Let’s play some FOOTBALL! Best time of year is just ahead of us, although it’ll still be too hot to really enjoy tailgating in most parts of the country. Let’s take a look at a few highlight games and see where our favorites stand early on.
Saturday, Sept. 5: Missouri at Illinois: The Tigers ended up sliding a bit at the end of last season, going from possible title game contender to also-ran in the midst of a crowded and ridiculously powerful conference run. Outside of its conference, though, Mizzou has always found a nice rivalry with the Illini boys one state over. This time, though, Missouri’s youth will likely be too much to overcome for them. They’ll play with a ton of heart, and will probably keep it under 14 points, so if the line gives too much leeway to Illinois, be prepared to take a chance on the Tigers at least covering the spread. Also, look for the Tigers to use this as a huge springboard game. They’ll learn a lot about themselves in these four short quarters that will pay off further down the road this year. But if how they looked in the spring is any indication, realistic Missouri fans aren’t expecting a victory here, especially on the road. The line will probably come in at about 16 1/2 in favor of Illinois, and like I said, that’s a toss-up. It certainly could end up a major blow-out in favor of Illinois, but my feeling is it’s worth the risk to take the Tigers to cover.
Saturday, Sept. 5: Alabama at Virginia Tech: What a heck of a matchup in the first week of the season. If you’ve scouted either team, one thing you should’ve picked up on is that Alabama’s defense isn’t going to lose a step from last year. Terrence Cody has improved, he’s quicker and faster, and plan on him and the rest of his pals giving Tyrod Taylor’s offense a frustrating first game. Virginia Tech is going to bring their typical discipline, athleticism and speed, no question, but if Alabama’s defense remains up to the task, they can pull a nice upset here. The line will be 6 or 7 for Virginia Tech, but I’d even be comfortable gambling on Alabama straight up if I had to.