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Opening Week Lines Released

by Mike Mitchell
July 20, 2007

The opening week lines, based on the Congrove Computer Rankings, have been released.

The season kicks off on Thursday, August 30 with 11 games, followed by two more games on Friday. Saturday brings a full slate of 55 games. The first weekend wraps up on Labor Day Monday, September 3 with two more games.

Here are my observations about the opening week line-up:

Somewhat Surprising Line
Kent State (-6.43) at Iowa State
(Thurs.) - The preseason forecast for Iowa State is bleak, but the Cyclones surely didn't schedule this opener to take a home loss. It will be interesting to see if this prediction comes to fruition.

Iowa (-2.43) vs. Northern Illinois - The Big 10 versus the MAC in Chicago at Soldier Field.

Central Florida (-3.08) at N.C. State - Tom O'Brien makes his debut as head coach of the Wolfpack. Interestingly, his successor at Boston College is expected to bag a big win while O'Brien is supposed to drop a game to a non-BCS conference school.

SMU (-0.19) vs. Texas Tech - This game is bound to be an outright upset pick against the Vegas spread. In Phil Bennett's five seasons, the Mustangs have been projected to go a cumulative 28-30, but they are only 17-41 in that span. SMU has fallen short of the computer's expectations in four-out-of-five years that Bennett has been at the helm.

Texas (-27.90) vs. Arkansas State - Is that spread for the first quarter? It's not that I think the Indians are bad, but there will be some troubled souls in Austin if the Longhorns don't win by at least 40.

Top Games
Virginia Tech (-19.14) vs. East Carolina
- ESPN GameDay is in Blacksburg to watch the Hokie Nation gather for its largest sporting event since the tragic campus killings this past Spring.

Boston College (-4.41) vs. Wake Forest - Defending ACC champion Wake Forest visits Chestnut Hill. Though the computer picks the Demon Deacons to repeat as Atlantic Division champs, and B.C. to finish second, it gives the Eagles the nod in this heads-up encounter. Can new Boston College head coach Jeff Jagodzinski earn a huge win in his debut against one of the conference's top coaches, Jim Grobe?

California (-6.82) over Tennessee - No one needs to remind the Cal players that they were embarrassed 35-18 last year when these two teams met in Knoxville on opening weekend.

Notre Dame (-2.30) vs. Georgia Tech (See Preview) - The Irish eked out a 14-10 win in Atlanta last year. Both teams lost major offensive players from last season as the Yellow Jackets no longer have WR Calvin Johnson to catch the ball, and the Irish don't have

Clemson (-0.43) vs. Florida State (Mon.) - Father Bobby vs. son Tommy in the annual Bowden Bowl. After starting 0-4 against his father, the son has won three of the last four and two-in-a-row. The Tigers have also taken the last two meetings on their home field.

Worth Watching
Oregon State (-7.70) vs. Utah (Thurs.)
- The CCR Top 119 tapped the Beavers as the 4th-best team in the PAC-10. Utah is supposed to be a contender in the Mountain West with the consensus putting them behind TCU and BYU.

Washington (-4.67) at Syracuse (Friday) - The computer puts both of these teams in last place of their respective conferences. Either team, or both, could do quite a bit better than expected.

Georgia (-3.18) vs. Oklahoma State - The computer has both teams looking at 7-5 seasons.

Oregon (-3.74) vs. Houston - Can Oregon duck the upset bid? How will Houston adjust to life without Kevin Kolb? Most forecasters see the Cougars making a return trip to the CUSA Championship.

Nebraska (-12.23) vs. Nevada - Seems like a disrespectful spread for the Cornhuskers. Sure, Nevada nearly beat Miami in last season's MPC Computers Bowl, but this game is in Lincoln. Some heads will turn if it's as close as the computer expects it to be.

Virginia (-3.03) at Wyoming - The Cowboys beat the Cavs in Charlottesville last year. Can Al Groh's group redeem itself in Laramie, or will Groh move one step closer to losing his job?

UNBEATEN TEAMS: Boise State was the only undefeated team in the country after Ohio State lost 41-14 to Florida in the BCS title game. The Broncos beat Oklahoma 43-42 in overtime in the Fiesta Bowl.

