Welcome to the first week of the 2009 CU Independent Pick’em. This year, we’re throwing a twist into the picks unlike past years. Every week, there will be a different guest picker trying to match wits with the CU Independent staff. The guest picker could be a well-known alumnus or it could be a familiar freshman with an undecided major. Check in every week to find out.
Troy Renck — the Denver Post’s Colorado Rockies beat writer and a CU alumnus from the class of 1993.
Colorado over Colorado State: CU should have just enough offense to win by a field goal.
North Carolina State 25, South Carolina 21: Quarterback Russell Wilson is one of the best players nobody has heard of. Pack win.
No. 14 Boise State 30, No. 16 Oregon 25: Oregon is this year’s Texas Tech. Boise is this year’s, um, Boise. Broncos in a close game.
No. 9 Oklahoma State 34, No. 13 Georgia 27: If State plays any defense, it will be a national title contender. Quarterback Zac Robinson leads this win.
No. 23 Notre Dame 30, Nevada 16: Fighting Irish schedule is a joke. It’s the beginning of Charlie Weis’ last stand.
No. 3 Oklahoma 44, No. 20 BYU 21: Props to these two bullies for playing a game worth watching. Sooners defense too fast.
No. 7 Virginia Tech 20, No. 5 Alabama 16: Suspensions cost Alabama in first big game of season, especially on special teams.
No. 18 Florida State 22, Miami 14: Seminoles’ home-field the difference. Miami will be a power again by next season.
Cheng Sio — sports editor
Colorado 41, Colorado State 16: If last year’s 21-point win taught us anything, it’s that the Rams can’t score when Gartrell Johnson doesn’t touch the ball. What is that? Oh, Johnson is in the National Football League. Ha! Who’s their game-breaker now because I don’t see any?
North Carolina State 31, South Carolina 23: I’m pretty sure Wilson and the Wolfpack remember the 34-0 humiliation on national TV to kickoff the 2008 football season. Wilson, who threw 17 touchdowns and only one interception last year, will be ready after getting knocked out of last year’s game.
No. 14 Boise State 41, No. 16 Oregon 37: Do you wanna know when was the last time Boise State lost at home in the regular season? Try Sept. 8, 2001. The power of the Smurf Turf!
No. 9 Oklahoma State 31, No. 13 Georgia 14: QB Matthew Stafford and running back Knowshon Moreno no longer reside Between the Hedges, so I expect the T. Boone Pickens’ Cowboys to romp. The better question is whether defensive coordinator Bill Young can find a way to keep the Bulldogs unknown offense under control.
No. 23 Notre Dame 33, Nevada 23: Wolfpack QB Colin Kaepernick is good, but I just like Jimmy Clausen to receivers Golden Tate and Michael Floyd just a wee bit better.
No. 3 Oklahoma 34, No. 20 BYU 20: With linebacker Ryan Reynolds, the heart and soul of the defense, returning, life will be tough for BYU. Max Hall and the Cougars offense will score a couple of late TDs to make the score look respectable.
No. 5 Alabama 24, No. 7 Virginia Tech 10: Two weeks ago, this matchup was a toss-up. Then, the Hokies lost Darren Evans. Unless freshman RB Ryan Williams can get away from the grasp of “Mount” Cody and LB Rolando McClain, Tyrod Taylor and the Hokies will have a tough time scoring points against the Nicktator’s defense.
Miami 13, No. 18 Florida State 6: Between 2004 and 2006, Florida State took two-of-three from the ‘Canes on this Labor Day contest. However, the games were ugly — 16-10 loss, 10-7 and 13-10 wins. It will remain ugly but Jacory Harris’ legs will make the difference for “The U.”
Ron Knabenbauer — sports editor
Colorado 31, Colorado State 17: The game between the Buffs and the Rams is always closer than it should be, and this year won’t be any different. However, what will be different is that CU will have the home crowd and will pull away late.
South Carolina 35, North Carolina State 27: Things are looking up for Steve Spurrier, the “head ball coach,” in South Carolina. I have a feeling that this season is going to be a good one for the Gamecocks.
No. 16 Oregon 23, No. 14 Boise State 20: I love the Broncos but the Ducks will be too much for Boise to handle. Watch for Oregon to turn some heads in the Pac-10 this season.
No. 9 Oklahoma State 28, No. 13 Georgia 27: The Bulldogs will be making some noise in the Southeastern Conference and will contend for a national championship. Unfortunately, they’ll have to do that while starting the season with a loss to a stronger Oklahoma State squad.
