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Week 1 CFB Picks: Can You Smell That? Its Football Season

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Season Record: 2-1

Penn State at Wisconsin -5.5, 0/u 49
The Badgers enter the season looking to rebound being ravaged by Covid and losing 3 of their last 4 B1G games, reloading an offensive line that remains the lifeblood of what they’re able to do offensively. QB Graham Mertz has the best tools of any QB to play in Madison since Russell Wilson, completed over 60 percent of his passes last year and returns five of their top six receivers. If Mertz can keep defenses honest, this offense could be Wisconsin’s most explosive attack in recent memory.

Penn State is also a much improved squad, returning 9 starters on offense and has multiple draftable players up front, including LT Rasheed Walker who could emerge as one of the top tackles in the 2022 NFL Draft. Former Ohio State Offensive Coordinator Mike Yurcich joins the Nittany Lions staff, and returning QB Sean Clifford has spoken very highly of the progress of an offense that returns the bulk of its skill position players and a stable of running backs which ranked 2nd in the conference in total yards last year.

Defensively, the Nittany Lions replace three of four starters along the defensive line, which presents an enormous opportunity for the Badgers to control the clock and keep Penn State’s offense on the sideline. Odafe Oweh and Shaka Toney are gone to the NFL, and an inexperienced group up front could spell trouble for a unit that must play at an elite level to stop a prodigious rushing attack. Penn State led the conference with 78 plays per game in 2020, this game will hinge on Wisconsin’s ability to shrink that number down and keep that Nittany Lions offense off the field, and they’ll use the home field energy and massive offensive line to get it done.

AZ’s Pick: Wisconsin -5.5

Clemson -3 vs. Georgia, O/U 50.5
An epic Week 1 matchup featuring two Top 5 teams, both of whom will be on full tilt to put one big stamp on a CFP resume.

Clemson QB DJ Uiagaleilei replaces the number one overall pick in last year’s draft and the best quarterback in school history, for an offense that returns just five starters but boasts a number of highly recruited replacements that all gained valuable experience en route to another CFP appearance last season. WR EJ Williams and true freshman RB Will Shipley will need to step up and replace the big plays and consistency lost with the departures of Travis Etienne and Amari Rodgers.

Georgia has the best returning DL in college football, stud DTs Jordan Davis and Devonte Wyatt present 650 lbs of rock inside, while EDGE Adam Anderson has first round potential off the edge.

Much like Clemson, the majority of questions surrounding the Dawgs come on the offensive side, where JT Daniels returns after winning the starting job midway through last season. Daniels completed 67 percent of his passes and put up a 10:2 TD/INT ratio in 2020, and that level of efficiency is a must for this Georgia offense to reach their potential.

Georgia will be without WR George Pickens and Dominick Blaylock offensively, which puts all the more pressure on Daniels and the offense to put up enough points to keep pace with Clemson. While Daniels finally gave the Dawgs some consistency down the stretch last season, he did so largely against mediocre SEC competition ravaged by Covid.

Clemson debuts a few new superstars offensively, and takes care of business on their way to another playoff season.

AZ’s pick: Clemson -3

Notre Dame -7 at Florida State, O/U 55.5
Seminoles Head Coach Mike Norvell enters his fourth season after failing to meet expectations and return a prominent collegiate program to respectability. This season, he’s turning to Jordan Travis at quarterback to finally provide consistent production at the position, but will need an improved offensive line to remain upright and productive after ranking at or near the bottom of the ACC last year.

Notre Dame returns stud RB Kyren Williams, but lost multiple veteran starters on what was one of the best offensive lines in football last season. Second-team All-American Cain Madden transfers in from Marshall to man one of the Guard positions, but joins three other new starters on a unit that will be the difference between a chance at the playoffs, or a problem for a team with a daunting Independent schedule which will feature multiple ranked opponents from the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12.

Wisconsin-transfer QB Jack Coan is experienced, but was largely inconsistent for the Badgers, and struggled to throw the ball downfield with much consistency. I like Notre Dame to win this game, but I do think both teams will struggle with consistency, while boasting athletic defenses full of draftable talent.

AZ’s Pick: Under 55.5

Georgia State at Army -2, O/U 49.5
Army had a historic season in 2020, going 9-3 and shutting out Navy. This season, they’re replacing four of five starters along the offensive line, a huge red flag for a team so dependent on consistency with that unit for success in the rushing attack.

Georgia State returns QB Cornelius Brown, and one of the most talented and experienced teams in the Sun Belt. The offense returns everyone from last year’s squad, which scored 33 points per game and should have no issue with the West Pointers up front on either side of the ball.

Blending an offense with scoring potential, plus a defense which held opponents to 3.9 YPC last season and an experienced defensive line, I like GSU to take care of an Army squad that will need to gel quickly up front to have a chance.

AZ’s Pick: Georgia State -2

*Disclaimer: These picks are for entertainment purposes only.

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