Tailgate Pick ‘Em Week 1 Predictions Including Oregon vs Auburn

Oregon vs Auburn
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After the great appetizer that was Week 0 action, college football properly kicks off with the first full Saturday of the season. A number of key non-conference match-ups are on the docket including Boise State traveling south to face Florida State, a renewal of the North vs South Carolina rivalry, and a rematch of a past national championship game with Oregon vs Auburn on a neutral field in Texas. Steen Kirby, Yesh Ginsburg, Lukas Weese, and John Bava offer their predictions.

Boise State at Florida State (Saturday in Tallahassee, FL)
Line: Florida State by 5

Steen: Florida State has had two big season opening games the last two seasons and fallen flat. Those losses in many ways led to two derailed seasons of .500 level football for a program that expects to compete for the National Championship regularly. Boise State hasn’t had such problems, they remain one of the best teams outside of the P5 conferences and consistently produce impressive results given the talent pool and resources available. Boise State is the better team right now, but the fact this game was moved to the mid-day heat is going to give a motivated Florida State an advantage. The Noles will end their opening game curse, but just barely. Florida State 24, Boise State 21

Yesh: Boise State is still a strong program, but it’s nowhere near where it was a decade ago. Florida State, meanwhile, is coming off its worst season in decades. The Seminoles have more talent, but not by a lot, and Boise will want to send a message with this game. Boise State 38, Florida State 31

Lukas: Playing Boise State the first week of the season is a tall order for FSU. The way Boise State moves the ball in the air and stopping the pass (FSU’s strength) will propel the Broncos to pull off the upset. Boise State 30, Florida State 24

John: This contest was initially supposed to be played in Jacksonville. But due to the looming threat of Hurricane Dorian, it’s been moved to Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee. So suddenly, it’s even more of a home game for the Noles. This is an important year for FSU head coach Willie Taggart as he’s coming off a 5-7 season, the school’s first sub-.500 campaign since 1976. Meanwhile, Boise won 10+ games for the third straight year and fourth time under Bryan Harsin.

But it’s a new era at quarterback and running back for the Broncos in 2019 with Brett Rypien and Alexander Mattison having departed for the NFL. They’re going with freshman Hank Bachmeier at quarterback while they get a bit of experience in the run game with junior Robert Mahone expected to get the bulk of the carries. Ultimately, the Noles are a much more experienced bunch with James Blackman behind center. And there should be added motivation given what transpired last year. Florida State 30, Boise State 23

Ole Miss at Memphis (Saturday in Memphis, TN)
Line: Memphis by 5.5

Steen: Memphis is favored but Ole Miss fans would still have a bitter taste in their mouth to lose this game against a regional rival who is far less prominent in the world of college football. Ole Miss is replacing their air attack this season however, while Memphis still has experienced signal caller Brady White at their disposal. The Rebels will hang around but fall short in the end, largely due to poor defense. Memphis 38, Ole Miss 35

Yesh: Memphis is favored over Ole Miss, and I have no idea why. This Memphis team isn’t as good as it was a few years ago. And while Ole Miss isn’t either, it should have the size and power to run over any Group of 5 team, except for the very top ones. Ole Miss 41, Memphis 28

Lukas: Memphis loves to dictate the pace on offense with a strong running game. Combined this with a stout run defense and you have the ingredients to beat Ole Miss at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. Memphis 21, Ole Miss 17

John It’s not often that you see a non-Power Five school favored by nearly a touchdown over a member of the SEC. But Ole Miss is coming off a losing season and have to replace a ton of dynamic weapons on offense, including wide receivers A.J. Brown and D.K. Metcalf. The Tigers are also two-time defending AAC West champions and return quarterback Brady White who led the conference with 3,296 pass yards last year. Their drive to challenge UCF for league supremacy gets off to a good start. Memphis 37, Ole Miss 20

South Carolina vs North Carolina (Saturday in Charlotte, NC) Line: South Carolina by 10.5

Steen: A veteran Carolina team has hopes of capturing the SEC East title, they face rebuilding rivals the North Carolina Tar Heels on a neutral site to kick off the season. North Carolina has hopes of returning to prominence under former national champion Mack Brown, but in the short term this a team that will be finding its feet. Carolina may not be a blue blood, but they have enough experience and talent to win this game as I don’t see the UNC defense slowing down the Gamecock offense. South Carolina 38, North Carolina 14

Yesh: What will Mack Brown bring? That’s the question. We know that South Carolina has a ton of talent, but we haven’t yet seen them put it together. North Carolina doesn’t have as much talent, but they have a coach that can build programs. I don’t think the program-building is quite ready to start, though. South Carolina 28, North Carolina 21

Lukas: I love the way South Carolina moves the ball on offense. Expect some no huddle/up tempo packages to wear out the Tar Heel defense. Gamecocks get a statement opening week win at home. South Carolina 42, North Carolina 21

John: These two border rivals open their season at the home of the Carolina Panthers. It’s also the site of the Belk Bowl, a game the Gamecocks appeared in last year. They probably would like to forget it as they fell 28-0 to Virginia. It concluded a season of unfulfilled promise as they were ranked in the AP Top 25 early but ultimately stumbled to a 7-6 finish. Head coach Will Muschamp and quarterback Jake Bentley are under a lot of pressure to turn things around and make this team a force to be reckoned with in the SEC East.

