Record after week 2: 19-7 (10-15-1 ATS)
UConn (1-1) at Temple (2-0) (+6.5)
An intriguing game between two programs trying to take the water wings off and swim with the big kids. Both teams have been attempting to play clean, turnover-free football and be a pain in the ass to play on a weekly basis. Admirable goals, considering they could have gone the Indiana/finesse route.
There are no easy wins against these programs, which is why Temple’s Al Golden, a defensive guy by the way, got mentioned in the search for Tennessee and Cincinnati’s next head coaches. UConn’s Randy Edsall, who has guided the program from 1-AA to 1-A, got a look from Notre Dame before they went with Brian Kelly as well.
The assumption is that if these two coaches can win, more or less, at programs like Temple and UConn, then they can have quite a bit of success with real, live talent around them at a big-time school. These guys are the Michael Corleone hires for your school the next time it needs a football coach.
Pick: UConn wins but doesn’t cover.
(12) Arkansas (2-0) at Georgia (1-1) (-2.5)
Ryan Mallett has to be huge for the Razorbacks to win at Georgia. That should be less difficult that people might have initially thought. While Georgia is much faster and more athletic than what Arkansas has faced so far, they also have a nasty habit of missing tackles and being out of position on key plays. I don’t think Arkansas scores 50 or anything, but right around 24 would make sense, and it would probably be enough to win as well. Plus Georgia really sucks this year.
Georgia Tech (1-1) at North Carolina (0-1) (-2)
I’m still pissed at Georgia Tech, as I’m sure Paul Johnson is as well. That was a horrible, unforgivable loss last week. Especially because they got themselves into that position by playing soft defense, a cardinal sin for all triple-option teams. Tech could teach Georgia a few things about missing easy tackles.
Two weeks seems like enough time for UNC’s players to recover from the tailspin that was the first few weeks. However, this game has all the markings of an ugly slugfest. Georgia Tech ought to be motivated coming off that awful loss at Kansas, but can they get over the shock of the loss and being dropped entirely from the rankings? UNC only plays ugly slugfests, so I guess it wasn’t all that hard to predict anyway.
Still, I have to go with my love for the triple option even though it’s lost some of its pop this year.
Pick: Georgia Tech
Maryland (2-0) at (21) West Virginia (2-0) (-10)
Maryland might be 2-0 but those two wins weren’t exactly convincing. They beat 1-AA Morgan State by 59 points last week and nearly lost to Navy in week one, only winning because Navy’s coach went for the win on fourth down with time running out. Had Navy just kicked the field goal, the game would have gone to overtime and Maryland could have easily lost.
Though West Virginia didn’t look great against Marshall last week, they still won. So as unconvinced of them as I am, they’re still better than Maryland.
Pick: West Virginia wins but doesn’t cover
3:30 pm ET
(18) Southern California (2-0) at Minnesota (1-1) (+11.5)
I don’t think USC’s offense is going to have the same issues at Minnesota that it had last week against Virginia. Mostly because Minnesota’s defense is way, way worse.
As for Minnesota’s chances at an upset, the worst thing that could have happened to them happened last weekend. I don’t mean pathetically losing to South Dakota. I mean USC playing down to a punchless Virginia team and the players being upset with themselves in the locker room after. If Lane Kiffin is any kind of coach, this team is going to show up in Minneapolis focused and, most of all, pissed. Not a good sign for Minny.
Air Force (2-0) at (7) Oklahoma (2-0) (-17)
The romantic in me wants an upset here. A triumph of a running service academy team over the flashy, high-ranked program, but I know it’s probably not going to happen. Heck, Air Force beating the spread would be enough of an upset.
I still don’t know if Oklahoma is for real or not. Trouncing Florida State was very impressive, but that was at home and the Seminoles quit midway through the first half, so it’s hard to say there was ever a challenge there.
If OU is going to have any problems here, it will be consistently stopping the Falcons’ running game. Air Force will be smaller and slower than OU, but if teams run the option perfectly, it’s still the toughest play to stop in football.
(8) Nebraska (2-0) at Washington (1-1) (+3)
Kind of a pity spread for the Huskies. Oh wait Huskies Huskers. Huskers at the Huskies. Weird.
Anyway, Washington’s defense doesn’t seem to be there yet. I have no idea who Taylor Martinez is, but he’s quite the dual-threat quarterback. Not that Jake Locker is a slouch in the running department himself. Locker’s biggest problem is avoiding becoming the new Alex Smith when he gets drafted next year.
I trust Nebraska and Bo Pelini to figure something out to at least contain Washington’s attack. They can at least stymie what UW wants to do long enough to get some kind of lead. Maybe three points isn’t such a bad spread after all.
(10) Florida (2-0) at Tennessee (1-1) (+14)
That’s an awfully big spread considering Florida has been sluggish for most of their season. Sure, it’s hard to score points on the Gators, but Tennessee doesn’t have an offense anyway, so giving up 31 points was never really a possibility for Florida.
The nightmare scenario for the Gators is a close, low-scoring game in which their offense sputters and they have to make up for it on defense. You know, like every game Alabama plays. Plus, the distraction of Chris Rainey going all psycho on his girl has to have messed up everyone’s concentration a little.
