College Football GameDay Rewind: Texas A&M Sends Message, UConn's Bob Diaco Needs Help, UCLA In Trouble, Matt Hates West Virginia And Full Week 1 Breakdown

September 2, 2014

By Brad Carroll

 

It's amazing to sit here and write the season's first GameDay Rewind column thinking back to 10 years ago. It was a decade ago that I sat down at a computer and wrote about college football for the first time at a daily newspaper I was just named Sports Editor of. In that column, I previewed the best games of the week, and doing so not just straight-up, but against the spread as well. Years later, as the internet has exploded, people from all over the country are now reading what myself and my ever-expanding group of experts have to say about the sport we love.

 

A lot has changed in 10 years, but what hasn't is our commitment to college football. Each and every week we will be here at GAMEDAY IS HERE previewing and picking games against the spread, so make sure to bookmark us and follow us on Twitter for the latest on everything we do here on the website.

 

For those new to GameDay Rewind, below you will find our own special recap of the week that was. Our first goal is to give the humorous side of each game, with back-and-forth exchanges between our experts, and the behind the scenes stories of why a person might have picked a certain team (check out our Alabama-West Virginia breakdown below for one instance). There will also be strong, harsh commentary (check out our BYU-UConn recap, where I rip into Huskies coach Bob Diaco for having no clue about game and clock management). And there will also be the stories of ecstasy and agony of how a game plays out not just on the scoreboard, but with those added points that make picking games more exciting, and more heartwrenching.

 

Enjoy the first of many GameDay Rewind columns this season.

 

Thursday

No. 21 Texas A&M (+10.5) 52, No. 9 South Carolina 28

Winners: Brad and Glenn (1-0)

Losers: Craig and Matt (0-1)

 

The game started at 6 p.m. and at 6:14 p.m. I sent out a text that Craig and Matt were already in trouble with their pick of South Carolina. At that time, Texas A&M led 10-0, and while there was plenty of time to go, it was guaranteed the smack talk would start early, especially given I was getting 10.5 points with Texas A&M. Craig responded almost immediately, writing he'd save that text and resend it after the third quarter. Of course, that text never came, even though I made sure to remind him several times not to forget about his promise. The game became such a blowout early in the third quarter, Glenn was already asking to have his bowl record from last year added to the story, which I did, since 26-10 is pretty impressive when picking against the spread. "I know it was something once considered impossible," he texted about his record. "I will be selling my picks via subscription again. If you want a deal, you get 10% off if you are one of the first 10 callers." He didn't get away with the bragging unscathed, but with his bowl record and last year's title win, he has the right to boast. On the field, Texas A&M made a huge statement to both the SEC and nation with its dismantling of South Carolina. The Aggies didn't miss Johnny Football at all, with Kenny Hill throwing for 511 yards and three touchdowns. Johnny Manziel never threw for that many yards. Hill just might be better for this team than Manziel ever was.

 

No. 18 Ole Miss (-10) 35, Boise State 13

Winners: Brad and Glenn (2-0)

Losers: Craig and Matt (0-2)

 

For three quarters, this game was both boring and terrible. Both teams stink, but Ole Miss scored 28 points in the fourth quarter to pull away from Boise State and beat the spread. Me and Glenn had to sweat it out, but in the end, we were rewarded for not falling into the Boise State trap. These are not your father's Boise State Broncos, a program that was challenging to bust the BCS for all those years with Kellen Moore at quarterback. Now, Boise State can't even beat a middle-of-the-road team from a big conference. Craig and Matt are still living in the past, man. The old-time thinkers fall to 0-2. Matt, who picked Boise State to win outright, was already in panic mode: "So have you or your brothers ever blown consecutive picks by many scores each?" Yes, Matt, yes we have.

 

Rutgers (+8.5) 41, Washington State 38

Winners: Nobody

Losers: All of us (Brad 2-1, Glenn 2-1, Craig 0-3, Matt 0-3)

 

I wrote in our picks column that Washington State would throw the ball more than 50 times (they threw it 56). I wrote they would score a ton of points (they scored 38, a touchdown less than I predicted). I wrote their defense could also let up a ton of points (41, which is a ton.) I wrote Rutgers could make a big statement to the Big Ten, its new home, with a victory (they did). And I wrote the reason Washington State would win and cover was the fact Rutgers' secondary was the worst in the nation last year. The Cougars passed for 532 yards, but it was Rutgers that came away with the upset, outscoring Washington State 17-7 in the fourth quarter. It was a bad end to a great night for Glenn and I, as we both go into Friday's games with 2-1 records. Craig and Matt both remain winless and hope Friday brings better results.

