By Brad Carroll
Friday's not your typical hot-bed of college football action, but with the opening of a new season, we're not only treated to a big Saturday, but several days of games to ease our way into another exciting year. We've already previewed and picked against the spread the biggest games from Thursday, and will do the same for Saturday's jam-packed schedule as well, but in between, there's a pair of interesting matchups for your enjoyment Friday.
We preview and pick against the spread No. 4 Baylor at SMU and Washington at No. 23 Boise State, featuring the return of coach Chris Petersen. Follow us on Twitter for all of our college football picks and more; in fact with the new season upon us, we will follow back everyone who follows us. It's win-win.
No. 4 Baylor at SMU, 7 p.m., ESPN
The Spread: Baylor -36; SMU +36
Brad's Analysis: What do you get when you put one of the nation's best college football teams on the field against one of the worst? A gigantic 36-point spread, making this game anything but easy to choose a winner based on the point spread. Baylor is going to win, no doubt, but is it more than five-touchdown better? Well, there's the tough part of doing this. Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty is off to the NFL with the Jets, so the passing duties this season will fall to Seth Russell. Last year, Baylor led the nation in yards per game (581.5) and points per game (48.2) and should again approach those numbers this year, even without Petty. Russell has started one game in his career, throwing for 438 yards and five touchdowns in one half against Northwestern State, so not exactly a true barometer of what he can do against better competition. SMU has no chance to win this game and even covering the giant spread might not be possible for the Mustangs. SMU has dropped 11 straight games to Baylor, including a 45-0 loss last year to Baylor in the season opener. SMU averaged just over 11 points per game last year, which is truly pathetic, but hired Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris as head coach and he'll have the Mustangs running a spread offense this year. SMU will get better, but running a new system in the opening game against the fourth-ranked team in the nation is a recipe for disaster. Baylor wins big.
Brad's Score: Baylor 49, SMU 10
Craig's Score: Baylor 63, SMU 24
Glenn's Score: Baylor 62, SMU 20
Matt's Score: Baylor 63, SMU 28
Washington at No. 23 Boise State, 10:15 p.m., ESPN
The Spread: Washington +12.5; Boise State -12.5
Brad's Analysis: Boise State is trumpeting this as the biggest home game in school history. Why would the Broncos make such a claim against an unranked Washington squad? Well, because former Boise State coach Chris Petersen will be returning to the blue turf field as coach of Washington, making this matchup a heated one for the fans in Idaho who felt spurned by their former leader leaving for a "better" program. I wonder if Petersen has regretted his decision at all, especially considering Boise State is the team ranked here and Washington isn't. Boise State is a team with tons of talent, while Washington is still in a building stage. At the point of attack, Boise State features an experienced front seven that could have a field day against a young and inexperienced offensive line. Washington running back Dwayne Washington had three straight 100-yard rushing games to end last year, but if the line can't block for him, it could mean a long day for the rushing attack. Boise State, which won the Fiesta Bowl last year, does have a new quarterback, as Ryan Finley replaces the graduating Grant Hedrick. But above all, you know the Boise State players will want to stick it to their old head coach, proving to him on the scoreboard he made the wrong decision to leave.
Brad's Score: Boise State 34, Washington 17
Craig's Score: Boise State 28, Washington 21
Glenn's Score: Boise State 48, Washington 14
Matt's Score: Boise State 28, Washington 14