Week 1 Predictions – 2019
Last Week: I have been waiting all off-season to see college football and after seeing the Miami-Florida game, I am still waiting. Not sure what to call that event in Orlando, but it did not look like two teams that should be competing in their respective conferences. I trust this week week will bring us games that are more entertaining and less mistake filled. I certainly do not expect that in Columbus this weekend.
This Week’s Games: The wait is over and our Buckeyes with their new coach and their new quarterback will finally take the field. OSU should take care of things this week, and hopefully continue a growth process toward their first big game, in Lincoln 9/28 …. Our games start out on Thursday this week as Chip Kelly and the Bruins head to Ohio to take on Cincinnati. The Bearcats won in LA last year 26-17. Will UCLA return the favor this year or does Cincinnati follow-up their 11 win season with another opening game victory? …. In another Pac-12 game, Stanford will host Northwestern. A loss by the Cardinal would not be a signature victory the conference needs. Will the Wildcats get a non-conference win that eluded them last season? …. In an opening week ACC contest, Virginia, who is picked by many to win the Coastal division, plays Pitt who won the division last season. Will this opening week match-up decides who plays Clemson in the championship game? …. Lastly, the biggest Pac-12 game week one will be Oregon facing Auburn. Which of these teams need this win the most?
Buckeye Greats: As with the past, we will continue to include former Buckeye players in our prediction fun and we are thrilled to have Vaughn Broadnax back with us as a regular participant for the fifth straight year.
Here we go with our Week 1 Picks – Good Luck to All – Gregg
Florida Atlantic @ (5)Ohio State(-27)
Andy: I believe this will be a pretty one sided game. FAU had a lot of success last year against lesser teams, a big part of that success was their stud offensive coordinator Kendal Briles. Briles left at the end of last season to become Florida State’s new offensive coordinator. Going against a defense that returns 8 starters from last year on the road with a new offense does not sound like a recipe for success. Ohio State 35 – FAU 13
Bbaver: Pick: Ohio State – It’s a bit hard to get a read on this year’s Buckeye team with so many changes. This game could be interesting, and if it is, I still think Ohio State will eventually impose their will on FAU, and ultimately move on with the W. And I think the more likely scenario is one where OSU wins going away, covering the Vegas spread. Oklahoma thumped Lane Kiffin’s boys 63-14 a year ago, in a game that the Sooners lead 42-0 at the half. Call me gullible and call me a homer, but I have bought into the talk of the improvements on defense. I think the OSU DBs will return to greatness, and think you will see steady improvement out of the LBs. I tend to think the Buckeye D knocks 7 pts per gm off what they a gave up in 2019. But on the flip side, I think you will see a similar drop in the PPG OSU scores with the amount of key guys they lose on offense. I guess my biggest worry Saturday would be OSU’s offense having trouble scoring, and FAU TE Harrison Bryant gashing the Buckeye D on multiple occasions. But I’ve got Ohio State 45-14 in this one.
Coach Rick: Welcome to this season a new head coach and a new quarterback. Enough for the new, now the old. I think we will see the same old Buckeyes that will roll over their opponents. I have the Buckeyes winning by 28 points.
Cory: Everybody is extremely optimistic about Ohio State this season, but make no mistake – there are some question marks on this team that need to be answered. The Buckeyes have four new starters on the offensive line, two new starters at receiver, a new starting quarterback, and a new starting running back. The defense returns more, but big questions remain about the linebackers. Additionally, there’s a lot of new coaches on both sides of the ball. No doubt, the Buckeyes are talented across the board but talent alone doesn’t win games. Don’t expect Florida Atlantic to put up much of a challenge. Led by third-year coach Lane Kiffin, the Owls took a big step backward last year from 2017 going from 11 wins to five. Because of the opponent the Buckeyes are facing, don’t expect a lot of answers to the questions this team faces. Let’s also hope the Buckeyes don’t look ahead to the matchup with Cincinnati in Week 2. Ohio State 42 FAU 10
Dave: Ohio State 52 FAU 14
Dr. Mark: Ohio State 38-14 Even Lane himself is wondering why they are playing the buckeyes. I’m more interested is how the passing game is than any other phase. Not sure we will be able to tell that much about the D unless they are very strong on Sat
Gregg: It is finally football season and Buckeye fans can”t wait to follow-up a 13-1 season which saw a Big Ten Championship, a Rose Bowl victory and a 62-39 victory over TBGUN. There is plenty to be excited about for 2019, but plenty of questions with a new coach, a new quarterback and new wifi in the stadium. Needless to say, this is the first game for the Buckeyes against FAU and Owls head coach Lane Kiffin gave us plenty of bulletin board quotes to spark what would otherwise be a boring game. Ohio State head coach Ryan Day is starting a second straight season opener, and if the score is anything close to the 77-31 victory he secured over Oregon State last season. fans will leave Ohio Stadium with a spring in their steps.
