Presto’s Picks: Kicking off with confidence

WASHINGTON — I hope everybody finished their summer reading. The best regular season kicks off this weekend and the journey won’t stop until Thanksgiving.

Prepare for the pageantry, ridiculous mascots and even more ridiculous expectations (sorry, Michigan). I hope you ran, swam and ate plenty of salads over the summer months because turkey legs, wings and nachos are now getting switched in to your diet. I’m already angry at those of you who root for Alabama football and North Carolina basketball…while being perplexed at those who are Florida State football/UNC hoop fans (it’s like having a mistress and a girlfriend in the same apartment building). I’m looking forward to 10 p.m. Saturday night Pac-12 games…while already dreading 10 p.m. Thursday night Pac-12 matchups. I’m excited about a new conference in Annapolis and wary about a tough league slate in College Park. I’m hoping for a road to redemption in Blacksburg and trying not to shield my eyes in Charlottesville. When is kickoff already?

Maryland vs. Richmond, 12 p.m. Saturday

Gone is the new Big 10 smell. Instead, the College Park faithful get to enjoy alcohol at Byrd Stadium for the first time ever. They also will not have C.J. Brown in the program for the first fall since George W. Bush was in the White House. Perry Hills started seven games as a true freshman but has thrown 10 passes over the previous two seasons combined. He’ll have a revamped receiving corps to work with. Defensively, the move to a 4-3 should help come conference season. Richmond has a new quarterback, but returns leading rusher Seth Fisher.  The Terps are 4-0 in openers under coach Randy Edsall and are 11-5 in September since 2010.

Presto’s Pick: Terps triumph, 27-16

Virginia at #13 UCLA, 3:30 p.m. Saturday

Coach Mike London’s staff includes nine full-time assistant coaches plus four graduate assistants. How does he not have a “soft schedule consultant” on his payroll? Three ranked teams in September? No directional schools on the slate? The Sun Belt Conference schools need work, too. UVa begins the season by visiting a team many have as a dark-horse playoff candidate (if the Pac-12 South weren’t such a minefield). The Bruins also boast freshman phenom Josh Rosen starting at quarterback (I think he actually had a bit part in season 3 of The O.C.).  After allegedly using “The Magic 8-Ball” last year, London has named Matt Johns the team’s starting quarterback. Johns played well last year while splitting time with Greyson Lambert, who took his oxford shirts and argyle socks to Georgia in an offseason transfer. One can only imagine how the coach will undermine his quarterback’s confidence this year.

Presto’s Pick: Cavaliers come up short, 24-13

Navy vs. Colgate, 12 p.m. Saturday

The Midshipmen enter their first year of competing in the American Athletic Conference (of America). Just to show that a league with as broad a definition as “America” can bungle things up, Navy (based in Annapolis) is competing in the WEST division.  Keenan Reynolds doesn’t need a compass to dominate — the quarterback returns for his senior season within striking distance of school marks for career touchdown passes and rushing yards. Coach Ken Niumatalolo’s team plays five of their first seven games at home so strong start is paramount. Colgate competes in the Patriot League…long ago abandoning traditional rivalries with Crest, Aim and Aquafresh.

Presto’s Pick: Midshipmen begin the season with a bright smile, 38-14

Virginia Tech vs. #1 Ohio State, 8 p.m. Monday

The Hokies are the last team to beat the defending National Champion Buckeyes in a game that was just last September but seems at least four years ago (a 6-3, double-overtime loss to Wake Forest will cloud the mind). Michael Brewer comes back from a turnover-laden first fall in Blacksburg (15 interceptions, 3 lost fumbles) with a running game that should be better if Trey Edmunds and J.C. Coleman can stay healthy. Ohio State is keeping things close to the vest as to who starts at quarterback. With all of the talent Urban Meyer has coming back, does it matter?

Presto’s Pick: Hokies fall, 26-17

Georgetown slips at St. Francis, Howard falls at Appalachian State, Towson loses at East Carolina, James Madison beats Morehead State, William & Mary wins at Lafayette.

Last Season:  85-38.

Dave Preston

Dave has been in the D.C. area for 10 years and in addition to working at WTOP since 2002 has also been on the air at Westwood One/CBS Radio as well as Red Zebra Broadcasting (Redskins Network).

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