College football season began in earnest last night, which means that it’s time for me to start making foolish predictions again that you all will make fun of by Monday. This year, we’re kicking the predictions up to another level with a weekly parlay, which is essentially an experiment to show how much money I would lose if I went to Vegas every weekend. I’ll pick 3 college games (always including the Illinois game) and, once the pro season starts, 3 NFL games (always including the Bears game) each week against the Friday morning spread shown on Yahoo! Sports. The level of analysis every week will solely depend upon how much time I have to write that particular post (and in the case of this week, with little to go on other than gut feelings with the first games of the season, this blog’s credo to be “entirely logical” will go out the window). So, as we concurrently celebrate Chicago’s exorcism of Jay Mariotti, let the season of gratuitous pictures of Ron Zook begin (home teams in CAPS):
(1) CALIFORNIA (-5) over Michigan State – This pick is less about any confidence in Cal and more that I will never trust Michigan State any farther than I can throw Sparty’s costume. Taking Utah with 3 points over Michigan was enticing, but despite last year’s Appalachian State debacle, you bet against the Wolverines in the Big House at your own peril.
(2) Alabama (+4 1/2) over Clemson (neutral site game at Atlanta) – The money has obviously been going toward ‘Bama since the line is rolling in the Tide’s direction (no pun intended) and I think it makes sense. The Georgia Dome crowd is probably going to tilt to the Alabama side and Clemson can’t help but screwing itself over within the first couple weeks of the season (particularly when you consider the ridiculously high expectations this season for a program that has largely done jackshit). Therefore, I like Alabama with the points. The most powerful coach in sports has to earn his keep somehow.
(3) Illinois (+9) over Missouri (neutral site game at St. Louis) – Alright, so all of you think this is a homer pick, particularly when Mizzou is coming back with its team from last year largely intact and Chase Daniel is leading an offensive attack with a physique that rivals our favorite neckbearded quarterback. But seriously – a 9-point spread for a matchup that a year ago resulted in Mizzou squeaking out a 40-34 win with Juice Williams getting knocked out of the game in the first quarter? (I’ll just ignore the fact that I have no clue what our running game will look like without Rashard Mendenhall, but Juice himself can run like he’s avoiding the wrath of Amy Winehouse. Right? Right???) I’m not arguing that Illinois is better than Missouri this year or that the Illini will win (even though I very much hope that will be the case), but this high of a point spread for two ranked teams at a neutral site is suspect to me. So, take the points and GO ILLINI!
(On a side note, please pour out some Cris for the passing of the Metra bar car today. The long commute that I once had when I lived in Libertyville felt a lot shorter in the bar car – I was hoping this concept would expand to the Burlington Northern line to Naperville as opposed to being entirely eradicated. R.I.P. to the “train friends” that were easily made during rush hour.)
(Image from Deadspin)