Thursday Night Kickoff Picks

09/02/2009 § Leave a comment

Meaningful football finally returns with two intriguing Thursday night contests.  I don’t get into complex analysis when it comes to picking games; I just look at the teams and their situations and go with my gut.  I wouldn’t recommend making any “investments” based on these guesses, but it will be fun to see how I do.

South Carolina @ N.C. State:  I feel like I should be more excited for a coaching matchup of Gator legend Steve Spurrier (122-27-1 at Florida) and Tom O’Brien (7 consecutive bowl wins at Boston College).  Neither has really lived up to expectations yet–can one of them get the ball rolling in this game?

The Gamecocks return just 11 starters from a team that went 7-5 before getting rolled by Iowa in the Outback Bowl.  New QB Stephen Garcia started 3 games last year and will need to improve greatly on that performance (6 passing TDs, 2 rushing TDs, 8 INTs) to give SC a chance.

The Wolfpack brings back 13 starters from last year’s squad that was 6-6 and lost to Rutgers in a close Papajohns.com Bowl. Promising sophomore QB Russell Wilson returns after throwing for 17 TDs and just 1 INT last year.  Wilson also ran for 4 TDs in 2008.

Last year, South Carolina shut out N.C. State 34-0 in a Thursday night home game.  They then dropped their next game (also a Thursday-nighter) on the road to Vanderbilt.  Similar to the Monday Night Football phenomenon in the NFL, Thursday night home games in college football seem to bring out the best in teams.  Further affecting their mindset, the Gamecocks have a downright frightening road trip to take on Georgia next week while N.C. State’s next two opponents are pressure-free cupcakes Murray State and Gardner-Webb.

Finally, I just like this N.C. State team a little better than South Carolina this year.  I think N.C. State wins a relatively close one, probably by about 7-10 points.

Oregon @ Boise State:  I’m going to try to watch as much of this one as possible, but the prospect of the day-glo Ducks jerseys against a smurf-turf backdrop has my eyeballs quivering in their sockets.

Boise State loses half the starters from a team that came within a single point of an undefeated season in 2008.  Sophomore QB Kellen Moore is back, looking for another nice performance (69.4%, 3486 yds, 25 TDs, 10 INTs in 2008).

Oregon returns even fewer starters, bringing back just 9 from last year’s 10-3 team and will be breaking in a new head coach in former offensive coordinator Chip Kelly.  Junior Jeremiah Masoli is a true dual-threat QB who threw for 13 TDs and ran for 13 more last season.

Boise State hasn’t lost a home game since 2005, winning 49 of their last 50 at Bronco Stadium.  This one could get wild with two exciting QBs and both defenses offering up new starters at key positions.

I’ve been going back and forth on this one for a while now, but I’m taking Oregon by 3 in a game that will break 70 total points.

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