IAKOW Staff picks: week one

The In All Kinds Of Weather staff writers (myself, Rylan Romano and Neil Blackmon, also referred to as NWB) have challenged each other to see who knows college football best. Or at least who can use “I picked the most games correctly” as their argument for why they know college football best.

The rules for this are simple. We’re picking all the games involving SEC teams, plus five additional big games not involving SEC teams, straight up, no confidence. Whoever gets the most right wins.

So here we go.

SEC Games

Florida vs. New Mexico State

Neil W. Blackmon: Step one in making the Swamp once again a place where only Gators get out alive. Look for a huge game from Kelvin Taylor against one of the nation’s worst rushing defenses. Florida 50, New Mexico State 7 

Neil Shulman: Treon Harris is getting the start, but both he and Will Grier will have a big day in the annual joke of a season opener. Florida 63, New Mexico State 3

Rylan Romano: With two different quarterbacks getting reps in this game, the Gators won’t put up incredible numbers against the Aggies, but we’ll definitely see which quarterback can perform on the field better and determine our starter. We’ll also see Florida win its 26th straight season opener. Florida 48, New Mexico State 14

South Carolina vs. North Carolina (Game in Charlotte, NC)

NWB: Gene Chizik will improve the Heels’ defense enough to make them a factor in the ACC. By November. Big win for the HBC tonight. South Carolina 30, North Carolina 21 

NS: Bitter feelings remain on both sides from how the 2013 game ended in Columbia. But while South Carolina may be trending downward, they’re still good enough to win the Carolina Bowl. South Carolina 28, North Carolina 13

RR: The battle of the Carolinas is always heated, but the Ole’ Ball Coach pulls out a win. The SEC strength and speed will simply be too much for the Tar Heels to handle. South Carolina 35, North Carolina 27

Arkansas vs. UTEP

NWB: Big start for one of the sexy picks in the SEC West. Arkansas 56, UTEP 10

NS: Bret Bielema’s team may be a year or two away from competing for a national championship, but they’ll show glimpses of promise against a cupcake. Arkansas 49, UTEP 13

RR: Arkansas is showing some promise to be competitive in the SEC West this season. UTEP will just be a warm-up game for the Hogs. Arkansas 35, UTEP 3

Mississippi State vs. Southern Miss

NWB: Dak starts his senior year the right way with a big in-state win. Mississippi State 38, Southern Miss 7

NS: The Maroon and White will take a big step backward in 2015. But falling off a proverbial cliff wouldn’t be enough for them to lose to one of the worst teams in FBS. Mississippi State 41, Southern Miss 10

RR: Dak Prescott leads the Bulldogs to a win against Southern Miss, but you wont see the same team you saw in 2014, with a considerable amount of fresh faces on the starting squad. Mississippi State 38, Southern Miss 14

Georgia vs. Louisiana Monroe 10

NWB: Nick Chubb kicks off his Heisman campaign with a huge victory and a ton of yards against a really bad football team. School Up North 41, Louisiana Monroe 10 (Editor’s note: LOL.)

NS: No way in hell Georgia loses to a team they paid big bucks to come take a beating between the hedges. Georgia 38, Louisiana Monroe 13

RR: It’s simple. Mark Richt starts off his 15th season with a big win over a cupcake team. Georgia 56, Louisiana Monroe 10

Tennessee vs. Bowling Green (Game in Nashville, TN)

NWB: Dino Babers’ club is better than people think, but the Vols are reclaiming the Music City in this neutral site game and will have too much in the second half. Tennessee 35, Bowling Green 20

NS: There is a distinct possibility that all the hype surrounding the Volunteers will be destroyed with a loss in their first game. There is a larger possibility that it won’t. Tennessee 31, Bowling Green 14

RR: Tennessee is coming into the season with a tremendous amount of hype, with many claiming that this is “Tennessee’s year.” (Never heard that one before.) The Volunteers win their first game by a considerable amount, but you won’t see anything special. Tennessee 35, Bowling Green 10

Missouri vs. SE Missouri State

NWB: The Tigers will work on the passing game and try to get Maty Mauk right for conference play most of September. This will help. Missouri 41, SE Missouri State 14

NS: Mizzou may very well lose a game it shouldn’t. This will not be one of them. Missouri 38, SE Missouri State 10

RR: Yet another example of a team that racks up points against a nobody during Week 1. Missouri 41, SE Missouri State 0

