Skip to main content

College Football Picks: Predicting Every Game in Week 1

Bo Scarbrough

Bo Scarbrough

The Week 1 edition of picking every game on the college football schedule features some huge matchups between elite teams, most notably the No. 1 vs. No. 3 clash between Alabama and Florida State in Atlanta. The slate of games also concludes in Atlanta on Monday night, when Tennessee and Georgia Tech meet in an intriguing SEC vs. ACC showdown.

Thursday, Aug. 31


Butch Davis makes his return to the collegiate game as his FIU Panthers travel to Orlando to face UCF. Last year, the Knights outgained FIU 501-to-189 en route to a 53–14 win in Miami. It might not be quite as lopsided this time around, but UCF should roll. UCF 48, FIU 20 

Image placeholder title

Presbyterian at Wake Forest

The only thing interesting about this game will be how Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson employs his quarterbacks. Kendall Hinton likely will start, but John Wolford — who has looked good in preseason camp — also figures to see significant playing time. Wake Forest 41, Presbyterian 10

Image placeholder title

Rhode Island at Central Michigan

Here’s an answer to a trivia question: Rhode Island and Texas. Here’s the trivia question: Name the only two teams to lose to Kansas in the past three seasons. The Rams, quite simply, are not very good. Central Michigan 47, Rhode Island 7

College Football Rankings: Central Michigan

Austin Peay at Cincinnati

Austin Peay coach Will Healy is making waves in recruiting in Tennessee, but that has yet to translate into wins — literally. The Governors went 0–11 in 2016, Healy’s first season, and are an unfathomable 1–45 in the last four years. Cincinnati 58, Austin Peay 0

Image placeholder title

Tennessee State at Georgia State

Two notable items about this game: Georgia State will be playing its first game in Georgia State Stadium, the venue formerly known as Turner Field, and the starting quarterback for Tennessee State is former Florida Gator Treon Harris. Georgia State 33, Tennessee State 27

College Football Rankings: Georgia State

Buffalo at Minnesota

P.J. Fleck’s first game at Minnesota is against a team from his previous conference. He faced Buffalo twice while at Western Michigan, losing 33–0 in 2013 and winning 38–0 last season. Minnesota 34, Buffalo 0

Image placeholder title

Elon at Toledo

Logan Woodside and the Toledo offense will feast on an Elon team that went 2–9 overall and 1–7 in the CAA last season. This will get ugly very early. Toledo 58, Elon 13     

Image placeholder title

Tulsa at Oklahoma State       

This is a sneaky good game that would have been sneakier had Tulsa not lost a 3,000-yard passer, two 1,000-yard receiver sand one 1,000-yard rusher. The Golden Hurricane simply lost too much firepower to pull off the upset. Oklahoma State 48, Tulsa 24

College Football Top 25: Oklahoma State

North Dakota at Utah

North Dakota is one of the top FCS programs in the nation, but the Fighting Hawks figure to have trouble moving the ball against a stout Utah defense. The Utes will start sophomore Tyler Huntley at quarterback. Utah 28, North Dakota 10

Image placeholder title

Holy Cross at Connecticut

Randy Edsall makes his (not so) triumphant return to UConn, where his mission is to jumpstart a Husky offense that ranked last nationally in scoring a year ago. Connecticut 13, Holy Cross 11

College Football Rankings: UConn

Florida A&M at Arkansas (Little Rock)

Arkansas opens the season with its only trip to Little Rock to face a Florida A&M team that rolled past Texas Southern 29–7 in Week 0. The Rattlers will be 1–1 after this game. Arkansas 41, Florida A&M 10

College football rankings: Arkansas

Ohio State at Indiana

The big storyline in Bloomington will be Kevin Wilson’s return to Indiana as the offensive coordinator at Ohio State. This should be a fun game... but Ohio State is too talented to slip up. Ohio State 34, Indiana 20

College Football Top 25 Rankings: Ohio State

Sacramento State at Idaho

Idaho begins its final season in the FBS ranks with a visit from Sacramento State. In 2018, this will be conference game (in the Big Sky). Idaho 38, Sacramento State 10

College Football Rankings: Idaho

ULM at Memphis

ULM eases into the second season of the Matt Viator era with trips to Memphis and Florida State. Good luck. Memphis 38, ULM 13