 

Friday

BYU (-16.5) 35, UConn 10

Winners: Glenn (3-1), Craig (1-3), Matt (1-3)

Losers: Game management, Brad (2-2)

 

Nothing gets me angrier than when a professional or college head coach totally botches the end of a game. UConn coach Bob Diaco did just that in his debut against BYU, showing he has no idea (yet, Huskies fans hope) what time, score and game management is all about. Trailing 28-10, UConn had a third and three at the BYU 10 with about six minutes to go. Casey Cochran threw incomplete to set up a fourth down play. First, the easy call in that situation is to kick the field goal. The Huskies would need three scores to beat BYU, something that would be unlikely, yes, but stranger things have happened. If the Huskies kick the field goal, they cut the deficit to 15 and, more importantly, extend the game. Instead of being ready with a decision after the third down play failed, Diaco and the offense appeared to have no clue what to do. The end result was a timeout called. How a coach can burn one of his three timeouts on a dead ball is beyond ridiculous. How Diaco didn't have a plan during the third down play is beyond ridiculous. As a coach, you can't hope for the best and then react. Not even a high school coach should do that. Now that the timeout had been called, Diaco needed to send out the field goal unit to cut the deficit to two scores. Instead, he sent the offense back out there. And the Huskies failed. And the game was over. With 5:14 left in the game, Diaco handed the game back to the Cougars with no chance of winning. If he kicks the field goal, UConn can still kick the ball deep, and with three timeouts (if he actually had a clue), play defense and force a three and out. Suddenly the Huskies have the ball down two touchdowns, and one two-point conversion, with about five minutes to go. Drive, score, and try an onside kick. Would it have played out like that? Probably not. But it would be more than possible. Diaco found out what happens when you don't extend the game and give your team every chance to win. BYU took over and scored a touchdown to go up 25 for good measure. Diaco may have a bright future as a head coach, but he needs to do some major studying this week. I'm available to help ... for a fee, of course. All of this didn't help that I was the only one foolish enough to go with the Huskies. A loss serves me right. And special kudos to Craig and Matt, who each finally pick up a victory this year. It's Matt's first ever. I'll print him out a copy of the column for framing.

 

Colorado State (+2.5) 31, Colorado 17

Winners: Glenn, with the upset (4-1)

Losers: Brad (2-3), Craig (1-4), Matt (1-4)

 

Shout out to Glenn for picking the first upset of the season. The rest of us got suckered by history, as in Colorado has been somewhat passable the past few seasons, while Colorado State has been bad. I had the difference as only a field goal in favor of the Buffaloes, who led the game 10-0 and 17-7 and appeared on their way to victory. But the Rams ended up owning the game from midway through the second quarter and on. Colorado State outscored its rival 24-0 to end the game and win going away.

 

Arizona (-23.5) 58, UNLV 13

Winners: All of us (Brad 3-3, Glenn 5-1, Craig 2-4, Matt 2-4)

Losers: None here

 

This was as easy as it comes, the kind of game anyone who picks against the spread loves. No pressure, no heartache, no punching walls in frustration. It was a cool and calm way to end the Friday night games. Thanks, Arizona, appreciate it.

 

Saturday

Penn State (+1.5) 26, Central Florida 24

Winners: Brad (4-3), Craig (3-4), Matt (3-4), all with upset picks

Losers: Glenn (5-2), ends three-game win streak

 

It wasn't the best played game, with a stretch of three turnovers in four plays during the fourth quarter, but it did provide a game-winning field goal with no time left in the first Saturday game of the season. After falling behind 24-23 on a Central Florida touchdown with 1:13 to play, the Nittany Lions drove 55 yards in eight plays to set up a 36-yard field goal attempt by Sam Ficken. The kicker drilled the ball through the uprights and Penn State had its victory. Even more impressive than that, was the Nittany Lions actually showing a pulse on offense throwing the ball, accounting for 454 passing yards. This was a popular upset pick, with three of us successfully going that way.

 

No. 7 UCLA (-21) 28, Virginia 20

Winners: Was there anyone?

Losers: UCLA (Brad 4-4, Glenn 5-3, Craig 3-5, Matt 3-5)

 

The texts were coming at a high rate of speed for this one, mainly ripping UCLA and Heisman trophy candidate Brett Hundley. The Bruins scored three defensive touchdowns in this game, meaning they scored one on offense. One! In college football. Against an unranked team. Wow. Just wow. Hundley, boy did he look terrible. Here's what Glenn texted in the second quarter: "Hundley is nowhere close to a Heisman winner. Every drive is third and long. He is scared in the pocket. Three man rush is making him quickly abandon the play and reads." Unfortunately for UCLA, Hundley never got better. Hundley was skittish in the pocket all day long and Virginia made him and the Bruins offense look foolish. Craig picked UCLA to win the national championship this year, a pick he might be regretting right now, although he's not showing it yet. 'It's the first game, they will be fine," he said about the Bruins.