WINLESS TEAMS: Duke finished the year at 0-12, including a loss to 1-AA Richmond. FIU also went 0-12.

1-A vs. 1-AA: 1-AA teams finished 7-71 for the season against their higher-classified brethren. Since the start of the 2003 campaign, 1-A teams hold the upper hand by a huge margin, 235-25(.904).

77 schools took the opportunity of a 12th game to schedule a cupcake opponent and New Mexico State double-dipped for two of its' four wins.

This year, 78 bowl division teams face schools from the championship division.

New Mexico State double-dips again with SE Louisiana and Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Fellow WAC member Hawaii also has two of the lower division schools on its schedule as the Warriors host Northern Colorado and Charleston Southern.

STREAKS: Ohio State saw its 19-game winning streak come to an end with the 41-14 loss to Florida in the BCS Championship Game. The Buckeyes are still riding an 18-game regular season winning streak.

Boise State has won 13 straight games over-all after beating Oklahoma 43-42 in overtime in the Fiesta Bowl. The Broncos have won 14 straight regular season games, and 36 consecutive regular season home games. The Broncos have never lost a home game to a WAC opponent (24-0).

BYU has won 10 straight games after a 38-8 Las Vegas Bowl win over Oregon.

USC has won a nation's-best 33 consecutive home games.

Duke has lost 20 games over-all, and 22 straight to 1-A teams.

FIU has lost 12 straight games after a 26-13 defeat to Troy.

NEW COACHES: The 2006 season featured 11 new head coaches. Five led their team to a bowl game.

This year, there are 24 coaching changes for the highest number since 2001 when there were 25. We'll track their progress throughout the season.

At least one new coach is guaranteed a victory on opening weekend when UAB's Neil Callaway and Michigan State's Mark Dantonio match wits in East Lansing. Eight coaches will debut against 1-AA opponents.

Air Force, 0-0 under Troy Calhoun, hosts 1-AA So. Carolina St. 9/1.
Alabama, 0-0 under Nick Saban, hosts 1-AA Western Carolina 9/1.
Arizona State, 0-0 under Dennis Erickson, hosts San Jose State 9/1.
Army, 0-0 under Stan Brock, plays Akron in Cleveland 9/1.
Boston College, 0-0 under Jeff Jagodzinski, hosts Wake Forest 9/1
Central Michigan, 0-0 under Butch Jones, visits Kansas 9/1.
Cincinnati, 0-0 under Brian Kelly, hosts 1-AA SE Missouri St. 8/31.
FIU, 0-0 under Mario Cristobal, visits Penn State 9/1.
Idaho, 0-0 under Robb Akey, visits USC 9/1.
Indiana, 0-0 under Bill Lynch, hosts 1-AA Indiana State 9/1.
Iowa State, 0-0 under Gene Chizik, hosts Kent State 8/30.
Louisiana Tech, 0-0 under Derek Dooley, hosts 1-AA Central Arkansas 9/1.
Louisville, 0-0 under Steve Kragthorpe, hosts 1-AA Murray State 8/30.
Miami (Fla.), 0-0 under Randy Shannon, hosts Marshall 9/1.
Michigan State, 0-0 under Mark Dantonio, hosts UAB 9/1.
Minnesota, 0-0 under Tim Brewster, hosts Bowling Green 9/1.
North Carolina, 0-0 under Butch Davis, hosts 1-AA James Madison 9/1.
N.C. State, 0-0 under Tom O'Brien, hosts Central Florida 9/1.
North Texas, 0-0 under Todd Dodge, visits Oklahoma 9/1.
Rice, 0-0 under David Bailiff, hosts 1-AA Nicholls State 9/1.
Stanford, 0-0 under Jim Harbaugh, hosts UCLA 9/1.
Tulane, 0-0 under Bob Toledo, idle opening week. Hosts Mississippi St. 9/8.
Tulsa, 0-0 under Todd Graham, visits Louisiana-Monroe 8/30.
UAB, 0-0 under Neil Callaway, visits Michigan State 9/1.



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