College Football Rankings: Memphis Football

New Mexico State at Arizona State

In a mildly surprising development, it appears that Manny Wilkins has held off Alabama transfer Blake Barnett as the Sun Devils’ starting quarterback. For now. Arizona State 41, New Mexico State 13

Image placeholder title

Friday, Sept. 1

Fordham at Army

This is not a gimme for the Black Knights. Fordham went 8–3 last season and features one of the top running backs in the FCS in Chase Edmonds (5,285 rushing yards and 69 TDs in his career). Army 30, Fordham 27

Image placeholder title

Charlotte at Eastern Michigan

Chris Creighton has done a tremendous job at Eastern Michigan, one of the most difficult jobs in the FBS ranks. Quarterback Brogan Roback is poised for a big senior season. Eastern Michigan 34, Charlotte 17

Image placeholder title

Central Connecticut State at Syracuse

Eric Dungey and the Syracuse offense should have little trouble lighting up the scoreboard against a CCSU team that went 2–9 last year and allowed 34.8 points per game. Syracuse 58, Central Connecticut State 14

Image placeholder title

Washington at Rutgers

Washington is hoping for two things: an easy win over Rutgers and then for Rutgers to show significant improvement as the season progresses to boost the Huskies’ playoff résumé. The former is highly likely. The latter: not so much. Washington 41, Rutgers 14

College Football Top 25 Rankings: Washington

This is a tasty Friday night appetizer to the first big Saturday of college football. Navy’s triple option attack vs. Lane Kiffin’s debut with the Owls. Sign me up. Navy 33, FAU 24    

Image placeholder title

Colorado State vs. Colorado (Denver)

Colorado stamped itself as a team on the rise last year with a surprisingly dominant 44–7 win over the Rams in Week 1. It might not be so easy this time around, but the Buffs are still the better team. Colorado 47, Colorado State 40

Image placeholder title

Utah State at Wisconsin

It’s the Gary Andersen bowl! Wisconsin 37, Utah State 10

College Football Top 25: Wisconsin

Boston College at Northern Illinois

Rod Carey has a 26–6 record in the MAC in four seasons at Northern Illinois yet the pressure is mounting thanks to an overall mark of 13–13 in the last two seasons. This is a big game for both coaches. Boston College 24, Northern Illinois 20

Image placeholder title

Saturday, Sept. 2

Maryland at Texas

The Tom Herman era begins with a decent test against a Maryland team that went to a bowl game last season despite not defeating an opponent with a winning record. Junior running back Ty Johnson is the player to watch for the Terps; he averaged 8.5 yards per carry in 2016. Texas 34, Maryland 13

College Football Top 25 Rankings: Texas

Akron at Penn State

Penn State is 5–0 all-time against Akron with an average margin of victory of 28.8 points. This shouldn’t be much of a challenge for the Nittany Lions. Penn State 48, Akron 10

College Football Top 25 Rankings: Penn State

Bowling Green at Michigan State

Bowling Green salvaged the first season of the Mike Jinks era by feasting on the underbelly of the MAC East to win its final three games to finish with a 4–8 mark in 2016. Earlier in the 2016 season, the Falcons gave up 77 points to both Ohio State and Memphis. Michigan State 48, Bowling Green 20

College Football Top 25 Rankings: Michigan State

Missouri State at Missouri

Missouri has won its last two games against FCS opponents by a combined score of 113–3. This will not go well for the Bears. Missouri 51, Missouri State 3

Image placeholder title

Ball State at Illinois

The Fighting Illini closed Lovie Smith’s first season with three straight losses by combined score of 118–24 to finish with a 3–9 record. Getting off to a good start in Year 2 is imperative. Illinois 27, Ball State 13

College Football Rankings: Illinois

Kent State at Clemson

It’s the defending national champs vs. team No. 127 in Athlon Sports’ preseason poll. There’s still some intrigue, however, as Kelly Bryant will make his debut at quarterback in the first game of the post-Deshaun Watson era. Clemson 51, Kent State 0 

College Football Top 25 Rankings: Clemson

Wyoming at Iowa

Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen, a top NFL prospect, will be on a national stage as the Cowboys head to Iowa City. His last trip to Big Ten country did not go well; he threw five interceptions in a 52–17 loss at Nebraska in Week 2 of last season. Iowa will be missing its top cornerback, senior Manny Rugamba, who is out with a one-game suspension. Iowa 34, Wyoming 32

Image placeholder title

California at North Carolina

Justin Wilcox makes his debut as the California head coach with a cross-country trip to Chapel Hill. This is the first-ever meeting between the two schools. North Carolina 34, California 16

North Carolina Football Schedule 2019

Bethune-Cookman at Miami (Fla.)

