All picks are for two units.
YTD: 3-2-1 (+0.8u)
Western Michigan (+16.5) over MICHIGAN STATE
We could have shades of Utah State/MSU again this year. Remember Jordan Love and the Aggies took the Spartans down to the very last drive in last year’s season opener.
There are pretty high expectations for WMU this year and they could be the best team in the MAC. QB Jon Wassink leads the way. It was only Monmouth, but Wassink went 20-25, 368 yards, 5 TDs, and 0 INTs last week. The Broncos scored on every possession they didn’t take a knee in the game. Obviously, the MSU defense is a much bigger test, but this is an offense that put up 42 points last year against a pretty good Syracuse defense.
WMU has ten starters back on defense and they should be able to keep the Broncos in the game if the offense struggles. Michigan State’s offense last year was horrendous and things didn’t look much better last week against Tulsa. The Spartans only managed 303 yards and 19 points by the offense.
GEORGIA TECH (-6) over South Florida
I – like many others – was expecting a pretty rough season for Georgia Tech as they try to transition away from the Paul Johnson era. And I still am, but holy hell is the ship sinking fast in South Florida.
After starting 7-0 last year, they are now on a seven game losing streak and they’ve lost those games by an average of 23.4 PPG. After waiting eight months to get the bad taste out of their mouth from last season they had Wisconsin coming to their place, in the humidity, for a home night game and they got steamrolled to the tune of a 49-0 beatdown. They couldn’t run. They couldn’t pass. And they certainly couldn’t stop the run.
Wisconsin’s a good team, but I think I’d much prefer a home game with the Badgers over an opening night road game at the defending national champs. Sure, the Jackets lost by 38, but they nearly doubled USF’s opening week yardage. The run defense was problematic to say the least, but on the flip side they made Heisman favorite Trevor Lawrence look downright average.
UNLV (pick) over Arkansas State
The two matched up at ASU last year, a 27-20 win for the Red Wolves largely due to an unspeakably bad passing day for Armani Rogers. But the Rebels did run wild during the game. After that loss, Rogers was out for months and the season fell apart for UNLV.
Rogers is back again this year and ran wild again in Week 1 with the rest of the backfield. They rattled off 7.4 YPC and 7 TDs against Southern Utah before folding up shop in the fourth quarter.
A good run game is typically the way to beat the Red Wolves. They gave up a lot of big plays against the run last year and were towards the bottom of the country in rushing efficiency.
Arkansas State lost a close one at home to SMU last week, but it wasn’t really as close as it appeared. SMU outgained them by 100 yards and had five of their drives inside the redzone result in a total of nine points. If the Mustangs converted better when close, it could’ve been a blowout.
FIU (-7.5) over Western Kentucky
Listen, Central Arkansas isn’t a horrible FCS team. They were projected to finish second in a fairly decent Southland conference. But that’s still a pretty bad home loss to start the Tyson Helton era, who I’ve spoken my doubts about on a number of occasions. Now they have to go on the road against a really experienced FIU team.
FIU didn’t fare much better last week on the road against a Tulane squad that could be a dark horse of sorts in the American this year. But after a shaky first game, I’m expecting a big bounceback for QB James Morgan against a WKU pass defense that gave up 404 yards on just 29 attempts (13.9 YPA) against CAU.
HAWAII (-6.5) over Oregon State
I still haven’t found a real reason to believe in the Beavs. Some seemed encouraged by their effort against Okie State last week, but at the end of the day they didn’t even cover a double-digit spread at home. They were never within the number the entire second half against a bad defense and a freshman QB in his first live action.
The defense doesn’t appear to have improved much and the Warriors aren’t exactly the team to get things sorted out against. Remember the tear that Hawaii was on at the beginning of last season until Cole McDonald hurt his foot midway through the season and the schedule got much more difficult. Hawaii put up 45 against Arizona despite six turnovers, which I’m fairly confident won’t happen again. The Beavs still haven’t held an opponent under 34 since Week 2 of last year when they held mighty Southern Utah to 25.
Offensively, Oregon State was much better last week, but Oklahoma State’s defense was terrible last year and had massive question marks coming into the season. It was a tough trip for the Pokes up to Corvallis for a night game on the road to open the season. I’m not here to argue the merits of the Hawaii defense, but I think it’s still a tougher situation for the Beaver offense to have to travel to the islands than a night home game.
I don’t think the bye week is a big advantage for Hawaii this early in the season, but the extra week of prep can’t hurt.
Leans / Thoughts on Other Games
TEXAS (+6.5) over LSU
I’m much more of a pro-LSU guy than a pro-Texas guy, but Tom Herman’s record as an underdog speaks for itself. With a week of lead-up and everyone taking about this game, picking LSU, it only gives the Longhorns motivation. The atmosphere in Austin has greatly improved the last few years and it should be rocking at night with Gameday in town.
MICHIGAN (-22) over Army
I haven’t bet on any team more than Army the past few years, but I hate the spot here. I’m not sure they can move the ball much at all on the Wolverines.
COLORADO (+4) over Nebraska
This may end up being the best game of the weekend as it turns into a shootout. Nebraska looked bad last weekend on offense, but I doubt that lasts for long. Not sure how much of a home atmosphere this is going to be for the Buffs with Husker nation expected to show up in droves.
Texas A&M (+17) over CLEMSON
Jimbo always plays Dabo tough, as the Aggies did last year. 17 seems like a hell of a lot, but every time it seems that way with Clemson, they seem to cover. A&M never seems to be the same on the road.
Nevada (+24) over OREGON
I’d typically like the Pack here, but you have the confluence of them maybe still riding a high after that dramatic comeback win over Purdue and Oregon looking to take their frustration out on somebody after giving away the Auburn game.
PENN STATE (-30.5) over Buffalo
Death, taxes, Penn State laying waste to inferior opponents at Beaver Stadium.
RICE (+19) over Wake Forest
Rice/Army is one of those games where you can’t quite tell which team the game says more about. Is Army a lot worse that we thought or is Rice looking to make a big jump in Year 2 under Mike Bloomgren? I don’t know, but this is one to keep an eye on Friday night.
West Virginia (+14) over MISSOURI
Seems like a lot of points, but Missouri will be looking to take some frustration out and WVU’s offense is still quite a work in progress.
NORTH CAROLINA (+5) over Miami (FL)
There was nothing fluky about the Heels’ victory over USC last week. I really want to take them this week, but I’m nervous about that Miami front seven getting after Sam Howell.
Tulane (+17.5) over AUBURN
I wanted to love it, but then I thought the Auburn front might just totally shut down the Green Wave running game.
UCF (-10.5) over FAU
Honestly should probably be a pick, but I just can’t shake pulling for the Lane Train.
Wyoming (-7) over TEXAS STATE
I think the Cowboys are like three touchdowns better than Texas State. I’m a little worried about the hangover effect from the game with Missouri, but much more worried about the Wyoming offense still not being able to throw the ball. I just can’t lay a touchdown with an offense that has shown its plenty willing to let their defense do all the work and win 17-14.