One of the beautiful aspects of college football is its possibility to surprise, for the unheralded squad to rise up against the giants, for the cockroaches to spoil a season. There will be upsets every week, how well can you pick out where they will pop up?
Eventually the state of Texas will join most of the rest of the civilized world (and also Mississippi) in legalizing sports betting. For now, most of you reading this live in a place where, if you wanted to put your money where your mouth is on your hot sports opinions, you have to fly to Las Vegas or send your funds electronically to Latvia or Antigua or Costa Rica. How about an alternate solution for you to prove your college football expertise and earn prizes, but instead of throwing your money at some shady venture, you could instead put that cash towards a good cause?
Welcome to the new pick ‘em event on Frogs O War – Underdogs No More.
Every week, pick five underdogs to win outright. For every correct selection, you’ll receive points equal to the spread. For example, if you pick Team X as a 6 point underdog (+6) and they win, you get 6 points. The entry with the most points each week will win a $5 Amazon Gift Card. At the end of the season, the top score will win the Grand Prize – a $100 Under Armour gift card. In the event of a tie at the end of the season, the entry with the most correctly selected games will win.
The goal of this game is to put your support behind those fighting the odds to conquer the competition. Throughout the season, you’ll be rooting for underdog teams to prevail on the football field, and together we’ll support doctors, researchers, and patients to prevail in the fight against cancer.
To be eligible to win any prize, please make a donation of any amount at the Stand Up to Cancer fundraiser page: https://www.crowdrise.com/underdogs-no-more. Your donation is fully tax deductible and you can read more about the work this money will support HERE.
(Note: If you or your business would like to donate a prize to add to the prize pool and encourage even greater participation, please reach out.)
Week Zero/One Picks
Throughout the season I’ll give you my five choices each week and provide the updated standings. Let’s dig into the opening slate.
I have lumped Week Zero games in with Week One, especially as the options are already limited with so many FCS games on the schedule, so if you like Miami or Hawaii, get your picks submitted early. I personally do not have the guts to go with either of those, so here are my picks for Week One:
1. SMU (+3) at Arkansas State – I know, cross-metroplex hatred and all that, whatever. This is one of those *hmm emoji* spreads. If SMU is supposed to be as bad as everyone expects while Arkansas State is meant to continue its bowl streak and contend for a Sun Belt title, the Red Wolves should be stronger favorites at home. Perhaps it’s just the name recognition of James Proche, who promises to follow in the NFL footsteps of Courtland Sutton and Emmanuel Sanders, that is keeping this spread tight, but I think Sonny Dykes with a true full offseason will have his squad ready. Bring me Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus because I’m gonna take the Ponies on the (Old Town) road….I’m so sorry.
2. Northwestern (+6.5) at Stanford – The Cardinal will not get the benefit of the “Body Clock” excuse like in 2015, as Stanford hosts the Nerd Bowl this year. Surely being on their own time zone will propel them to great success, right? Stanford returns QB KJ Costello who is expected to continue his growth into one of the top signal callers in the Pac 12 and potential NFL 1st Rounder, while Northwestern just lost one of its all-time great QBs in Clayton Thorson. Everything is pointing to a good day for the Tree. However, I’m not worried about facts like those, I just think Northwestern is a better team. It doesn’t hurt they’ll debut 5-Star QB Hunter Johnson, the Clemson transfer who was not quite good enough to beat out Trevor Lawrence (because no one in history could have), but could come out firing on The Farm.
3. Fresno State (+13.5) at USC – The projected Trojan Resurgence lasts as long as the tenure of USC Offensive Coordinator Kliff Kingsbury. If this underdog does indeed bite, Clay Helton might not make it out of the locker room as the Head Coach and almost certainly wouldn’t be around for 2020. I can’t think about this matchup, without thinking about this play, but there is no Reggie Bush on the 2019 Trojans and think these teams are closer than two TDs apart. The Bulldogs could pull a late night stunner to close the season’s first full Saturday.
4. UCLA (+3) at Cincinnati – This is another spread that doesn’t totally add up on the surface - the Bruins were very bad last year and the Bearcats were very good; this has a West Coast team traveling East for a home opener in a stadium with strong home field advantage; pre-season projections have Cinci as a top AAC contender, pushing for the G5 NY6 bid while consensus seems to be that Chip Kelly is at least a year away from contending in the Pac 12 and will be hard-pressed to reach a bowl. Yet, this spread indicates the market believes this game is a coin flip. I love Cincinnati as a town – Great American Ballpark is the best stadium in MLB (don’t @ me, Oracle Park), their greatest NFL QB is a Horned Frog (don’t @ me, Boomer Esiason) , and I even enjoy Skyline Chili (don’t @ me, entire internet) – but I think UCLA recovers from its embarrassing 2018 in Week One’s opening game.
5. Ole Miss (+6) at Memphis – The Rebels have been a disappointment since Hugh Freeze’s departure due to
rampant recruiting violations inability to stop calling escort services from his school-issued phone - having not made a bowl (both as NCAA punishment and for simply not being any good) in the years since his departure. Ole Miss lost DK Metcalf’s abs, plus AJ Brown and DaMarkus Lodge off last season’s stacked WR group, but Head Coach Matt Luke added two former Pac 12 Coach of the Year winners to his coaching staff, in Rich Rodriguez and Mike McIntyre. I do think Memphis will ultimately have a better season than Ole Miss, but I don’t think the home field plays much advantage here (being only ~90 minute drive from Oxford) and think these rosters are more even than a 6-point line suggests.
Which Underdogs are you taking to shake things up to start the season? Fill out your selections in the form below or click HERE if your browser doesn’t show the form on this page. Reminder: Make a donation of any amount HERE to be eligible for prizes. Make sure your donation submission includes the Entry Name used on your pick entry form so your donation is properly tied to your picks entry (you can hide donation amount if you choose). You can fill in your Entry Name in the Comment section of the Donate page. Good luck this season
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. The Underdogs No More Contest starts at 8:00am on Wednesday, August 21st, 2019 and ends at midnight on January 12th, 2020. Open only to eligible participants, [18 years or older (unless they must be 21 for a prize)], who make their weekly picks during the Entry Period. Click here for Official Rules and complete details, including entry instructions, odds of winning, prize details and restrictions, etc. Void where prohibited or restricted by law. Sponsor: Vox Media, Inc.