I want to see what GA transfer Justin Fields does but I am more interested in seeing how the defense performs. If they don’t improve from last season, this will once again be a playoff-less season for the scarlet and gray. I think OSU starts strong, takes care of business and moves on to the Bearcats next week. JK Dobbins should get over 120 yards rushing, and I would like to see 250 yards passing from Fields. The defense may start slow but will get their grove and take care of business. Ohio State 60 Florida Atlantic 13
Jason: The Ryan Day era officially begins on Saturday in Columbus and they welcome in the Lane Kiffin led Florida Atlantic Owls. The Owls are coming off a very disappointing season where they finished 5-7. They should be a better football team this season but this will be a monumental challenge.
FAU has a deep backfield and will look to exploit a Buckeye defense coming off a very uneven season and prone to giving up the big play. That has been a point of emphasis for Coach Day and company, who replaced nearly the entire defensive staff and changed some things schematically. The depth up front will wear on the Owls from the outset making things difficult for the Owls to do much offensively.
On the other side of the ball, the Buckeyes should be able to run the football. The Owls lost half their top 12 tacklers and doesn’t have the horses to keep up with the explosive Ohio State offense. They have some speed but the plethora of weapons new starting QB Justin Fields has at his disposal will wear on the lack of depth the Owls employ. Expect the Buckeyes to look to establish talented RB JK Dobbins early and play the pound and ground game and once Fields gets comfortable, they will take some shots to the big time group of wide receivers. FAU will come out with some hop in their step but it will quickly diminish as Ohio State controls every facet of the football game. The Buckeyes will run away and hide from the Owls and get a lot of guys some experience in the fourth quarter rolling to a season opening win. Ohio State 55 FAU 10
Joe-S-U: Ohio State
John: Assuming that Ohio State manages not to get lost walking from Skull Session to the Stadium, there should be no way the Bucks lose this one. I’m a little surprised OSU is only a 27 point favorite. While I would expect the typical week one slop fest – dumb penalties, game management issues, etc. I think the talent disparity is such that in the end OSU can pretty much choose their number. Bucks pull away in the second half and win big. Ohio State 59 FAU 13
Josh: Ryan Day finally named Justin Fields the starter, who transferred from Georgia.The last time Buckeye Nation got to see Fields was at the Spring Game, and got to see glimpses of his talent, including a deep pass to Ben Victor, and a few elusive scrambles, but overall, I think Ohio State fans were hesitant with name Fields the next best thing, especially after coming off a season with Dwayne Haskins who rewrote the passing records at Ohio State and at the Big Ten level. And that is ok to be hesitant. Ryan Day emphasized at Big Ten media days that he expected to rely on the running game early on through the first 6 games, and let Field gain confidence. This should mean we will see a lot of Dobbins toting the ball, and hopefully surpass his first game as a Buckeye in 2017. He had a “down year” in 2018, despite rushing for over 1000 yards, and 10 touchdowns, but with the scheme and sharing the load with Mike Weber, it was to be expected. This year there is not a clear cut second running back, which will need to be established before kickoff on August 31. The weapons at wide-receiver, which might compete with the defensive line as the best position unit for this team, Fields has experience around him with Victor, Austin Mack, Chris Olave, KJ Hill, who is 48 receptions away from breaking the career receptions record, and emerging freshman Garrett Wilson, who has shown flashes and received lots of praise from the coaching staff. The biggest question mark for Ohio State fans outside of how will Fields preform is on the defensive side of the ball. With the coaching change in Ryan Day taking over the reigns, essentially everyone but Larry Johnson was replaced from last years defensive staff. Day was able to get Greg Mattison and Al Washington from TTUN, and they are known for stout zone and base defense, while making the defense simple, and allow the players to use 1 or 2 reads and playing on their training. One of the biggest gets potentially is Jeff Hafley, who is the third best recruiter in the nation, and has had the cornerbacks and safeties in meetings together so they are all on the same page. I think we will see a better defense than last year, and FAU is a good team to flex their muscles on to test out their schemes, and fix anything the needs to be fixed. Lane Kiffin leads the Owls for his third season, and potentially something his picked up at his time at Alabama, he has been quiet this offseason and not as vocal. Being able to recruit in Florida, he is able to pick up some talent, and he is one of the better offensive minds in the game. With a game like this where there is a difference in talent level, you can expect the Owls to run a few trick plays to challenge the rebuilding defense. I don’t expect this game to be close though, and the Buckeyes might be slowed down in intervals, but with Ryan Day wanting to prove he earned his role, expect a high scoring game…on the Ohio State side. This game was won in February. Ohio State 56 – FAU 10.
