Self-evident: Boston College at Central Michigan, Florida Atlantic at Clemson, William & Mary at Maryland, Appalachian State at N.C. State, and Northeastern at Virginia Tech
Florida State at Miami: You can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can't pick this game. Two rivals, coming off of dissappointing (for them) seasons, both under erious hype and pressure to return to the Top 10, opening the season against each other. Give it to Miami for the home team advantage, but a coin flip is as good a bet as this game.
Notre Dame at Georgia Tech: I'm not a big Notre Dame fan. I am big on the Ramblin' Wreck this year. (It's that fight song - you can't beat a 6/8 fight song.) So why the Irish? They've done more on a big stage than Tech, and say what you want about Calvin Johnson, the guy throwing him the ball has never been the most consistent of quarterbacks. Now those folks saying GT's season hinge on this game are wrong, however. The Samford-Troy-Virginia followup will give them plenty of time to recover their confidence. But first blood goes to Notre Dame.
Richmond at Duke: The trendy pick here is to lean towards the spiders. Duke's primary offensive weapon couldn't keep his eyes on his own paper, and veterans of a 1-10 squad aren't exactly prized. But just as this isn't the Duke basketball team, it's also not the Richmond one - worse 1A teams than the Blue Devils can handle them easily, and even Duke can get away with a win.
Rutgers at North Carolina: Again, the popular pick isn't on Tobacco Road. But Rutgers found its way to the Insight Bowl Promised Land by running at and sacking a weak, weak schedule. UNC's been run over by better, and their offensive line isn't the bane it once was. On the other hand, Rutgers only gave up 56 points to Louisville last year compared to Carolina's 65, but I still like the Tar Heels. After all, if there's one thing they've gotten good at, it's beating mediocre teams from schools full of students from Jersey.
Syracuse at Wake Forest: This game could have been slotted in the self-evident stack, but I had to stop and ask something. Just what exactly happened to Syracuse? They've hit Duke-level of contempt in the course of a single season! I'm actually seeing an interesting parallel to 1988 North Carolina. A long established coach stumbles into mediocrity, to be replaced by a Texas coach who proceeds to put together to absolutely wretched teams. Hopefully for the Orange the similarities will hold, because an empty Carrier Dome is a lot more ridiculous then a barren Wallace Wade.
Self-evident: Troy at Florida State, Samford at Georgia Tech, Middle Tennesee State at Maryland, Florida A&M at Miami, and Wyoming at Virginia.
Clemson at Boston College: I have trouble enough paying attention to the North Carolina schools, and you want informed comments on Boston College? They're not the school that gave up football a few years back? Fine. The Eagles are a good team, and bring back a lot of offense. Clemson is better, and brings back more. They're not going to hold the Tigers.
Duke at Wake Forest: Another Demon Deacon game that's self-evident, but it's worth noting that this is a veteran team with one of the better coaches in the game that played a lot of good squads tight last year. They also ripped Duke apart 44-6. Fun.
Virginia Tech at North Carolina: You may want to go back and read the introduction to this little exercise, because here's where my biases start to show. Not only am I high on the Heels, but I went around loudly proclaiming the Hokies' new name upon joining the ACC would be Worse-Than-Clemson, and that they would fade into mediocrity rather quickly. My football expert is trapped in the 1998 Gator Bowl, you see.
That being said, what's separated every great Tech team from the average of late have been quarterbacks now in the employ of (or a gun-toting, player stomping relatives of said backs) the Atlanta Falcons. This year, they're headed by Sean Glennon. There's an equally big step down at running back - this game becomes two defenses waiting for each other to blink. Considering a better team from Blacksburg barely escaped an average bunch in Chapel Hill two years ago, and I believe UNC can win this. It won't be a high scoring affair, but the win will be marked in the right column.
Akron at N.C. State: Back when I was an X-Box playing wastrel, my team and playbook of choice in NCAA Football was the mighty Akron Zips - they're second in alphabetical order, and I skipped over Air Force. So I'll naturally lean towards the sentimental favorite against the local cow college, but I'm not the only one. Akron's a favorite to win their half of the MAC, on the backs of a strong defense and a good quaterback, while the proudest moment of the N.C. State season was the NFL draft. I think the team's more depleted than a lot of people think, and I'm giving this game to the veteran Zips.
Also - how can you not root for a team called the Zips?
Self-evident: Duke at Virginia Tech, Troy at Georgia Tech, Maryland at West Virginia, and Wake Forest at Connecticut.
BYU at Boston College: Yes, I hear the rumblings that BYU is coming back, and I've already copped to knowing very little about Boston College's team this year. But even a middle of the road ACC team should be able to handle a not-stellar Mountain West squad.
Clemson at Florida State: All of Young Bowden's above average teams have been able to defeat his father's squads, and this team is definitely above average. Plus, I'm not as sold on the Elder Bowden resurgence as everyone else. What I took away from last year's Geriatric Bowl wasn't 80 years on coaching brilliance but two sloppy teams who can't end the damn game already. And since I've made myself seem smarter than I am over the past couple of years by predicting Penn State mediocrity, I can't help but extend that courtesy to the boys in Tallahassee. Expect lots of changing of the guard stories after this one.
Furman at North Carolina: Furman. I'm not familiar with a team by that name. I'm sure they've never played UNC. They probably don't even exist. I guess this is a bye or something.
Miami at Louisville: I probably over-respect Louisville at this point. I do occasionally learn from my mistakes, you know, and I'm thinking they'll outduel West Virginia for the Big East title. Miami and their new coaches on parade I've not been shellshocked by, so the Cards get this one. It's worth noting that despite my firm conviction that the ACC is better than the Big East, I've picked the Big East to go 3-3 against the ACC, with two of those losses coming to Wake Forest. It's not a good schedule for the ACC to claim bragging rights this year.
N.C. State at Southern Mississippi: Southern Miss has never had a problem with the Carolina team in Conference USA (even when they were good), but the ACC is another kettle of fish. I have the least possible respect for the Wolfpack, but losing two straight OOC games is too much even for me. It's too early for another coachwatch in Raleigh.
Western Michigan at Virginia: Western Michigan's got a good first year coaching bounce out of Bill Cubit, and Virginia's the type of team to lose focus and let themselves get upstaged by a MAC squad. But Western's defense is suspect and their offense graduated, and Virginia enjoyed a cupcake snack last year, so no.
It's official - writing this crap is hard. I'll get to the rest of September tomorrow, but here's the standings after three weeks:
I'm looking forward to the gnashing, wailing, and renting of garments resulting from FSU's place in the standings. Especially since it won't last.