Kentucky vs. Louisiana Lafayette

NWB: Wildcats win this one over a strong Sun Belt squad with defense and a strong running game in the second half. Kentucky 28, Louisiana-Lafayette 14

NS: Kentucky figures to be a much better football team in Year 3 under Mark Stoops, and they’ll get off to a good start by easily handling ULL. Kentucky 41, Louisiana Lafayette 17

RR: The Ragin’ Cajuns are notorious for giving teams trouble, and they’ll stick around for awhile, but Kentucky will eventually get the best of them and escape with a win. Kentucky 27, Louisiana Lafayette 17

Vanderbilt vs. Western Kentucky

NWB: Hilltoppers are no joke at all but I think the Dores get enough from Ralph Webb to start what they hope is a bounce back season with a “W.” Vanderbilt 23, Western Kentucky 21

NS: I’m very, very tempted to pick WKU after Vandy got crushed by friggin’ Temple in their season opener last year. They figure to be little better this year. But they’ll manage to fend off the Hilltoppers late. Vanderbilt 14, Western Kentucky 10

RR: With Vanderbilt being one of the least developed teams in all of the SEC, their battle against Western Kentucky wont be a walk in the park, but they’ll start the season off right with a close win. Vanderbilt 27, Western Kentucky 21

Auburn vs. Louisville (Game in Atlanta, GA)

NWB: Will Muschamp’s defensive schemes will take a while to work, as anyone who saw a young Gator secondary get beat up last September knows. As good as Jonathan Jones is, he’s just one guy– and Louisville has the athletes and Bobby Petrino has the scheme to make this a ballgame. Wouldn’t be stunned at all to see Cardinals win, especially if Jeremy Johnson isn’t as advertised. Auburn 34, Louisville 31

NS: I’m low key rooting for Louisville to drop 700 yards on Will Muschamp’s new defense. Actually, that’s a lie. I’m proudly rooting for that to happen. I don’t realistically expect it to happen, though, and Auburn’s going to pull away late for a deceivingly lopsided win. Auburn 41, Louisville 21

RR: Auburn is coming into the season with a tremendous amount of talent and has added a defensive guru in Will Muschamp. The two combined will be tough to overcome, and Louisville won’t even come close to pulling off the upset. Auburn 35, Louisville 10

Texas A&M vs. Arizona State (Game in Houston, TX)

NWB: Practically a home game for the Aggies. Won’t matter. Arizona State has better players on defense and is just as explosive on offense. Chalk one up for the Pac 12. This game helps get #Pac12AfterDark trending. Arizona State 35, Texas A&M 27 

NS: Come on. Texas A&M definitely has room to play Texas if they’re gonna schedule big non conference games like this. Regardless, Arizona State is their opponent and that’s the way it is. And that’s unfortunate for the 12th Man. Arizona State 51, Texas A&M 24

RR: There are just too many question marks when it comes to Texas A&M this year and with Arizona State gradually gaining ground in the PAC-12 and the polls, they’ll start off the season with a demanding win against the SEC. Arizona State 38, Texas A&M 21

LSU vs. McNeese State

NWB: Tigers take first step on road to College Football Playoff. LSU 45, McNeese State 7 

NS: Insert generic “no way” comment. LSU 59, McNeese State 3

RR: LSU is going to enter their much hyped season wanting to make a good first impression. They’ll get with a shutout against McNeese State. LSU 65, McNeese State 0

Alabama vs. Wisconsin (Game in Arlington, TX)

NWB: Think Tide win this game on the ground with just enough from the quarterback position. That and a nasty defense will be a theme this year. Alabama 24, Wisconsin 14 

NS: I don’t think Alabama has the horses to win a national championship this year. I also don’t think this is the game that shows that. Wisconsin holds tough for awhile, but they’ll wear out late and the Tide will roll. Alabama 38, Wisconsin 17

RR: This is one of the most interesting matchups of opening weekend. But Alabama will just be too much to handle for the Badgers. Lane Kiffin won’t hold back against Wisconsin and the Tide will pick up a nice win to start off the season. Alabama 41, Wisconsin 27

Mississippi vs. Tennessee-Martin

NWB: Early season shutout for the SEC West’s best defense. Mississippi 38, Tennessee-Martin 0

NS: It’s the last go-around for Hugh Freeze’s big recruiting class of Tunsil, Nkemdiche and MegaQuon. They’ll get off to a good start against a patsy. Mississippi 48, Tennessee-Martin 6

