Nationally Televised Free College Football Picks (9/4/10)

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Miami (OH) Redhawks @ Florida Gators (-37.5)
Saturday, September 2nd
12:00 ET, Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville, FL

The Gators are probably going to end up dominating this game. They are out to make a real statement now that QB Tim Tebow is gone. QB John Brantley is going to be getting a good test to begin his career as a starter. Many feel as though he might be better than Tebow as a passer, though he clearly doesn't have the mobility or the inherent leadership abilities of the departed No. 15. Still, this is going to be one of the best rushing games in the country still with RBs Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey. As for the Redhawks, they are coming off of an absolutely terrible season in which they only won one game. It is fairly clear that they aren't going to win this game, but they did a decent job last year sticking inside of college football betting lines. Unfortunately for Miami, this probably won't be a day in which it does that. If the Gators have a desire to win by at least six scores, they will. Brantley might cover the Redhawks all by himself.

Prediction: Florida 59 – Miami 7

Western Michigan Broncos (+23.5) @ Michigan State Spartans
Saturday, September 2nd
12:00 ET, Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, MI

Michigan State seems to start every single season with unrealistic expectations. This year is probably no exception even though HC Mark Dantonio is clearly on the hot seat and is probably going to have to win at least seven or eight games to save his job. The good news is that QB Kirk Cousins is back after having a very respectable first season as a starter. He threw for 2,680 yards and 19 TDs against just nine picks, and there are high hopes for him this season. Unfortunately for the Broncos, they can't say the same thing. QB Tim Hiller was one of the best that this program has ever seen. With him gone, QB Alex Carder is going to take over. Carder only threw seven passes last year backing up Hiller, but he is going to be thrown into the fire right away in East Lansing as a sophomore. Still, this is a hefty point total for Sparty to be laying against a team that could reasonably still be one of the best in the MAC if Carder can keep his head on straight. Expect WMU to beat the college football odds in this one.

Prediction: Michigan State 34 – Western Michigan 21

Texas Longhorns (-31) vs. Rice Owls
Saturday, September 2nd
3:30 ET, Reliant Stadium, Houston, TX

The QB Garrett Gilbert is going to get the first start of his career this week in Houston against the Owls, which should be a nice little warm up for the real big boys coming up in the weeks to come for the Longhorns. There are a number of returners for this team even though there were a number of players that were drafted in the first two days of the NFL Draft this year off of the squad in burnt orange. The Owls are playing this close to the vest, as they haven't even announced a starting quarterback yet. The good news for the Longhorns is that they are 8-2 ATS in their L/10 games against Conference USA opponents. The bad news for Rice is that they are just 1-7 ATS in their L/8 against the Big XII. The even better news for Texas and worse news for Rice is that the Horns have outscored the Owls by an average score of 49-10 since 2003. That sounds about right for Saturday afternoon.

Prediction: Texas 49 – Rice 10

Purdue Boilermakers (+10.5) @ Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Saturday, September 2nd
3:30 ET, Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, IN

For HC Brian Kelly, this will be his debut in South Bend and could be the most important game of his coaching career. Coaches that get off to a bad start at Notre Dame generally don't end up lasting very long, and Kelly is going to want to make sure that he doesn't blow this in a year of high expectations, especially against a team that is probably not going bowling this year. The Boilers were destroyed by RB Ralph Bolden's knee injury that is going to keep him out for the season. Meanwhile, Notre Dame is going to be breaking in a new quarterback in the form of QB Dayne Crist. TE Kyle Rudolph is questionable with a hamstring injury, and if he doesn't end up playing, Crist is going to be relying heavily on WR Michael Floyd, who could be one of the best receivers in the nation. Still, Purdue hung last year with the Irish, losing 24-21 at home. With QB Robert Marve eager to make a good debut for the black and gold, the Boilers have the potential to hang in this game, though the Boilermakers probably won't win it.

Prediction: Notre Dame 31 – Purdue 28

Kentucky Wildcats (-3) @ Louisville Cardinals
Saturday, September 2nd
3:30 ET, Papa John's Stadium, Louisville, KY

It's the battle to determine whether the Bluegrass State will be blue or red on Saturday, and the annual Kentucky/Louisville battle has even higher stakes this season. Both teams will be entering this game with new head coaches, as Joker Phillips (Kentucky) and Charlie Strong (Louisville) are both making their head coaching debuts. QB Mike Hartline is going to have a lot of experience under his belt in this one even though he is a much maligned signal caller. Louisville is changing its offense to a spread attack, which is a drastic change from the offense that Steve Kragthorpe tried running over the last few years. The winning mentality isn't quite there yet for the Cardinals, which have fallen a long way in a short period of time. Kentucky is hoping to head to another bowl game this year, and it is the significantly better team, at least this early in the year. Take the Blue State in this NCAA football betting affair.

Prediction: Kentucky 27 – Louisville 20

Connecticut Huskies (+3) @ Michigan Wolverines
Saturday, September 2nd
3:30 ET, Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI

If the maize and blue don't win this game to start off the 2010 season, the Big House might be burning. HC Rich Rodriguez knows that this is his last chance to try to impress the Ann Arbor faithful before he ends up on the unemployment lines, and this game against Connecticut is a very important one to start the season. Unfortunately for Big Blue, this won't be their day. The Huskies are one of the best teams in a conference that is relatively strong this season, and RB Jordan Todman might have a field day against a defense which struggled against the rush last season. Rodriguez still hasn't settled on a quarterback either, though QB Tate Forcier sounds like he is getting the nod. We are puzzled as to why the Wolverines are favored in this one, as we aren't buying into their hype as a team that is that much improved from the one that went 5-7 last year. The Huskies are going to be dogs that are barking very, very loudly.

