It’s that time again, when we at CQ help the degenerate in you make bank anytime you find yourself in Las Vegas.
Ohio State (-21.5) at Indiana, O/U 58, 8:00 p.m. (Thursday)
For those unfamiliar with the Hoosier Special, we pick against the spread AND the over/under. The important thing to know is that these picks are made with the heart, not the head.
We’ve all been waiting for this contest for months. I’d like to provide you with some analysis as to why Indiana will win, but without either team having played a single snap, all I can say is this: defenses should be ahead of offenses in the first week or two of a season. Advantage Tom Allen?
It doesn’t really matter, because you know I’m picking Indiana (not to win outright, but certainly) against the spread. 21.5 points is a ton for a team with a good defense to be getting. And Indiana? Their defense has a chance to be great. Aside from that, it’s hard to imagine an offense playing its first game under Kevin Wilson not giving the ball away at least a time or two. If that happens, I don’t see any way that the Hoosiers don’t keep it close.
Wilson’s presence makes the over/under very difficult, though. Ohio State is going to score some points against everyone, even the best defenses in the Big Ten. But will they hang 35 or 40 in Week 1? I have my doubts.
Pick: Indiana (+21.5) and Under 58
Top 25 Games
10 Michigan (-4) at 17 Florida, O/U 44.5, 3:30 p.m. (Neutral Site)
Week 1 offers just three matchups between ranked teams. But I’m not sure Michigan-Florida will look like one of those games. Florida, as always, is overrated. Michigan is good. That’s about all you need to know for this one. Wolverines, running away.
Pick: Michigan (-4)
3 Florida State at 1 Alabama (-7), O/U 49.5, 8:00 p.m. (Neutral Site)
In the past five season, Alabama has opened with Top-25 opponents three times. The outcome of those games? 52-6, 35-17, 41-14 - all Alabama wins. Florida State will undoubtedly be the best team the Tide have faced in Week 1 the past few years, but Nick Saban seems to have his teams way ahead of everyone else at two points in the season: the beginning and the end. I don’t think that ends in 2017. Roll Tide.
Pick: Alabama (-7)
22 West Virginia at 21 Virginia Tech (-4), O/U 51.5, 7:30 p.m. (Sunday)
This one may be the toughest game to pick on the entire slate. Virginia Tech scored a ton of points last season, and with this program pulling itself out of the hole that Frank Beamer dug in his final few seasons, it’s not hard to see the Hokies scoring with West Virginia. As for West Virginia, even playing in the wild Big 12 their usually suspect defense only allowed 30 points or more in one game last season.
“Enter Sandman” at night suggests the Hokies roll and Virginia Tech probably gets the win, but this one is even closer than Vegas thinks.
Pick: West Virginia (+4)
Big Ten Games
Buffalo at Minnesota (-24), O/U 50, 7:00 p.m. (Thursday)
Playing in the shadow of Indiana-Ohio State on Thursday night, the PJ Fleck era at Minnesota starts with a win, undoubtedly. Buffalo went 2-10 last season, and Fleck’s Western Michigan club beat the Bulls 38-0. With better talent, Fleck has no trouble in this one.
Pick: Minnesota (-24)
8 Washington (-27.5) at Rutger, O/U 52, 8:00 p.m. (Friday)
Pick: Washington (-27.5)
Utah State at 9 Wisconsin (-28.5), O/U 52, 9:00 p.m. (Friday)
Utah State is bad. Wisconsin is not. Again, without either having played a game, I’m not sure what kind of analysis you want from me.
Pick: Wisconsin (-28.5)
Akron at 6 Penn State (-30.5), O/U 66, 12:00 p.m.
Despite a Big Ten championship last season and that shootout in the Rose Bowl, I still don’t think Penn State’s offense is first rate. I know Akron’s isn’t. 66 is a lot of points.
Pick: Under 66
Maryland at 23 Texas (-18.5), O/U 56, 12:00 p.m.
Sure, the crowd will be raucous for the start of Tom Herman’s sure-to-disappoint tenure deep in the heart of Texas. But Maryland has played road games the past few seasons at Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, and Rutger. That should help them overcome the hostility. Both of these teams have some woeful deficiencies, which tells me neither blows out the other.
P.S. It’s going to be hysterical if Tom Herman fails as the head coach at Texas. And he’s already setup for that. This team isn’t good enough to be in the Top-25 and fans will be livid when they go 7-5. This will be one of the 7, but it won’t be comfortable.
Pick: Maryland (+18.5)
Ball State at Illinois (-7), O/U 55.5, 12:00 p.m.
Is Lovie Smith a good football coach?
That’s for you to decide. But Ball State will make it an easy decision for you.
Pick: Ball State (+7)
Wyoming at Iowa (-11.5), O/U 52.5, 12:00 p.m.
I love that Iowa always struggles at home against a lesser opponent in the early season. This year, they get the potential No. 1 pick in next year’s NFL Draft. Josh Allen becomes a household name by beat the Hawkeyes in Iowa City? It’s not that farfetched, is it, North Dakota State? Is it, Northern Illinois? Is it, Iowa State? Is it? - well, you get the idea.
Pick: Wyoming (+11.5)
Bowling Green at Michigan State (-17.5), O/U 57, 12:00 p.m.
I don’t know about the spread. Something tells me that Michigan State still isn’t very good and that the noon slate on Saturday will be a bad look for the Big Ten, even if they go 3-1. But regardless of how close this one is, I struggle to see 60 points scored.
Pick: Under 57
Nevada at Northwestern (-24), O/U 60.5, 3:30 p.m.
Reno is the biggest little city in the world! Reno’s college football team stinks!
But Northwestern may stink too.
Not sure what to expect here other than perhaps some early season struggles from both offenses.
Pick: Under 60.5
16 Louisville (-24.5) at Purdue, O/U 68.5, 7:30 p.m. (Neutral Site)
OK, so let’s get this out of the way: Purdue will be better under Jeff Brohm.
Now, to the important part: Purdue cannot possibly be enough better to hang with Louisville. Lamar Jackson will be the Heisman favorite after 3 quarters of this one, even if Bobby Petrino is putting him under center.
Finally, a side note: If I was a Purdue fan, I’d be praying that Petrino stays out of trouble until Brohm finds sustained success at Purdue, because it’s hard to imagine anyone else being at the top of Louisville’s potential wish list and it’s hard to imagine a reason why Brohm wouldn’t split from West Lafayette for that gig.
Pick: Louisville (-24.5)
Arkansas State at Nebraska (-16), O/U 46.5 8:00 p.m.
I know nothing about this game or these teams.
Pick: Nebraska (-16)
Temple at Notre Dame (-17.5), O/U 54, 3:30 p.m.
I’m fully convinced that this is Brian Kelly’s last season in South Bend. And I think it all starts with a struggle against Temple, who went 10-4 and won the AAC last season.
What makes me think this? Sure, Brian Kelly is a jerk. But his comments about Deshone Kizer needing to stay reeked of desperation, not smugness, pettiness, or even guidance. Is the Notre Dame quarterback situation troublesome? All you’ll need to do to know is observe the shade of red on Kelly’s face after each drive that ends in a punt or interception.
Pick: Temple (+17.5)