Auburn, Michigan, “Bama Favored in Week 1 Big Games

College football is in full force today as the first weekend slate features some interesting matchups against top programs.

Auburn (-3) gets the favorite nod against an experienced, tough No. 6 Washington.  Both teams feature plenty of team speed, experienced quarterbacks, and better than tough defenses.

At Washington, Jake Browning is back after a stellar season.  Browning brings chip on his shoulder to a game that a lot of pundits are saying is a must win game for the Pac-12.  The Pac-12 went an all-time worst 1-8 in bowl games last season, so many are saying this game is a redemption game for the conference.

Jarrett Stidham is back at quarterback for Auburn, and he looks to improve after a tough Peach Bowl performance and lost to undefeated Central Florida.  Stidham brings a big arm to the table, but it is his feet that cause real problems.  He is mobile and tough enough to make plays in the open field, which he will have to do against a Washington defense that could be the best in the country outside of Clemson.

Washington’s Chris Peterson is used to winning these games.  While at Boise State, Peterson went on the road to beat Oklahoma, Georgia in Atlanta, and Virginia Tech.  Expect more of the same today.

On the strength of Washington’s overall defense, and the fact they have an experienced quarterback, I am going with the Dawgs.

PICK:  Washington plus 3.

Michigan and Notre Dame renew a rivalry that is one of the most storied in all of college football.  There are a lot of unknowns about both teams, but one thing that is known is that both Brian Kelly and Jim Harbaugh need a big win for a change.

Harbaugh is especially under the spotlight.  Since he got to Michigan, they have one the games they are supposed to win, and they have struggled to beat Ohio State and other top opponents.  Michigan does finally have a dynamic playmaker at quarterback with the addition of Ole Miss transfer Shea Patterson.

At Notre Dame, the story is much the same.  Kelly has consistently had good teams, but not a great team.  Until he does, the Irish are going to continue to be on the outside of the College Football Playoff. Kelly has more 10 win seasons then his three predecessors combined, but Notre Dame needs to improve to beat a talented Michigan defense.

Of the strength of the Michigan defense and the fact that Patterson is an elite quarterback, I take the Wolverines at South Bend.

PICK:  Michigan -3.

Alabama and Louisville face off in what promises to be an entertaining offensive match up.

Alabama has decided not to name a starting quarterback and, instead, says both guys will play.  So, expect Jalen Hurts to start, while our hero of the National Championship game Tua will see significant action.

At Louisville, Bobby Petrino can get ready with the best of them, but he is simply going to be overmatched by Bama’s rugged defense.  Petrino and the Cardinal will move the ball, but it won’t be enough.  Expect another Crimson Tide opening day victory, but also expect Louisville to cover.

PICK:  Louisville plus 25.

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