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College Football Week 1 Picks

We got a small taste of college football in Week Zero but, much like Coke Zero, it wasn’t quite the real thing. This weekend, our thirst will be quenched with a full slate of games. Here are our somewhat-expert picks for Week 1.

Utah (-5) at BYU

Kyle Koster: Utah

The Holy War is one of, if not the most underrated rivalries in college football. Making these teams play on opening day ramped this offseason into another stratosphere. Utah 28, BYU 17.

Brian Giuffra: Utah

Utah is the pick here and, no, I’m not saying that because Lee Corso picked them to make the College Football National championship. They have an explosive offense led by Tyler Huntley and that will be enough to cover the spread. Utah 34, BYU 24

Ryan Phillips: Utah

The Utes have high hopes this year and won’t be derailed by their in-state rival. Utah 34, BYU 21

Liam McKeone: Utah 

Tyler Huntley and Zack Moss are a vicious 1-2 punch that will be too much for BYU. Utah 38, BYU 24

Duke vs Alabama (-35)

Kyle Koster: Alabama

Nick Saban with almost nine months off to stew over the national championship debacle? An entire army of Daniel Joneses wouldn’t make a difference. David Cutcliffe is an offensive genius, but not this much of a genius. Alabama 49, Duke 7.

Brian Giuffra: Alabama

Duke can’t hang with the big boys and that was before they lost quarterback Daniel Jones to the NFL Draft. Without him, they’ll be even more lost. Plus, Alabama always comes out strong Week 1. Alabama 56, Duke 0 

Ryan Phillips: Alabama

Alabama is still smarting after that title game loss to Clemson and will take it out on its Week 1 opponent. Sorry, Duke. Alabama 49, Duke 3

Liam McKeone: Alabama 

As my colleagues have stated, Alabama is going to come out angry and with something to prove– always a dangerous combo. Duke is nothing more than ritual sacrifice at this point. Alabama 56, Duke 7

South Carolina (-9) vs. North Carolina

Kyle Koster: North Carolina

The Tar Heels have both Mack Brown and Phil Longo making their debuts and looking to impress. The Gamecocks simply have more talent, but it will be a nail-biter.  South Carolina 24, North Carolina 22

Brian Giuffra: South Carolina

Mack Brown should bring some hope to UNC fans, but let’s be honest, he’s not the guy he was at Texas, nor are his players. Still, it’s not like South Carolina is a goliath either. Still, I like the SEC team at home to cover. South Carolina 28, North Carolina 10

Ryan Phillips: North Carolina

South Carolina is the better team and should win this game, but Mack Brown’s debut will fire UNC up enough to beat the spread. South Carolina 24, North Carolina 21

Liam McKeone: North Carolina 

I don’t have a lot of faith in Mack Brown and his freshman quarterback to come in and make a statement win in the first game of the year, but the energy of a new coach and homefield gives them the spread. South Carolina 27, North Carolina 20 

Northwestern at Stanford (-6.5)

Kyle Koster: Stanford

Sorry, but if Pat Fitzgerald wants me to be the last to know who his starting quarterback is, I’m going to be the last to have any confidence in picking the Wildcats. Stanford 30, Northwestern 21

Brian Giuffra: Stanford

This, for me, is about Stanford being at home and Northwestern having a revamped offensive line. It usually takes a while for that unit to come together. Stanford, meanwhile, won its last three openers by at least 13 points. Its last loss to open the season? 2015 at Northwestern. Not happening again. Stanford 24, Northwestern 10 

Ryan Phillips: Stanford

The Cardinal should open the offense a bit this season given their weapons. They’ll cruise at home in Week 1. Stanford 35, Northwestern 13

Liam McKeone: Northwestern 

At home with their starting QB returning from last season and a hungry talent in Cameron Scarlett, Stanford won’t be dropping this one. But Northwestern will surprise the Cardinals with a stingy defense and a new QB to make it a close one. Stanford 21, Northwestern 17

Virginia Tech (-4) at Boston College

Kyle Koster: Boston College

Bad news for Bud Foster stans looking forward to his farewell tour: AJ Dillon is going to wreck it from the get-go and jump-start an early Heisman campaign.Boston College 27, Virginia Tech 21

Brian Giuffra: Boston College

The Hokies lost to BC, 31-21, last year. That was at home. With Boston College holding home field this year, you gotta give them the edge, especially with the points. Boston College 24, Virginia Tech 20.

