*Disclaimer: Despite what he claims, the author is not actually regarded as an "expert". If you choose to place bets on games, use these picks at your own risk. This is for (supposed) entertainment purposes, so don't come knocking at Mr. Goldin's if his picks cause your bookie to break your legs.*
Alright Tiger Fans! Football is right around the corner, and Papa Goldin is going to give you some high quality, lead pipe, locks**. During the season, I'll do this sometime before the Thursday night game that week, but I'm just to doggone excited, so y'all are getting this present a week early. Also, I recently learned that this Saturday there is a real, live COLLEGE FOOTBALL GAME ON ESPN!!!! Who's playing? Do you really care? I mean, if you've been walking through the desert for 7 months with no water, and someone comes up to you with a canteen, are you really going to ask if it's Fiji water? You're not, so just enjoy the fact that this Saturday you can flip on ESPN and watch 2 teams of 18-22 year old men pound each other for 60 minutes. Now on to the picks!
August 23 (3:30): Sam Houston State @ Eastern Washington (No line available) (ESPN)
I'm not even going to pretend to know a lot about this game. I do know this: both teams like to score. Also, Eastern Washington went 8-0 in the Big Sky and lost to Townson in the FCS semifinals. And most importantly, they play on red artificial turf. While Boise State has the Smurf Turf, EWU plays on BLOOD TURF. It's like a battle field up there. The Goldin Guarantee: Eastern Washington 43 Sam Houston State 35
Thursday August 28
(6:00) Texas A&M (+10.5) @ South Carolina (-10.5) (SEC Network)
I know, you all want to read about how Sakerlina is overrated and how the Aggies are going to crush them, sending them into a downward spiral where they have a Lou Holtz-esque 0-12 season. I'd love to write that. But, I'm trying to be realistic here. Sakerlina has won 18 straight at
the upside down cockroach Williams-Brice Stadium. Both teams lost their mega-star players to the NFL, as Jadeveon Clowney is playing for the Texans and Johnny Manziel is in Cleveland (poor fellow). With no Johnny Football, we get to see if A&M is built to be consistently good in the SEC. Regardless, I think this will be an entertaining game, and closer than the experts think. The Goldin Guarantee: South Carolina 23 Texas A&M 17
(7:00) Wake Forest(-2) @ UL-Monroe(+2) (ESPNU)
Dang it, Wake. Of all ACC teams to play on the road against ULM, it had to be you. I'm not a big conference pride guy (except when Clemson beats an SEC team, then my taunting "ACC" chant will be heard), but a Wake loss would not be a good start to the ACC season. It's a no-win game for the Deacons. You go on the road, and if you win be less than a blowout, then people will criticize you for getting played close by a Sun Belt team. You lose, and you're the laughing stock of college football. ULM is a good team, but if they were playing the likes of Clemson, FSU, or even Duke, the spread wouldn't be near this close. I think the Deacs drop a tough one on the road. The Goldin Guarantee: ULM 17 Wake Forest 7.
(8:00) Ole Miss (-10) vs Boise State(+10) in Atlanta (ESPN)
If there was a time to own a liquor store or a Brooks Brothers outlet near the Georgia Dome, then this would be the time. Ole Miss fans and students know how to party and look good doing it. A good amount of students are from the Atlanta area, so expect a big presence of them. Now, Boise State may be able to throw down as well, I just don't know their reputation for tailgating. I do know their reputation for football; overachieving and constantly shutting up doubters with upsets. After the miracle of the '07 Fiesta Bowl win over Oklahoma, the '10 Fiesta Bowl win over #4 TCU, the '09 win over Oregon before "the punch, and the '11 win in Atlanta over a hilariously uniformed Georgia team, you would think we would've learned. But still, Boise is a 10 point dog, which can only mean one thing: Upset. The Goldin Guarantee: Boise St 35 Ole Miss 24
Satuday August 30
(8:30 AM) Penn State (+1) vs UCF (-1) in Dublin, Ireland (ESPN2)
A game kicking off before I've eaten my first Chick Fil A biscuit? Brilliant! The Nittany Lions and Knights tango in Dublin for some reason, but hey, I'm not complaining. We'll get to see if Justin Coleman can replace Blake Borttles as the gun slinger for George O'Leary's (a nice, Irish name) squad. This is also the Penn State debut for James Franklin, who led Vanderbilt to 3 straight bowl games. The Goldin Guarantee: UCF 13 Penn St 10
(12:00 PM) UCLA (-22) @ Virginia (+22) (ESPN)
The Wahoos seem to like getting beaten up by California teams, as they've hosted USC in the past few years. UCLA looks to be one of the hot teams out of the Pac 12, and UVA is still a mess. The Goldin Guarantee: UCLA 56 UVA 21.
(5:30) Clemson (+8) @ Georgia (-8) (ESPN)
The game we've all been waiting for. Tigers and Dawgs in Athens. I'm chomping at the bit for this game and to see what Cole Stoudt has. Barring any unforeseen event or injury, taking Clemson in the points is easy money. Last year's game was decided by three points, and both teams are still even. UGA has a good stable of running backs in Todd Gurley, Keith Marshall, and freshman Nick Chubb, but Clemson has a nasty d-line with Vic Beasley and Grady Jarrett leading the squad, and plenty of depth surrounds them. Sanford will be loud, but not Death Valley at night loud. Stoudt should be fine. This may be his first start, but he's been in the system and in opposing stadiums enough that he is more weathered than some backups. The homer in me says Clemson wins. The level-headed person says if nothing else, UGA won't cover this spread. The Goldin Guarantee: Clemson 34 Georgia 30
(8:00) Florida State (-17.5) vs Oklahoma State (+17.5) in Arlington, TX (ABC)
The defending champs head down to Jerry World to take on the fighting T. Boone Pickenses. Jameis Winston should ball out. Typically I'd say Ok St keeps it closer than this, but after seeing what all FSU did last year, I think it's a run away for the 'Noles. Ok St will score, but not enough. The Goldin Guarantee: Florida State 63 Oklahoma State 38
(9:00) Wisconsin (+4.5) vs LSU (-4.5) in Houston (ESPN)
The South and the North collide for one huge party in Houston. Tailgating will have the best of both worlds as you can sample Cajun fare from LSU fans and beer and brats from the Badger folks. Either way, should be a good time in Houston. As for the actual game on the field? Should be a good, old-school , hard-hitting game. The Goldin Guarantee: Wisconsin 21 LSU 17
Monday September 1
(8:00) Miami (+3.5) @ Louisville (-3.5) (ESPN)
A Labor day showdown between the U and the Ville ends our first week of the season. The Cards will get the first taste of the ACC with the team that they shellacked last year in the Russell Athletic Bowl. Teddy Bridgewater is gone, but with Petrino behind the wheel, expect anything. The Goldin Guarantee: Louisville 37 Miami 20.
Alright kids, that's all for this week. Join me again in two weeks for more expert insight* and lead pipe locks**!
*Mr. Goldin is not an expert, despite his claim.
** The term "locks" is being applied liberally in this case