 

No. 2 Alabama (-26) 33, West Virginia 23

Winners: Brad (5-4), Glenn (6-3), Craig (4-5)

Losers: Hater Matt (3-6)

 

Full disclosure: Matt doesn't like West Virginia football. Well, let me rephrase that. Matt doesn't like a former co-worker of ours (Carl) who went to West Virginia and is one of the program's biggest fans. I'm sure Matt likes him all well and good as a person, but when it comes to West Virginia sports, Matt wants Carl to suffer. So, I knew right away Matt would take Alabama in this matchup, even though the spread was ridiculously high. Carl actually texted me on Saturday, "I see Matt's the only one who picked Bama, of course." I responded by saying it was a pick totally against him, to which Carl responded, "Absolutely the only reason haha." The next day in my fantasy football draft, which Matt and Carl are part of, the two went at it. Carl ripped Matt for taking Alabama. Matt insulted West Virginia for losing big games. Carl insulted Central Connecticut State (which Matt covers for his side job). To which Matt came firing back again. I texted Carl, "Straub really hates you hahaha. Or just smack talk." Carl simply replied, "Nah he truly hates me." Maybe the two can finally get along and be friends. I'm going to get everyone together for a friendship intervention this Wednesday. No joke. It's happening. Anyway, for the game, Carl loved the way Clint Trickett played and is excited for West Virginia as a whole going forward. Alabama has some big problems to deal with, namely a defense that has trouble stopping a spread offense. Trickett passed for 365 yards. The Crimson Tide won by 10, but the Mountaineers were in the game until the end. The only person who wasn't in this game was Matt, who for the record, is a very nice guy.

 

No. 17 Notre Dame (-21.5) 48, Rice 17

Winners: Brad (6-4), Craig (5-5)

Losers: Glenn (6-4), Matt (3-7)

 

Maybe this will be the year Notre Dame doesn't bite me in the butt every week. Historically, when I pick Notre Dame to win against the spread, it doesn't cover. When I pick against Notre Dame, the Irish cover without much effort. In this game, the thought process was simple: With Everett Golson back at quarterback, Notre Dame is going to score a ton of points on offense. Well, Golson threw two touchdown passes and ran for another three scores as the Irish put up 48 points. Things get a lot harder for Notre Dame next week, however, against Michigan.

 

No. 12 Georgia (-7.5) 45, No. 16 Clemson 21

Winners: Glenn (7-4), Matt (4-7)

Losers: Brad (6-5), Craig (5-6)

 

This game was actually tied at the half (21-21) and just a three-point Georgia lead (24-21) at the end of the third quarter. But then everything fell apart for the Tigers. Georgia scored three straight touchdowns in the fourth quarter to turn a close game into a blowout. In actuality, though, this game changed forever when Todd Gurley returned a kick 100 yards following a Clemson touchdown with 7:15 to go in the second quarter. Before that kick return, Clemson had gone up 21-14, Craig was probably thinking he looked like a genius at that point, as he picked the upset. But that went down the drain quickly. Georgia scored the last 31 points of the game. Clemson likely has no chance to get back into the College Football Playoff at year's end. Georgia, meanwhile, took a giant step toward it.

 

No. 15 USC (-21.5) 52, Fresno State 13

Winners: All of us (Brad 7-5, Glenn 8-4, Craig 6-6, Matt 5-7)

Losers: Nobody in these parts

 

There's not much to say about this game, as it was a rather easy pick to make, and all four of us did it correctly. Southern Cal blew the doors off Fresno State for the second game in a row, also doing so in the Las Vegas Bowl last season. Glenn won his fourth straight pick here. USC is at Stanford this coming Saturday.

 

No. 1 Florida State (-18.5) 37, Oklahoma State 31

Winners: Matt (6-7)

Losers: The rest (Brad 7-6, Glenn 8-5, Craig 6-7)

 

This whole game was one giant tease for those backing Florida State. First, the Seminoles led 17-0 early in the second quarter and everyone thought the rout was on. Second, Oklahoma State answered by scoring 10 straight to get back into the game quickly at halftime. Third, Florida State went up 10 again at the end of the third quarter to give Seminoles pickers hope. Fourth, Oklahoma State then scored a touchdown to pull within 27-24 with 11:51 and suddenly people were thinking upset. Fifth, Florida State kicked a field goal, got a turnover, and Jameis Winston hit a 50-yard touchdown pass to go up 13 with 3:58 left. The back and forth action kept those with FSU minus the points in the game until the end, going crazy with each turn of events. Sixth, and finally, Oklahoma State scored a touchdown with 1:55 to go to end any hope of a Florida State cover. One giant tease indeed. The only one to go with the Cowboys was Matt, who texted me, "I'd say sorry but I needed that one!"