Ryan Phillips: Boston College

AJ Dillon is on the outside of the Heisman race looking in right now, but a big first few weeks could change that. On home turf, the Eagles will outlast the Hokies and Dillon will have a big day in the process. Boston College 28, Virginia Tech 21

Liam McKeone: Boston College 

A.J. Dillon is the real deal, and should start the season off with a bang at Chestnut Hill. Boston College 24, Virginia Tech 14

Oregon vs. Auburn (-3.5)

Kyle Koster: Oregon

Auburn is playing far closer to home but Justin Herbert’s game travels extremely well. Time to get the fainting couch out, folks. Down year for the SEC. Oregon 42, Auburn 31

Brian Giuffra: Auburn

Auburn has a brutal schedule, but it’s used to these kinds of games. It beat No. 6 Washington in a neutral game to start last year, and should feel good heading into this one. Their rushing attack is always relentless, but it’s the defense that separates the Pac 12 from the SEC. Auburn 28, Oregon 24

Ryan Phillips: Auburn

Oregon is making a lot of noise out West, but Auburn looks ferocious on defense and has a freshman quarterback who fits Gus Malzahn’s system. Expect the SEC squad to roll. Auburn 38, Oregon 21

Liam McKeone: Oregon

Time for Justin Herbert to prove he’s a top-three QB prospect this year. He’ll drive his team to victory and get the hype train off to a blazing start.  Oregon 31, Auburn 24

Houston at Oklahoma (-23.5)

Kyle Koster: D’Eriq King has a better chance to be the nation’s best quarterback than Jalen Hurts does. Give them the same supporting cast and see who does better. Oklahoma 51, Houston 38

Brian Giuffra: Houston

Oklahoma will win this game, but Jalen Hurts is in a new system and I imagine he’ll get acclimated to it slowly. Plus, in-state rivalries always tend to be close. Oklahoma 31, Houston 28

Ryan Phillips: Oklahoma

The quarterback carousel at Oklahoma spins to Jalen Hurts, who should be fine in Lincoln Riley’s system. That’s a big spread, but the Sooners are loaded. Oklahoma 56, Houston 17

Liam McKeone: Oklahoma

Jalen Hurts has as much to prove as any quarterback in college football, and this is the same offensive system that has wrecked defenses for two years running. This won’t be a close one. Oklahoma 49, Houston 20 

Notre Dame (-20.5) at Louisville

Kyle KosterLouisville 

Notre Dame is a national title contender. Ian Book is better than anyone gives him credit for being. But almost three touchdowns in another team’s backyard? No way. Notre Dame 40, Louisville 25

Brian Giuffra: Lousiville

Notre Dame enjoyed a nearly perfect season last year, with its one blemish coming against Clemson in the CFP semifinals. No shame there. But beating a team by 21 on their home field is not an easy task and Notre Dame lost a lot of star power to the draft. Notre Dame 31, Louisville 21 

Ryan Phillips: Louisville

Notre Dame is going to win this game, but the Irish have a lot of new pieces fitting into new roles. It’ll be a bumpy ride for a few weeks. Notre Dame 35, Louisville 31

Liam McKeone: Louisville 

Notre Dame has a solid unit on both sides of the ball, but they aren’t so dominant they cover a 20.5 point-spread away from South Bend. Notre Dame 30, Louisville 14

Georgia (-21) at Vanderbilt

Kyle Koster: Vanderbilt

Ke’Shawn Vaughn may be the best running back in the nation’s best conference. If he can get yards against a stout Bulldogs defense, he can get yards anywhere. Will Geist will have reason to be excited in this one before ultimately accepting the inevitable. Georgia 30, Vanderbilt 14

Brian Giuffra: Georiga

The Bulldogs need to get their SEC season off to a bang. AND this is Vanderbilt. Georgia 49, Vanderbilt 14 

Ryan Phillips: Georgia

Kirby Smart and co. are chasing an SEC title this season and they won’t let Vanderbilt sneak up on them in Week 1. Uga and his troops roll. Georgia 56, Vanderbilt 12

Liam McKeone: Georgia 

Georgia’s stifling run defense will shut down Ke’Shawn Vaughn. Who else does Vandy have? Georgia will cruise. Georgia 42, Vanderbilt 14 

Boise State vs. Florida State (-5.5)

Kyle Koster: Florida State

This is a real line in the sand for the Seminoles. After a disastrous campaign last season, some life needs to be shown out of the gate or the #FSUTwitter community will melt. Florida State 32, Boise State 24

Brian Giuffra: Florida State

Boise is known for pulling off upsets, but after a dreadful first year as the head coach, Willie Taggart needs something big this year. That starts with a big win to open the season. They have a ton of talent at FSU. That will be on display this week. Florida State 28, Boise State 17 

Ryan Phillips: Florida State

This is a tough one to call as Boise State is primed to upset someone. But Willie Taggart can’t lose this game with that much talent at his disposal. Right? Florida State 31, Boise State 24

Liam McKeone: Boise State 

Ultimately, Florida State has more talent and they’re at home But Boise State has rarely failed to make it interesting, and the Seminoles will have a heart attack matchup to kick off their year. Florida State 24, Boise State 23