Rankman's Picks, Week 1

First dead-bolt lock of the year:

THE GAME: TENNESSEE giving 20 vs. Appalachian State

THE PICK: Tennessee, 20-13 (OT)

THE COMMENT: You can email Jersey Guy at blauds@aol.com and he will confirm I told him early this week I wished our first Pick 3 Friday games could have included Thursday night's game in Knoxville. Because Rankman would have picked App State, not to win, but to easily cover.

Jersey Guy pushed back on my wild-haired notion because he had spoken with Tony Barnhart, Mr. College Football, who assured him highly-ranked Tennessee was ready to play. After the game Tony B. amended that prediction to "I was wrong."

I told Jersey Guy that Appalachian State, which shocked Michigan on Sept. 1 in 2007, was a good team that was predicted by many to win the Sun Belt.

Oh well, I can only hope my instincts hold up on my weekend choices (the ones that count), to be revealed below.

My three games this week are Clemson-Auburn, UCLA-Texas A&M and Florida State-Mississippi, I'll also have a bonus pick with an over-under line I think is WAY too low.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]

Odds based on USAToday\pregame.com


THE GAME: Clemson giving 7 at AUBURN

THE PICK: Clemson, 40-30

THE COMMENT: A lot of people are staying away from this game, but I'm betting Clemson is loaded this year and ready to take care of business on its road back to the national title game. Clemson's Tigers return the components of the team that scored 40 on Alabama in last year's national title game. And Alabama is WAY better than Auburn, a 7-6 team that almost lost its home opener last year to Jacksonville State. Deshaun Watson, America's best quarterback, won't let this opportunity slip to kick-start his Heisman Trophy campaign. Did you know Clemson has never had a Heisman winner?


THE GAME: TEXAS A&M giving 3 vs. UCLA


THE COMMENT: UCLA is not, normally, a team to be trusted but the Bruins have an excellent track record in the state of Texas. Two years ago, remember, they defeated Texas in Austin with backup quarterback Jerry Neuheisel. I think UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen will pick apart a defense that allowed 23.2 points per game last year.


THE GAME: Florida State giving 4 vs. Mississippi, Orlando

THE PICK: Florida State 34-23

THE COMMENT: I'm not that bothered by this neutral-site (Orlando) game even knowing Mississippi has a returning quarterback in Chad Kelly, while Florida State is breaking in a new one, Deondre Francois. Gee, when has FSU ever performed well with a RS freshman at quarterback (Jameis Winston)? FSU has elite talent while I think the SEC West, below title-contenders Alabama and LSU, may be overrated. After seeing Tennessee on Thursday, maybe the entire league is overrated.

BONUS PICK: Over and under on UCLA-Texas A&M is only 53? Whoa, I don't see that one. Both schools have prolific quarterbacks in Rosen and Trevor Knight. TAMU has one of the best receiving corps in America while UCLA will unleash two quality tailbacks into a defense that finished 108 last year, nationally, against the run.

The PICK: Over [/membership]