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Hurricanes Football is Nearly Here - The Picks are Back

I can’t wait to visit Hard Rock Stadium. Let’s pick some winners, predict season outcomes, and discuss the burden of increased expectations.

Wake Forest v Miami Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images
I’ve been running satellite camps all summer, trying to teach young people how to pick games by throwing darts in a somewhat educated fashion. My weekly picks column is back. Get ready for exciting wins, agonizing defeats, political/pop culture nonsense, cliches galore, and stories from stadiums across the country. Getting off to a good start is crucial to long-term success. College football actually begins this weekend, with Cal and Hawaii squaring off on Saturday afternoon in Sydney, Australia, which is actually late Friday night here. The Pac-12 is testing my statement that I will pick and watch any game, anytime, anywhere.
Before we focus on the new season, let’s briefly recap where we’ve been. After the demoralizing Precise Mediocrity (winning exactly 50%) of 2014, I seemed about as trustworthy as a Ryan Lochte robbery story. Thankfully I never lost focus. In 2015, I stepped up my game and enjoyed success and prosperity. Despite finishing at 54% overall with a winning record in nearly every category, some readers still weren’t happy. The summary of the negative comments is basically some version of: “Not sure if it’s true, but many people are saying that Crooked Pickens only went 148-125 last year because he rigged a bunch of games. Sad!”
I always name my highest-conviction pick after the Hurricanes head coach. Last season saw the end of the “Golden Pick” era, as well as the end of the brief but successful “Scott Pick” era. Mark Richt was hired just in time for me to include him in my conference championship picks, so I’m thrilled that the “Richt Pick” is undefeated at 1-0.
People can joke all they want, but I can't wait to set foot in Hard Rock Stadium. The new shade will be a massive upgrade, eliminating a large excuse for casual fans who traditionally would rather watch from their couches. I also love the new stadium sponsor. Despite my attempts to count cards like Ben Affleck, I have donated money to the Hard Rock Casino like nearly every other resident of South Florida. To my credit though, I've resisted temptation enough to avoid playing craps with the attractive life-size computerized dealers. The Canes are undefeated at "The Rock" and have a good chance to enter the FSU game with a 4-0 record. Brad Kaaya and Mark Richt deserve your full attention. Expect the crowds to be far better this season.

“The price of greatness is responsibility.” - Winston Churchill

“Back to back, like I’m Jordan ‘96, ‘97” - Drake

Anyone can have a nice season once. I am out to prove that 2015 wasn't a fluke. The burden of expectations is already weighing on me, but I'm confident in my long-term plan. My picks and I aren't just a team. We are becoming a program. Winning 54% is no longer enough. Sustained excellence is the new goal. Feel free to hold me to a much higher standard in 2016.

CALIFORNIA -20 vs Hawaii - 10pm - Friday August 26th - ESPN

Losing Jared Goff is certainly significant, but the Bears were very fortunate to have QB Davis Webb transfer in from Texas Tech. Webb knows Sonny Dykes' offense and should put up big numbers this season. Cal lost nearly every WR from a year ago. Enter freshman star Demetris Robertson. He'll be famous in Australia by the time this game ends. Cal has an experienced offensive line and should be able to push Hawaii around up front. The Bears return their top three RBs. Hawaii is just 11-39 the past four seasons and will be overmatched on both sides of the ball. This one should be a blowout, with Cal putting up 40+ points.
Georgia Tech v Miami

Win Totals

Just for fun, here are some season long win total predictions (Regular Season only). If I win them all, expect me to bring it up often. If I struggle on these, just pretend I never wrote them. Most lines are consensus from multiple sources - most of the sides I picked are slight favorites.

Miami Hurricanes Over 7.5 Wins

Miami’s favorable schedule, Brad Kaaya, Mark Richt, and a more aggressive Canes defense will lead to a successful season.

Northwestern Over 6.5 Wins

Northwestern has shown an ability to win close games and has a good chance of starting 4-0. Finishes with Purdue, Minnesota, and Illinois.

Ohio State Over 9.5 Wins

Few returning starters and a game at Oklahoma, but I know better than to doubt Urban Meyer. J.T. Barrett leads this team to at least 10 wins.

Houston Over 9 Wins

Tough home games against Oklahoma and Louisville, but could run the table in the AAC. Can’t say enough good things about QB Greg Ward Jr.

Georgia Under 9 Wins

Unproven at QB, Kirby Smart’s first head coaching job, and injuries to key playmakers on offense.

UCLA Under 9 Wins

Josh Rosen has NFL talent, but not enough around him. UCLA is young and has a brutal schedule.

Arizona Over 6.5 Wins

RB Nick Wilson and QB Anu Solomon will put up enough points to keep Arizona in most games. Expecting 7-5 or 8-4 this season.

Clemson Over 10.5 Wins

Clemson and Deshaun Watson are too good to lose a game other than at FSU. 11-1 or 12-0 for the Tigers in 2016.

Oregon Over 8.5 Wins

The Ducks are being forgotten this offseason. There is too much talent in Eugene for this team to be down again. A win at Nebraska and Oregon is 3-0 entering conference play.

TCU Over 8.5 Wins

TCU is loaded on defense and transfer QB Kenny “Trill” Hill will have a big year.