South Dakota 17

 

Charleston Southern at Florida

Dan Mullen begins his tenure as the head coach in Gainesville with a visit from Charleston Southern, a team that managed only 33 total yards in a 49–0 loss at Mississippi State last season. Florida 47, Charleston Southern 0

 

Middle Tennessee at Vanderbilt

Middle Tennessee QB Brent Stockstill gets his fourth crack at the neighboring Commodores. Last year, he struggled, throwing for a season-low 166 yards in a 28–6 loss in Murfreesboro. The year before, he had 399 yards on a career-high 65 attempts in a 47–24 loss. Vanderbilt 34, Middle Tennessee 23

 

Northern Arizona at UTEP

Dana Dimel returns to the head coaching ranks for the first time since 2002, his final season at Houston. He has a huge rebuilding job ahead of him; UTEP went 0–12 last season, with only one of its losses by as few as 14 points. UTEP 25, Northern Arizona 24

 

Stephen F. Austin at Mississippi State

Mississippi State will be without QB Nick Fitzgerald (one-game suspension) in Joe Moorhead’s debut, but the Bulldogs’ offense is in good hands with sophomore Keytaon Thompson. No reason for concern in Starkville. Mississippi State 51, Stephen F. Austin 13

 

SMU at North Texas

This is a fun non-conference game between two teams that figure to score a bunch of points this season. SMU is now under the direction of Sonny Dykes after Chad Morris bolted for Arkansas. If North Texas continues to thrive, this could be Seth Littrell’s final season with the Mean Green. North Texas 47, SMU 41

 

Michigan at Notre Dame

Michigan and Notre Dame get together for the first time since 2014 in one of the marquee games of the opening weekend. The quarterbacks will take center stage: Is Shea Patterson the answer for Michigan? Has Brandon Wimbush taken the next step for an Irish offense that must replace key contributors at running back and wide receiver? Michigan 24, Notre Dame 20

 

Abilene Christian at Baylor

Baylor lost at home to Liberty in its opener last fall. No reason for concern this time around. Abilene Christian went 2–9 in the FCS ranks in 2017. Baylor 41, Abilene Christian 10

 

Akron at Nebraska

Scott Frost makes his debut as the head coach at his alma mater in the first of three straight non-conference home games to start the season. Akron is the defending MAC East champs, but this one should not be close. Nebraska 37, Akron 14

 

Bowling Green at Oregon

Bowling Green won two games last year, beating Miami (Ohio) and Kent State. The Falcons can, however, score some points. The over/under has been set at 74, which tells us that the boys in Vegas think this one will be fun to watch. Oregon 50, Bowling Green 24

 

Louisville at Alabama

Alabama opens the season with a neutral-site game for the seventh straight season. The Crimson Tide are 6–0 in previous such games, with the closest win coming by 10 points over West Virginia in 2014. So this is a tough spot for Louisville. Alabama 41, Louisville 17

 

South Dakota State at Iowa State

Iowa State enters Year 3 of the Matt Campbell era with high expectations. And with high expectations comes pressure. Iowa State 34, South Dakota State 17

 

Incarnate Word at New Mexico

Things did not go well for Incarnate Word the last time it played an FBS team. The Cardinals lost 66–0 at Fresno State last September and were outgained 613-to-155. New Mexico 34, Incarnate Word 0

 

Idaho at Fresno State

Idaho steps down a level to the FCS ranks after a 22-run in the FBS — five years in the Big West, seven years in the Sun Belt (over two stints), eight years in the WAC and two separate years as an independent. Fresno State 38, Idaho 20

 

UTSA at Arizona State

It’s Herm Edwards time in Tempe. The Sun Devils host UTSA in Edwards’ first game as a head coach in the collegiate ranks. Externally, expectations are low for Arizona State, but this team has some solid talent on the offensive side of the ball and could surprise in the Pac-12 South. Arizona State 34, UTSA 15

 

BYU at Arizona

BYU played four games against Power 5 teams last season, losing to LSU, Utah, Wisconsin and Mississippi State by an average score of 30–4. The Cougars were awful on offense last season, and there aren’t many reasons to believe they will be significantly improved in 2018. Arizona 40, BYU 13

 

Navy at Hawaii

Hawaii’s surprising win at Colorado State was the biggest development in Week 0. Now, the Rainbow Warriors return home and find themselves as an 11.5-point underdog to Navy. This is a homecoming for Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo, who was a quarterback for Hawaii in the late 1980s. Navy 38, Hawaii 30

 

Sunday, Sept. 2

 

Miami (Fla.) vs. LSU (in Arlington)

Miami is a consensus top-10 team. LSU is ranked No. 24 in the AP poll. Yet the Hurricanes are only a 3.5-point favorite at a neutral site. This is a great spot for LSU, which is flying under the national radar, to make a major statement. Can the Tigers deliver? The guess here is no. Miami 20, LSU 14

 

Monday, Sept. 3

 

Virginia Tech at Florida State

It’s one of the few conference games on the Week 1 slate. And it’s a big one between a pair of teams picked to finish second in their respective divisions in the ACC. Willie Taggart, who grew up a huge Florida State fan in the 1980s, will begin his tenure in Tallahassee. Florida State 27, Virginia Tech 20

 

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