For all the talk of parity and salary caps, there is not, nor shall there ever be, a sport that trips the excitement and unpredictability meter with the clockwork of college football.

There is no playing your way back into a wild card spot after a 1-5 start.

Somebody in the consensus Top 25 will lose a game today and see everything for which it perspired and prayed in the off-season hover in jeopardy. By the end of September, they’ll lose a second game and find themselves scrambling for a spot in the Crazy Eddie’s Rent-A-Refrigerator Bowl.

Every event I’ve watched on TV or in person since that sick Oklahoma-Boise State game eight months ago has been weighed and found wanting. I even missed Lee Corso. It’s scary.

More frightening, still, is my volunteering to be the point man for these next four months of college gridiron hysteria. Right here, every Thursday, I resolve to provide written confirmation of why beer and beautiful women are better vices than gambling.

To quote another mainstay of Labor Day Weekend, Jerry Lewis Tympani, please My Week 1 picks:

Western Michigan at Florida. Back in the day, the Sun Journal had a legendary football handicapper named Mr. Downtown. He waved around that winning percentage of over .800 like a championship ring. But even as a kid, I wondered why nobody called him out for fattening those numbers by picking Nebraska over North Central Wyoming State University For the Perpetually Destitute. Rest in peace, Eddie. Florida, 70-7.

LSU at Mississippi State. And another freebie. It’s all uphill from here. LSU, 52-14.

Georgia Tech at Notre Dame. You can almost hear the 75-year-olds who still listen to college football games on AM radio grumbling like Wilford Brimley in a diabetic supplies commercial. “Why isn’t Notre Dame ranked in your Top 25? Check your blood sugar and check it regularly. There’s just no excuse not to.” OK, so I know it’s a religious hate crime to poop on the Fighting Irish, but get used to it. Jimmy Clausen is the second coming of Ron Powlus. And that defense couldn’t stop Columbia. Nevertheless Notre Dame, 34-31.

East Carolina at Virginia Tech. The Hokies will be a sentimental favorite wherever they go this season. Here’s a home opener where they don’t need much moral support or divine intervention. Virginia Tech, 35-7.

Wake Forest at Boston College. New regime. Same old BC that does nothing spectacularly, just goes 8-4 and wins a bowl. Boston College, 20-13.

Washington State at Wisconsin. The Badgers make great coaching hires. It’s the only logical explanation for how such a forgettable, out-of-the-way program has achieved long-term residence in the Top 10 in both football and hoops. Wisconsin, 41-14.

Arizona at BYU. Regional pairing of a Pac-10 program on the rise against one of those small-conference programs the pundits think can run the table. That sound you just heard was the BCS brigade’s first sigh of relief this season. Upset Special No. 1 Arizona, 21-16.

Marshall at Miami (Fla.). Randy Moss’ alma mater against the school I’m surprised never took a flyer on him. Closer than you might think. Miami, 19-10.

Oklahoma State at Georgia. Drop the “State” part of the equation and I’d be interested. Georgia, 23-13.

Florida State at Clemson. Bobby Bowden says he wants to die with his whistle on. I just hope it doesn’t ever happen in a game where he’s coaching against his son. The son who’s pretty much owned him, by the way. Upset Special No. 2 Clemson, 14-9.

Washington at Syracuse. Forgotten in his failed attempt to lead the late, great Notre Dame: Tyrone Willingham is a good football coach. The Huskies will be in a bowl this season. Of course, who doesn’t make it to a bowl these days? Oh, right, Syracuse. Washington, 31-21.

Tennessee at California. Do you go with potentially the fourth-best team from a loaded conference or the second-best from an underrated conference? I go with the home team. California, 28-24.

Kansas State at Auburn. I had to look at Danny Sheridan’s odds six times to convince myself this was a real match-up. K-State is notorious for scheduling Ball State, Cal-Davis, Gallaudet and Bates in September. There was probably a good reason for that. Auburn, 24-3.

Monmouth at Maine. Not my alma mater from the Class C high school developmental league. The Jersey team that went 10-2 last season in the Northeast Conference. Like it makes a difference. Maine, 48-17.

Kalle Oakes is a Sun Journal columnist and six-time champion of the Central Maine Football Forecasters Association.

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