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The Dirty Dozen: 2012 Week 1 Staff Picks

College football is finally here!!! With that means the return of The Dirty Dozen, our weekly look at the 12 biggest games of the week along with our staff picks for each one of the games. So, grab a beverage and some nachos and enjoy the picks! (All times ET.)

No. 24 Boise State at No. 13 Michigan State: 8:00 p.m., ESPN

Tom Perry's Take: The Broncos have made a habit out of pulling out an "upset" in these big season-opening games with a BCS foe. Most of those games occurred at neutral sites, but not this time. Boise State, sans Kellen Moore, will take on Michigan State in East Lansing. The vocal home crowd could rattle first-year starter Joe Southwick. MSU has its own first-year quarterback in Andrew Maxwell. While it's tough to go against Boise coach Chris Petersen, Michigan State has more depth and talent.

Michigan State 33, Boise State 24

Everyone Else's Take:

Kevin McGuire: Michigan State 32, Boise State 23
Allen Kenney: Michigan St. 23, Boise St. 14
Andy Coppens: Michigan State 31, Bosie State 28
Michael Felder: Michigan State 37 Boise State 27
Aaron Torres: Michigan State 24, Boise State 14

Tennessee vs. NC State: Friday, 7:30 p.m., ESPNU

Michael Felder's Take: The Vols have lost stud wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers to transfer, but quarterback Tyler Bray does have one of the nation's elite pass catching targets in Justin Hunter. If Cordarrelle Patterson can step up in as a viable receiving threat, then Tennessee will still be able to put the pressure on NC State's secondary. The big question for the Vols will be how their defense holds up. They are changing systems, going from Justin Wilcox's 4-3 to Sal Sunseri's 3-4 look, and that means there will be several missteps as they get their bearings.

For NC State, capitalizing on these missteps will be critical to keeping the offense moving. Mike Glennon is one of the nation's best kept secrets, and Friday night he'll be on display against a Tennessee team that has some unknowns on defense. If Glennon can keep it rolling offensively, it could be a chance for NC State's defense to shine as Tyler Bray looks to find holes in one of the ACC's best secondaries.

NC State 34, Tennessee 24

Everyone Else's Take:

Kevin McGuire: NC State 26, Tennessee 20
Allen Kenney: Tennessee 34, N.C. St. 28
Andy Coppens: Tennessee 27, NC State 17
Aaron Torres: Tennessee 33, NC State 30
Tom Perry: Tennessee 34, NC State 24

No. 8 Michigan vs. No. 2 Alabama: 8:00 p.m., ABC
*JerryWorld (Arlington, Texas)

Allen Kenney's Take: Love or hate Nick Saban, college football fans do owe him a huge debt of gratitude for being willing to schedule huge openers like this on the regular.

The Crimson Tide have used these neutral-site games since Saban hit the scene as springboards to make a statement at the start of the season. Expect 'Bama to show up laser-focused and ready to pound on the Wolverines. I foresee a long, painful evening for Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson, a dynamic star who deserves a far better nickname than "Shoelace."

Brady Hoke can expect criticism for his decision to take a night off from strategizing to speak at the Republican National Convention

Alabama 31, Michigan 13

Everyone Else's Take:

Andy Coppens: Alabama 28, Michigan 20
Kevin McGuire: Alabama 27, Michigan 26
Aaron Torres: Alabama 24, Michigan 12
Michael Felder: Alabama 31, Michigan 21
Tom Perry: Alabama 24, Michigan 7

Notre Dame vs. Navy: 9 a.m., CBS
*Dublin, Ireland

Kevin McGuire's Take: Does anything beat being able to wake up Saturday morning and turning on the television to see some actual college football being played? That is what we get here with Notre Dame and Navy opening the season in Ireland, and it should be a good one. We know what to expect from Navy, which is lots and lots of running. With Notre Dame there are some questions as to what we will see with a fresh starting quarterback and the loss of a top running back to suspension. Will the Irish have enough offense to get by Navy? Yes, but it could be close.

Notre Dame 20, Navy 10

Everyone Else's Take:

Allen Kenney: Notre Dame 31, Navy 21
Andy Coppens: Notre Dame 24, Navy 13
Michael Felder: Notre Dame 38, Navy 10
Aaron Tores: Notre Dame 28, Navy 10
Tom Perry: Notre Dame 44, Navy 19

Washington State at BYU: Thursday, 10:15 p.m., ESPN

Aaron Torres' Take: It's opening night, and what better excuse do you have for showing up late to work tomorrow (or not at all) than this one? Mike Leach returns to college football. He also returns to his alma mater. And as the great Terrell Owens once said: "Getcha popcorn ready!" This is gonna be a good one.