Two years ago, Miami topped Bethune-Cookman 45–0 in Week 1 and allowed only 79 total yards of offense. The Wildcats should be able to top 100 yards this time around. Miami 55, Bethune-Cookman 3

College Football Top 25 Rankings: Miami

Youngstown State at Pittsburgh

Bo Pelini guided the Penguins to the FCS national title game last season, his second at the school. He opens Year 3 with a short trip to play Pittsburgh. The Panthers have turned to Max Browne, the former USC Trojan, to start at quarterback. Pittsburgh 37, Youngstown State 14  

Image placeholder title

Portland State at Oregon State                     

Oregon State is fresh off a disappointing showing in a Week 0 loss at Colorado State. The Beavers did some nice things on offense but were torched on defense. They need to get back on track. Oregon State 37, Portland State 17

College football rankings: Oregon State

VMI at Air Force

Air Force features an emerging star at quarterback in junior Arion Worthman, who guided the Falcons to wins in their final six games of the 2016 season. VMI went 3–8 last season. Air Force 48, VMI 10   

Image placeholder title

NC State vs. South Carolina (Charlotte)

This is one of the most intriguing games of the weekend. NC State, led by its outstanding defensive line, is getting a ton of hype as the season nears. South Carolina has issues on defense but should be potent on offense in Jake Bentley’s first full season as the starter. NC State 30, South Carolina 23 

Image placeholder title

Nevada at Northwestern

This was shaping up to be a nice showcase for two of the nation’s most underrated running backs — Nevada’s James Butler and Northwestern’s Justin Jackson. But Butler bolted Reno for Iowa City as a grad transfer over the summer and will instead play in Evanston on Oct. 21 as a member of the Iowa Hawkeyes. Northwestern 31, Nevada 11

Image placeholder title

Michigan vs. Florida (Arlington, Texas)

Florida’s suspect offense — which will be without star wideout Antonio Callaway — will take on a rebuilt Michigan defense that has serious star power up front. Jim Harbaugh would like nothing more than for his team to open the season with a win over a big-name team from the SEC. Michigan 24, Florida 17

College Football Top 25 Rankings: Michigan

UTEP at Oklahoma

UTEP has one elite player, senior guard Will Hernandez. Oklahoma has many elite players. Oklahoma 48, UTEP 10

College Football Top 25 Rankings: Oklahoma

Alabama A&M at UAB

UAB football is back after a two-year hiatus. The coach, Bill Clark, is the same, but the roster has few recognizable names. The 2017 season could be a struggle for the Blazers. UAB 30, Alabama A&M 13

Image placeholder title

William & Mary at Virginia

The Bronco Mendenhall era began with a Week 1 loss to an FBS opponent (Richmond) a year ago. That won’t happen again … at least I don’t think it will. Virginia 31, William & Mary 12

Virginia: college football picks against the spread

Temple at Notre Dame

Temple’s last three openers can be described in one word: weird. In 2014, the Owls, coming off a two-win season, stunned Vanderbilt, a nine-win team the previous year, 37–7 in Nashville; in 2015, they knocked off Penn State 27–10 in Philadelphia; and last year, as a 14.5-point favorite, Temple lost at home to Army 28–13. Notre Dame 34, Temple 16

College Football Top 25 Rankings: Notre Dame

Troy at Boise State

This is by far the best game of the opening weekend that involves two Group of 5 teams. Troy took eventual national champion Clemson to the wire last year in Week 2 before losing 30–24. Boise State went 10–3 in 2016 and beat both Washington State and Oregon State in the regular season. Boise State 38, Troy 30

College Football Top 25 Rankings: Boise State

Charleston Southern at Mississippi State

Mississippi State will be on upset alert after losing at home to South Alabama in Week 1 a year ago. Charleston Southern is a quality FCS opponent, but the Bulldogs should be too strong on both lines of scrimmage. Mississippi State 30, Charleston Southern 10