Entertainment Purposes Only takes a look at the lines for this weekend’s games and gives predictions.
Stanford (-14) vs Kansas St.
For the first time in what seems forever, Stanford will have a starting quarterback other than Andrew Luck or Kevin Hogan. After a battle during spring practices and training camp, redshirt junior Ryan Burns has won the job. There to help Burns get acclimated to his new role will be Heisman hopeful, Christian McCaffrey. Last season, McCaffrey broke Barry Sanders’ record for all-purpose yards in a single season.
Stanford isn’t the only team with an inexperienced QB. Kansas St. starter Jesse Ertz has made the long journey back after a season ending knee injury in last season’s opener.
Several factors play in Stanford’s favor. Its opening day and they are at home with the best player on the field. Coach David Shaw will have no problems getting everyone’s attention after last year’s opening day debacle against Northwestern and Kansas State’s defense was one of the worse last season.
Missouri (+10) at West Virginia
Missouri heads into Morgantown relying on a defense that was stingy last season. The Tigers defensive unit ranked ninth in total defense last year. Their defensive coordinator now head coach, Barry Odom, will try to continue their defense first mantra this season. The major question for Mizzou will be an offense that has struggled. The Tigers have brought in Josh Heupel and his playbook to try and put some life into a unit that needs it in the worst way.
The Mountaineers have the task of replacing Wendell Smallwood at running back. Last season Smallwood rushed for 1,519 yards. The key to the offense will be Skyler Howard as West Virginia’s offense seeks a more balanced look. Rushel Shell will replace Smallwood in the backfield. Shell rushed for 708 yards last season.
Slight lean is for West Virginia to win the game but I expect Missouri to cover.
LSU (-10) vs Wisconsin (Lambeau Field)
Les Miles brings his LSU Tigers into Lambeau Field with one of the best running backs in the country and a new defensive coordinator who will know the opponent fairly well. Like Stanford’s McCaffrey, Leonard Fournette is a frontline Heisman candidate. Miles will try to control Fournette’s carries to keep him fresh and he has a solid back up to spell Fournette in way of Derrius Guice. The Tigers season could hang on how much progress junior QB Brandon Harris makes.
On defense LSU’s new defensive coordinator is Wisconsin’s old defensive coordinator. All Dave Aranda did at Wisconsin last year was lead a unit that was first in scoring defense and second in total defense.
Wisconsin will rely heavily on Corey Clement and their running game. Expect for the LSU defense to load up the box and force fifth year QB Bart Houston to beat them. Houston has only attempted 51 career passes.
Clemson (-7.5) at Auburn
Clemson will face a familiar defensive coordinator in Kevin Steele. Steele was fired after a bowl game loss where Clemson’s defense gave up 70 points. If Steele’s name sounds familiar, he left the same position at LSU for the same job at Auburn. He will replace Will Muschamp who took the South Carolina head coaching job.
Coach Dabo Sweeney finally cashed in the “potential” card and took Clemson to the National Championship game where they battled Alabama before eventually falling 45-40. DeShaun Watson will lead the powerful Clemson offense again this season. Despite being vocal about not liking the “duel quarterback” moniker, Watson is just that becoming the first quarterback to pass for more than 1,000 yards and run for over 1,000. He finished 3rd in the Heisman voting. Clemson has 8 starters returning on offense.
Auburn will go with sophomore quarterback Sean White. Auburn has questions at the running back position after putting Jovon Robinson off the team. If they can’t run the ball against Clemson’s defense, they will have an uphill battle despite playing at home.
Some are calling for this to be a close game and it might be for a half but eventually Clemson’s pedigree will take over.
Marcus “Mook” Washington is the host of Making The Cut. Follow Mook on Twitter: @mtcwithmook and IG: MTCWithMook