Of course while all the hype favors Wazzu, there's a reason BYU is a comfortable favorite in this game. The mountain air of Provo is a tough place to play, and the Cougs have a scary ballclub entering 2012. This was a group that was completely different after Riley Nelson took over under center and rolled through the second half of 2011 winning nine of their last 10 games. That will continue Thursday night with a solid, physical win against Washington State.

The buzz might be about Mike Leach entering Thursday night, but by Friday morning, it'll be all about BYU. This team can play.

BYU 31, Washington State 24

Everyone Else's Pick:

Allen Kenney: BYU 34, Washington St. 17
Andy Coppens: BYU 33, Wazzu 21
Michael Felder: BYU 30, Wazzu 18
Kevin McGuire: BYU 36, Washington St 34
Tom Perry: BYU 44, Washington State 30

No. 9 South Carolina at Vanderbilt: Thursday, 7:00 p.m., ESPN

Allen Kenney's Take: You've got one of the coolest coaches in college football. You've received some of the most positive pub in the country thanks to a candid media blitz of behind-the-scenes footage of your program. A top 10 team – not mention a division rival – is coming to your house for a Thursday night game on national television.

And you're not even going to be able to fill up the crib. Catch Commodore Fever! Must be lots of Republicans in Nashville who don't want to miss Mitt Romney's stump speech.

Vanderbilt fans should probably be commended for having lives. I'm sure they will be understanding and supportive when James Franklin takes off for greener pastures in December.

I know the 'Dores are media darlings right now, but nothing about this game gives me faith that they can beat South Carolina.

South Carolina 21, Vanderbilt 10

Everyone Else's Take:

Kevin McGuire: South Carolina 34, Vanderbilt 23
Andy Coppens: South Carolina 28, Vandy 17
Tom Perry: South Carolina 31, Vanderbilt 10
Aaron Torres: South Carolina 21, Vanderbilt 6
Michael Felder: South Carolina 24, Vandy 13

SMU at Baylor: Sunday, 6:30 p.m., ESPN

Aaron Torres' Take: Well, there is one of two ways you can look at this one: This is either the first game of the post-Robert Griffin era for Baylor. Or, just the plain, old first game of the Garrett Gilbert era for SMU. Neither seems to favor the home team Bears, though.

But while so much (ok, everything) that this team did last year revolved around RGIII, I'm still picking the Bears to win. Nick Florence is a fifth-year senior with all kinds of starting experience (including essentially the entire 2009 season), and the defense returns a lot of big parts. Offensively, guys like Terrence Williams and Tevin Reese won't be as good as last year, but they didn't put up huge numbers exclusively because of Griffin, either.

Point being, Art Briles can coach, and he can recruit too. Both show up here, as Baylor starts 1-0.

Baylor 38, SMU 31

Everyone Else's Pick:

Tom Perry: Baylor 34, SMU 28
Allen Kenney: Baylor 31, SMU 27
Kevin McGuire: Baylor 35, SMU 21
Andy Coppens: SMU 37, Baylor 21
Michael Felder: SMU 45 Baylor 31

Northwestern at Syracuse: 12 p.m., ESPN2

Andy Coppens' Take: These are interesting times for both programs. Syracuse finished 2012 with a 5-7 record, losing its final five games, all inside of the Big East, and some are wondering if this team will ever be a competitive Big East School again. On the other hand, Northwestern was a bowl team for the fourth straight year last year and is looking to make school history with a fifth straight appearance in a bowl game. The Wildcats are vastly more experienced than the Orange, and they have this guy named Kain Colter at QB (Oh, you didn't know?… Your ass better call somebody), and that'll make all the difference in this one.

