If the past is any indication, Madison County will play a one-possession affair in its season opener Friday night that might cause heart palpitations for some. After all, five of Madison County’s eight season openers this decade have gone down to the wire (all five being decided by eight points or less).

And more often than not, the Raiders find a way to win.

In fact, Madison County hasn’t lost a season opener under Randell Owens and I don’t expect that streak to end Friday at Rockdale County.

Madison County also hasn’t suffered a losing season under Owens. In fact the program hasn’t endured one since 1999, and I don’t see any reason why the Raiders won’t keep playing .500 ball or better in 2008.

Madison County is breaking in a new starting quarterback and has some growing to do on the offensive line, but a victory Friday over Rockdale County will be the start of a 6-4 season for the Raiders this year.

Madison County 20, Rockdale County 14

GEORGIA: My prediction for Georgia’s season might sound like heresy to Bulldog fans, but I just don’t think Mark Richt’s top-ranked team is ready to be no.1, especially with the Dogs’ ridiculous schedule, no established kicker and the shuffling of the offensive line the wake of losing starting left tackle Trenton Sturdivant.

I came of age as a fan back when Georgia won five or six games a year, so I learned early to guard all optimism. I’ll believe the Bulldogs are the best in the country when I see it.

That said, look for Florida, with a much more manageable schedule, to represent the SEC East in the Dome, facing Alabama, which will edge Auburn for the Western division title.

Georgia will go 9-3 in its brutal gauntlet of foes, which would be a dang good season considering.

There are way too many landmines — examples: South Carolina, Tech, even Central Michigan — when it comes to Georgia’s less talked about opponents. Then, as we all know, Georgia plays Arizona State, Alabama, Tennessee, LSU, Florida and Auburn. Each could be in the top 10 when it’s said and done.

If Georgia goes 14-0 with that schedule, it should be considered the greatest football team in the last 50 years.

As for this weekend’s game against Georgia Southern, the Bulldogs are never sharp against the Eagles, winning 29-7 in 2000 and 48-28 in 2004. In 1992, Georgia trailed 7-0 before winning 34-7.

On paper Georgia should win big, but the Dogs always find a way to under-whelm in this series.

Hopefully, the Bulldogs can avoid adding a chapter to the Michigan-Appalachian State legacy.

Georgia 34, Georgia Southern 14

TECH: If new Yellow Jacket coach Paul Johnson can win with Navy’s talent, he surely can win with Tech’s.

Johnson will debut Thursday against LSU-outcast Ryan Perrilloux and Jacksonville state.

The last time Perrilloux played a football game in Atlanta, he was leading LSU to a SEC title in the Dome.

Now, he’ll try to lead a Division I-AA team to a stunning win over Georgia Tech.

But the Yellow Jackets will get the job done Thursday en route to a seven-win season.

Georgia Tech 30, Jacksonville State 10

Other Labor Day weekend picks: Alabama tops Clemson in a thriller; Utah scares Rich Rodriguez in his debut with the Wolverines, but Michigan wins; Hawaii gets clobbered by Florida as the Warriors are served with another SEC beat down; much-ignored Tennessee squeaks by UCLA out West; and Louisville wins the battle of the Blue Grass over Kentucky.

For more football picks see the Aug. 28 print edition of The Madison County Journal with our local lineup of Pigskin Pickers.

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