Pia Pete: Ohio State over FAU
PJSBuck: This could be one of those games that is ugly in the first half as most of the team and coaches still adjusting to each other. I expect the good guys to pull away in the second half though. Ohio State by 24. GO BUCKS
Steven: While it is way too much to ask this team to be anywhere near last year’s, this team has a lot of returning talent. To be fair, the 2018 team really wasn’t fully baked until the Michigan game, expect a lot of growth throughout the season. As usual, the Bucks should play strong against lesser opponents and give fans heart attacks if they struggle when they shouldn’t. Look for an increased reliance upon the run game. J.K. Dobbins and Demario McCall should lead the charge and Justin Fields will reintroduce a credible rushing threat from the QB position. The defense should be improved due to little turnover in personnel and lots of turnover in the coaching staff. Scheme and injuries really derailed any hope for cohesion on the defensive back 7 last year. FAU… well what can you say about the Fighting Kiffin’s? This is a program still just in its infancy which aligns well with their coach. The Owls might be able to keep it interesting, but if you look at OSU’s recent history against comparable 2nd or 3rd tier Florida schools, (2012 OSU 31-16 over UCF, 2018 OSU 76-0 over Florida A&M) this should fall about in the middle. OSU 51-10
Trout: It’s good to have Buckeye football back. It’s going to be a very interesting year with a new coach and a new quarterback. Although there are questions surrounding the Bucks, there is still no way they lose this game. FAU can not stand against one of the powerhouses of college football. Granted Lane Kiffin, is not without some talent as a coach, but even he would agree that this is mainly for the paycheck that the Owl are receiving. I can see the Buckeyes getting off to a slow start, but finding their groove relatively early. From there we should see a nice mix of running from Dobbins and passing from Fields. The Buckeyes win this one relatively easy. (Ohio State, 45-13).
Vaughn Broadnax (OSU 1980-83): I am looking for an OSU score fest after a sluggish first quarter start. OSU 45-FAU 21
Ohio State 45 Florida Atlantic 21
UCLA @ Cincinnati(-2.5)
Andy: Chip Kelly needs to make a splash in Los Angeles this year or he could find himself on the hot seat really fast. That said Cincinnati was one of the best non-power 5 conference teams last year. A big reason why was their defense which finished 8th overall last year. That defense returns seven of it’s starters this year. They also return starting quarterback Ridder who had a breakout year last year as a first year starter. I expect the Bearcat defense to secure the win at home. Cincinnati 24 – UCLA 21
Bbaver: Pick: Cincinnati – Still not sold on UCLA despite all the starters they have returning. I like Desmond Ridder at QB for the Bearcats and think UC has the better team here not even taking into account UCLA is traveling across 3 time zones to play in Nippert Stadium. We’ll see what happens with Chip Kelly….they should win more gems than the 3 they won last year, but I am not sure Kelly has much left in the tank. DC Marcus Freeman helped Cincy’s defensive PPG allowed drop from 31.8 to 17.2 from ’17 to ’18. I think the Bruins will have trouble scoring pts in this one….I like the Bearcats.
Cory: This should be an interesting matchup. UCLA, entering its second year under Chip Kelly, is hoping for any kind of success after a disastrous 3-win season in 2018. On the other hand, Cincinnati enters the season as one of the favorites in the MAC under the guidance of third-year coach Luke Fickell. The Bearcats are coming off an impressive 11-2 season in 2018. Cincinnati has two great playmakers on offense in quarterback Desmond Ridder and running back Michael Warren II. That said, I am going for the upset in this game. UCLA lost to the Bearcats in Los Angeles last year, so the Bruins are coming into this game hungry. Second, now that Kelly has had a year to get some more of his own players there and get them integrated into the system more, we should see a more prolific offense. Cincinnati did struggle with good offenses last year as evidenced by their 38-13 loss to UCF. UCLA 31 Cincinnati 21
Dave: Cincinnati 32 UCLA 28
Dr. Mark: UCLA 24-21 One of these days the Bruins have to come back to national relevance. Bearcats improving under Luke but can they rise to national elite level?