Northwestern 34, Syracuse 17

Everyone Else's Pick:

Kevin McGuire: Northwestern 20, Syracuse 17
Allen Kenney: Northwestern 35, Syracuse 27
Tom Perry: Northwestern 20, Syracuse 14
Aaron Torres: Northwestern 28, Syracuse 21
Michael Felder: Northwestern 30 Syracuse 28

Kentucky at No. 25 Louisville: Sunday, 3:30 p.m., ESPN

Tom Perry's Take: This interstate rivalry is more heated than the average college football fan really comprehends. Charlie Strong led the Cardinals to a big win over Kentucky last year and now Louisville is a big favorite this time around, especially with second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater back to lead the charge. The majority of Louisville's starters are young, but they got plenty of action last year. Kentucky is still in rebuilding mode, so this game could get ugly … even for a rivalry game.

Louisville 35, Kentucky 14

Everyone Else's Pick:

Allen Kenney: Louisville 28, Kentucky 17
Kevin McGuire: Louisville 20, Kentucky 14
Andy Coppens: Louisville 47, Kentucky 13
Michael Felder: Louisville 30 Kentucky 17
Aaron Torres: Louisville 35, Kentucky 17

Georgia Tech at No. 16 Virginia Tech: Monday, 8:00 p.m., ESPN

Michael Felder's Take: Georgia Tech is Georgia Tech. Paul Johnson is going to come in and play his game and try to beat you by doing just that. Tevin Washington is back for his senior campaign following a near 1,000 yard rushing year and he knows the offense well. In this game, Washington has to show he can move the ball through the air because Virginia Tech is not going to be fooled by the triple option.

The Hokies go into this game trying to figure out how to get production in their backfield. They have youth in the backfield and wide receivers who are experienced back-ups that need to grow to be "the guy." Look for Logan Thomas to carry this team early against a Georgia Tech defense that Thomas abused a season ago.

Virginia Tech 27, Georgia Tech 20

Everyone Else's Take:

Aaron Torres: Virginia Tech 27, Georgia Tech 17
Kevin McGuire: Virginia Tech 20, Georgia Tech 17
Tom Perry: Virginia Tech 27, Georgia Tech 20
Allen Kenney: Virginia Tech 23, Georgia Tech 19
Andy Coppens: Georgia Tech 34, Virginia Tech 27

Clemson vs. Auburn: 7 p.m., ESPN
*Atlanta

Andy Coppens' Take: I'll tell you what, give me the Tigers to win this game… It's a stone cold lock baby! O.k., seriously though Auburn will be out to avenge a 12 point loss to the other Tigers last season and the last time we saw Clemson and Tajh Boyd they were getting bent over without Vaseline by the fine folks at West Virginia. Luckily for Clemson fans the 2012 team is loaded with talent and despite the suspension to Sammy Watkins the wide receiver corp is still one of the most talented in the nation. Look for this game to be won up front and watch the Auburn defensive line vs. the Clemson offensive line in particular. If Clemson can't allow Boyd some time in the pocket or to set up the run it'll be a long night. Give me the offense of Clemson in this one though, especially on a neutral site.

Clemson 28, Auburn 24

Everyone Else's Take:

Michael Felder: Clemson 41, Auburn 21
Aaron Torres: Auburn 27, Clemson 24
Tom Perry: Clemson 31, Auburn 24
Kevin McGuire: Auburn 30, Clemson 28
Allen Kenney: Clemson 31, Auburn 30

Miami at Boston College: 3 p.m., ABC

Kevin McGuire's Take: There is something neat about seeing conference rivals collide in week one. Miami-Boston College may be best known for one Doug Flutie moment, and neither of these teams look especially capable of pulling off many memorable plays to open the year, but what we have our two programs looking to build themselves back up a bit. Frank Spaziani could benefit from picking up a win to start the year, and doing so against Miami would be even better. The Hurricanes are known to falter often enough that this game is far from a lock for the visitors. This one could be ugly but look for Miami to pull one out with a key turnover in the fourth quarter.

Miami 23, Boston College 18

Everyone Else's Take:

Tom Perry: Miami 28, Boston College 21
Andy Coppens: Miami 24, Boston College 17
Allen Kenney: Boston College 13, Miami 10
Michael Felder: Miami 13 Boston College 7
Aaron Torres: Miami 17, Boston College 6 

Andy Coppens is Managing Editor of MadTown Badgers as well as the Big Ten blog Delany's Dozen. Give him a follow on twitter for his college football musings.
Andrew Coppens

About Andrew Coppens

Andy has been covering college football for nearly half a decade and is the Managing Editor of MadTownBadgers.com. He's also a featured columnist covering college football for Bleacher Report.

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