NCAA: Here we go!

And let the games begin. Let’s take our first look of the season at some official lines and predictions, then we’ll come back next week, see how we did, and do the whole thing over again. Saturday’s have meaning again folks.

South Carolina goes in as a 5-point favorite over North Carolina St. You can catch this on ESPN, and kick off your season in style. The Wolfpack will be at home, but a ton of questions remain. Will Toney Baker be any good after missing all that time due to injury? Can they be a factor in an up-and-down ACC conference? The Gamecocks are clearly the stronger team here, although don’t tell NCS that, they don’t seem to be offering too much credit to S. Carolina or their coach these days. Still, there’s no denying the talent there, although they easily could end up as the eighth best team in the ridiculous SEC conference this year. Senior Chris Smelley is ready to lead this team to some respect, and they shouldn’t be overlooked even by the top brass in their own division (i.e. Florida, Georgia). I think 5 is a conservative spread in this one, and even as the road team, the Gamecocks should win by double that. Take them. By the way, this one is Thursday evening, not Saturday.

All right, how about a nice early battle between two ranked teams. I’m talking the aforementioned No. 13 Georgia Bulldogs at the No. 9 Oklahoma State. As much as I like Georgia as a solid team and the only chance at keeping Florida from a perfect season (hello Halloween), I just can’t buy into the fact that they’re a 5-point road favorite themselves. The Cowboys proved to everyone last year they’re not to be taken lightly, and the return a nice core of upperclassmen poised to do it again. The Big 12 stadiums get intensely involved, and the energy early on is so potent you can ride it down the bleachers and onto the field (don’t actually try that). Georgia’s offense gets a lot of credit, but I think their defense will struggle to keep up with the Cowboys in this one, and it should be a close matchup. I’d bet against Georgia covering.