Gregg: Neither team ranked right now, but there is a great chance that the winner of this one will be ranked next time the polls come out. Chip Kelly and the Bruins were winless in the non-conference last season, and only going 3-6 against an ‘average’ Pac-12. But they played a lot of freshman who are now a season older. Meanwhile Cincinnati was 11-2 last season, only losing at Tempe in OT, and a lose to UCF who was 12-0. The Bearcats are expected challenge UCF for AAC East crown and could have a solid start if they can manage a win. Assuming Luke Fickell and the boys are not looking ahead to next week, they should make it two years in a row over UCLA. Cincinnati 24 UCLA 21
Jason: A year ago, the Chip Kelly era at UCLA got off to a rocky start, shocked by the Bearcats in LA but UCLA is better this year and they have revenge on their mind. QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson now has a year of experience and he has a loaded group at wideout to throw to. The UC D is good but they lack the speed that UCLA will bring into Nippert Stadium for this one. A year ago, the Cats controlled the clock with the ground game and they may need to be the formula again for Cincinnati to protect its home turf. The Bruins, although improved on defense, is still young and it’s still in prove it mode with this early test. The Bearcats have to replace nearly the entire O Line but QB Desmond Ridder is back and still has weapons at all the skill positions. This may be a game, and most are, which is won in the trenches. Can the inexperienced line of Cincinnati create holes to run through and enable the Bearcats to control the clock? They should come into the game with confidence and will come out of the gates smoking behind their home crowd before both teams settle in and the dogfight will ensue.
It will take all four quarters but Bruins will pull away late and Cincinnati won’t have enough to answer. UCLA comes away with a big road victory to open the 2019 season. UCLA 31 UC 21
John: The PAC 12 is shaping up to be a real dumpster fire this year. Assuming the Bearcats aren’t caught looking ahead to week two, they should get the win. I do expect this one to be close, however in the end I think the Fighting Fickles get a W. Cincinnati 27 ULCA 24
Josh: Chip Kelly did not have the success the Bruin faithful were hoping when he came into LA after a stint in the NFL, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t one of the more innovative coaches. This is a sneaky good matchup because although Kelly doesn’t have the talent he had at Oregon, or even in the NFL, he is able to make use of the talent he has, and he will need to with this opening match up. Cincinnati has a tough stretch for their back to back games against Power 5 opponents, and especially those who are strong on the offensive side, but Fickell is one of the best defensive minds, and has done well in the Queen City. He was close to knocking off UCF last year and has navigated the Bearcats to an 11-2 record last season, including a win against Virginia Tech in the Military Bowl. Fickell’s experience at Ohio State is invaluable, and he knows what it takes to have a successful culture and program. With Ryan Day being a protégée of Chip Kelly, I am sure the Bearcats are planning for similar offenses, and get a chance to go against a less talented team their opening week. I don’t see them overlooking this game, and will win their opener in a close game. Cincinnati 24 – UCLA 14
Pia Pete: Cincinnati over UCLA
PJSBuck: This will be a great game to watch getting ready for the Bucks the week after. I am going with Cinci in “an upset” which will set up next week’s game nicely! Cinci by 6
Steven: Until further proven wrong, go with the assumption that the PAC-12 is garbage. Fick has a stout defense and should be able to scheme effectively against offense that he knows well. The 2014 National Championship against Oregon was against an offense that had current UCLA coach Chip Kelly’s fingerprints all over it. Coach Kelly doesn’t quite have the horses to match his old Oregon teams, but the recipe is the same. So is the plan to defend it. Pressure, confuse and contain the quarterback is the antidote to the Bruin (nee Quack Attack) offense. In early season games go with the defense, especially at home. UC 27-24. See you next week Luke!
