Presto’s Picks: Primetime possibilities

WASHINGTON — Let’s be honest — college football’s first month gives fans a lot of dreck. September should be sponsored by Georgetown Cupcake…as FCS and non-power 5 FBS schools fatten their athletic department budgets with guarantee games.  But the beauty of having 129 Division I-A schools is that they can’t all be playing directional state schools, setting up the occasional showdown of ranked teams.

Last week, Alabama exposed Wisconsin as a pretender. This week, the mantle of the battered Big Ten’s pride falls on the shoulders of #7 Michigan State. The Spartans got roasted last year at Oregon, but this year the #5 Ducks come to East Lansing. This is one of those games that used to be a potential Rose Bowl preview — now it’s a potential playoff tiebreaker. With the College Football Playoff’s emphasis on eye-test and strength of schedule, in theory these intersectional matchups will thrive. But just think — if they expanded the bracket to include all five conference winners plus three wild cards, we’d probably see more of them.

Maryland vs. Bowling Green, 12 p.m. Saturday (B1G Network)

The Falcons come to College Park fresh off putting 30 points on the scoreboard against Tennessee. Matt Johnson threw for 427 yards against the Volunteers — can the Maryland pass rush build off last week’s four sack effort against Richmond to make his life uncomfortable? One would like to see the passing game take off after an inconsistent afternoon against the Spiders. Will Perry Hills settle down and deliver a sharper effort now that he has his first start in three years under his belt? Regardless, expect running backs Brandon Moss and Wes Brown to be licking their chops after watching BG cough up almost 400 yards in week one.

Presto’s Pick: Terrapins triumph, 34-22.

Virginia vs. #9 Notre Dame, 3:30 p.m. (ABC)

After succumbing to UCLA freshman phenom Josh Rosen, UVa has to deal with Malik Zaire, who’s fresh off a 19/22 for 313 yard performance against Texas. Not encouraging for a defense that struggled against the Bruins. The Fighting Irish also handcuffed the Longhorns, allowing just 168 yards and 3 points. Matt Johns needs to get the offense into the end zone before the fourth quarter this week.

As befits any game featuring Notre Dame, this game is on national TV. ABC — and not the ABC Family Channel — although quite a bit of their programming has this “created to be pre-empted” quality to it. On the bright side, my happy-go-lucky tailgating pals Kippy and Buffy are back in Charlottesville! Tailgating as UVa fans can only do with the finest wines and cheeses! This week’s pick: Conundrum white (blend of 7 to 11 grapes depending on the year) with sharp cheddar on captain’s wafers.

Presto’s Pick: Cavaliers collapse, 33-13.

Virginia Tech vs. Furman, 3:30 p.m. (ESPN3)

Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. Just five years ago, the Hokies lost to #3 Boise State on Labor Day before falling to James Madison five days later. And that was the Virginia Tech that was racking up Coastal Division titles, not the recent editions that have seemingly scraped their way to the postseason.  Plus, they’ll be going with Brendon Motley (14 career pass attempts) at quarterback thanks to Michael Brewer’s broken collarbone. It’s encouraging that Motley is an effective runner and should create some breathing room that was limited by Ohio State’s D. Can the defense regain its swagger after allowing 28 second half points to the Buckeyes? The Paladins did score 35 points against Coastal Carolina last weekend, but junior quarterback Reese Hannon is making his first career Division I road start. After the fumble recovery on a Buckeye punt return the other night, is it too much to expect a little more BEAMER BALL! from the special teams?

Presto’s Pick: Hokies hold on, 26-10.

Georgetown tops Marist, Howard loses at Boston College, James Madison edges Lehigh, Richmond beats Hampton, Towson tops St. Francis.

Last Week: 8-0. Should I retire now?

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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