2014 was bad. Bad. Bad. Bad.
2015 is a new year, so we're going to make money this year. Promise. If you fade our picks this week, we understand. But don't be doing it when week 6 rolls around. Let's get to it.
Western Kentucky (-2) at Vanderbilt, 8 p.m. ET THURSDAY: Is Derek Mason's lost list the key to a winning season for Vanderbilt? Western Kentucky has one of the best offenses in the country and while Vanderbilt's defense should be decent in 2015, we don't think the Commodores have the firepower to hang with the Hilltoppers. Vanderbilt lost at home to open the season against Temple in 2014 and will do so again in 2015.
Ohio (-7) at Idaho, 9 p.m. ET THURSDAY: Yeah, we're going way off the board here. Finding a team that's only a touchdown favorite against a team that's won two games in two years seems like finding buried treasure. The Bobcats are one of the best teams in the MAC East and have a solid defense. We like this to be a comfortable win.
Duke (-7) at Tulane, 9:30 p.m. ET THURSDAY: Another road favorite? Why not. Maybe this is the year that Duke doesn't overachieve, but we'll take a team projected in the bottom half of the ACC over one projected in the bottom half of the AAC. The over/under on this game is one of the lowest of the day (51). This should be a defensive struggle.
Washington at Boise State (-12), 10:15 ET FRIDAY: This is not going to be a happy homecoming for Chris Petersen. The Huskies are a bowl contender in 2015 but Boise State is everyone's darling to sneak into the College Football Playoff. If there's even a remote chance of that happening, Boise State will have to go undefeated and win every game by double digits.
BYU (+7) at Nebraska, 3:30 p.m. ET: If Nebraska's failure to find a PA announcer was an indicator of the upcoming season, the Huskers are in trouble. It's not, but we're not only taking the Cougars and the points but we like them straight up. We'll have an idea of who is suspended from the Miami Beach Bowl brawl (finally) when the game begins, but it shouldn't impact BYU too much. Taysom Hill is the best player on the field and throws for 200 while rushing for over 100.
Louisville (+11) at Auburn, 3:30 p.m. ET: Yes, Bobby Petrino likely knows who he's going to start at quarterback, though it'd be pretty awesome if he put four quarterbacks on the field with a receiver, running back and five offensive linemen for the first play of the game. Welcome back to college football, Will Muschamp. The Cardinals' defense keeps this game close, though Jeremy Johnson ultimately secures it for the Tigers late in the fourth quarter.
Penn State at Temple (+7), 3:30 p.m. ET: Upset special? The Owls have 19 returning starters. Penn State has one of the best defenses in the Big Ten, so expect this to be a relatively low-scoring game. There's a reason the over/under is set at 41. With that in mind, we think Temple should keep it close. It wouldn't suprise us if the Owls win, but we'll say Penn State wins by 4.
Arizona State at Texas A&M (-3.5), 7 p.m. ET: The half-point here causes some consternation. This game is a great measuring stick for the Pac-12 and SEC. Though we'll be honest, it's really not because you can't draw many conclusions about one game at the beginning of the season. We'll go with Kyle Allen at Kyle Field and hope the Aggies win by a touchdown to make us look prophetic.
Texas at Notre Dame (-10), 7:30 p.m. ET: Do the Longhorns have enough offense to hang with the Irish? If Notre Dame's defense hasn't improved from 2014, it's going to be virtually impossible for Texas to replicate its futile Texas Bowl performance. However, we think Notre Dame's defense should have the edge over Texas' offense and the homefield advantage helps the Irish cruise to a two-touchdown win.
Wisconsin (+12) at Alabama, 8 p.m. ET: Remember how Alabama didn't look too hot while breaking in a new quarterback against West Virginia in the 2014 season opener? We're thinking about a repeat of 2014. No, the Tide aren't going to lose, and no, Wisconsin won't look like a real threat to win the game, but the Badgers should hang around for the duration.
LOCKS OF THE WEEK
Welcome to a new feature where Dr. Saturday's contributing members will pick a game they feel guaranteed to get right. We'll keep track and the losers have to buy the winners a prize. Or something.
Nick Bromberg: Stanford (-12) at Northwestern
Is this line too good to be true? I'm a big fan of Stanford heading into 2015 and think the Cardinal should have an easy time with the Wildcats. Opening the season on the road could lead to a close game, but I'm not too worried. Stanford takes care of business.
Sam Cooper: North Carolina (+3) vs. South Carolina
South Carolina is coming off a disappointing 7-win season and has a first-time starter at quarterback in Connor Mitch. Though UNC has been one of the more perplexingly inconsistent teams in recent years, the Tar Heels return basically their entire offense from 2014 and should have a bolstered defense under Gene Chizik (don’t laugh, Auburn fans). Don’t bet the mortgage on it or anything, but I like the Heels in this one.
Graham Watson: Western Kentucky (-2) over Vanderbilt
I’m a huge fan of Western Kentucky simply because it is one of the mot entertaining teams in college football behind sixth-year QB Brandon Doughty. This team knows how to score and Vanderbilt is still trying to figure things out. WKU is going to be eager to show it can compete against teams in the SEC and Vandy is likely going to have the SEC attitude that it can walk all over a team from C-USA. Take WKU and take the WKU side points (32.5).
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