Trout: I think the Bearcats will pull off the slight upset. UCLA was dreadfully bad last year, while Cincinnati had a pretty good year under Luke Fickell. Granted, I think the Bruins will be better this year. No matter what you think of him, Chip Kelly is a good college coach. Look how Oregon dropped off when he left and all the players he recruited moved on. The game will be very close and decently high scoring. But in the end, Cincy does just enough to get by their PAC-12 opponent. (Cincinnati, 38-35)
Vaughn Broadnax (OSU 1980-83): I witnessed significant growth of Luke Fickell as a head coach this past year. Back in 2011 he chose to kick a field goal instead of going for it on 4th and 1 at the goal line against Colorado…. Colorado!!!! Last year with time running down, he chose to go for it against UCLA and seal the seal victory. Unfortunately, it won’t be enough this year as I expect UCLA to come to Cincy and flex. UCLA 35 – UC 21
Final Score: Cincinnati 24 UCLA 14
Northwestern @ (25)Stanford (-6)
Andy: Two of the smartest teams in football. Two of the most consistently underrated teams of any Power 5 conference. This is a fun matchup. Northwestern lost six offensive starters including quarterback Clayton Thorson and four defensive starters. This is a road game against a team that finished 38th in the country in total defense. Not only that Stanford returns one of the best quarterbacks in all of college football in K.J. Costello. I expect him to be a difference maker in this game. Stanford 28 – Northwestern 17
Bbaver: Pick: Stanford – I am not really high on either team this year, and Northwestern did it with mirrors a year ago. They had so many breaks go their way in winning many tight games. Still Pat Fitzgerald ranks near the top in getting pretty damn good results out of the talent he puts on the field. And I do think Stanford continues to slip gradually year-by-year under David Shaw. I think NW stays close here, but slight edge to the Cardinal at home in this one.
Coach Rick: Northwestern has a great chance to upset Stanford, but it will not happen. I see Stanford winning by 10 in the end.
Cory: Normally a Big Ten-PAC 10 matchup like this would get my attention, however, I’m not sure either of these teams are all that good. The Wildcats have to replace Clayton Thorson at quarterback, and he’s one of the main reason Northwestern was able to get anything going on offense last season. Thorson is now a backup on the Philadelphia Eagles. The Wildcats have two players listed as their starting quarterback for Week 1, indicating that neither was able to separate themselves in camp this summer. Stanford, on the other hand, has a third-year starter at quarterback in KJ Costello, who completed 65% of his passes last season while throwing for over 3,500 yards. Northwestern is always a tough out so don’t expect the Cardinal to run away with this one. Stanford 24 Northwestern 13
Dave: Northwestern 21 Stanford 14
Dr. Mark: Stanford 31-28 Not sure I know that much about either team but NW usually starts slow so I’ll pick the Stanford.
Gregg: Northwestern was unable to win a non-conference game last game last year and yet the one the Big Ten West only to lose to the Buckeyes in Indy. Stanford had a pitiful running game last year which is very uncharacteristic for them. Both of these teams want big things for this year and will have to improve those two areas respectively. I really want to go with the Wildcats but in am going to give the edge to the home team in a close one. Stanford 35 Northwestern 27
Jason: Could this be a Rose Bowl preview? Both teams certainly have those kinds of aspirations. The key in this one is how well the pass defense of Stanford that surrendered over 260 yards per game a year ago can handle to pass happy Wildcat offense led by the talented Clemson transfer Hunter Johnson at QB. The question is will he get time to fling it? The Cats gave up more sacks than any team in the Big Ten a season ago and is replacing three starters. That could lead to improvement in that area and will have to be to go on the road and get the win.