 

No. 13 LSU (-5.5) 28, No. 14 Wisconsin 24

Winners: Surprisingly, all of us (Brad 8-6, Glenn 9-5, Craig 7-7, Matt 7-7)

Losers: Surprisingly, none of us

 

I racked my brain over this pick, deciding finally to go with a close LSU win and a Wisconsin cover. That's the way it turned out, but man did it take a strange journey getting there. The Badgers led the game 24-7 early in the third quarter and things didn't look good for LSU. Then, of course, the jinx was in. Matt, in his joy from a three-game win streak, texted me his glee over Wisconsin leading big. To which I replied, "Hope you didn't jinx Wisconsin." Well, Matt did something, because after the Badgers went up 17 they couldn't do anything on offense or defense. LSU scored 21 straight points to beat Wisconsin in a shocker. For those picking Wisconsin against the spread, it was a frantic finish. With LSU up four after the big comeback, the Badgers had a fourth down from their own eight yard line with 1:26 to play. If the Badgers went for it, there was a good chance LSU would stop them and then punch the ball into the end zone and finish all four of us off against the spread, which would have been devastating. But Wisconsin punted and LSU ran the ball three times to get a first down and end the game. The comeback was crazy, but it was all the same for me, Glenn and Matt, who picked a close LSU win. Craig, on the other hand, went with the upset, his second straight incorrect pick in that area. All four of us head into the final two games of the week with at least .500 records, a solid showing. Matt, who was 3-7 at one point, won four straight games to get to 7-7. Glenn, following his impressive 26-10 bowl record against the spread, leads with a 9-5 record. I follow at 8-6, with Craig right behind at 7-7.

 

Sunday

No. 10 Baylor (-34) 45, SMU 0

Winners: All of us (Brad 9-6, Glenn 10-5, Craig 8-7, Matt 8-7)

Losers: SMU fans

 

Believe it or not, we had to sweat this game out, as Baylor led 31-0 with 10:50 to go in the second quarter, but  went scoreless for about 26 minutes after that. Luckily, Baylor scored a touchdown with 36 seconds to go in the third quarter, and then another with about five minutes to play in the game for what turned into a scary, but ultimately easy cover. SMU had 64 yards of total offense, which Craig texted was almost impossible, which is true. It's going to be a long year for the Mustangs. Baylor quarterback Byrce Petty didn't play in the second half after suffering an injury to his back.

 

Monday

Louisville (-3.5) 34, Miami 13

Winners: Brad (10-6), Glenn (11-5)

Losers: Craig (8-8), Matt (8-8)

 

It's no secret those of us in the media have favorite teams. If you've followed us for the past 10 years writing about college football, it's pretty obvious who our favorite teams are. Mine is Michigan. Glenn's is West Virginia and Louisville. Matt's is whoever is playing West Virginia. And Craig's is Miami. So this was a double-whammy for Craig, as his favorite team lost their ACC opener and his upset pick was unsuccessful as well. The Louisville victory, in which it scored the final 17 points of the game, allowed Glenn and I to take firm control of the top two spots in the standings after one, long week. Glenn leads with an 11-5 record, while I'm one back at 10-6. Craig and Matt, who also went with a Miami upset, both finish with 8-8 records. Overall, to have no one under .500 says a lot about the kind of college football experts we have here picking games against the spread. So, check back each and every week right here for all the latest previews and picks, plus a lot more. See you next week.

 

Brad Last Week: 10-6 (spread), 13-3 (straight-up), 1-0 (upset picks)

Brad Season: 10-6 (spread), 13-3 (straight-up), 1-0 (upsets)

Craig Last Week: 8-8 (spread), 10-6 (straight-up), 1-3 (upset picks)

Craig Season: 8-8 (spread), 10-6 (straight-up), 1-3 (upsets)

Glenn Last Week: 11-5 (spread), 13-3 (straight-up), 1-0 (upset picks)

Glenn Season: 11-5 (spread), 13-3 (straight-up), 1-0 (upsets)

Matt Last Week: 8-8 (spread), 11-5 (straight-up), 1-2 (upset picks)

Matt Season: 8-8 (spread), 11-5 (straight-up), 1-2 (upsets)

 

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