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The Picker: A new season, a new chance to vent my frustrations
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The Picker: A new season, a new chance to vent my frustrations

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Welcome to this week’s media availability for the most important figure in any football season: me!

Luckily, I don’t have to be around you people while we’re on Zoom, but you may have noticed a rare smile on my face … it’s there if you look closely enough. Let me explain.

After so many years of doing this for paychecks that have been far too small, it’s about time I really got paid. Thanks to the new world of college football, it is finally happening.

I am here to announce a new revenue source for the old Picker. It will mean a new car, new Haggar shirts and new Sketchers for my tired feet, and the dog can count on some fancy new food, too. The gravy train has finally arrived!

Let me introduce the person responsible for my new, sunnier outlook on life, the CEO of … oh, hold on, I’m getting a call from my agent. Maybe the deal with that sportsbook came through ...

Wait, corporate rules prevent me from signing contracts with outside sources? My new deal is null and void? I could get sued if I don’t follow the company line? They are even threatening to report my illegal satellite dish? Iron-clad, huh? ...

Son of a buffalo biscuit! I can’t believe this. Just when it looked like my ship came in, it’s the Orca from “Jaws”.

This means yet another season of bologna sandwiches, Yoohoo and stale ginger snaps. Good mood fading ... grumpiness returning.

Like Les Miles at Kansas, this could get ugly.

The picks

Thursday

UC Davis at Tulsa: Quarterback Hunter Rodrigues and the FCS Aggies’ offense will present some challenges. The Hurricane don’t have new Arizona Cardinal Zaven Collins anymore, but the defense should be up to the task here, and quarterback Davis Brin has an experienced offensive crew — along with running back Shamari Brooks returning from injury — will score enough to make it comfortable at the end. TU stays golden, 35-14.

Boise State at UCF: If you’re going to kick off a season in Orlando, Florida, why not do it at the Bounce House, the Knights’ home stadium? Expect new coach Gus Malzahn and UCF to start with a win over the Blue Turf Broncos. Good Knights, 37-30.

Friday

South Dakota at Kansas: Look, this game is here for one reason: Kansas wins! There, now I don’t have to worry about typing that again for at least 12 months. Jayhawks get one, 27-17.

Saturday

Tulane at No. 2 Oklahoma: The Sooners were always going to win this game, but now the Green Wave squad has so many other things on its mind. Hard to think Spencer Rattler’s Heisman campaign doesn’t get off to a great start here. Tulane offense led by QB Michael Pratt is trying to diversify its run-heavy attack. Tough week to work out those changes. OU big, 50-17.

Missouri State at OSU: A win is expected; how Spencer Sanders and the offense click may be what matters most. Bobby Petrino’s team made the FCS playoffs last spring, but the Cowboys’ secondary should make things tough. Running backs group gets a chance to show its depth. Pokes ride high, 45-13.

Rice at Arkansas: Owls are OK on defense, really bad on offense. Just what coach Sam Pittman and his Razorbacks need before next week’s big game against old SWC foe (and future SEC buddy) Texas comes to Fayetteville. Call the Hogs, 37-10.

No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 14 Miami in Atlanta: Tide schedules tough opener, as these schools face off for the first time since 1993. Miami quarterback D’Eriq King returns from a knee injury he suffered in the team’s bowl game; if he is healthy, the Hurricanes could show a spark. But Alabama defense is going to be really good, and new QB Bryce Young should be up to the task with offense. Tide rolls 38-17.

No. 23 Louisiana at No. 21 Texas: I’m not sure either of these teams deserves its Top 25 ranking. New Longhorns ringmaster Steve Sarkisian opens the burnt-orange circus with a new quarterback and the usual lofty expectations in Austin. Louisiana returns more than 20 starters from last season’s team. Key for ‘Horns may be getting pressure on Cajuns QB Levi Lewis. Going out on a limb here: Longhorns in a squeaker, 30-28.

No. 16 LSU at UCLA: LSU will learn a lesson so many other teams have discovered over the years: UCLA is an awesome opening foe. The Bruins carry just enough cache to make the victory seem like it’s worth an extra something. LSU needs to get off to a quick start in 2021 after last year’s struggles. Tigers win at Rose Bowl, 36-20.

Sunday

No. 9 Notre Dame at Florida State: Notre Dame’s school record for points in a season opener is 116 vs. St. Viator in 1912. That mark is safe here. Grad transfer Jack Coan is new leader on offense for the Irish, who return some experience at running back. The Seminoles were going down to the wire in naming a quarterback. Maybe Florida State head coach Mike Norvell has something up his sleeve. Giving him some credit here. The Irish pull it out, 31-24.

Monday

Louisville vs Ole Miss at Atlanta: This closes out the season’s first full weekend on Labor Day. Lane Kiffin takes his favored Rebels into the neutral-site opener against a Louisville team that found ways to lose some close games last year. The trend continues: Rebels yell, 38-35.

Tie-breaker

No. 5 Georgia vs. No. 3 Clemson: They’re playing this one in Charlotte, North Carolina. QBs DJ Uiagalelei of Clemson and Georgia’s JT Daniels will face tough defenses, but the guess here is the offensive skill players still find a way to shine. Dawgs score a big win, 31-28.

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