Conversely, Stanford QB KJ Costello should have time to throw the ball as the Cats struggled a year ago getting to the quarterback and Costello is stellar when he has time. This one has the makings of a classic Big Ten/Pac 12 battle and both teams will take their punches. If Northwestern can force Costello into some mistakes, it will bring home the win, but that’s easier said than done. Stanford has experience in the right spots and playing at home will get a late score and stop to pull out the win a kick off 2019 the right way. Stanford 38 Northwestern 31
John: The Wildcats are coming off a Cinderella season, having played for a Big Ten title a year ago. It will be interesting to see how they handle being a team that the opposition pays a little bit of attention to. Sometimes, it’s harder to be the hunted, rather than the hunter. Stanford 24 Northwestern 10
Josh: This might be the highest GPA game played this year, and an interesting Big 10-Pac 12 matchup. Stanford did not have a great season last year, especially with their star running back Bryce Love having an injury filled year. David Shaw is an experienced coach, and will be able to get his team to bounce back, especially with senior quarterback KJ Costello. The Cardinal will be without leading receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside too, who left for the draft, so the Cardinal will have to fill in their skill positions. Northwestern should not be taken lightly though, after winning the Big 10 West last season, and even knocked off Utah in their bowl game. Pat Fitzgerald will want to build off of last seasons success and manage to win his nonconference games. Clayton Thorson returns at quarterback, as well as his leading rusher Isaiah Bowser. This is going to be a toughly contested game, and Vegas has Stanford as a touchdown favorite. I like the Wildcats though getting a nice win on the road, and coming back to Chicago with some confidence. Northwestern 17 – Stanford 14
Pia Pete: Stanford over NW
PJSBuck: If this were last year I would have gone with NW but they lost too much and Stanford will be to much to handle. Cards by 14
Steven: The battle of the brains. While the Big 10 West has been the red-headed step child of the conference lately, they are improving. Nebraska and Northwestern should both be much improved this season and should be in the thick of the divisional fight come late November. Even so, it is tough to travel cross country and win a power 5 game against a ranked opponent on the road. Stanford 23-20
Trout: I would like to pick the Wildcats in this game, but I don’t think they can pull off the upset. Granted, I don’t think Stanford is that great either, but Northwestern tends to make mistakes in big games. I think they are a good team. But there were so many instances last year, where they would shoot themselves in the foot, and their opponents would capitalize. I can see this game following suit. It will be close, with Northwestern keeping it close with the Cardinal, but they will make too many mistakes that hinder them from pulling off the victory. Stanford wins a very close game. (Stanford, 24-21)
Vaughn Broadnax (OSU 1980-83): Northwestern will provide a lot of unknowns to start the year. Hunter Johnson will lead an offense that may not be recognizable to Wildcat teams of the past. Stanford will bring their methodical and predictable offense. That will be a good thing for Pat Fitzgerald’s defense. Northwestern wins. Northwestern 30- Stanford 20
Final Score: Stanford 27 Northwestern 17
Virginia @ Pittsburgh
Andy: I think this could be a fun matchup to watch. Virginia is picked by many this year to win the Coastal division of ACC and face Clemson in the ACC championship game. A big reason why is their team defense finished 21st in the country last season. Not only were the Cavaliers a huge surprise to many last year, they also return 15 starters across offense and defense including quarterback Bryce Perkins who dazzled as a dual threat qb. The one thing Pittsburgh has going for them is that they consistently find a few teams each season to upset. Other than that I expect Virginia to win this one easily. Virginia 35 – Pittsburgh 20
Bbaver: Pick: Virginia – The Cavs are moving up in the world and have a very underrated QB in Bryce Perkins. Bronco Mendenhall has gone from 2-10 to 6-7 to 8-5 in his three years in Charlottesville. And they return most of the defense that gave up only 20 PPG a year ago. Pat Narduzzi and Pittsburgh have been hard to figure out in Narduzzi’s 4 years at the helm. I think Virginia wins in a close on the road.
Coach Rick: The Pitt-Virginia game is a coin flip for me at this time. I will have to with Virginia by 3 in what should be a back and forth game.
Cory: To most a matchup between a pair of 7-win teams (in the regular season) from last season may not appear to be all that appealing, but there is some potential in the game between Virginia and Pitt. The two teams met in November last year with Pitt pulling away with a 23-13 win Charlottesville. Winning at Pitt is not an easy task, but I like the Cavaliers to pull the upset. Virginia should have a surprisingly good defense featuring a terrific group of linebackers, and one of the better corners in the country in Bryce Hall. Pitt has questions at the quarterback position, and the Panthers don’t feature the type of offense that is good at mounting comebacks. Virginia 28 Pitt 24
Dave: Pittsburgh 28 Virginia 24
Dr. Mark: Pitt 34-27 Pitt has won 4 in a row over Virginia and has slightly better talent
Gregg: Over the past six seasons, six different teams have won the ACC Coastal division. The only team to not be crowned is the Virginia Cavaliers. They are primed to keep their progress under fourth year coach Bronco Mendenhall. They have went 2-10, then 6-7, then 8-5 in his first three years and capped last season with a bowl win over South Carolina. They open the season with last year’s division champion Pittsburgh Panthers. And since Mark May cannot help the Panthers win this any more than he can help making uneducated comments about the Buckeyes, I am going to say the Cavaliers start the season with a HUGE win. Virginia 31 Pittsburgh 20
Jason: It was the big moment of the 2018 ACC Coastal season. Pitt came to Charlottesville on an early November Friday night and left with their fourth straight victory in the series.
