It’s baaack. I know, I know. You’ve all been sitting around your computers today waiting for our annual experts pick’em column to come out haven’t you.
Well, it’s back and this year, it’s better than ever.
I hate to brag, but somebody needs to dethrone me this year. Last season, I ran away with picks. It was like Tiger being 10 up on the field heading into Sunday. I know, I know. My ego is incredibly out of control and chances are, I’ll finish in the bottom half in 2013.
We’ve got a few newbies to welcome to the picks column this season. Fanatics, welcome the Senator, the Hawkeye Killer, the Crossfit legend and my Cyclone Reaction co-host, Jack Whitver to the column.
Then, there’s 1460 KXNO’s Andrew Downs. He’s openly a Hawk fan but that’s okay. He’s a smart Hawk fan who unlike that guy who writes for the Marshalltown paper, doesn’t openly root against Iowa State.
Also, former sportswriter, now meteorologist, WHO-TV 13’s Brett McIntyre is in the mix.
Enough introductions. Let’s get on with the picks, starting with the new guys. The first two games are straight up. The final four are against the spread.
Former Iowa State wide receiver Jack Whitver
Georgia @ Clemson – Georgia. Two of best QB’s in country, but have to go with grizzly veteran Aaron Murray.
Boise State @ Washington – Washington. Huskies open in their newly remodeled stadium and poised for a breakout season.
Northern Illinois @ Iowa (-3) – Northern Illinois. Jordan Lynch too much for Hawkeye D.
Mississippi State @ Oklahoma State (-12.5) – Okie State. Gundy gets his offense rolling in game one.
LSU (-4) vs. TCU – LSU. LSU D too much for TCU.
UNI @ Iowa State (-9.5) – Iowa State. UNI will score some points, but cant keep up with Cyclone offense.
1460 KNXO’s Andrew Downs
Georgia over Clemson – The Bulldogs return 12 starters from a team that went 12-2 last season. They make a statement in a close win on the road. 37-31
Washington over Boise State – Huskies return to a renovated stadium in style, avenging a narrow 2012 bowl loss. 31-24
Iowa (-3) over Northern Illinois – Hawkeyes’ running game is key, Sophomore QB Jake Rudock plays just well enough to get his first win. 24-17
Mississippi State over Oklahoma State (-12.5) – Cowboys win close on a neutral field, but the loss of the Big 12’s leading rusher and a young offensive line combine for an unconvincing performance. 27-24
LSU (-4) over TCU –The Tigers’ defense doesn’t miss a beat even after losing 8 starters to the NFL. TCU will have trouble scoring, and you can’t win if you don’t score. 21-10
Iowa State (-9.5) over UNI – Panthers keep it close in first half, but Cyclones’ speed and QB Sam Richardson overwhelm en route to double-digit win. 42-24
ESPN’s Chris Hassel
Georgia @ Clemson – Death Valley. Tajh Boyd. Tigers roll.
Boise State @ Washington – No blue turf + new Husky Stadium = Washington winner
Northern Illinois @ Iowa (-3) – Iowa blocks three field goals in the final seconds to beat NIU by 2. Kirk cries in postgame interview.
Mississippi State @ Oklahoma State (-12.5) – Hearing whispers of a possible Okie State national title run all the way out here in the northeast. MSU isn’t a top 5 SEC team. Pokes cover.
LSU (-4) vs. TCU – TCU seems to always play well in these kinds of games. I still like LSU to cover.
UNI @ Iowa State (-9.5) – How is ISU not favored by double-digits? Is this game at the UNI-Dome? Clones by 3 scores.
WHO-TV 13 Meteorologist Brett McIntyre
Georgia @ Clemson – Georgia. Has anyone ever trusted Clemson in a big regular season game and not been burned?
Boise St. @ Washington – Boise. . Honestly, I know nothing about either of these teams, and I’m OK with that.
Northern Illinois @ Iowa (-3) – Iowa. It’s not that I don’t think a MAC team can do it, Iowa dropping an opener? Believe it when I see it.
Mississippi St. vs. Oklahoma State (-12.5) – Oklahoma State. Not a fan of the SEC. Overrated after their top tier.
TCU vs. LSU (-4) – LSU. Wasn’t a TCU believer, even at full strength.
UNI @ ISU (-9.5) – ISU. Somebody I know said it’s supposed to be hot. Stupid hot. If there was ever a game roster depth should show up….
Former Iowa State quarterback Austen Arnaud
Georgia @ Clemson – Aaron Murray vs Tahj Boyd, two Heisman hopefuls. This game has the potential to be a shootout, however I believe UGA steals a few possesions with forced turnovers and running the ball. UGA controls the tempo and wins 34-29.
Boise State @ Washington – Sark and the Huskies should be improved from a team last year who beat powerhouse Stanford early in the year, I like the Huskies in this game simply because they are at home. Huskies 27-Boise 21.
Northern Illinois @ Iowa (-3) – This game is a tough one to call, on one hand you have Jordan Lynch returning for NIU, the guy rushed for 1800 yards last season as a QB! Also, I take into effect that NIU only returns 4 players on defense. This is perfect for an Iowa team who wants to establish the run early and often, Kinnick is never an easy place to play. I do believe the Hawks get it done 24-18.
Mississippi State @ Oklahoma State (-12.5) – Okie State is going to be a fun team to watch this year. Miss St. in the past has struggled stopping teams with the spread attack (Texas A&M, bowl game N’Western) and OK State is exactly that. Ok State covers.
LSU (-4) vs. TCU – Another great opening weekend game, LSU will be very strong again this year… Question is how effective can Zach Mettenberger be this year, he has all the tools and now has some experience under his belt. TCU no matter who plays QB and how much will be improved this year, it will hurt not having Devonte Fields available for game 1. LSU by a touchdown
UNI @ Iowa State (-9.5) — The Cyclones start off the 2013 campaign with a lot to prove, especially on the defensive side of the ball. With an inexperienced defense, it will be good to see how they responds to adversity in an actual game. I am excited to watch this offense work. There is a versatility to this offense that we haven’t seen in Ames in awhile. You’ve got 5 RB’s that can carry the ball significant times, also a potential All-Big 12 TE in Ernst Brun and an O-Line that is down right nasty and has improved a ton since the arrival of Coach Kleinakis. The potential question mark lies in the QB and WR consistency. Sam Richardson is poised to have a good year with the help around him and his natural abilities and this is the fastest receiving corp Iowa State has had in a long time. Can this result in more big plays? Excuse my rant, but can you tell its that time of year!!?? Cyclones cover the spread 34-20.
Cyclone Fanatic’s Director of Sales Adam Gray
Georgia @ Clemson – Georgia seems to always start the year off a bit slow. Give me the home team here. Clemson 31-24
Boise State @ Washington – I get burned by doubting Boise every year. No more. Boise win 31-17
Northern Illinois @ Iowa (-3) – I think Iowa’s line wears down NIU throughout the game. Iowa 27-20
Mississippi State @ Oklahoma State (-12.5) – That’s a lot of points for the first game of the year. OSU wins but MSU covers. 28-20
LSU (-4) vs. TCU – LSU’s defense should shut down TCU but I question if they can score on them. I will take LSU in a low scoring game. 20-10 LSU
UNI @ Iowa State (-9.5) – Iowa State’s offense comes out of the gates with a great effort. 37-20 Iowa State
Cyclone Fanatic Columnist Brent Blum
Georgia @ Clemson – Clemson QB Tajh Boyd started his first game for Clemson during the Nixon administration. My gosh, he has been there forever. His old man game is not enough. Georgia 27 Clemson 24.
Boise State @ Washington – Washington is sneaky good this year, they get revenge from last year’s loss to the Broncos in the Las Vegas Bowl. Washington 31 Boise State 21.
Northern Illinois @ Iowa (-3) – New defensive front seven for NIU against a solid Iowa ground game = several THE HAWKS OUR BACK Facebook posts on Saturday night (Grammatical error included.) Iowa 28 Northern Illinois 17.
Mississippi State @ Oklahoma State (-12.5) – 12.5 is a lot of points against a pretty sound SEC team. New coordinators for OSU as well. Cowboys look sluggish, but still win. OSU 30 MSU 24.
LSU (-4) vs. TCU – One guarantee: Twitter goes nuts over TCU’s uniforms. The game is a coin flip. LSU 21 TCU 16.
UNI @ Iowa State (-9.5) – Stat to watch for: Can Iowa State eclipse 200 rushing yards. If they do, that’s a good sign for the season. They do. Iowa State 34 UNI 17.
Cyclone Fanatic Publisher Chris WIlliams
Georgia @ Clemson – The Tigers playing at home is tempting, but let’s simplify this game. It’s one of the SEC’s best vs. one the ACC’s best in week one. Always go with the SEC. Georgia 31, Clemson 28
Boise State @ Washington – Boise has too much talent to replace on defense. Huskies win convincingly. Washington 41, Boise State 28
Northern Illinois @ Iowa (-3) – Iowa’s offensive line will be too much for NIU on an insanely hot day. Iowa 24, NIU 17
Mississippi State @ Oklahoma State (-12.5) – A middle of the pack SEC team vs. an upper-tier Big 12 team on a neutral field…Closer than you’d think, but I still like the Cowboys. OSU 30, MSU 28
LSU (-4) vs. TCU – Well, I’m already on the record by picking TCU to win the Big 12 this season. Give me the Horned Frogs in a week one upset. TCU 28, LSU 27
UNI @ Iowa State – You’ve read enough of my opinions on this game this week. Iowa State 34, UNI 17
ABC5 Sports Director Dave Zawilinski
Georgia @ Clemson – Common sense says choose Georgia, they’re the SEC team. But the dogs defense got decimated by players going to the NFL and those guys are tearing it up in the preseason. Don’t forget Clemson beat LSU in a bowl game. I’m taking the Tigers.
Boise State @ Washington – The Broncs are coming off a down year. They won 11 games. You don’t expect them to have back to back down years, do you? Boise St.
Northern Illinois @ Iowa (-3) – This has all the makings of an upset? Vegas "experts" say the smart money is on NIU. I’ve never finished in the top half of this damn pickem. I must not be very smart. Here’s another reason I’m not smart – Hawks cover.
Mississippi State @ Oklahoma State (-12.5) – I’m excited for this SEC-Big 12 matchup. Offense versus defense. Games on ABC5 (I’m a company man). OSU is legit. I think they will cover.
LSU (-4) vs. TCU – TCU suspends best player. LSU allows its law breaker to player. Advantage LSU. LSU covers.
UNI @ Iowa State (-9.5) – Did you see this matchup in 2011? Maybe Paul Rhoads can use this post as bulletin board material. ISU will cover.
Former Iowa State kicker Bret Culbertson
Georgia @ Clemson – Tooouuuugh pick on a game that should be one of the best season openers to watch. I’d love to go for the upset with Clemsen at home, but I think the Dogs get the season off to a great start and leave with a W.
Boise State @ Washington – Washington seemed to have an up and down year last year but with key players returning I think they avenge the game is Las Vegas last year against Boise State. Washington comes out on top.
Northern Illinois @ Iowa (-3) – Honestly I’m not sure about this one. I think I’ll stay in state with this pick for the sake of… oh heck I’ll take NIU to cover! I don’t think the Hawks will shake last year’s shenanigans in their first game this season.
Mississippi State @ Oklahoma State (-12.5) – Cowboys leave with an easy non-conference blowout to begin the year. Okie State covers, and covers well.
