Every week, Maxwell Award-winner, Heisman Trophy finalist, former NFL starting quarterback and CBS Sports analyst Brady Quinn will be here offering his picks on some of the closest, most-competitive college football games.
With the 2016 season kicking off Thursday, there have already been some surprises. Set your mind at ease entering the weekend with these straight-up winners.
Saturday — UCLA Bruins at Texas A&M: This game is filled with storylines to discuss, and it starts with the battle of the quarterbacks. UCLA’s Josh Rosen is the most talented pocket passer in the country. He had a solid freshman year but will now have to deal with a change in playcaller. This could be a good thing. Kennedy Polamalu takes over as the Bruins’ offensive coordinator and will look to get more production out of an offense that appeared to underachieve in 2015. The sidebar here is that Noel Mazzone finds himself as the offensive coordinator for Kevin Sumlin’s Aggies and will be working with graduate transfer QB Trevor Knight , formally of Oklahoma. There will be a cat and mouse game throughout this contest between coaching staffs, but I’m giving UCLA the advantage.
Texas A&M is playing at home and will have 100,000 strong behind them, which will help provide star defensive end Myles Garret with a jump on the snap, but everyone is well aware of Garret’s ability and UCLA has prepared for him. This game will be close but, I think the Bruins edge out the Aggies to start the season. Pick: UCLA
SportsLine ATS expert pick: Texas A&M (-3) — Full analysis
Sunday — Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Texas: Another high-profile game with quarterback questions for both teams. Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly believes he can’t go wrong and appears ready to play both Malik Zaire and DeShone Kizer . For Texas, this is a crucial decision in what could be a make or break year for coach Charlie Strong.
The issue is both Notre Dame QBs are more talented than either Texas QB (freshman Shane Buechele or senior Tyrone Swoopes ). That gives the Irish the advantage over the Longhorns. Whether or not UT has closed the gap on the drumming they took a year ago in South Bend is yet to be determined, but it will look to make a statement and show a new improved offense with new coordinator Sterling Gilbert. This still won’t be enough as the Irish still have too much talent for the Longhorns to handle. Pick: Notre Dame
SportsLine ATS expert pick: Notre Dame (-3.5) — Full analysis
Monday — Florida State Seminoles vs. Ole Miss Rebels (Orlando, Fla.): A crucial game if one of the favorites in the ACC, Florida State, wants to make the College Football Playoff. Luckily, the Seminoles are playing this “neutral site” game just a few hours away from Tallahassee. What will be nearly a home game for the Noles will serve redshirt freshman QB Deondre Francois well. Francois won the job after presumed starter Sean Maguire suffered a foot injury during fall camp. Francois is also fortunate to have one of the best running back in the country, Dalvin Cook , giving him plenty of support out of the backfield. On top of that, Florida State returns 17 starters combined on both sides of the ball. Its greatest loss may have been kicker Roberto Aguayo .
Ole Miss, on the other hand, has the SEC’s best QB in Chad Kelly . The Rebels are coming off of back-to-back New Year’s Six bowl appearances and consecutive wins over Alabama. The struggle for the Rebels is that they only return eight total starters, which won’t be enough to help Kelly go up against one of the best defenses in the country. Pick: Florida State
SportsLine ATS expert pick: Ole Miss (+4.5) — Full analysis
Source: CBS Sports / Brady Quinn’s best bets: Home field advantage won’t matter in big Texas games