The wait is finally over. College football returns on Thursday and there are a number of games to sift through before making our sports picks for the day.
Ole Miss Rebels vs. Vanderbilt Commodores
The Commodores open the season with a home game against the Rebels, with current college football betting lines showing the home team getting 3.5 points tonight.
While Vanderbilt has lost some key offensive pieces, including quarterback Jordan Rodgers, running back Zac Stacy, and wide receiver Chris Boyd, there's still some reason for optimism for James Franklin's team on that side of the ball.
Austyn Carta-Samuels takes over the reigns of the offense and, as a senior who's started for Wyoming in the past, has experience. At running back, Stacy is a huge loss, but Wesley Tate, Brian Kimbrow, and Jerron Seymour will try to impress in the backfield this year.
One impact player returning for Vanderbilt is wideout Jordan Matthews, who enters as a preseason All-American.
Defensively is where the Commodores really shined in 2012 and they should be just as good, if not better, this season. There's still a lot of experience on the line and in the linebacking corps, while the secondary is loaded with seniors who should all contribute.
It will be interesting to see how Vanderbilt deals with Ole Miss QB Bo Wallace, who offers dual-threat ability and should only improve with a year of experience under his belt.
Still, we loved what Franklin's presence has brought to the Commodores since his arrival and we think he'll have his team amped up and ready for this matchup. Vanderbilt has dealt with some turnover, but we're picking them to cover as home dogs.
Pick: Vanderbilt Commodores +3.5
Check out more picks for tonight's action at our college football picks page!
Towson Tigers vs. Connecticut Huskies
Will the Huskies take care of business in tonight's home game against the Tigers? The NCAAF odds have Connecticut favored by as many as 17 points, while 16.5 was also available for those interested Huskies backers.
Tonight though we are picking Towson to come in and give a relatively good fight to the home team, in turn covering the large spread.
The Huskies finished 5-7 last year and were hardly dominant at home, where they went 3-3 with losses to NC State, Cincinnati, and Temple. Offensively, Connecticut was awful, putting up a measly 17.8 PPG, with starting QB Chandler Whitmer throwing almost double as many interceptions (16) as he did touchdowns (nine).
Defensively however, the Huskies were solid, ranking #19 in Division I by allowing only 19.8 points per game.
Towson finished 7-4 in 2012, but were snubbed by the selection committee, and they've used that as motivation for this year. Fifth-year senior Peter Athens will open the season as the starting quarterback after the departure of Grant Enders, but sophomore Connor Frazier figures to see some action too.
The main focus for UConn's defense though will be on Terrance West, who topped 1,000 yards and rushed for 14 touchdowns in 2012. West has performed well against the best, nearing 80 yards while reaching paydirt twice in last year's loss at LSU.
Overall, Connecticut should be improved this season, but this is still too many points to be laying in our eyes. The Huskies have been known to struggle to move the ball on a consistent basis and so we don't foresee a blowout. Let's take Towson and the 17 points.