Prediction: Connecticut 28 – Michigan 24

UCLA Bruins @ Kansas State Wildcats (-2)
Saturday, September 2nd
3:30 ET, Bill Snyder Family Field, Manhattan, KS

The biggest question that we have in this game is whether or not QB Kevin Prince is really going to be able to play for the full 60 minutes with his back injury or not. If he can't go, UCLA is in a heck of a lot of trouble in this one. Trying to stop RB Daniel Thomas is going to be virtually impossible for a defensive line that has been beat up all offseason long for the second straight year with injuries. HC Rick Neuheisel has his work cut out for him this year. The Bruins only made the Eagle Bank Bowl on the back of their non-conference slate, as a 3-6 record in conference left little to the imagination. This year is going to be a tough grind for the blue and gold, and it is going to start with K-State getting some big time payback for last season's 23-9 loss in LA.

Prediction: Kansas State 30 – UCLA 10

Oregon State Beavers (+13) vs. TCU Horned Frogs
Saturday, September 2nd
7:45 ET, Dallas Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, TX

Though this is technically a neutral site game, we know that Oregon State is going to clearly be the road team in this duel. The Horned Frogs are going to try to make a huge statement for the rest of college football, proving that they deserve to be considered for the BCS Championship, not just for a regular BCS bowl game like last year in the Fiesta Bowl. A slew of returning starters on both sides of the ball are going to help that cause out dramatically. QB Andy Dalton is going to have to lead the way against a very talented Oregon State defense. The offense for the Beavers is going to once again feature both the Rodgers brothers, as Jacquizz and James are virtually impossible to stop. Though the secondary is entirely intact from last year for TCU, the front seven has two major holes to fill in the form of DE Jerry Hughes and LB Daryl Washington. We give Oregon State a lot of credit for scheduling this game, and though the ultimate reward of an upset won't be the end result, we wouldn't be surprised to see HC Mike Riley's club hang around and make things quite uncomfortable for the de facto hosts.

Prediction: TCU 33 – Oregon State 28

LSU Tigers (-7.5) vs. North Carolina Tar Heels
Saturday, September 2nd
8:00 ET, Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA

Suspensions have absolutely destroyed North Carolina's chances of accomplishing just about anything this year. Their offseason probe is going to end up seeing 13 players suspended for this opening game against the Bayou Bengals, including four of which were all projected NFL stars and were first team All-ACC members in the preseason. HC Les Miles now knows that this has gone from a game that would be a huge boost to win, to one that might ultimately decide whether he gets to stay in Baton Rouge or not next year. LSU needs to pick it up in a big way in order to make it back to the big time in the SEC, and winning a game like this against a quality ACC opponent would go a long way. Speaking of going a long way, if QB TJ Yates can find a way to pull this one off, he would suddenly go from being a zero in Chapel Hill to a hero. QB Jordon Jefferson hopes to just not see his name as a gigantic screw up in his '10 debut with the purple and gold. It's hard to see how North Carolina is doing enough damage on either side of the ball, and in spite of the fact that this is a hefty line that is only rising, we don't see how LSU can do anything but smash it.

Prediction: LSU 24 – North Carolina 13

Cincinnati Bearcats (+3) @ Fresno State Bulldogs
Saturday, September 2nd
10:00 ET, Bulldog Stadium, Fresno, CA

Is the wrong team really favored in this game? The Bearcats are getting absolutely no respect this year after going undefeated in the regular season in 2009. Yes, it's true that HC Brian Kelly has jumped to Notre Dame and both QB Tony Pike and WR Mardy Gilyard have moved on to the NFL, but there are a number of quality replacements set to step up. The oddsmakers were burned last year when QB Zach Collaros stepped into the starting lineup in place of Pike and looked like Joe Montana. Collaros is only a sophomore now, but he clearly has the tools to bring Cincinnati back to the BCS. Fresno State still has a lot of questions, none bigger than who is going to replace the departed RB Ryan Mathews, who at times last year, single handedly carried it to victory. Remember that Cincinnati traveled up to Reser Stadium last year and knocked off Oregon State in a very similar position. Expect the same on Saturday night.

Prediction: Cincinnati 41 – Fresno State 28

Wisconsin Badgers (-19.5) @ UNLV Runnin' Rebels
Saturday, September 2nd
11:00 ET, Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas, NV

New Rebs HC Bobby Hauck made the first huge decision of his head coaching career when he named QB Mike Clausen his starter for this crucial, potentially program changing duel with the Badgers. Unfortunately for Hauck and UNLV, this is still a team that doesn't have the horses defensively to stop Wisky. Most years, the Badgers have a subpar offense and a stellar defense, but QB Scott Tolzien might be the best signal caller this team has had in well over a decade. This is also the first game of the potential Heisman Trophy campaign for RB John Clay. With Alabama's Mark Ingram sidelined, Clay might be the best running back in the nation that no one is talking about. This is a bunch of Badgers that might be severely underrated. This game is going to be the first of a slew of huge wins for a team that we think could be a big time sleeper in the Big Ten. The Badgers will round out Saturday night's slate with a monstrous victory over a hapless and unsuspecting foe.

Prediction: Wisconsin 51 – UNLV 20

Lou Palumbo is the founder and part owner of the Sports Handicapping Community. He's been writing and posting free picks and sports handicapping strategies on the Cappersinfo forums and website for 15 years now. He enjoys handicapping just as much as he did from the very first day he built the original Cappersinfo website.

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