SAPAKOFF COLUMN: Post and Courier Pigskin Picks: Week 1
GATLINBURG, Tenn. — Holed up here between South Carolina's escape act at Vanderbilt and tonight's Clemson-Auburn game in Atlanta.
Smack dab between Hillbilly Golf (an incline ride to two miniature courses with a mountain view) and the Beef Jerky Outlet store (stocking up on deep fried peanuts and Slap Ya Mama seasoning for the long season).
It's the ideal gateway to Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Pigskin Picks.
Our new and improved contest features new sponsor Good Wood Furniture and a Fan Pick percentage calculator (tilting heavily this week toward a similar shade of blue for North Carolina and The Citadel).
Of course, multimedia star Warren Peper is back to beg to differ. Our three-game Pigskin Picks sneak peek video goes up on postandcourier.com early each week.
You know the rules: Beat the both of us and you win respect, publicity and a shot at fabulous prizes.
Mmm … Almost as good as Smoky Mountain Elk jerky.
Clemson vs. Auburn
Auburn is Clemson with a recent national championship. Auburn won it all two years ago and whipped Virginia, 43-24, last season in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl. That was a few days before Clemson's 70-33 Orange Bowl debacle against West Virginia.
The Dabo Tigers must respond with a strong showing, or risk ridicule that might last until Clemson can pull a Sept. 22 upset at Florida State, or longer.
Warren Peper pick: Clemson, 24-20
Gene Sapakoff pick: Clemson, 31-24
CSU at The Citadel
Should be an annual rivalry game with three of every five games at The Citadel, one at CSU and one at a neutral site. West Ashley High School?
Peper pick: The Citadel, 21-17
Sapakoff pick: The Citadel, 31-14
Notre Dame vs. Navy
Morning football from Dublin. Irish eyes are smiling, and perhaps bloodshot.
Peper pick: Notre Dame, 30-10
Sapakoff pick: Notre Dame, 27-14
Alabama vs. Michigan
Alabama's offensive line is the best single unit in the country. But Denard Robinson and the Wolverines are upset-capable.
Peper pick: Alabama, 27-17
Sapakoff pick: Michigan, 21-20
Elon at North Carolina
The Tar Heels play five teams from the Tar Heel State (Elon, Wake Forest, N.C. State, Duke and East Carolina) for the first time since the 1940s.
Peper pick: UNC, 30-14
Sapakoff pick: UNC, 31-10.
Miami at Boston College
The Hurricanes are underrated, under the radar, under investigation.
Peper pick: Miami, 21-20
Sapakoff pick: Miami, 28-17
App State at ECU
The Mountaineers lead the series, 19-11. East Carolina plays at South Carolina next week.
Peper pick: Appalachian State, 17-16
Sapakoff pick: ECU, 28-24
Fla. International at Duke
Misleading clash. Duke has a national following, in basketball. Florida “International” is pretty much confined to Miami.
Peper pick: FIU, 27-19
Sapakoff pick: Duke, 24-21
Northwestern at Syracuse
The soon-to-be ACC Orange long for running backs as good as Jim Brown, Ernie Davis, Floyd Little and Larry Csonka.
Peper pick: Northwestern, 20-17
Sapakoff pick: Northwestern, 28-21
Furman at Samford
Huge game for Paladins' plans to make Southern Conference noise in 2012.
Peper pick: Furman, 21-19
Sapakoff pick: Furman, 24-21
Reach Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff or at email@example.com.