- Brian Bennett, College Football
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I turned in a robust 58-11 record in the 2009 regular-season predictions, picking at an 84 percent success rate. But it's a new year and you can't rest on your laurels. I haven't been reading my press clippings all offseason.
Week 1 of the 2010 season is officially upon us, and it's one of the tougher weeks to predict because of all the unknowns. But here goes:
Utah 24, Pitt 21: I like the Panthers to have a strong season; I just doubt their ability to win on the road in such a tough spot in the opener, especially with a new quarterback. At least it's closer than the 2005 Fiesta Bowl. (For a more complete breakdown of this game, make sure to check out my video post later Thursday afternoon).
Rutgers 38, Norfolk State 3: The Scarlet Knights may have some questions on their offensive line and in the receiving corps, but that won't make any difference against the FCS Spartans. Look for a dominant effort by Rutgers' defense, which creates at least one score.
Connecticut 31, Michigan 28: I've been driving -- or at least, riding shotgun -- on the Huskies' bandwagon all offseason. So while the Wolverines' speed scares me, especially if Denard Robinson (or Tate Forcier) get to the second level and force the secondary to make stops, I'm going with the confidence factor. I'm confident that UConn can run the ball, play fundamentally strong and not get rattled at the Big House. I'm not confident that Michigan has any confidence at all if the game gets tight. Huskies on a late field goal.
Cincinnati 35, Fresno State 34: This is a tough, tough opening game for Cincinnati, which must travel cross country in the first game under Butch Jones. Yet it's still a team that knows how to win, evidenced by its 18-game regular-season streak. I'm expecting big things out of the offense, and the defense will do just enough to allow Jones and the Bearcats to escape -- barely -- with that streak intact.
Kentucky 17, Louisville 14: I had been leaning toward the Cardinals this summer, relying on the excitement factor in their first game for Charlie Strong and the expanded stadium. But the talent differential, especially in the trenches, just seems too great. Louisville will be able to keep the score low thanks to Strong's knowledge of the Wildcats from his days as Florida's defensive coordinator. But he won't quite get Louisville over the hump.
Syracuse 23, Akron 13: Another tricky road game for a Big East team, and the difference in talent between these two isn't gaping. But if the Orange can't beat a MAC outfit that's coming off a 3-9 season and has replaced its coaching staff, then something is wrong. Syracuse wins, though it won't be all that pretty to watch.
South Florida 28, Stony Brook 3: The Bulls will keep things simple in Skip Holtz's debut, not wanting to show too much before playing Florida next week. Simple, but effective enough against an outmanned FCS opponent.