College Football Pick'em Week 1: AAC's Time to Shine
College football is back! Well, FBS football. The FCS started us off last week when Central Arkansas and Austin Peay kicked the 2020 season off with a sloppy but entertaining game that ended 24-17 in Central Arkansas' favor. Now it's time for the FBS to begin. After an offseason full of uncertainty and chaos, we now get back to what we know, and there's one conference that's looking to make a statement this weekend. The AAC continues its push to becoming a "Power" conference, and they'll have a chance to showcase their talent. SMU, Memphis, and Navy, all contenders in the conference, start the season off for the Power 6 conference, and they all have talent to replace. SMU and Memphis figure to win easily, where Navy finds themselves in a dog fight.
Welcome to College Football Pick'em! Each week, I'll pick a handful of games and record my record throughout the season straight up and against the spread. Think you can do better? Hit me up with your predictions for the games I picked, or even games I didn't. The Sixth Year Sports Twitter account will tweet out polls for games as well, so don't be surprised if those results end up in these articles as well. Happy picking!
Eastern Kentucky (+24.5) at Marshall
It's been an interesting offseason for the Thundering Herd, and not just due to the coronavirus. Quarterback Isaiah Green announced his entrance into the transfer portal, but then reports surfaced that he took his name out of the portal. Yet his name doesn't appear on the roster. Redshirt freshman Grant Wells will get the start, and he has some great options to utilize. Running back Brenden Knox returns as CUSA Player of the Year, and the Thundering Herd have good talent at receiver and in tight end Xavier Gaines. Eastern Kentucky's gained some attention for potential NFL prospects in the past, but even this year's team won't get to Marshall with that kind of talent.
MARSHALL 34 EASTERN KENTUCKY 10
Middle Tennessee (+3.5) at Army
Middle Tennessee quarterback Asher O'Hara is a name that we here at Sixth Year Sports love, and he's still flying under the radar. His protection needs to step up this year in order to limit the number of hits he takes along with the necessity for him to bail them out, but things look promising. On the other side is an Army team that's tough to defend. Christian Anderson takes over the Army triple option attack, and the key matchup will be Anderson against the Blue Raiders defense. Army's offense averaged 297 yards rushing per game last year (3rd in the country), while the Blue Raiders were below average stopping the run (194 yards per game). Hopefully, it's a shootout, but that matchup determines the outcome.
MIDDLE TENNESSEE 24 ARMY 21
SMU (-22) at Texas State
Shane Buechele returns to Dallas on a mission to become the greatest SMU quarterback ever. Even with the loss of key talent, guys like Reggie Roberson and Kylen Granson return. The passing attack shouldn't experience any hiccups in their first test, and all eyes will be on how many points the offense can score. On the other side, Jake Spavital enters Year 2 as the Bobcats head coach. Facing the Mustangs, a team that averaged 41.8 points per game last year, isn't enviable, but it's a good test to see how far his team has come.
SMU 49 TEXAS STATE 10
Houston Baptist (+27.5) at North Texas
Mason Fine is gone. Rico Bussey is gone. Who's going to lead the offense for the Mean Green? Turns out there's a ton of talent remaining. Running back Tre Siggers is looking for a 1,000 yard season after rushing for 853 in 2019. The passing game remains in good hands with Jaelon Darden (736 yards) and Jyaire Shorter (19.7 ypc), so the new quarterback this year should feel comfortable.
NORTH TEXAS 37 HOUSTON BAPTIST 7
Arkansas State (+19) at Memphis
Kenneth Gainwell entered the 2020 season as college football's most underappreciated star, and now we'll never get to see if he could meet or exceed expectations. The Tigers star running back decided to opt out of the season, leaving a gaping hole at the position. Fortunately, Memphis has a great track record of producing elite running backs, so it's Kylan Watkins' turn to shine. Quarterback Brady White and Damonte Coxie are back to lead the passing attack, and Mike MacIntyre takes over a talented defense. They'll face a Red Wolves team who's trying to figure out who will play quarterback. Logan Bonner and Layne Hatcher both return and will compete for the starting job. Can they both stay in rhythm for the entire game? Does one of them overtake the other? Will the Red Wolves have enough to keep up with Memphis? For the last one, the answers no.
MEMPHIS 38 ARKANSAS STATE 21
BYU (-1.5) at Navy
Malcolm Perry went out on a high note, and now gives way to another Perry. Perry Olsen will be one of the quarterbacks we see this year for the Midshipmen, and his performance will go a long way to determine the success of the offense. On the other side, Zach Wilson is as entertaining as they get. Johnny Manziel Lite, Wilson is a roller coaster in terms of excitement and disappointment. But that's why he's worth watching. He leads a Cougars team that scrambled to put together their 2020 schedule, and found a way to play Navy. The matchup that everyone needs to watch? Navy's offensive line against BYU's front seven. Both have great talent and that leads to a battle. At this point, it feels like BYU has more experience, which will be the difference.
BYU 24 NAVY 17