Virginia has some payback on their mind as they travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Panthers on Saturday. A year ago Pitt went into Charlottesville and pulled the upset and this one could put the loser in a tough spot and an uphill climb to win an improved ACC Coastal division. The Panthers won last year’s game with a big game on the ground but they have to replace their top two running backs and face an experienced Cavalier defense. Virginia’s defense was banged up in this matchup a year ago and returns eight starters in what very well could be the strength of the team. Pitt QB Kenny Pickett has some experience now so the Panthers passing attack should be much improved and if they can give Pickett some time they have a chance to put up some yardage. However that may prove to be too difficult and Virginia’s defense will be too tough for Pitt this time around. The Cav offense will score early and put Pitt in a hole they won’t be able to get out of and the Pitt winning streak in the series ends. UVA 35 Pitt 21
John: After a decided west coast fell to the non OSU games this week, we turn to what may end up being the best game of the five we look at this week. Games like this are always hard to pick in week one, when all you have are expectations to go by. Virginia is a slight road favorite in this one, and on paper they appear to be the slightly better team. Since “on paper” is all we have to go by in week one. Virginia 31 Pitt 28
Josh: The winner of this game will have an advantage for the coastal division for the ACC. In the last 6 years, there have been 6 different winners, and Virginia is one of the teams favored to take that title this year. Playing at Pitt is always a challenge, especially with Pat Narduzzi on the other side of the ball. The Cavaliers will have to be sharp, and hope Bryce Perkins is able to build off of his success from last season into a strong season year. Like Stanford, Virginia lost a lot of the skill player talent to the NFL, and will have to fill that gap. Last season Perkins was able to make plays with his legs, and to help the success of the team, hopefully they can find those answers so he is not having to do it on his own. A mobile quarterback is an equalizer, especially when dealing with a defensive mind like Narduzzi, so the best chance for Virginia to win is to not turn the ball over. Pittsburgh is looking to have a successful season after a disappointing year last year, including a potential upset over Notre Dame. With the coastal not have a dominate team, this game should help shape the landscape for that side of the conference into who will most likely play Clemson at the end of the year. I think the home field and the challenges Virginia will have in replacing their leading rusher and receiver will give Pitt the edge to win the game. Pitt 24 – Virginia 21.
Pia Pete: Pitt over Virginia
PJSBuck: (yawn………) Virginia by 6
Steven: This one’s a dead heat with the current line being anywhere from 1.5-2.5 points. The game will go a long way in determining the also-ran race in the ACC, which to football fans across the nation means diddly squat. It will be interesting to see if either team has anything that might put a scare into Clemson down the road. Survey says… no. Pittsburgh 17-10
Trout: I think the Cavaliers pull off the win in this match-up.Both teams are bad, and neither will factor into the ACC or National Championship race. I just think Virginia has the slightly better offense. I see this game being very sloppy, with multiple turnovers from both team. It will be a very low scoring game with neither team doing much offensively. With their slightly better offensive prowess, the Cavaliers pull off the victory. (Virginia, 17-14).
Vaughn Broadnax (OSU 1980-83): This is a tossup. I am going with Virginia. Virginia 20- Pittsburgh 17
Final Score: Virginia 30 Pittsburgh 14
(12)Oregon (-3.5) vs. (16)Auburn
Andy: What an interesting matchup. I think Mario Cristobal is building the Ducks to be more akin to the blueprint of teams commonly seen in the Big Ten and SEC. Big efficient lines of scrimmage and good quarterback play with quick skill position players. He has done an excellent job with the culture there and recruiting, but I think they’re another season away from potentially making a playoff run. The Ducks might have the most underrated offensive line in the country this year, they also return QB Justin Herbert who was a lock to be a first round draft pick last year. Defensively the Ducks will have an aggressive front seven, but a susceptible secondary.
Bbaver: Pick: Auburn – Very tough call here, and I think if you are getting Oregon and 3.5 pts, you take those pts. Auburn’s offense did wake up when Gus returned to calling plays in last season’s 63-14 Music City bowl stomping of Purdue. That was painful to accept knowing what Purdue did to our Ohio State team a few months earlier. So Mazahn is going to continue to call plays, but I think think the Auburn O will struggle a bit in the early season with the true freshman Bo Nix at QB. On the other side of the ball, Auburn will be stellar and watching their D-line go against Oregon’s O-line, which returns 153 career starts, will be intriguing. I like Auburn in a squeaker here.
Coach Rick: I think the best game to watch this weekend is the Oregon Auburn game. I am going with Oregon in a last minute TD pass. Oregon by 3 points.
