My third favorite day of the year has arrived.
No. 1 is Thanksgiving Day. I love Thanksgiving. Lots of family, football and food. No. 2 is the day after Thanksgiving. Not as much family, but plenty of football and enough leftovers to fit the food requirement.
No. 3 is today. The opening day of college football. The long hot wait is over. Something relevant on television. Excitement every Saturday. A chance to talk about what has happened instead of what will happen.
So time to get in my Week 1 picks before kickoff of South Carolina-North Carolina.
OSU vs. Mississippi State in Houston: Cowboys 38-27. I think it will be a good game, but pace will be the difference. The tempo eventually will get to the Bulldogs.
Louisiana-Monroe at OU: Sooners 41-21. Perfect foe, really, for a season opener. A mid-major with come cachet off last season, but not enough oomph to make it overly dramatic. The Sooners would have to play really poorly to let Monroe threaten. Of course, they’ve done it before.
TCU vs. LSU in Arlington, Texas: Tigers 21-14. The Frogs should could do their new conference a solid by winning this game.
North Dakota State at Kansas State: Wildcats 29-20. K-State often struggles in a season opener, and North Dakota State has won two straight I-AA national titles.
Texas Tech at SMU: Mustangs 27-24. Big 12 upset special. SMU’s quarterback is Garrett Gilbert. That might sound like bad news, but Tech will be forced to pick between two true freshmen quarterback, Davis Webb and Baker Mayfield, and Webb is a walkon.
Wofford at Baylor: Bears 73-7. Some day, there will be a law against this kind of thing.
Northern Iowa at Iowa State: Cyclones 28-21. A close shave against the in-state Panther isn’t foreboding for Iowa State. The Cyclones beat UNI 20-19 the year they knocked off unbeaten OSU, 2011.
William & Mary at West Virginia: Mountaineers 66-10. I love you, West Virginia, but this kind of matchup stinks.
New Mexico State at Texas: Longhorns 66-14. Toughens up a little for UT after this one. BYU, Ole Miss, Kansas State, OU and TCU are five of Texas’ next six games.
Tulsa at Bowling Green: Golden Hurricane 30-28. Strange. Tulsa is a 31/2-point underdog. For what it’s worth, these schools played in the Mobile Bowl after the 2007 season. Tulsa won 63-7.
North Carolina at South Carolina: Gamecocks 24-16. Larry Fedora’s maiden season at UNC was promising, 8-4. Win this game, and his second season could be really special.
Ole Miss at Vanderbilt: Commodores 24-21. Vanderbilt has won seven straight games. That’s the longest win streak in the SEC.
Alabama vs. Virginia Tech in Atlanta: Crimson Tide 23-6. This sounded good when scheduled, but really, does anyone give VPI a chance?
Louisiana-Lafayette at Arkansas: Razorbacks 33-20. Bret Bielema’s Wisconsin teams often let inferior foes hang around. Of course, the Hogs did the same last year against UL-Monroe.
Washington State at Auburn: Tigers 41-24. Some people say Mike Leach’s second WSU squad will be better, but count me as skeptical.
Toledo at Florida: Gators 37-17.Florida also is playing Miami and Florida State non-conference. If the Rockets are your third-best non-con foe, that’s a good schedule.
Rice at Texas A&M: Aggies 57-10. OK. The score’s 28-0, 35-3 at halftime. Johnny Football finally gets eligible. How much does he play in the second half?
Georgia at Clemson: Tigers 19-14. What an opener. What a football game. Winner is a top-five team.
Kentucky vs. Western Kentucky in Nashville: Wildcats 30-21. Mark Stoops’ UK debut comes in an in-state game played out-of-state.
Austin Peay at Tennessee: Volunteers 52-0. Who is Austin Peay? He was Tennessee’s first governor since the Civil War to win three consecutive terms. Why don’t we have a George Nigh University?
Murray State at Missouri: Tigers 48-14. Mizzou, from now on, you’re only someone that we used to love.
Buffalo at Ohio State: Buckeyes 55-13. I don’t know if Ohio State could beat the Buffalo Bills, but I’m quite certain they can beat the Buffalo Bulls.
Penn State vs. Syracuse in East Rutherford, N.J.: Nittany Lions 23-20. Ex-Sooner Drew Allen remains in a quarterback derby for Syracuse.
Southern Illinois at Illinois: Illini 46-14. Will Tim Beckman get to coach Wes Lunt? Beckman, after one season, already is on the clock.
Northwestern at California: Wildcats 24-22. Maybe I’m the only one, but I believe Cal will regret running off Jeff Tedford.
Indiana State at Indiana: Hoosiers 51-14. They say Kevin Wilson is beefing up his team. Let’s hope so. IU beat the I-AA Sycamores just 24-17 last September.
Purdue at Cincinnati: Bearcats 30-24. I saw Purdue play live last year. As good a pick as any for worst bowl team I’ve ever seen.
Massachusetts at Wisconsin: Badgers 52-13.Gary Andersen makes his Madison debut. Can he keep up the Rose Bowl tradition?
Western Michigan at Michigan State: Spartans 33-17. The Mid-American Conference always is lying in ambush for a Big Ten foe.
Wyoming at Nebraska: Cornhuskers 40-17. Taylor Martinez is back for his 13th season quarterbacking Nebraska.
