2018 CFB Picks: Week 2

Predictably, it was a losing week to start at 2-4. Also predictably the leans were 5-4. I’m not afraid to admit I tend to struggle early in the year. That’s why everything bet is only a unit.

With that said….HERE’S EIGHT LOCKS OF THE CENTURY

Picks

ARMY (-8) over Liberty

This reeks of an overreaction to Week 1. Liberty unexpectedly rocked Old Dominion, who was supposed to be fairly decent by C-USA standards. However, I’m still looking at the big picture of Flame football here. This is their first year in FBS. The last three years they’ve been 6-5 at the FCS level. Meanwhile, Army is coming off a 10-win season. They struggled at Duke, but I’m a big believer of the Blue Devils this year.

The biggest match-up reason to like this game is the Black Knight rushing attack. If you can’t stop the run against a triple option team, chances are you’re not gonna win. Liberty did a good job containing ODU’s running game last week, but the Monarchs were one of the worst rushing teams in the country a year ago. Which takes me back to a year ago. The Flames gave up 225 rushing YPG on an average of 5.5 YPC.

If you’re looking for specifics, Liberty played a triple option attack in Kennesaw State last year. They gave up 498 rushing yards. I repeat: FOUR. HUNDRED. NINETY-EIGHT. RUSHING YARDS.

COASTAL CAROLINA (+10) over UAB

I’m still a little skeptical of UAB. They opened with a 52-0 win over Savannah State, but that doesn’t really say much. The Tigers are 13-86 the past decade and they play in a bad league.

My skepticism with the Blazers originates from what felt like a 2017 season where almost everything went right. They won four games by a touchdown or less last year, including one at home against this Coastal team. The teams they beat soundly: Alabama A&M, UTEP, Rice, and Southern Miss. They weren’t a model of consistency either, losing games to both Charlotte and Ball State, who combined for three wins all year.

Coastal was the opposite in terms of “luck”. They went 1-5 in games decided by one score. They opened with an expected loss to South Carolina, but I was impressed they put together four scoring drives with none of them coming from a short field.

I just don’t think these teams were nearly as far apart as their records would indicate a year ago (and Coastal was without their HC all year, btw). The line here suggests that on a neutral field, UAB is almost two touchdowns better. I don’t see it at all.

VANDERBILT (-8) over Nevada

I know there’s little expected of Vandy this year, but man this seems low. I was really impressed with the Dores second half against MTSU in the opener. They only gained 99 yards in the first half and took a 14-7 lead into the break, thanks to a defensive TD.

But in the second half, Vandy was essentially perfect offensively. They only had three possessions, but all three resulted in TDs. The drive chart looked like this:

  • 7 plays, 92 yards, 4:25 TOP
  • 12 plays, 80 yards, 4:56 TOP
  • 12 plays, 80 yards, 7:04 TOP

Vandy’s known for defense, but they slipped last year and the slide was expected to continue this year. It’s only one game, but the Dores looked sharp against MTSU. The only scoring drive they gave up took 15 plays, seven minutes, and MTSU had to convert four third downs. Maybe most notable is that they limited the explosive plays, only allowing two plays of 20+ yards and none over 30.

Nevada put up an eye-popping 72 points last week, but it came against a Portland State team that went 0-11 last year and the Pack really poured it on in the second half against a team that appeared to totally give up. Nevada was expected to improve this year, but they were still 3-9 a year ago and weren’t really competitive against above average teams.

Vandy obviously struggles to do much in the SEC, but they’ve still handled their business the past couple years against Group of 5 teams.

Memphis (-6) over NAVY

This one’s pretty simple. Navy got blown out by Hawaii because they couldn’t defend the pass at all. Memphis can really pass. The Midshipmen are also coming off that long trip to the islands. It takes half-a-day at best to get back to Annapolis. Memphis should be well rested after a tune-up game with Mercer. Really tough spot for Navy.

It should be noted that it may be a little windy and wet for this one. Nothing extreme, but could be viewed as a negative for Memphis.

