2016 College Football Picks: Week One
|Corey Clement, Wisconsin|
Current Record: 0-0
3 (4*) Oklahoma Sooners vs. 15 (6) Houston Cougars
After breaking out in his first season in Houston, Tom Herman is out to continue to prove that the Cougars are a rising and dangerous program by taking down the Big 12 favorite, Oklahoma Sooners. Houston will bring one of the nation's most explosive offenses to the equation, led by senior quarterback Greg Ward Jr., who can do it all. Ward will test a Sooners' defense that loses their top cornerback, Zack Sanchez, and may have troubles taming the dual threat quarterback. The good news for Oklahoma is that much of their defensive front returns, and they will face a Cougars team still searching for a feature back. Houston may be able to move the ball through the air, but unless their ground attack forms quickly, their offensive attack is going be very one-dimensional which could restrict their chances to win the football game. Oklahoma has a balanced, dynamic offensive attack headed by former Texas Tech transfer Baker Mayfield at quarterback. Mayfield will be joined in the backfield by junior Samaje Perine and junior Joe Mixon. Mayfield has a huge arm and offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley will test the Cougars' secondary deep often in his air raid scheme. With losses in that secondary, Houston could have a tough time containing Oklahoma's aerial attack. Mixed with the power and strength of Mixon and Perine, Oklahoma is going to challenge Houston, who had some issues tackling power backs last year. A big component to the game is going to be depth. In shootouts like this one is almost sure to be, depth is important late in games when everybody is tired. That advantage goes to Oklahoma, and they have a more experienced coaching staff in these types of games. Even so, Houston is going to be able to give the Sooners quite a challenge, particularly in a neutral site game. Oklahoma is the more experienced team and a more proven program, but that doesn't mean they have this game in the bag. However, in a shootout, they have more weapons that UH, which should be able to seal them a victory in a close battle.
Oklahoma, 42 Houston, 38
5 (7) LSU Tigers vs. (NR) Wisconsin Badgers
Lambeau Field has been the site of some great football, but for the first time ever, we get to see a different type of the sport this Saturday. The historic site will be hosting its first ever college football game, which will see the hometown team, Wisconsin, take on a very tough LSU squad. The Tigers are excited to show what they could do after they ended last year playing very well, following a three-game skid in November. The Badgers will have to contain likely the best back in college football in Leonard Fournette. The key for Wisconsin will be tackling the bruising tailback, who will shed simple arm tackles like they are nothing. That means the right play calls and defenders being in the right situation at the right time. The Badgers will hope to force LSU to throw as much as possible by stacking the box against Fournette. That will force junior quarterback Brandon Harris to make some plays, which would be an advantage for Wisconsin. Harris has talent and has some playmakers at receiver, but still has not proven that he can single-handily lead LSU to a victory. On the other side, LSU will likely try to do much the same against the Badgers. Wisconsin wasn't quite the machine running the ball that they usually are last season, but that could change in '16. Senior back Corey Clement is 100 percent and motivated. He could give the LSU defense some issues, and the Badgers offensive line will give him plenty of holes to work with. The key for Wisconsin to win this football game is for their passing game to play well. It doesn't have to anything insane, but moving the ball and getting solid chunks of yardage consistently must happen. I'm not sold on that happening against an LSU secondary that has two potential All-Americans in corner Tre'Davious White and safety Jamal Adams. Neither of these teams are very balanced offensively, and this game will not have the flash and excitement that the Houston-Oklahoma battle may have earlier in the day. That doesn't mean it won't be a good matchup of two teams that should have successful seasons. LSU is the more talented team and while they have some questions offensively, they aren't quite as major as the Badgers. The Tigers should be able to get the job done on the sport's opening weekend.
LSU, 24 Wisconsin, 16
4 (5) Florida State Seminoles vs. 11 (13) Ole Miss Rebels
In a Labor Day battle, we will get to see two extremely talented teams go at it. Ole Miss will bring a proven quarterback to the equation in senior Chad Kelly, who can stretch the field with his huge arm. Kelly can not only make all the throws, but he can test defenses because he finds creative ways to extend plays. He will have to especially excel in this one with the ground attack a major question. It already looked iffy entering the season, but could be an even bigger problem as Jordan Wilkins was ruled academically ineligible. Florida State may lose Jalen Ramsey in their secondary, but it could still be a major strength of their football team with talents like Derwin James still remaining, so this should be a great matchup. Meanwhile, Florida State is breaking in a new quarterback on their offensive side, with Deondre Francois set to take over after senior Sean Maguire was injured for a couple weeks. Francois has a vast skill set and could be a great quarterback once he becomes more comfortable in the FSU offense. However, it isn't unreasonable to believe he will have some growing pains and issues in his first start. While that may be true, he is facing a Rebels' pass defense that loses some key pieces, and Ole Miss will already be focusing on his fellow teammate, junior Dalvin Cook. Everybody knew Cook was getting the ball last season and he was still absolutely dominant, and the same could happen once more this season. Ole Miss will obviously focus on him, but it is nearly impossible to completely limit the dynamic back. Both these teams will bring wonderful talent to the equation and by the end of the year both these teams could be quite a bit better with the young talent on their rosters. However, Ole Miss doesn't have anybody that can take over the game like Cook, and their aggressive defense should be able to tame Kelly enough to secure the dub.
Florida State, 34 Ole Miss, 23
22 UNC, 28 18 Georgia, 21
1 Alabama, 31 20 USC, 20
2 Clemson, 37 Auburn, 17
10 Notre Dame, 27 Texas, 14
7 Michigan, 44 Hawaii, 20
*= McGowanMania power ranking