Beerman's Picks: Week Zero
by Ben Shapiro, 8/21/03

Each week this season, I will be posting a column previewing interesting upcoming matchups in the Big East, the ACC, and college football in general. All rankings are from the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll. I don't pick winners (that's too easy), I pick against the spread.  Television information comes from here.  All picks are for entertainment purposes only.

6:00 pm EST ESPN2
  Grambling 0-0
no line San Jose State 0-0 (0-0 WAC)
Division I-AA games are so BORING!

There's no line in Vegas for I-AA games, and if this were anything other than the very first game of the 2003 college football season I wouldn't be writing about it at all.

San Jose State returns a fair amount from a team that went 6-7 playing only four home games all of 2002.  Truly these are the salad days south of the bay area, as the Spartans get to host five home games out of eleven total this year.  "Verily!" proclaimed Head Coach Dr. Fitz Hill, "And there was great rejoicing!"**  Fresno State and Boise State are still the big dogs out West though, so barring some sort of minor miracle SJSU shouldn't hope for anything better than a winning record in 2003.

Pick: SJSU
7:45 pm EST ESPN
  California 0-0 (0-0 Pac 10)
-27.5 Kansas State (#5) 0-0 (0-0 Big 12)
Kansas State is a trendy pick to make it to the BCS title game in 2003.  They're loaded on offense, the Big 12 North looks to be relatively weak, and expected runner-up Colorado travels to Manhattan this year.  KSU also won't have to face Oklahoma unless they both make it to the Big 12 title game ... which is being held in Kansas City this year.

And there are, of course, the requisite tomato cans on the Wildcats' schedule in 2003.  Troy State, along with I-AA "powers" McNeese State and UMass should serve as excellent conditioning drills for KSU's third string, while I-A middleweights Cal and Marshall may provide just enough opposition for Kansas State to get seven new defensive starters ready for conference play.

Cal graduated 24 seniors, and only 8 starters return.  The buzzwords here are "Junior College Transfer," and that means they're going to be lucky to earn bowl eligibility.  The Bears were a happy story in 2002, but they've got work to do before they can be counted on as winners year in and year out.  It's going to be ugly before it gets any better.

Pick: KSU


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