Week one of college football is finally here. Let's take a look at the www.CFBRatings.com picks for the local teams.
Western Kentucky at Vanderbilt
Expectations are high in Bowling Green under second year head coach Jeff Brohm. In fact, they are one of our dark horse picks to make one of the New Year's Day bowls. The 'Toppers have the offensive talent and scheme to put up a lot of points against any team and with a defense expected to improve, this could be a special year.
Vanderbilt is still rebuilding and by all indications, seem to still be out of sorts in their identity as a team. In fact, this could be a long year for the Commodores. Thursday night's matchup against Western Kentucky will be a huge challenge.
Pick: Western By 7
UL-Lafayette at Kentucky
Year 3 of coach Mark Stoops' tenure is full of expectations; they are a trendy pick to make a bowl game. Quarterback Patrick Towles is very good and will have to take advantage of Kentucky's size and speed at receiver to make the difference. While ULL is 0-5 against P5 teams since 2012; UK is only 2-25 (against current P5 teams) during that same span.
By all rights Kentucky should win this game; however, with questions looming on their defensive front and ULL's rushing attack, this will likely be a close game and one the Wildcats cannot afford to lose. If the Cajuns are successful running the football, Towles and the Kentucky offense may not have enough opportunities to put up enough points for a victory.
Pick: Louisiana-Lafayette by 1
Louisville versus Auburn
This is a highly anticipated matchup between a likely much improved Bobby Petrino offense and a hopefully improved Auburn defense under first year DC Will Muschamp. Several models were ran for this game and none showed a 10+ point victory by Auburn; in fact, 3 of the 5 models have Louisville winning by 1-3 points.
A Few Auburn Notes:
1. Auburn is ranked 21st in the preseason power rankings of CFB Ratings while Louisville is 24th.
2. Auburn did not beat a team last season that had a top 30 offense. South Carolina was the best at 33rd.
3. Auburn did not beat an opponent with a rush defense ranked higher than 12th last season (Arkansas).
4. In victories, Auburn outrushed their opponents by an average of 173.9 yards per game; in losses, Auburn was outrushed by 25.3 yards per game.
5. Auburn's Offense is projected to be a top 25 scoring offense as last season. Auburn's defense projects to be a top 25 scoring defense.
A Few Louisville Notes
1. Louisville was tied for 11th nationally in turnovers forced last season with 30.
2. Louisville averaged 35.8 points per game in wins.
3. Louisville beat only 2 teams with a top 50 offense last season.
4. Louisville had one more Red Zone TD than Auburn in the same number of trips last season.
5. Louisville's scoring offense projects into the top 25 this season and the defense projects into the top 15 in scoring.
Auburn will win if....... They establish the run early and keep Louisville's offense off of the field.
Louisville will win if......Their offense finds ways to make first downs consistently.
Pick: Louisville by 1
Full game analysis here.
All Picks here.