By: Jamie Samuelsen
Everyone always asks me what it’s like to work with Wojo every day.
I usually say annoying, frustrating, taxing, confounding and vomit-inducing. (The truth of course is that it’s simply the greatest job that I’ve ever had because the Wojo you hear on the air is the exact same Wojo off the air. He’s smart, funny, kind and really, really enjoys a well-mixed gin and tonic.) But it is somewhat frustrating to work with him because he tends to be right. And he tends to be right…A LOT. And when he’s right (which is rather often), he has no problem reminding you about it.
So I’m stepping into choppy waters here as I debut week one of the Jamie and Wojo Friday Football Festival. Each week, I’ll post our picks against the spread for the Lions, Michigan and Michigan State. And if there’s a big national game, we might throw that in as well. I tried to include this weeks Northwestern-Vanderbilt game under that corollary, but Wojo summarily rejected it.
So without further adieu – the week one picks.
AIR FORCE (+21 ½) at MICHIGAN – The biggest question surrounding this game goes back to last Saturday night in Dallas. Is Michigan that bad or is Alabama that good? I’m never one to ride the fence. But I will on this one occasion. I just don’t think that Michigan is as bad as they showed on Saturday night. It will help to have Fitz Toussaint back. And it will help that offensive coordinator Al Borges discovered some missing pages from the playbook, namely the ones that featured Denard Robinson running the football. Air Force has always been and will always be one of the most frustrating teams to play because of their option offense. Think Barry Switzer at Oklahoma. Michigan will win. But the Air Force offense will keep it close.
PICK – AIR FORCE
Wojo – MICHIGAN
MICHIGAN STATE (-20 ½) at CENTRAL MICHIGAN – We’ve all seen these emotion-filled games dozens of times before. And they can go one of two ways. Either CMU keeps it close and battles down to the end before losing or Michigan State scores two quick touchdowns in the first quarter. The crowd is silent (or drunk…or both). The stadium turns into a morgue. And the final three quarters are simply a death march to a blowout. The only reason I’m going with the former is that Michigan State doesn’t score quick touchdowns. There is no point for Mark Dantonio to pull out any wrinkles from his playbook. There will be no “Little Giants” or “Rocket” plays in this one. All he has to do is feature Le’Veon Bell over and over and over. And over. It may not be pretty. But it’s all that MSU has to do. PICK – CMU
Wojo – CMU
RAMS (+ 7 ½) at LIONS – The Rams have a poor run defense. But the Lions don’t run the ball well. The Rams have a terrific pass rush and an improved secondary. The Lions have one of the most explosive passing games in the NFL. The Lions pass defense is awful. The Rams haven’t proved they can pass. This is a battle of strength versus strength and weakness versus weakness. The two exceptions are these. Stephen Jackson versus a run defense that allowed five yards per carry last year. And the Lions ferocious pass rush against a rebuilding offensive line where three players are making their first ever NFL start. Jackson will get his yards. Sam Bradford will get some pressure. And none of this will have anything to do with the fact that Matthew Stafford will have another big game (it’s kind of become a weekly occurrence). Jackson and Bradford (thanks to the injuries to Chris Houston and Louis Delmas) will keep it close. But the Lions will win. PICK – RAMS
Wojo – RAMS