North Carolina (-16.5) over EAST CAROLINA

Hate losing a couple points of value here, but ECU is truly awful.

Here’s their results against Power 5/Top 25 teams last year:

  • 56-20 loss at West Virginia
  • 64-17 loss at home to Virginia Tech
  • 61-31 loss at home to USF
  • 63-21 loss at UCF
  • 70-13 loss at Memphis

UNC has their own share of problems right now, but they’re good enough right now to win by 21+.

UTSA (+16) over Baylor

I still haven’t figured out why the consensus seems to be so high on Baylor. UTSA didn’t have a strong showing in Week 1 – but despite my doubts of Arizona State – I still would’ve put them at least a tier or two above Baylor. Unlike last year the Bears won their opener against the FCS, but the Bears were favored by 41 and didn’t come close against an Abilene Christian team that has seven wins the last three years. They gave up 466 yards of total offense and 7 yards per play. ACU didn’t have that many yards in a single game last year.

Of course Baylor scored their points, but they’re playing a much better team this week on both sides of the ball.

UTSA has had to replace some playmakers this year, but this is probably the time to mention that the Roadrunners won in Waco last year. That seems notable.

I could be wrong about Baylor, but I’m going to need to see a 1-11 team do more than beat Abilene Christian before I can remotely believe they should be laying 16 on the road.

HAWAII/Rice over 70

What we’ve learned through two weeks is that Hawaii can really rack up the points. 102 of them through two games.  So far the template has been for the Bows to get up big early and then allow the opponent a bunch of late touchdowns. I will take that.

Rice has been an awful program for a while now and as it relates to the over, the Owls have given up 40+ in 14 of their past 26 games. They should be able to score as well against Hawaii. Rice has put up 58 points through their first two. Their strong suit is running the ball and Hawaii just gave up 326 rushing yards to Navy and might be a little banged up after going against the option.

ILLINOIS (-9.5) over Western Illinois

Illinois sucks, but they should be able to handle this. Remember last year they had an opening week scare against Ball State, but responded well the next week by shutting down WKU. We’re hoping for the same after a scare against Kent State.

Lovie’s been a disaster in Champaign, but they really haven’t had any of these types of losses. His only FCS opponent was his first game as HC and they won 52-3.

If the Illini can’t cover this number over the projected 7th best team in the Missouri Valley, they should probably just fire Lovie now.

Leans

Arkansas State (+36) over ALABAMA

I’m always afraid to bet against Bama, but the Tide play at least one of these games every year and they tend to take it a little easier. For instance, last year they beat FSU in a big first game, kinda coasted through Fresno and CSU, and then obliterated Vandy 59-0 and Ole Miss 66-3 the next two weeks.

I think this is a similar type situation right before the Tide open SEC play next week. It also helps that Arkansas State can really pass and the secondary is a bit of a question mark still for Bama.

Maryland (-16) over BOWLING GREEN

BGSU’s defense is atrocious and I think the Terps will put a big number on them, but a little worried about a letdown and they’re on the road here.

Wyoming (+20) over MISSOURI

Still a Wyoming believer. Still not a Derek Dooley believer. Probably would take it if it were at 21.

Fresno State (+2.5) over MINNESOTA

I think Fresno’s the better team, but Minnesota might be better than I thought.

Arkansas (-13.5) over COLORADO STATE

Colorado State appears to be horrible, but it seems like something Arkansas could screw up early in the Chad Morris tenure.

Penn State (-8.5) over PITT

I still think the Nittany Lions are going to be very good.

BOISE STATE (-31.5) over UConn

Really impressive performance by Boise last week and it’s the home opener. UConn looked terrible against UCF and now they get to go on a road trip to the blue turf. Fun.

ARIZONA STATE (+6) over Michigan State

I will do a total 180 on Herm if they win this game. It’s a dangerous spot for the Spartans.

YTD: 2-4 (-2.4u)

 

 

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