Educated Guesses: Week 1 picks, upset call & season predictions
Things were looking up when last we saw Educated Guesses.
The 2012 season was my first above the .700 mark. I turned around a woeful bowl season performance as well, recovering from 4-8 in 2011 to a respectable 8-3. Even picked South Carolina right after mostly making mistakes in the meaningful games all year.
So we’ll kick off a new season with some regional blockbusters. With Georgia, South Carolina and Clemson all starting the season ranked among the top 10, the targets will only be bigger and better.
Before we get to the Week 1 games including the massive retro showdown between the Bulldogs and Tigers in Death Valley, let’s weigh in on a few big picture items.
SEC: When you read a little further, you might be surprised by this. Of course we all presume Alabama will claim the West again. A few might place faith in Johnny Manziel to spark a Texas A&M uprising, but placing faith in Manziel is not a feeling I share. The Tide will roll again. In the East the choice has never been tougher. If you rule Florida out (which I don’t do lightly), the choice between UGA and S.C. is perilous. My gut tells me Georgia will win the head-to-head this time, but it will be South Carolina’s turn to run the table after that and steal the division from the Bulldogs.
ACC: I have no qualms about this. Call it local bias if you want, but I think Clemson is a lock to sweep the Atlantic and Georgia Tech will surprise everyone again and claim the Coastal. Clemson will win the championship game in Charlotte.
BCS: Whether I’m right or wrong about who wins the SEC East, whichever team does will beat Alabama in the title game at the Georgia Dome and face everybody’s reluctant No. 1 Louisville in the championship game in Pasadena. I know, the Cardinals play a nothing schedule in a mop-up season in the conference formerly known at Big East. But they’ll be undefeated with a star quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater and everybody will remember what they did last year to Florida in the Sugar Bowl. Of course, whatever SEC team plays them this time will win in the end. My guess is folks in Columbia, S.C., will go on a month-long celebratory bender starting in December.
HEISMAN: The final candidates will be the aforementioned Bridgewater sharing the stage in New York with Clemson’s Tajh Boyd and South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney. Voters are desperately itching to finally give this thing to a pure defensive player. Clowney is the best candidate that may ever come along in a crowded field of the usual QBs and RBs. Start figuring out which avenue to Williams-Brice is going to be renamed after him. I suggest the one that comes down from Rock Hill, S.C.
In addition to following these weekly guesses on ScottMichaux.com, anyone wishing to play along can join The Augusta Chronicle’s Football Fever Challenge. You can register at http://chronicle.augusta.com/sports/footballfever#.Uh40kdI3s8o
Good luck. Now onto the educated guesses for Week 1:
Georgia @ Clemson: I think the Bulldogs have a terrific offense and will have a great championship-caliber season. But the defense will be without linebacker Josh Harvey-Clemons against the Tigers and I met the former walk-on who will be the last safety standing between Sammy Watkins and the end zone. With or without (probably without) kicker Marshall Morgan, Georgia will come up just shy against a motivated Clemson. TIGERS 45, Bulldogs 42.
North Carolina @ South Carolina: Steve Spurrier loved beating the Tar Heels at Duke and he’ll get a chance to pose again in front of the scoreboard and gloat. GAMECOCKS 27, Tar Heels 17.
Elon @ Georgia Tech: An appetizer before a full plate of massive division games in the next month. Bon appetit. YELLOW JACKETS 54, Phoenix 10.
Alabama vs. Virginia Tech: These names may sound like a marquee matchup, but the Hokie brand is fading. CRIMSON TIDE 34, Hokies 13.
LSU @ Texas Christian: The only other top-25 matchup in college football and it will not be an easy test for LSU. TIGERS 28, Horned Frogs 24.
Kentucky @ Western Kentucky: I don't like Bobby Petrino at all, and the Wildcats definitely won’t like where this game is heading. HILLTOPPERS 31, Wildcats 28.
Florida State @ Pitt: With this kind of welcome, Pitt might get the wrong impression that the ACC is a football conference. SEMINOLES 42, Panthers 20.
Syracuse @ Penn State: This would be a better basketball game. NITTANY LIONS 27, Orangemen 20.
BYU @ Virginia: It’s just the first week so I’m entitled to be a total homer against all reason. CAVALIERS 27, Cougars 24.
Northwestern @ Cal: You’ll never guess which of these brainy schools is ranked and which isn’t. Even so, game is in Berkeley. BEARS 37, Wildcats 34.
Savannah State @ Georgia Southern: Even though Southern is moving up to I-A, it still has time to stomp on a helpless neighbor along the way. EAGLES 49, Tigers 0.
LAST POSTSEASON RESULTS: 8-3
Winners: Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Oregon, Texas A&M, Stanford, Florida State, North Dakota State
Losers: LSU, Southern Cal, Florida
YEAR-TO-DATE RECORD: 0-0
2012 record: 117-48 (.709)
2011 record: 115-51 (.693)
2010 record: 97-49 (.664)