Cory: One of the most intriguing first-week matchups will see Auburn play Oregon in AT&T Stadium in Dallas. Both teams are ranked in the top 20, and we get them in a neutral site. The other reason this game will be interesting is that we get see a terrific offense – Oregon – against a great defense – Auburn. The Ducks are led by quarterback Justin Herbet, who enters the season as a Heisman contender and first-round NFL draft aspirations. Auburn is a hard team to figure out. They started out the season in 2018 with an impressive neutral-site win over Washington, but finished 8-5 overall and had losses to Tennessee and Mississippi State. The Tigers also looked lost in an Iron Bowl loss to Alabama. There is no doubt there is talent on both sides of the ball at Auburn but are they being coached properly? With a loss to Oregon in Week 1, Gus Malzahn likely moves closer to the hot seat. Oregon 35 Auburn 14
Dave: Oregon 21 Auburn 18
Dr. Mark: Oregon 49-31, but if Auburn plays good SEC defense could be much closer.
Gregg: Oregon is ready and I think the Pac-12 is going to be better then some ‘experts’ think. But Auburn is a solid competitor from the always overrated SEC, so this could be one of the best games of the weekend. Oregon QB Justin Herbert came back for his senior year and it was so he could win games like this. I will give him the edge of the the true freshman Bo Nix starting for the Tigers. Oregon 40 Auburn 28
Jason: A rematch of the 2010 BCS Championship in which a Cam Newton led Tigers beat the Ducks by a field goal. The Ducks are considered Pac 12 contenders again and is hoping a home win in the Autzen Zoo springboards them to a special season. However, the Tigers bring in one of the best defensive lines in all of college football and will make things tough on the Ducks to move the football. The Ducks struggled to run the ball a year ago and Saturday it won’t get any easier. The key for Oregon? The Potential top pick in the 2020 draft, QB Justin Herbert. Herbert is special and has all the experience of playing in big games that this moment won’t be too big for him. The Tigers have a much improved O line but they are starting a true freshman at QB, who will be playing in his first collegiate game in that environment. Good luck with all of that. Oregon has much more talent and experience and the pressure is all on them in this ballgame. However playing a first game in that place is just too big for a true freshman signal caller and mistakes will be made. It won’t be easy but Oregon will make enough plays to get the win at home. Oregon 31 Auburn 20
John: This game in particular is enormous for PAC 12 playoff hopes, even though it is in week one. The general perception is that this is going to be a down year for the PAC 12. If a team picked to compete for the PAC 12 gets embarrassed by a team picked to finish in the middle of the SEC West pack, that will not enhance the PAC 12’s national reputation. Unfortunately, this one has the feel of a hammer meet nail game. Look for the Tigers to out physical the Ducks. Game may not be as close as the final score will indicate. Auburn 31 Oregon 21
Josh: Justin Herbert decided to stay one more year instead of going into the NFL. The repercussions of that decision are still to be determined, but he can make a statement for his draft stock with a win against Auburn. Herbert will still have running back CJ Verdell back, who broke 1000 yards rushing last season, but the Ducks will need someone to step up in place for receiver Dillon Mitchell, who is now with the Vikings, but Jaylon Redd and tight-end Jacob Breeland should help fill that void. Auburn no longer has Jarrett Stidham, and are looking to replace the veteran signal caller. Joey Gatewood and Bo Nix are the two names who could get the starting nod, both freshman, so this will be a challenge for Gus Malzahn. This will be the marquee game for week 1, and GameDay will be in Texas for this neutral site game. I think with the inexperience at QB, and Oregon having experience on both sides of the ball, I see this game going in favor of Oregon as revenge from the 2011 Championship Game. Oregon 35 – Auburn 28
Pia Pete: Auburn over Oregon
PJSBuck: Good early game to tape. I like Oregon at home by 7
Steven: See UCLA-Cincinnati comments. Pulling for Oregon but the head says go with Auburn. Duck a l’orange, et bleu… Auburn 24-17
Trout: This game is a bit of a toss up. I don’t think either team is that good. Granted, both teams have the ability to put up a lot of points. If I had to choice one team, I think I would have to go with Auburn. I think they are slightly better defensively. I can see the game being a shoot-out, with both teams score 30+ points. But, I think the Tigers’ defense will stop the Ducks just enough for them to squeak by with the victory. Auburn wins in a close one. (Auburn, 45-38)
Vaughn Broadnax (OSU 1980-83): I am going the Ducks as Auburn has not identified a QB. Oregon 28- Auburn 21