No. 23 Notre Dame 38, Nevada 27: I’m not a huge fan of Weis (mainly because he coached in New England), but I think his Fighting Irish will take care of business against Nevada in a season where it is a make or break for him as head coach.
No. 3 Oklahoma 47, No. 20 BYU 42: I know Oklahoma went to the national championship game last season, but the Cougars are good and will give the Sooners all they can handle. I want BYU to win but I can’t bring myself to pick them beating No. 3.
No. 7 Virginia Tech 34, No. 5 Alabama 31: Maybe the best matchup all weekend and maybe the entire season. This game has major national championship and Bowl Championship Series implications in it. I like the Hokies to start the year strong with a win.
Miami 35, No. 18 Florida State 24: Miami has had a rough couple of seasons, but this is the year when they’ll turn it around and compete for an Atlantic Coast Conference championship. Watch for “The U” to take an early lead in the ACC with a win over rival FSU.
Alex K.W. Schultz — CU:I’s football beat reporter
Colorado 31, Colorado State 20: Upsets are by no means unheard of in rivalry games, but don’t expect one here. With a beefy offensive line (including 6-foot-9, 305-pound Nate Solder and 6-8, 320-pound Ryan Miller) and a stable of running backs (Darrell Scott, Rodney Stewart, Demetrius Sumler and Brian Lockridge), the Buffaloes will run over, past and through the Rams en route to victory in the 81st Rocky Mountain Showdown.
South Carolina 24, NC State 13: Spurrier has been somewhat of a disappointment at South Carolina. As a major college head coach, Spurrier owns an overall winning percentage of .731 (170-62-2). The Head Ball Coach’s winning percentage heading the Gamecocks, however, is just .560 (28-22) — still good, but not great. There’s no cause for concern this week, though, as Spurrier’s Gamecocks will travel to take on the Wolfpack, who haven’t won an ACC title since 1979.
No. 16 Oregon 27, No. 14 Boise State 24: Youth and inexperience may haunt Boise State this season — the Broncos suit up just five seniors. With 15 seniors listed on its roster, Oregon will get the best of the Broncos on their blue turf.
No. 9 Oklahoma State 38, No. 13 Georgia 28: Stafford, Moreno and WR Mohamed Massaquoi are all gone from Georgia’s 10-3 campaign last year. Those are just too many holes to fill.
No. 23 Notre Dame 37, Nevada 13: Weis is sitting on one of the hottest seats in college football. Let’s just say the 53-year-old’s Irish better win this one — and many more — if he has any plans of coaching in South Bend next season.
No. 3 Oklahoma 41, No. 20 BYU 17: Dubbing QB Sam Bradford a “freak of human nature” might not be too far from the truth. Oklahoma’s junior signal caller tossed for 4,720 yards and 50 touchdowns in 2008. BYU’s defense, on the other hand, surrendered more than 30 points in five of its final seven contests in 2008. Look out, Cougs.
No. 7 Virginia Tech 27, No. 5 Alabama 24: John Parker Wilson is gone and Alabama might still be aching from its embarrassing 31-17 loss to Utah on Jan. 2 in the Sugar Bowl. Virginia Tech gets the job done, but not by much.
No. 18 Florida State 33, Miami 26: What a great rivalry. The last eight meetings between these two schools have all been decided by eight points or less. Rivalry games are all about momentum and passion. Florida State wants this one more.
Chris King — staff writer
Colorado 31, CSU 17: This one will be close until the second half when the Buffaloes experience, depth and talent will take over. Expect our beloved Buffs to run the ball often and wear down the CSU defense. On the defensive side the Rams will struggle to get much against an improved Colorado D without last year’s star RB Gartrell Johnson.
North Carolina State 27, South Carolina 23: Wilson was not only the 2008 ACC Freshman of the Year, but he is such a talented athlete that he played on the baseball team as well. He led the Wolfpack to a surprising bowl berth last season and this year, he will get them started on the right foot. That, plus the fact that the Gamecocks are always a disappointment (trust me I lived in South Carolina).
No. 16 Oregon 45, No. 14 Boise State 32: While the Broncos have been nearly unbeatable on the Boise blue turf, this is not just some pathetic Western Athletic Conference team (no offense WAC members). They are facing a powerhouse offensive Oregon Ducks team that managed to put up gaudy offensive stats last year and scored over 60 points three times! QB Jeremiah Masoli is a dark horse Heisman Trophy candidate and should lead the Ducks to a Pac-10 Conference championship, thus ending USC’s dominance. Remember you heard it here first!