RR: With Laquon Treadwell coming off of his season-ending injury, he will be back on the field and ready to perform. And he will. Ole Miss puts up nasty numbers against its FCS foe. Mississippi 65, Tennessee-Martin 3



Utah vs. Michigan

NWB: Closer than most think here. Utah is at home and routed Michigan last season in Ann Arbor- but I’d expect the Wolverines to play inspired in game one under Jim Harbaugh, and they will, in a losing effort. Harbaugh will fix it. Just not yet. Utah 23, Michigan 20

NS: I’m fascinated at the prospect of Urban Meyer getting some real competition in the Big 10. But his old team will prove that his new biggest rival isn’t quite ready to play the part. Utah 42, Michigan 12

RR: With Jim Harbaugh taking the reins at one of the most renowned college football programs in the nation, there is a lot riding on his first game as a Wolverine. Michigan will have a tough time in Salt Lake City, but they’ll escape with a close win. Michigan 20, Utah 17

Boise State vs. Washington

NWB: Huskies carrying the Pac 12 banner into Boise in a game both teams will want to win because of Chris Petersen. For once, Petersen will leave the blue field the losing coach, which will be weird. Boise State 28, Washington 21 

NS: Something about Boise State’s ugly 19-8 win over Oregon in 2009 (yes, the Blount punch game) makes me never want to pick against the Broncos on their home field again. Especially in openers. Even against their former coach, the guy who built that aura of invincibility in Boise. Boise State kicks a bunch of field goals and survives. Boise State 26, Washington 21

RR: Coming into the season ranked in the top 25, Boise State sends the Huskies back home with a loss. Boise State 31, Washington 14

UCLA vs. Virginia

NWB: Last year’s tilt was interesting for a while and this year’s features the debut of two new QB’s, including UCLA’s Josh Rosen. Rosen will spend most the game handing off to Paul Perkins, who will look to build on his 1,500 yard sophomore season. UCLA 38, Virginia 14

NS: The Bruins are a dark horse national championship contender. They aren’t about to let Virginia kill those dreams. Paul Perkins runs through, around and over the Cavaliers’ suspect defense in a surprisingly close game in the Rose Bowl. UCLA 34, Virginia 24

RR: With the Pac-12 gaining prominence in the college football world, UCLA takes the first game of the season with a commanding win. UCLA 28, Virginia 10

Texas vs. Notre Dame

NWB: Longhorns defense is loaded with players and will always have a great plan under Charlie Strong. Unfortunately for Horns fan, Strong doesn’t have enough players on offense right now to pull off the upset. Notre Dame 21, Texas 14

NS: Texas (will) fight, Texas (will) fight. And it’s goodbye to Notre Dame’s national championship hopes… almost, but not quite. Malik Zaire guides Notre Dame to the winning touchdown to cap a thrilling comeback. Notre Dame 27, Texas 24

RR: Charlie Strong has been patiently waiting for his time to come in Texas, and he will start the year off on a good note with an upset over a vulnerable Notre Dame team. Texas 14, Notre Dame 10

Ohio State vs. Virginia Tech

NWB: The Buckeyes lost this game in C-Bus last year and even though he says they aren’t out for revenge- they are- and Urban Meyer is devastating in revenge games (See Georgia, 2008). Still, the Bucks have critical defensive players suspended (Joey Bosa) and Virginia Tech has great coaches defensively. Bud Foster had a whole summer to get ready for both Buckeye QB’s. Plus, “Enter Sandman”, Blacksburg at night and the raw emotion of an opener. I think this is a great game that Ohio State holds on to win late. Ohio State 26, Virginia Tech 20

NS: Virginia Tech’s Lane Stadium figures to be rocking and Ohio State figures to be weaker with several key players (most notably Joey Bosa) suspended. Neither will matter. The Buckeyes’ defense of their national title- one they claimed despite losing to the Hokies a year ago in the Horseshoe- will get off to a flying start in Blacksburg. Ezekiel Elliot runs hog wild and the Buckeyes put the game away by halftime. Ohio State 48, Virginia Tech 23

RR: With three receivers plus Joey Bosa suspended, the Buckeyes aren’t even close to being at full strength for their season opener at Virginia Tech. VT was able to hand Ohio State their only loss last year and the Hokie’s defense is bringing back quite a lot of talent from last year. With a field goal in the final seconds of regulation, Virginia Tech pulls off what could be the biggest upset of the season, beating the Buckeyes for the second year in a row. Virginia Tech 20, Ohio State 17