Mr. CFB Pick Six: Week 1
from Tony Barnhart/Mr. College Football, the former sportswriter for the Greensboro Daily News and the Greensboro Record…
Tony Barnhart, now with SI/TMG Sports…..
There were times this summer when I didn’t know if there were going to be six games to pick—or ANY games to pick for that matter.
But here we are. The Big Ten and Pac-12 are sitting at home while their fans—particularly the Big Ten fans—are fuming.
The ACC got started Thursday when Miami beat UAB 31-14. There will be four conference games on Saturday.
The SEC will begin play on Sept. 26.
So, the best advice your humble scribe can give you today is this: Enjoy this Saturday and hope everybody stays healthy. When the next Saturday gets here we’ll enjoy that one. If ever there was a season that has to be lived from week to week it is this one.
So with those hopeful words, let’s get on with the first Pick Six of the season. Remember that is for entertainment purposes only. If I actually knew how to pick games my lifestyle would be very different.
The game: Duke (plus 20.5) at Notre Dame, 2:30 p.m., NBC
The Pick: Notre Dame.
The score: Notre Dame 35, Duke 14.
The skinny: Notre Dame has posted a 33-6 record the past three seasons, the best stretch for the Irish since Lou Holtz went 31-5-1 from 1991-93. Ian Book returns for his final season as Notre Dame’s quarterback after throwing for 3,039 yards and 34 touchdowns last season. Book has his entire offensive line returning but needs for a couple of receivers to step up. Duke’s quarterback is Chase Brice, the transfer from Clemson, who bailed the Tigers out in 2018 when Trevor Lawrence got hurt against Syracuse.
The game: Syracuse (plus 22.5) at North Carolina, Noon, ACC Network.
The pick: North Carolina
The score: North Carolina 48, Syracuse 21.
The skinny: Sam Howell returns at quarterback for North Carolina after being named the ACC Rookie of the Year last season with 38 touchdown passes. The Tar Heels also have a stout running game and two 1,000-yard receivers. This game started with a 19.5 spread but it has gone up since Syracuse announced that two key running backs, Abdul Adams and Jarveion Howard, opted out of the 2020 season.
The game: Clemson at Wake Forest (plus 32.5), 7:30 p.m., ABC.
The pick: Clemson
The score: Clemson 48, Wake Forest 14.
The skinny: If Jamie Newman had returned at quarterback for Wake Forest this season, the Demon Deacons might have made this game respectable. No such luck. Newman transferred to Georgia and recently opted out of the 2020 season.
No team in America has a better quarterback/running back tandem than Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne. Remember that Lawrence got off to a slow start in his sophomore season but in his final eight games he threw 22 touchdown passes and zero interceptions. Eitenne is an extremely versatile player and would be in the hunt for the Heisman Trophy if he played for another team. This one is not going to be pretty.
The game: Georgia Tech (plus 12.5) at Florida State, 3:30 p.m, ABC.
The pick: Georgia Tech
The score: Florida State 24, Georgia Tech 17.
The skinny: After a 6-7 season in 2019 and the dismissal of head coach Willie Taggart, Florida State starts over under new head coach Mike Norvell. The biggest question headed into the ACC opener with Georgia Tech deals with quarterback James Blackman. The senior has completed 60.9 percent of his passes for 5,079 yards. He has thrown 41 touchdown passes but 23 interceptions. Georgia Tech (3-9 last season) begins its second year under Geoff Collins. Last season the offense really struggled as Collins transitioned from the triple option. Florida State wins but the ‘Noles don’t cover.
The game: Louisiana (plus 11.5) at Iowa State, Noon, ESPN
The pick: Louisiana.
The score: Iowa State 35, Louisiana 31.
The skinny: Iowa State was 7-6 (5-4 Big 12) last season but there is reason to believe the Cyclones could make things a lot more competitive in 2020. Let’s start with quarterback Brock Purdy, who threw for 3,982 yards and 27 touchdowns in 2019. But the running game needs to get better before the start of Big 12 play. Look out for the Ragin’ Cajuns of Billy Napier, who finished No. 8 nationally in total offense (494.1 ypg) and No. 10 in scoring offense (37.9 ppg) last season.
The game: Arkansas State (plus 10.5) at Kansas State, Noon, FOX.
The pick: Arkansas State.
The score: Kansas State 31, Arkansas State 24.
The skinny: Arkansas State (0-1) has the advantage of having already played a game last week—a 37-24 loss at Memphis. That experience won’t be enough for the Red Wolves to win, but it will be enough to keep the game closer than the experts think. The Wildcats open their second season under coach Chris Klieman after winning eight games in 2019. Kansas State wins but the Wildcats don’t cover.