It's nice to finally focus on the action again.
In the midst of an ugly offseason, the most prominent college football headlines essentially had nothing to do with the games.
Miami (Fla.) was investigated for rules violations centering around improper benefits given by booster Nevin Shapiro in one of the largest scandals in the history of college sports.
Ohio State players sold memorabilia to the owner of a Columbus tattoo parlor.
Arrest warrants were obtained for LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson and a teammate on charges of second-degree battery for a bar fight that injured four people. The school suspended the players indefinitely.
Texas A&M surely will cause another realignment cluster of a situation across college football after notifying the Big 12 that it planned to leave the conference in the summer of 2012. The SEC, A&M's likely destination, would have 13 teams. The Big 12 would be down to nine. How many more will each add? Will the Big 12 survive a third member school leaving in the past year? It's unknown. And it's a mess.
Perhaps what college football needs is some game action. A time to sit back in front of the TV over the weekend and unwind. Or a time to catch a game live. Follow it online. Anything to detract from probation, rules violations or realignment. It kind of feels like a break.
At long last, the games are back. I'm kicking off the Big 12 season here on the Conference Chatter blog with some predictions for week 1.
I'll post my predictions for each Big 12 game around this time every week, picking against the spread and straight up. I'll keep a running tally of both.
If you think some or any of my predictions are absurd, feel free to let me know about it. Or maybe you agree with some of my forecasts. Either way, I'd be glad to interact with our loyal KUsports.com readers every week in the comments section.
For a brief video version of my picks, check out my ConferenceChatterTV account on YouTube.
The last two seasons, I picked every Big 12 game, straight up, on YouTube. Here are those results:
2010 season: 82-23 (78.1 percent accurate, straight up)
2009 season: 81-24 (77.1 percent accurate, straight up)
This is my first year of picking against the spread. Let's get this thing going.
No. 14 TCU at Baylor, 7 p.m.
Line: TCU by 3.5
Pick: vs. line: TCU; straight up: TCU.
One-line reason: Baylor needs to prove it can stop someone on 'D' before I have more faith in the Bears, led by junior do-it-all quarterback Robert Griffin.
Miami (Ohio) at No. 21 Missouri, 11 a.m.
Line: Missouri by 20.5
Pick: vs line: Miami (Ohio); straight up: Missouri.
One-line reason: The Tigers, even with new sophomore QB James Franklin making his first start, should provide noticeable separation along offense and defensive lines. But 20.5 points are a whole lot.
Louisiana-Lafayette at Oklahoma State, 6 p.m.
Line: Oklahoma State by 37
Pick: vs. line: Louisiana-Lafayette; straight up: Oklahoma State
One-line reason: Cowboys beat Lafayette by 26 last year on the road, but 37? That's asking a lot, as much as I love watching the Brandon Weeden-Justin Blackmon touchdown show.
Northern Iowa at Iowa State, 6 p.m.
Pick: straight up: Iowa State
One-line reason: Cyclones won, 27-0, vs. UNI last season.
Eastern Kentucky at Kansas State, 6 p.m.
Pick: straight up: Kansas State
One-line reason: Should be a yawner. More interesting: How many rushing yards will Bryce Brown have? Set line around 50.
McNeese State at Kansas, 6 p.m.
Pick: straight up: Kansas
One-line reason: Because a North Dakota State catastrophe can't happen two times in two years; Kansas should score as many points as it can and not worry about running up the score; confidence will build, as a result.
Texas State at Texas Tech, 6 p.m.
Pick: straight up: Texas Tech
One-line reason: Let's just play this one and quickly move on.
Rice at Texas, 7 p.m.
Line: Texas by 24.5
Pick: vs. line: Rice; straight up: Texas
One-line reason: I want to see something from Longhorns before picking them by more than three touchdowns.
Tulsa at Oklahoma, 7 p.m.
Line: Oklahoma by 25
Pick: vs. line: Oklahoma; straight up: Oklahoma
One-line reason: OU has won 36 straight home games, tops in the country; with talent level, Sooners should blow people out this year at home.
SMU at Texas A&M, 6:30 p.m.
Line: Texas A&M by 15.5
Pick: vs. line: Texas A&M; straight up: Texas A&M
One-line reason: If realignment talk isn't a distraction, Aggies should cruise at home.
That should be all for now, friends. As always, discuss.