So last week was one of the great college football stretches ever for the sports books in Las Vegas, and you can see why after you look at the results on my Week One picks. I was a respectable(-ish) 5-5 against the spread and a not-so-good 6-4 straight. Here’s to hoping for better results in Week Two. Without further ado:
Louisville (minus-14.5) at Syracuse: Cardinals quarterback Lamar Jackson entered the middle of the Heisman Trophy conversation with 405 yards of total offense and eight touchdowns total IN THE FIRST HALF against Charlotte. As Brent Musburger said on a later college football broadcast, Louisville coach Bobby Petrino is a great coach “when he gets off his motorcycle.”
Arkansas at TCU (minus-7.5): Both of these teams had underwhelming season debuts. TCU barely outpaced South Dakota State in a 59-41 win, and Arkansas barely held off Louisiana Tech 21-20. Horned Frogs coach Gary Patterson is so mad at his defense that he says the Razorbacks might be “1,000 yards and a 1,000 points” if TCU doesn’t coach better. They won’t.
Penn State vs. Pittsburgh (minus-6): Panthers running back James Conner came back from successfully battling Hodgkin lymphoma and had 17 carries for 53 yards and added 16 receiving yards. Penn State has a pretty good running back too in sophomore Saquon Barkley. This game, which will be played in Heinz Field, marks the first meeting between these two in-state schools in 16 years.
ATS: Penn State
North Carolina State (minus-5.5) at East Carolina: Wolfpack fans are dreading heading into Greenville, but North Carolina State looks like a solid favorite to escape with a win. The only reason for anybody outside either of these campuses to care are for people like South Carolina fans, who will be playing the Pirates next week. The good news for the Gamecocks is they will host East Carolina.
Straight: North Carolina State
ATS: North Carolina State
Arkansas State at Auburn (minus-18.5): After playing four quarterbacks last week, Tigers head coach Gus Malzahn has whittled it down to at least two, maybe one, moving forward. Sean White will take the start, and John Franklin III (of “Last Chance U” fame) will be the backup. That means the end of the road it seems for one-time star-to-be quarterback Jeremy Johnson.
ATS: Arkansas State
Kentucky at Florida (minus-16.5): The Wildcats haven’t beaten the Gators since 1986. Florida didn’t look great in beating UMass in Week One, but it looked plenty good enough to extend its winning streak against a Wildcats team coming off a loss to Southern Miss.
Western Kentucky at Alabama (minus-28): With its one big non-conference game out of the way (and how, with a 52-6 shellacking of Southern Cal) the Crimson Tide is one to the patsy portion of its schedule. There’s no reason to think Alabama won’t beat the Hilltoppers at least as bad as it beat the Trojans.
Middle Tennessee State at Vanderbilt (minus-5): This game kicks off at 4 p.m., three hours before the Gamecocks play Mississippi State, and South Carolina fans should at least keep an eye on the score to get some idea of how much last week’s win over Vanderbilt might have meant.
Virginia Tech vs. Tennessee (minus-10.5): The Battle for Bristol will be played on the infield of Bristol Motor Speedway. The game is expected to break a college football attendance record, although the folks with the worst seats will barely be able to see the field, much less the players. The Volunteers need to look good as big favorites to regain their confidence and re-establish themselves as the SEC East favorites.
ATS: Virginia Tech
North Carolina (minus-9) at Illinois: Give the Tar Heels credit for scheduling at least. The Georgia-Illinois back-to-back to open the season is a strong out-of-conference stadium. And Illinois has the added bonus of being a Power 5 opponent that can’t actually beat anybody good. It’ll be interesting to see if Lovie Smith can make the Illini a winner, but it won’t happen early for sure.
Straight: North Carolina
ATS: North Carolina
California at San Diego State (minus-7.5): If you like offense and you’re up late, you can watch this game, which kicks off at 10:30 and has an over-under of 62 points. The weird thing is the Group of 5 Aztecs are favored by more than a touchdown.
Straight: San Diego State
Against the spread: 5-5
Against the spread: 5-5