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Football

CF Staff Picks: College football’s opening weekend

Football is back!

The season kicks off tonight, as do our CF Staff Picks here at CycloneFanatic.com. 

We’ll start with last year’s champion, Jeff Woody.  

Cyclone Fanatic Analyst, Jeff Woody 

Michigan @ Utah (-5.5) – Utes (As much as it pains me to take them in recollection of the whooping they dropped on us). The Utah defense returns more than half its starters from a pretty stout unit last year (and Lowell Lotulelei, little brother of first round draft pick Star Lotulelei). Not to mention the fact that Michigan has to travel two time zones in the first part of the year when they are just getting used to their school and practice schedules. Jim will get his wins, but not in Salt Lake.

TCU (-14.5) @ Minnesota – Frogs. I think the Gophers have a shot to make some noise in the B1G this year under Coach Kill, but TCU is too talented and motivated. Trevone Boykin is my Heisman favorite and his offense returns 10 of 11 starters. **Side note about Boykin – Casey Pachall missed his start against us to go to rehab. Boykin filled in for him when he was a redshirt freshman. Knott and AJ both marveled at how talented he was back then, and very little caused them to be impressed.

BYU @ Nebraska (-7) – In the game of "who knows" I will take BYU to cover the 7. I don’t know who is going to win, but the Huskers will be without at least 5 starters for this game, and even at Memorial Stadium that’s hard to overcome. Taysum Hill is also a hell of a football player for the Cougs.

Texas @ Notre Dame (-9.5) – Give me the Horns to cover. There is something about Notre Dame that makes me a bit uneasy. I think Texas can match their talent and cover.

Ohio State (-12) @ Virginia Tech – OSU by a billion. VaTech was the only blemish on their schedule last year. Urban Meyer holds grudges. Things may get ugly in Blacksburg.

Iowa State (-8) vs. UNI – I’ll take the Cyclones to cover the points. I really like this offense, but have no idea on the defensive side of the ball what to expect. I think Sammy and those wideouts make up for any gray area on defense.

Cyclone Fanatic Columnist, Brent Blum

Michigan @ Utah (-5.5) – Even if Michigan had Heisman contender C.J. Beathard, it wouldn’t matter. Harbaugh keeps his shirt on, but gets humiliated anyway. Utah 31 Michigan 14. 

TCU (-14.5) @ Minnesota – Beware the extra half point. I have a sneaky suspicion Minnesota keeps this within 10. TCU 30 Minnesota 21. 

BYU @ Nebraska (-7) – Fun fact: BYU QB Taysom Hill graduated high school in 2008, Jeff Woody had a mullet then I think. Nebraska 27, BYU 21. 

Texas @ Notre Dame (-9.5) – I’m afraid this will be a long year for Texas and Charlie Strong. Notre Dame 30 Texas 13. 

Ohio State (-12) @ Virginia Tech – This atmosphere will be fun…for a quarter. Ohio State 35 Virginia Tech 16. 

Iowa State (-8) vs. UNI – UNI has one offensive lineman that has started more than five games, a new offensive coordinator and very inexperienced receivers. The Panthers defense should be stout again, however. Iowa State pulls away late. Iowa State 30 Northern Iowa 17. 

Cyclone Fanatic Senior Writer, Rob Gray 

Michigan @ Utah (-5.5) – Press those khakis. This will end up being an almost four-hour infomercial for Dockers and all that is awesome and strange about Jim Harbaugh. Yeah, I’ve got Michigan. The Wolverines should be stout defensively and return experience and productivity at linebacker and along the interior. Expect rough sledding for Utes’ standout Devontae Booker. Michigan, on the other hand, will get its running game going and shock the fine folks in Salt Lake City (hey — there’s a brewery at the airport!). Wolverines not only beat the spread but sail off with a 3-point win.

TCU (-14.5) @ Minnesota – Doubt Jerry Kill at your peril. Plus, what a name: Jerry Kill! Minnesota boasts what should usually be a salty defense, but Trevone Boykin simply shakes out too much pepper (and pizzazz) to make that matter this week. The Gophers start a nice young man named Mitch Lender at quarterback. Sounds like a 1970s middle infielder for the Brewers. I reckon the Gophers keep it reasonably close for a while (maybe a half), but can’t hold Boykin and Co. down. Frogs by 15, so a cover.

BYU @ Nebraska (-7) – The Huskers begin the Mike Riley era by trying to contain Taysom Hill. Ain’t a-gonna happen when it comes to Hill’s speedy legs, but the arm’s at issue here. I like Nebraska to bottle up the Cougars’ passing game while Tommy Armstrong Jr. upstages Hill both on the move and in the pocket. We’ll all miss Bo Pelini’s cats, but Riley will help the Huskers’ faithful feel relevant again when it comes to at least top-20 status. Nebraska covers, barely.

Texas @ Notre Dame (-9.5) – Charlie Strong’s reshaped the now-mediocre Longhorns’ program to his exacting specifications, but he’s got nothing on Touchdown Jesus when it comes to redemptive powers. Texas will once again rely on its defense to try to stoke a rise from the ash heap that included twin blowout losses to close the 2014 season. Cruelly, in one of those losses, the D surrendered 48 points to TCU — the most allowed last season, topping the 45 given up to ISU. Bottom line: Texas will struggle to score. The Fighting Irish won’t (much). Give me UND by 13.

Ohio State (-12) @ Virginia Tech – Arch-villain (to some) Urban Meyer will follow up last season’s national title run by dealing out some revenge to the Hokies on their home turf. In other words, a reversal of last season — but this time both teams are good. J.T. Barrett will connect early and often with Braxton Miller and make the mood in Blacksburg angry and depressing. I still think Tech can hang for a while because of what should be an excellent run defense. The offense, however, won’t muster much. I’m going with the Buckeyes, 35-17.

Iowa State (-8) vs. UNI – The SEZ could serve as a stirring backdrop for an ISU team that takes its first step toward shaking off the ghosts of the last two subpar seasons. There will be tense moments, a.k.a adversity. The Panthers always have talent, but most of their question marks are on defense, save a fast, experienced secondary. The Cyclones face a similar situation, but I think their secondary will shine, pocketing a couple of key early takeaways. Sam Richardson and the offense should settle into a state of previously-rare consistency and the O-line, if it stays healthy, will move some earth. Give me the ‘Clones, 38-28. That’s a cover!

The enCYCLONEpedia, Kirk Haaland

Picking games is hard and I think everyone is bad at it, other than Adam Gray (but that is only if you ask him….) So, in an attempt to curb my terrible performance and try a new method I’ll be using data from the new football site I’ve been working on, cfbanalytics.com. Using the data we have their and projecting with an algorithm should, in theory, give decent results, right? Well, maybe.

Michigan @ Utah (-5.5) – Utah spoils the debut of Jim Harbaugh but the Utes can’t cover the -5.5, 24-21.
TCU (-14.5) @ Minnesota – My football eyes and respect TCU and the hype train is about to run off the rails for the Horned Frogs. While Minnesota is predicted to be pretty solid this season and this game is in Minneapolis many are still predicting a TCU blowout. The CFA algorithm has a 31-20 win for TCU, Gophers cover.

BYU @ Nebraska (-7) – This is a pretty scary game for a season opener, let alone a tenure opener for Mike Riley, as BYU is a good program with an experienced and capable quarterback in Taysum Hill. This should be a really good game. The Cougars cover and Nebraska wins the close one, 31-30.

Texas @ Notre Dame (-9.5) – Texas has a daunting task for a very, very young team still rebuilding with Charlie Strong as they head to South Bend. Notre Dame is one of the teams that could be a playoff dark horse in 2015. It starts with this big home game, Golden Domers cover, 31-14.

Ohio State (-12) @ Virginia Tech – The Buckeyes kickoff their pursuit of defending their National Title in Blacksburg and they’re seeking revenge on their only loss from 2014 (if that matters). Buckeyes cover, 31-9.

Iowa State (-8) vs. UNI – I just used a lot of brain power to pick five games, and since we aren’t yet capable of incorporating FCS teams matched up with FBS teams I’ll have to wing this prediction on my own…maybe use my heart instead of my head. Losing a home opener to an FCS team just cripples a season, we know that all too well after the past two seasons. Despite knowing how serious that is, just knowing doesn’t make the team better or the performance better. Everything is positive coming out of camp and "little birdies" have been chirping that things are looking good for the Cyclones. But, they have to make it happen. I think ISU will do just enough on the ground on both offense and defense to keep UNI at bay while making a few big plays through the air and netting some turnovers. Cyclones, 31-21.

Cyclone Fanatic Sales Director, Adam Gray

Michigan @ Utah (-5.5) – I can’t get the offseason picture of Harbaugh’s pasty white body out of my head.  The sun is free Jim!  Anyway, I think he turns it around at Michigan and does it quickly….just not this quick.  I like Utah to win 27-17.

TCU (-14.5) @ Minnesota – I’m sure Gary Patterson’s comments last year about Minnesota are plastered all over the locker room.  That, plus being at home for the 1st game of the year, makes this a competitive game for 3 qtrs.  But TCU throws a couple late TD’s on the board and wins 38-21.

BYU @ Nebraska (-7) – Whenever I’m not sure on a game I look at two things.  1) Who has the better QB? Taysom Hill of BYU is an absolute stud.  2) Which team has the better coach?  This one is tough, but I’ll go with the staff that has been in place longer.  This leads to a BYU win outright 21-20

Texas @ Notre Dame (-9.5) – Texas is still 2 years away from getting back to where they want to be.  Just not enough pieces on offense to compete with Notre Dame.  Irish win 24-10

Ohio State (-12) @ Virginia Tech –  Payback game for the Buckeyes leads to a big win.  That’s hard to do against a Beamer coached team playing at home, but Ohio State is talented enough to do it.  Ohio State rolls 42-17

Iowa State (-8) vs. UNI – I try to pick Iowa State games with my head and not my heart.  Not this game!  First game of the year, we are still undefeated, and I’m drinking some delicious koolaid!  Cyclones win 34-17!

Cyclone Fanatic Multimedia Machine, Jared Stansbury 

Michigan @ Utah (-5.5) – Utah. The Utes beat Michigan last season in the Big House and they will do it at home this year to spoil Jim Harbaugh’s debut. Utah running back Devontae Booker could be a Heisman dark-horse and he’ll have a big game to get his campaign started.

TCU (-14.5) @ Minnesota – TCU. The Gophers will put up a fight for the first three quarters, but Treyvone Boykin and co. will be too much down the stretch. Mitch Leidner throws a late pick that seals it for the Frogs.

BYU @ Nebraska (-7) – Nebraska. The Huskers have won 29 straight home openers and they will extend that streak here. I expect Terrell Newby to show he has the ability to replace Ameer Abdullah and Tommy Armstrong will show his improvement under new head coach Mike Riley and offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf. Taysom Hill helps the Cougars hang around but the Huskers cover. 

Texas @ Notre Dame (-9.5) – Notre Dame. The Longhorns will take a step forward in the second year under Charlie Strong but it won’t be enough in South Bend. Malik Zaire has a big game and the Irish cover. 

Ohio State (-12) @ Virginia Tech – Ohio State. I could play quarterback for the defending champs and we would cover. Do I need to say more? 

Iowa State (-8) vs. UNI – Iowa State. Sam Richardson connects early with Quenton Bundrage for a long touchdown pass, Mike Warren scores his first career touchdown, and the defense comes up with a big turnover in the second half that helps ISU cover. The south end zone gets the grand opening it deserves.

Cyclone Fanatic Publisher, Chris Williams 

Michigan @ Utah (-5.5) – I really want to pick Michigan because I think Jim Harbaugh is freaking awesome. But you’re telling me that Utah – the better team here – only has to win by a touchdown to cover? The is a competition. Give me the Utes. 

TCU (-14.5) @ Minnesota – That damn half point could come back to bite me but I can’t get last year’s contest between these two out of my mind. Big deal that it’s in Minnesota. I like TCU by 20 here. 

BYU @ Nebraska (-7) – Give me BYU not only to cover, but win outright in Lincoln. 

Texas @ Notre Dame (-9.5) – This is the toughest game to pick this week in my opinion. I hate Texas’ options at quarterback though and I think they are a year away. I’ll take the Fighting Irish to cover at home. 

Ohio State (-12) @ Virginia Tech – A tricky game. How will Ohio State react to being told how great they are all summer long? I’m not sure if it will matter. Buckeyes by 21. 

Iowa State (-8) vs. UNI – This game has me s**ting bricks. Cyclones win by 6, but don’t cover. 

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