No. 9 Oklahoma State 41, No. 13 Georgia 24: Another high powered offense, the Cowboys have studs at all three offensive skill positions, including Colorado’s own (the state not the University) Zac Robinson at quarterback. With the Bulldogs losing Stafford and Moreno (to the Broncos!), expect them to score less than last year, which won’t work against a team like the Cowboys.
Nevada 34, No. 23 Notre Dame 31 (OT): UPSET SPECIAL! Nevada QB Colin Kaepernick is a scary dual threat (more than 2,000 yards passing and 1,000 rushing last year) and RB Vai Taua is just a compliment to that. Notre Dame is overrated, again, and after this overtime loss, expect Weis’ hot seat to start burning.
No. 3 Oklahoma 42, No. 20 BYU 21: Expect Bradford to receive a bit more pressure than last year with four new offensive line starters but still, this is the same guy that threw 50 (!) TDs last year. While Max Hall leads a solid BYU offense, I doubt that they’ve seen defenses led by guys such as Gerald McCoy.
No.5 Alabama 17, No. 7 Virginia Tech 10: After being ranked No. 1 for a good portion of last season, the Crimson Tide finished the year with consecutive losses including one to the “inferior” Utah Utes. That more than likely got head coach Nick Saban fired up and you can bet the team felt it. While Virginia Tech will put up a fight, this defensive battle will be decided in the trenches and they don’t make ‘em bigger than Terrence Cody (nicknamed Mount Cody, all 354 pounds of him).
No. 18 Florida State 34, Miami 28: While it would be funny to see another “Wide Right” break the Seminoles heart, they have the edge in both home field and superior talent on both sides of the ball. But it won’t be long before the Hurricanes return to their former glory, so the folks down at FSU had best enjoy it.
David Starcer — staff writer
Colorado 35, Colorado State 17: The only news that came out of Fort Collins regarding the football program was bad news, including head coach Steve Fairchild’s complete disgust with the quarterback play a couple of weeks ago. That, plus no Gartrell Johnson, no defense and a raucous Folsom Field crowd equals a big day for CU’s running backs and a big victory for the black and gold.
South Carolina 20, North Carolina State 17: Yes, the other USC trounced the Wolfpack 34-0 in the season opener last year. And yes, this year’s game is in Raleigh, N.C., which should give NC State an edge. Ultimately, it’s two mediocre teams going at it and neither has a distinct edge on the playing field. Thus, it comes down to coaching and I’ll give Spurrier the edge over Tom O’Brien.
No. 14 Boise State 45, No. 16 Oregon 35: If nothing else, this game will be full of offensive fireworks between two teams with much better offenses than defenses. But Oregon is officially beginning the post-Mike Belotti era and Boise State doesn’t lose on the blue turf. At least one Broncos team in blue and orange is having a good year.
No. 9 Oklahoma State 34, No. 13 Georgia 21: Two very good teams from last year butting helmets in a great opening game matchup. What’s the difference? One team is on the rise (OSU) while the other (Georgia) is on the decline. Georgia lost Stafford and Moreno to the NFL Draft and is starting an unknown (Joe Cox anyone?) at quarterback while the Cowboys counter with Heisman candidate Zac Robinson and top wideout Dez Bryant. Watch out for Oklahoma State to make some noise in the Big 12 Conference this year.
No. 23 Notre Dame 27, Nevada 10: Wolfpack QB Colin Kaepernick is the defending WAC Offensive Player of the Year (39 combined touchdowns) and tailback Vai Taua rushed for more than 1,500 yards last year. That being said, I still like the Irish at home with Weis coaching for his job.
No. 3 Oklahoma 56, No. 20 BYU 21: Defending Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford is coming off a 50 (yes, 50) touchdown season. Expect him to get things off to a good start in this game against an overrated Cougars team with a suspect passing defense.
No. 5 Alabama 17, No. 7 Virginia Tech 7: The game of the weekend in my opinion as two top 10 teams who played in BCS bowls last year meet up on neutral ground. I like Taylor and Beamer Ball a lot, but not as much as Bama’s defense led by stud nose tackle Terrence Cody. I’ll take Nick Saban and the Tide to roll past the Hokies in a defensive struggle.
Miami 27, No. 18 Florida State 24: What a rivalry! The ‘Canes and ‘Noles always put on a good show and this year should be no different. Florida State is more talented on paper and has home field advantage, but I foresee a late Miami touchdown drive putting “The U” up by three. Then (you guessed it!), Wide Right V (that’s number five for those of you who don’t know Roman numerals) will result in another heartbreaking loss for Bobby Bowden’s boys.
Contact CU Independent Sports Editor Cheng Sio at Cheng.firstname.lastname@example.org.