Picks: Irish should roll, Canes-'Noles will be close

I'm a bit nervous about picking games this early. Last season I got off to a horrible start in the first month of the season before getting on the plus side.

Thursday, Aug. 31
Northwestern 34, Miami (Ohio) 24: I'm not sure how long the Wildcats will be able to last on this incredible emotional roller coaster, but I think it will be enough to get the win here. Miami lost a lot in the back seven, especially at linebacker and that figures to be an area Tyrell Sutton and the Wildcats can exploit.
Thing that has me sold: Inexperienced Miami defense.

South Carolina 21, Mississippi State 17: The Gamecocks really will miss Ko Simpson and it's doubtful their defense will be as formidable as it was last year. Problem is, the Bulldogs simply don't have enough firepower to hang with Sidney Rice and Co. I do think MSU will be much improved since Sly Croom played so many young kids last season and now there is some experience on defense, but there isn't a Sidney Rice-caliber difference maker around Starkville these days. Keep an eye on converted QB Omarr Conner, the Dawgs new sure-handed receiver though. He might give the Gamecocks some problems.
Thing that has me sold: Bulldogs will keep this game close at home.