Notre Dame's Jalen Elliott (21) and Asmar Bilal make a tackle against Stanford on Sept. 29, 2018 (Carlos Osorio)
Notre Dame's Jalen Elliott (21) and Asmar Bilal make a tackle against Stanford on Sept. 29, 2018 (Carlos Osorio)|Associated Press

Kern rounds out Week 1 by picking Notre Dame vs. Louisville, Kansas vs. Indiana State, Wake Forest vs. Utah State, Houston vs. Oklahoma

Mike Kern

Mike Kern

I always prefer to tread lightly early in the season, as I’m working on getting some feel for what’s going on. So that naturally would apply even more so for the first week. Just because. I’m not smart enough to know nearly enough at this point to put too much at risk. Just trying to be as up front as possible. I don’t know how to do it any other way. With that in mind here goes, some thoughts/possibilities for the rest of the weekend:

♦ I like Notre Dame giving 19.5 at Louisville. The Cards might be better, which isn’t saying much, for a new coach. But last year they stunk. I don’t think the Irish are going back to the playoff, but they’re still supposed to be pretty good. And they have a bye next week before hosting New Mexico. So I’ll take a shot that they should win this one somewhat comfortably. Again, don’t go nuts. Just something to get us into the game.

♦ I could also take a look at Kansas. Yes, that’s right. Kansas. In Les Miles’ debut. They’re favored 4 over FCS Indiana State, which of course is the visitor. A year ago the Jayhawks lost their opener to FCS Nichols State, in overtime. Which of course got them into my Fraud Five, which will soon be reappearing by popular demand in my good friend Glenn Papazian’s website, So be on the lookout. Maybe Kansas will come up short in this kind of spot again. But maybe not. The White Hat wouldn’t do that to me, would he?

♦ How about one more? I’ve always been a Dave Clawson guy, since his days as the offensive coordinator at Villanova. Speaking of which, starting soon I’m going to try to give out a CAA pick each week since they’re now posting lines on FCS (heck, I might even try to come up with a weekly MAC pick, for old time’s sake when Temple called that home). But I digress. Clawson does an under-the-radar kind of job at Wake Forest, which is a 4-point fave against Utah State. I’m going to take the Demon Deacons. Utah State won 11 games last season in the Mountain West, and might be decent again. The Aggies lost at Wake in 2017, when they finished 6-7, 46-10. Wake is trying to get to a bowl (and also win one) for the fourth straight year. It has won nine straight home openers. And Clawson is 6-3 against Group of Five opponents.

♦ I’ve never been a big over-under guy, but I’ll throw one out. Why not Houston at Oklahoma to go under 79.5? That’s a big number, and there’s always a chance the Sooners could put up a bunch on their own with their new quarterback. And Houston can get it done on offense. But for starters maybe they won’t be quite ready to go too nuts quite yet. Again, though, over-unders aren’t necessarily my thing.

♦ As for Temple and Penn State, they’re both laying around 40 to FCS teams that figure to be way overmatched. I hate giving that many, mostly on general principle. But neither could I confidently take the underdogs. I would just be hoping that they barely figure out a way to cover. If you really must, you might want to tease both dogs up to the mid 40s. Young Penn State has a new quarterback, and the Owls have a new coach. What that means against Idaho and Bucknell, respectively, I have little clue. Just admitting.

That should be enough to get us through to Week 2. Can’t cash ‘em if you don’t play some. Or something like that. May the force be with us, right through the bowl season.

Pick: Notre Dame-19.5 over Louisville

Pick: Kansas -4 over Indiana State

Pick: Wake Forest -4 over Utah State

Pick: Houston-Oklahoma Under 79.5


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