Nevada-Las Vegas at Minnesota: Golden Gophers 33-16. I don’t know why, but I’ve always sort of liked Minnesota. But I’m getting tired of waiting on that Rose Bowl trip.
Central Michigan at Michigan: Wolverines 51-19. OK, let’s play a matching game. Battle Creek, Ypsilanti, Mount Pleasant. Match the Michigan town with the MAC school – Central, Western and Eastern. Here’s the answer – Ypsilanti is Eastern, Battle Creek is Western and Mount Pleasant is Central, where OSU plays in 2015.
Northern Illinois at Iowa: Hawkeyes 26-14.Iowa’s status in the Big 10 is rising. But only thanks to the soon-arrival of Maryland and Rutgers. To enjoy the benefits of such additions to the conference, I would recommend Kirk Ferentz win this game.
Boise State at Washington: Broncos 25-24. Why is UW favored? I mean, Steve Sarkisian is doing a nice job in Seattle, but Boise State is a slobber-knocker program. This seems like a solid national upset special.
Nevada at UCLA: Bruins 35-25. When last we saw the Bruins, they were getting waxed by Baylor. But give Jim Mora Jr. credit. At least UCLA football has a pulse.
Colorado State vs. Colorado in Denver: Rams 23-21. The Bill McCartney days seem long ago and far away. McCartney? Heck, the same is true of the Gary Barnett days.
Utah State at Utah: Utes 27-21. I’ll be pulling for new Utah State coach Matt Wells, who hails from Sallisaw. Utah State won this game a year ago.
Nicholls State at Oregon: Ducks 63-0.Nicholls State’s final game of 2012 was a Dec. 1 trip to Oregon State. The Colonels lost 77-3. The Oregon Coast is maybe my favorite vacation spot in America. But this is a little ridiculous.
Eastern Washington at Oregon State: Beavers 56-11. Tough little division, that Pac-12 North. Two top-five teams in Oregon and Stanford. Washington and Oregon State. If Cal and WSU get going, wow.
Southern Cal at Hawaii: Trojans 48-14. Norm Chow, now Hawaii’s coach, goes against the school he offensive-coordinated to greatness. Wonder if SC wishes it had hired him instead of Lane Kiffin? Probably not.
Northern Arizona at Arizona: Wildcats 51-20. Rich Rodriguez will build UofA into a legit Pac-12 program.
Florida Atlantic at Miami: Hurricanes 45-19. The Howard Schnellenberger Bowl. The program he built into a national power against the program he built from scratch. For some reason, these schools 52 miles apart never have played in football.
Brigham Young at Virginia: Cougars 30-20. Wonder if BYU ever will be relevant again? To do so, the Cougs have to win games like this.
Presbyterian at Wake Forest: Demon Deacons 48-16. Why doesn’t Methodist have a team?
Florida International at Maryland: Terrapins. 24-20. I almost picked the upset. If FIU hadn’t fired Mario Cristobal, I would have been on board. Worst firing of the off-season.
Elon at Georgia Tech: Yellowjackets 45-10. You know, here’s another advantage for schools in the southeast. They can import a lot more rumdums for these kinds of games. Lots of I-AA foes, like Elon. The Sun Belt and Conference USA overflowing with mid-majors looking for games.
Villanova at Boston College: Eagles 26-7. Great old Big East basketball matchup. Doesn’t do much for me on the gridiron.
Florida State at Pittsburgh: Seminoles 26-21. Pitt’s ACC debut comes on national television against the always-hyped Seminoles.
Louisiana Tech at North Carolina State: Wolfpack 33-24. Another upset alert. But as charming as is Skip Holtz, I just don’t think he’s that good of a coach.
North Carolina Central at Duke: Blue Devils 48-7. North Carolina Central is at least better than Savannah State.
Temple at Notre Dame: Fighting Irish 27-7. Forgive Notre Dame this relatively-easy opener. The Irish’s next six games are at Michigan, at Purdue, Michigan State, OU, Arizona State in Arlington and Southern Cal.
Ohio at Louisville: Cardinals 42-30. Believe it or not, but this shapes up as Louisville’s toughest opponent.
Towson at Connecticut: Huskies 38-13. It’s possible that in five years or so, we’re going to look back and say, OU played UConn in a Fiesta Bowl? Really?
Rutgers at Fresno State: Bulldogs 36-26. All kinds of people need the Scarlet Knights to win. Louisville, to beef up its schedule. The Big Ten, to save face for inviting Rutgers. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, to keep his state semi-relevant in college football.
Southern U. at Houston: Cougars 49-20. This game is the Friday night opening act at Reliant Stadium for the OSU-Mississippi State game Saturday.
McNeese State at South Florida: Bulls 38-14. The USF program seemed so promising just a few years ago. Now, the future is murky, with a conference in tatters and a new coach from Western Kentucky (Willie Taggart).
Akron at Central Florida: Golden Knights 28-14. The Zips could be primed for an upset.
Texas-San Antonio at New Mexico: Lobos 29-17. Larry Coker, who used to coach Miami, against Bob Davie, who used to coach Notre Dame.
Texas State at Southern Miss: Golden Eagles 24-20. Todd Monken’s debut in Hattiesburg. Hope he’s found a quarterback.