For the Tar Heels, it’s a new era that hearkens back an old one with Mack Brown returning as head coach. He led the program from 1988-97 and in his final year before departing for Texas, the team went 11-1 and finished 6th in the AP poll. They’ve registered a mere three bowl wins since. And there figures to be growing pains in 2019 with Brown opting to name true freshman Sam Howell his starting quarterback. Howell is a highly-touted prospect but there will ostensibly be question marks over experience early on. South Carolina 30, North Carolina 17

Northwestern at #25 Stanford (Saturday in Stanford, CA) Line: Stanford by 6

Steen: The home field advantage makes Stanford the favorite in this battle of the braniacs. Stanford has slightly more talent and has an experience QB while Northwestern will be starting someone new (either T.J. Green or Hunter Johnson). The Cardinal should win but that doesn’t preclude Northwestern from having another impressive season. Stanford 28, Northwestern 21

Yesh: Northwestern has been awful in bad nonconference games the past few years, but great in big ones. The Wildcats won the Big Ten West and got a big bowl win last year. That momentum will continue against a very good Stanford team, but one that Northwestern matches up well against. Northwestern 24, Stanford 21

Lukas: Stanford is set at quarterback with K.J. Costello. A second team all conference quarterback is why the Cardinal will look to move the chains and put points on the board in the air. Stanford dominates their PAC-12 rival in the opening game. Stanford 31, Northwestern 21

John: David Shaw and Pat Fitzgerald seem to get the most out of their respective teams as good as any coaches in college football. That was certainly on display last year.  Northwestern represented the West division in the Big Ten title game and won their third straight bowl game. But Fitzgerald has his work cut out for him this year as he has to replace Clayton Thorson at quarterback and has been mum on who will ultimately start in Palo Alto. Shaw, on the other hand, has dynamic signal-caller K.J. Costello returning along with a strong supporting cast. Advantage Cardinal. Stanford 31, Northwestern 16

#11 Oregon vs #16 Auburn (Saturday in Arlington, TX) Line: Auburn by 3.5

Steen: A gut check game for the PAC-12 as expected league leaders Oregon face an Auburn team breaking in a new quarterback on a neutral field. The Ducks were nipped by Auburn in the in the 2011 National Championship game. I’ll back them to get their revenge in a competitive clash. Oregon 27, Auburn 24

Yesh: There is a ton of hype for both of these schools, but we haven’t seen real results from either yet. Oregon has the better quarterback, but Auburn has more talent in the trenches. That will make the difference. Auburn 35, Oregon 31

Lukas: This is a fantastic matchup at AT&T Stadium. In the end, I think the Auburn defense will get some late takeaways. It will hold on against a talented Oregon Ducks team. Auburn 38, Oregon 31

John: When your main rival is Alabama, the pressure is there to not just win but challenge the Crimson Tide for the SEC West year in and year out. That’s going to be tough this year with the Tigers breaking in a true freshman quarterback, Bo Nix. His debut will come at JerryWorld in Arlington, TX against an Oregon squad with a battle-hardened veteran in Justin Herbert. Herbert spurned the NFL, deciding to return for his senior season. This is a rematch of the 2011 BCS Championship game which the Tigers, led by Cam Newton, narrowly won. And despite the inexperience at quarterback, it should be noted that SEC teams are 10-4 against the spread over the Pac-12 since that encounter. Auburn 26, Oregon 20

Fresno State at USC (Saturday in Los Angeles, CA)
Line: USC by 13.5

Steen: A win for Fresno State in the USC home opener would put Clay Helton in a terrible position out of the gate. It would compound the fact the Trojans aren’t even starting the season ranked. Veteran coach Jeff Tedford has built a winner at yet another California based school. Fresno State replaces a lot however and USC certainly has more talent. Playing at home they are slight favorites but not against the spread. USC 35, Fresno State 28

Yesh: This line is way too high. Fresno State is very talented too lose this game by two scores. This team has improved from the day Jeff Tedford took over, and this will be a statement game. I don’t know if it’s enough to win, but this will certainly be very close late. USC 38, Fresno State 37

Lukas: USC, despite being unranked going into the season, has a lot of talented assets on both sides of the ball. Fresno State will hang with USC early, but the experience and the home crowd will carry Southern-Cal to victory. USC 28, Fresno State 14

John: The Fresno State program has exploded back onto the scene among Group of Five teams under Jeff Tedford. He boasts a 22-6 record over his first two seasons as Bulldogs head coach, including two bowl wins. But he’s in for a tough season-opener as his side makes the trip south to the famed L.A. Memorial Coliseum.

They face a Trojans team looking to bounce back after their first losing season since 2000. Turnovers and poor play on defense played their part, something head coach Clay Helton hopes do not rear their ugly head in 2019. If they can also get improved play out of quarterback J.T. Daniels, they should be well on their way to becoming a factor in the Pac-12 once more. That said, they’re 1-7 against the spread over their last eight non-conference games so look for Fresno to keep it somewhat close. USC 34, Fresno State 24

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