LSU (-4) vs. TCU – Odds-makers are giving us a gift with this one. No way do the Toads stay within 4. LSU wins by more.
UNI @ Iowa State (-9.5) – Todd..er..Coach Blythe returns to Jack Trice. Will be great to see him doing his thing but he adds an "L" to his record book as a coach. ISU covers.
enCYCLONEpedia’s Kirk Haaland
Georgia @ Clemson – Dawgs. It’s a tough roadie for Georgia in the face of a though first four games, but, Clemson.
Boise State @ Washington – Boise State because I usually pick against them out of moral disdain and get proven wrong.
Northern Illinois @ Iowa (-3) – I don’t think Iowa will win nine games this year but I think they may be slightly improved against a tougher schedule. I think they’re defense will be fine and their offense will do enough to cover.
Mississippi State vs. Oklahoma State (-12.5) – I want to take the Cowboys but that is a big number, I think Okie Lite wins but doesn’t cover.
LSU (-4) vs. TCU – Maybe I’ve mentally downgraded TCU because ISU beat them last year and while I know LSU’s offense is consistently not great I can’t bet against the Bayou Bengals. LSU.
UNI @ Iowa State (-9.5) – The Kool-Aid is at peak strength right now and I am fairly confident that Iowa State will win but there are still a lot of questions to be answered. Can the offense click early and often? Can the defense control the running game and a scrambling Kollmorgen? I’ll take ISU and I think we’ll learn a lot about what to expect this season not just by the final scoreboard but by how the battles are decided in the trenches.
The Voice of the Fan, Trevor Enerson
Georgia @ Clemson – Clemson has some firepower but I just don’t think they will be able to win by outscoring Georgia. Georgia also has some weapons offensively and they will be fine defensively. Give me UGA 31-21
Boise State @ Washington – I think Sarkisian is quietly putting together a solid program. I think they pull a close one out here. Washington 24-21
Northern Illinois @ Iowa (-3) – NIU has a dark horse Heisman candidate and Iowa has……….Greg Davis. I think this one will stay close but I wouldn’t be shocked if it got ugly. NIU covers easy.
Mississippi State @ Oklahoma State (-12.5) – 12.5 is a lot to give a decent football team in the first week. I’ll take MSU to cover.
LSU (-4) vs. TCU – This is the toughest one. TCU is either returning a guy who hasn’t played for a year but could be among the best in the league or they are returning a guy who could go from average to good at QB. I have to think those two guys are probably going to be pretty good and with the players TCU has in place defensively, I’ll take them to cover.
UNI @ Iowa State (-9.5) – The ISU defense is too big and too fast for UNI. The offense will show vast improvement with the pistol formations. ISU covers easy.
Former Iowa State linebacker Adam Carper
Georgia @ Clemson – Great week 1 matchup as both teams have high expectations leading into the season and return explosive offensive weapons. Clemson keeps it close into the 4thbut Georgia running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall prove to be too much. Georgia
Boise State @ Washington – Evenly matched teams but I like Boise State to go on the road and get the W.
Northern Illinois @ Iowa (-3) – I keep trying to convince myself that the Hawks will cover in this game but I can’t get that 4-8 season of mishaps out of my head from a year ago. Northern Illinois celebrates in the pink locker room.
Mississippi State @ Oklahoma State (-12.5) – The Cowboys offense comes out firing on all cylinders and Mike Gundy continues to have great hair. Pokes.
LSU (-4) vs. TCU – I don’t care if LSU is in the prestigious SEC or that they’re projected to contend for a national title as Gary Patterson squads are always gamers and this is essentially a home game for his team. Give me the Horned Frogs.
UNI @ Iowa State (-9.5) – This game will be reminiscent to 2 years ago with UNI fighting and battling for all 4 quarters but ISU’s ground attack and Wally Burnham’s opportunistic defense will be the difference. Give me the points with the Panthers as Clones win by a TD.