Endless summer ended.
College football season is finally here with all the joy and pageantry and mac and cheese.
It is at this point, however, as kickoffs commence, that Pigskin Picks perspective is worth mentioning. Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney almost went there this week (but somehow stopped short of mentioning Pigskin Picks) while urging Tiger fans not to boo starter Kelly Bryant after miscues, no matter how excited they are to see the debut of fab freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
“It’s really sad that some people may pull for somebody not to play well,” Swinney said. “They are Clemson Tigers and we should pull for all these guys to play great.”
Yes, and just because I pick Notre Dame, or Clemson, or South Carolina …
Just because I go 10-0 one week … Or 9-1 the next …
We are all Pigskin Pickers and we should pull for each other to pick great.
Basic rules: Beat my picks record for prizes (a $50 gas card each week and a $500 gas card at the end of the season plus those valuable bragging rights); get your picks in by 11:59 p.m. Friday; weekly winners will be printed in The Post and Courier and online each week.
On to Week 1:
Coastal Carolina at South Carolina
Hopefully, Chanticleers play-caller Jamey Chadwell, the former Charleston Southern head coach, will roll some dice. But the real show is the debut of new Gamecocks offensive coordinator Bryan McLendon’s fast-pace attack in a warm-up for Georgia next week.
Pick: South Carolina, 48-13
Furman at Clemson
All eyes will be on the three Clemson quarterbacks. Two of them — Kelly Bryant and Trevor Lawrence — play for the Tigers and commence a season-long competition to see who will be on the field longest during the College Football Playoff national championship game in Santa Clara. The other guy, Harris Roberts, is a Clemson grad student in Engineering who happens to play for Furman.
Pick: Clemson, 62-10
The Citadel at Wofford
Are you aware that the Big Dog Trophy is at stake here? Never mind that bulldogs and terriers aren’t particularly large; this game means a lot to alums and Citadel folks aren’t real thrilled with 18 losses in the last 20 games against those smaller dogs.
Pick: Wofford, 24-17
Charleston Southern at Florida
Note that CSU didn’t try very hard in its SEC “money game” last year at Mississippi State, attempting only eight passes in a 49-0 loss.
Pick: Florida, 56-6
S.C. State at Georgia Southern
Typically rugged start for Buddy Pough’s Bulldogs, who play at Central Florida next week. A very experienced Georgia Southern team (7-5 in 2017) will take a step up in the Sun Belt Conference.
Pick: Georgia Southern, 31-14
Michigan at Notre Dame
Quarterback Shea Patterson going from Ole Miss to Michigan was perhaps the most interesting transfer of the offseason. But Notre Dame’s Brandon Wimbush has a superb receiver group.
Pick: Notre Dame, 27-21
Louisville vs. Alabama
Have you been watching ESPN’s “Training Days: Rolling with the Tide” reality show? Are you like me, hoping for deleted scenes that slipped past Nick Saban’s approval? This game is in Orlando but won’t be as much fun as the Spider-Man ride at Universal Studios.
Pick: Alabama, 49-13
North Carolina at California
Tar Heels head coach Larry Fedora expressed confidence this week in quarterback Nathan Elliott, a junior who played well at times late last season: “He can do everything we need to run this offense.” But it’s a long, strange trip to Strawberry Canyon and Cal is pretty good.
Pick: California, 27-24
Tennessee vs. West Virginia
The Heisman campaign starts at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte for Will Grier, who played for his father Chad Grier (now the coach at Mount Pleasant’s Oceanside Collegiate Academy) at nearby Davidson Day School.
Pick: West Virginia, 34-20
Oregon State at Ohio State
Urban Legend? Urban Liar? A lot of mixed emotions here, even for some Buckeye fans post-Zach Smith investigation. Like the trustee who resigned this week, saying that Urban Meyer’s three-game suspension was too soft.
Pick: Ohio State, 42-14
Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff