The 2012 is just about underway, and we at Gator Country could not be more excited. As one way of celebrating, we are going to continue our friendly, fun tradition of picking the top games in the country. In the same fashion as last year, our staff members will compete against not only against each other, but also a handful of subscribers in a weekly ‘pick ‘em’ contest.
Each week, we’ll pick every SEC and Top 25 game straight up, to give us an overall staff pick ‘em champion at the end of the year.
Our four football beat writers (Andrew Spivey, Ben Cornfield, Mike Capshaw and Phillip Heilman) will pick every week along with four subscribers randomly selected during the week.
This week our guest pickers are gator1865, jeffh11,gator033 and johnl. Let’s get them a round of applause!
Each week the guest picker with the lowest score will be replaced by a new member and at the end of the year the member who has stayed in the longest will win whatever is behind door number three…
That’s right, a free VIP membership! The second place member will win a Premium membership to GatorCountry, so you had better get your thinkin’ caps screwed on nice and tight.
This week the GatorCountry staff agreed on most games, as the first week of the season is usually a great week for a powerhouse to feast on one of the nation’s cupcakes.
Each of the GatorCountry staff members gave a little description on their thoughts behind their picks this week, as well.
I went pretty safe this week by first not picking any upsets, while of course most games were also pretty easy to pick. I did struggle with the Auburn/Clemson game, but I ended up going with Clemson because of their experience compared to some of the fresh faces for Auburn.
Another contest that seems to be up in the air is Tennessee and North Carolina State, as you never know which Tennessee team will show up. That said, I ended up going with the Vols this week.
The first week of the college football season, while exciting enough, is usually a fairly straightforward date on the schedule for most teams.
Like Superman taking on the Hamburgler, there is just no chance that most of these big-time schools even break a sweat against the likes of Arkansas State and Buffalo. While the coaching staffs of these respective schools would obviously be inclined to disagree, history is on my side.
While most of the teams in the top-25 should devour their cupcake opponents in very much the same way that, well, the Hamburgler crushes quarter-pounders, there are a few enticing games on the slate, starting with tonight’s matchup between the Steve Spurrier-led South Carolina Gamecocks and the underrated Vanderbilt Commodores. Vandy returns starters at multiple key positions, including Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ younger brother, Jordan, as the team’s leading signal-caller. Their running back, Zac Stacy, had the most yards of any returning running back in the SEC, with 1,193 on the ground, good for a 5.9 yard-per-carry average.
In 2007, the Commodores upset the then-sixth-ranked Gamecocks, but with superstar running back Marcus Lattimore at full speed coming off of knee surgery, I still don’t see a way Spurrier loses this one.
Other games of note include the Nebraska-Southern Miss contest. USM has a new head coach, none other than South Carolina’s former defensive coordinator. Ellis Johnson led the Gamecocks to the third-overall defensive ranking in the nation in 2011, and now he leads a Southern Miss team against a Huskers squad that has been unable to get over the proverbial hump in recent seasons; should be interesting, although I’ve got Nebraska pulling this one out.
Two other contests involving Big Ten teams headline the weekend. Boise State, former stompin’ grounds of current Gators offensive coordinator Brent Pease, heads over to Lansing, Mich. They will be taking on a Michigan State team that has been jonesin’ to get out from under the shadow of that other state school. Boise needs this win to remain in the hunt for a BCS game, because as always they will be underrated nationally. Michigan State, while probably not as desperate for a ‘W’, wants the country to understand how strong it is defensively, and how prepared this team is for the 2012 season following the departure of longtime quarterback Kirk Cousins. Some folks around the nation have been remarkably quick to forget that this Spartan team beat Georgia in the Outback Bowl last season.
Finally, the headliner of the weekend: Michigan vs. Alabama, in Cowboys Stadium in Texas. If Dallas Cowboys owner, Jerry Jones, had his way, they would squeeze an extra 100,000 people into the already 100,000+ capacity stadium. I’ve got Michigan taking home the victory here, but really just because I’m daring to be different. Although ‘Bama lost four All-Americans to the NFL, they’ll probably still pull this one out and put themselves in the lead for the BCS Championship Game once again, because Nick Saban is a robot, and that’s how robots do.
I hate to do it, but I pretty much am going chalk here. I just don’t see many upsets happening in these games. I am sure someone will get knocked off but I don’t have a good feel for who it will be quite yet.
I’m really not interested in much football outside of Florida and the rest of the SEC. I only did my picks because Andrew Spivey threw a big whiny baby fit over all of us getting involved. But do not base anything off of any of my picks. I’m terrible at this stuff and plan to run away with a last place finish.
Below is each of our 8 expert’s picks
AS – Andrew Spivey, BC – Ben Cornfield, MC – Mike Capshaw, PH – Phillip Heilman, JH – jeffh11, 33 – gator033, 1865 – gator1865, JL – johnl.