Pick: Florida wins but doesn’t cover.
4:30 pm ET
Baylor (2-0) at (4) Texas Christian (2-0) (-21)
Another intriguing matchup, but if there’s one thing you can trust, it’s TCU’s defense. They don’t screw around, and Baylor is just enough of a threat that they’ll come in prepared and focused.
Pick: TCU wins but doesn’t cover.
5 pm ET
Indiana (1-0) at Western Kentucky (0-2) (+12)
What idiot got IU a bye week in week two? Did they think we needed two weeks to prepare for a team that didn’t win a game last year and hasn’t won in two tries in 2010?
Put it this way: if the Hoosiers don’t cover, then watch out next week against Akron. Total random loss waiting in the wings for Indiana as long as their defense refuses to tackle properly.
7 pm ET
San Diego State (2-0) at Missouri (2-0) (-14)
The first real test for Brady Hoke’s boys. Missouri is fast, athletic, and led by a very good quarterback. They also run the exact kind of offense that can be stopped. If anyone can do it, it’ll be Hoke’s team because he faced similar spread offenses in the MAC at Ball State on an almost weekly basis.
It’s the speed that will kill SDSU eventually, but don’t be surprised if the Aztecs hang around for a while.
Pick: Mizzou wins but doesn’t cover.
Clemson (2-0) at (16) Auburn (2-0) (-7)
This is where the wheels come off Clemson’s season. Games against Presbyterian and North Texas in no way prepared them for Auburn’s speed or offensive attack. Besides, it’s Clemson. Choking against the big boys is what they do.
Mississippi State (1-1) at (15) Louisiana State (2-0) (-7.5)
Don’t watch this game unless it’s for one of the following reasons: you’re a fan of one of the schools, or you’re just watching for the tragic-comedy that will be the quarterback play in this game.
Against Auburn last week, Mississippi State’s quarterbacks staged one of the worst passing exhibitions seen this side of the service academies and Georgia Tech. They would have won that game if Relf and Russell were a combined 16 of 34 for 129 yards and 1 interception. That’s it. Relf ran well, as he always will in Dan Mullen’s system, but holy crap are the MSU quarterbacks bad.
Funny I should mention bad quarterbacks and not talk about LSU yet, right? I said it last week, and I stand by it. Jordan Jefferson should be out. If it means Jarrett Lee while they get Russell Shepard ready, so be it, but it’s insane to keep this charade up. The offense isn’t “almost there,” it just sucks.
I hate, hate, hate this spread, by the way. It’s just close enough that LSU could cover it even with another crap game from the offense.
8 pm ET
Notre Dame (1-1) at Michigan State (2-0) (-3.5)
Michigan State is a very different challenge than Michigan. Notre Dame’s biggest problem under Charlie Weis was that they played soft on both sides of the ball. They couldn’t run it offensively, and they were easily overpowered on defense. This is the game for Brian Kelly to prove he has begun a sea change in South Bend. How’s that for a Rece Davis impression?
Notre Dame should win this game. You don’t get to say that often. But they should. Michigan State doesn’t do anything sneaky, innovative, or scary. They run it and expect you to stop the run. It’s like playing Wisconsin, only crappier. It’s still tough to tell if State has any real gamebreakers on their squad. Everyone is kind of unproven right now.
If this were Charlie Weis’ team on the road at night, I’d be all over MSU, but since Brian Kelly seems to know what he’s doing, Notre Dame could exorcise a few demons here.
Pick: Notre Dame
Fresno State (1-0) at Utah State (1-1) (+5.5)
Did some one order the shoot out?
Pick: Fresno State
(6) Texas (2-0) at Texas Tech (2-0) (+3)
It wasn’t so long ago that this game meant something in the Big XII. Texas is still going to either win or be second in the Big XII South, but who knows what Texas Tech has. Plus, the Longhorns are a total house of cards waiting to be knocked over. No running back, first-year starter, year after losing the national championship game. It’s going to be a struggle for the Longhorns.
(3) Boise State (1-0) at Wyoming (1-1) (+23)
Boise has to dominate this and every other game they play this season. A close one and, since everyone with a poll vote sucks, it’s all over.
Pick: Boise State
10:30 pm ET
(9) Iowa (2-0) at (24) Arizona (1-1) (+1.5)
This is the first time Arizona has hosted a game featuring two ranked teams in HOW long? I think I’m going to stick my neck out for the first time this year. I really don’t trust Iowa and think they’re very overrated. It’s hard to say what it is they actually DO.
(23) Houston (2-0) at UC,LA (0-2) (+3)
If UC,LA loses this game, and they should, Rick Neuheisel is on his way out unless the Bruins win the rest of their games.
11:15 pm ET
Wake Forest (2-0) at (19) Stanford (2-0) (-17)
I know there’s a reason I care about this game. I just can’t remember what it is. I do know only an idiot wants national exposure for their program and then schedules their game for 11:15 pm eastern. An 8:15 local time start is even late as hell for football. The game’s going to end near midnight and near 3am eastern time. Wait, who’s playing again? Oh right, whatever.
Pick: Stanford wins but doesn’t cover.