Week 1 Recap
Overall Record: 8-9
Week 1 Record: 8-9
Best Pick: Michigan (-4) vs. Florida. Picking Alabama was easy. Picking Lovie Smith’s Illini to struggle was like taking candy from a baby. And picking Maryland, getting almost three touchdowns against a trash Texas team was a no-brainer. But some talking heads thought Florida, indoors, may have too much speed for the Wolverines. But as predicted here, Michigan won running away as the Gator offense managed just 3 points on the day.
Worst Pick: Temple (+17.5) at Notre Dame. Forget about the fact that Notre Dame covered, winning by 33. I picked Temple as my upset special, thinking the Irish were still broken after going 4-8 last season and that the Owls would win outright at Notre Dame Stadium. There’s no question that this was a disastrous pick.
Bad Beat: None. The closest was West Virginia (+4) vs. Virginia Tech, who had the ball deep in Hokie territory while down seven with 30 seconds to go in the 4th quarter. For real bad beats, though, talk to someone who bet the money line on Texas A&M.
With week one jitters out of the way, it’s time for a big week to get 2017 on track.
Indiana (-3) at Virginia, O/U 56.5, 3:30 p.m.
The Indiana Hoosiers are a road favorite against a Power-5 opponent. Whew, what a long way we’ve come. Or maybe it’s a result of how bad Bronco Mendenhall’s Cavaliers are.
Week one won’t tell the story of Indiana’s season. They were simply outlasted by a much deeper, much more talented Ohio State team. But the offense, despite a complete inability to run the football, showed some flashes, thank to either Mike Debord or Grant Heard recognizing the advantage that Indiana will have on the exterior against every single team they play. The defense held its own for two and a half quarters before getting gassed and gashed.
Virginia won’t match up any better against Simmie Cobbs, Donovan Hale, and company on the outside. And Indiana should be able to run the ball a little and keep the Cavaliers defense honest. (I wouldn’t hold my breath, though, that the Hoosiers get the running game figured out in the slightest until at least the middle of Big Ten play.)
I think we’re in a different era of Indiana football, and it doesn’t phase me a bit to pick the Hoosiers to win (and cover) on the road. What’s more difficult here, in my opinion, is the over/under. Virginia only put up 28 points on William and Mary last week, and with Indiana’s run struggles, a low-scoring affair may be on the docket. But 57 points just isn’t much in modern college football. This over/under pick is sure to go wrong.
Pick: Indiana (-3) and Over 56.5
Top 25 Games
13 Auburn at 3 Clemson (-5.5), O/U 53.5, 7:00 p.m.
Both of these clubs looked as good as advertised last weekend. Clemson rolled Kent State in a laugher as they celebrated their title. Auburn took Georgia Southern (who the Hoosiers will tangle with in a couple weeks) to the woodshed and looked the part of an SEC power.
If this game was in Alabama, and Kelly Bryant was making his first true road start, I’d be on Auburn to win outright. But Clemson may have the most hostile nighttime environment in college football (LSU is probably the only place I’d mention in the same sentence) and while Jarrett Stidham isn’t a first-time starter, Auburn isn’t quite ready to tangle with the champs in Death Valley.
Pick: Clemson (-5.5)
5 Oklahoma at 2 Ohio State (-7.5), O/U 64.5, 7:30 p.m.
Last season, Ohio State embarrassed the Sooners in Norman and demonstrated along the way that Oklahoma could not keep up with the Buckeyes’ speed. Last week, Ohio State showed that they still have plenty of burners. While Oklahoma looked good against UTEP last week, Lincoln Riley hasn’t faced an opponent like this yet in his career. Plus, there’s no way that the Sooners have made up enough ground on Ohio State in the past year. The Buckeyes got a bit of a test last week and Urban Meyer is sure to have their fullest attention. Ohio State. Big.
Pick: Ohio State (-7.5)
15 Georgia at 24 Notre Dame (-4), O/U 57.5, 7:30 p.m.
Jacob Eason is out, yet Vegas thinks that if this was a neutral site game, Georgia would only one be a one-point dog. It appears that I was wrong about the Notre Dame quarterback situation last week, although Temple may be doo-doo. Still, it’s hard to see what Notre Dame did last week and think that a backup, making his first start ever, will pull one out on the road in South Bend. It won’t be a blowout, but the Irish cover.
Pick: Notre Dame (-4)
14 Stanford at 6 USC (-6.5), O/U 55, 8:30 p.m.
Last week, USC got quite the scare from a boatless Western Michigan. This week, they get a Stanford team that won’t cough up 28 4th quarter points. Plus, the Cardinal bring perhaps the country’s best running game to the Coliseum, where the Trojans gave up 268 yards on the ground to Western Michigan. They may not pull the upset, but Stanford keeps is close enough to beat the spread.
Pick: Stanford (+6.5)
Big Ten Games
Ohio at Purdue (-3.5), O/U 57, 7:00 p.m. (Friday)
Purdue looked much better than expected last Saturday, and I’m sure a lot of Hoosier fans are worried that this signals the beginning of another prolonged stretch of success for the Boilermakers. One thing to remember, though, is that Louisville fumbled twice on the Purdue goalline - once on a fumbled handoff and once forced by the Boilers. What I’m getting at is that the game was much closer to being a 21-point Louisville win than a Purdue win.
But even if it had been a 21-point Louisville win, it would have been much closer than anyone outside of that program expected. Now, Jeff Brohm makes his home debut and Purdue, which is proud to tout it’s engineering program, joins the 21st century with lights at Ross Ade Stadium. Ohio isn’t the team to derail any of that. But I think we find out how much Purdue has really improved in the next three weeks - at Missouri, and home against Michigan and Minnesota.
Pick: Purdue (-3.5)
Cincinnati at 8 Michigan (-34.5), O/U 48.5, 12:00 p.m.
After the way Michigan dominated Florida for all but two plays (both pick 6s), it seems the Wolverines will be 5-0 when they come to Bloomington on October 14. The only question is whether anyone will even make their starters break a sweat before the game is out of hand. Cincinnati won’t.
Pick: Michigan (-34.5)
Florida Atlantic at 9 Wisconsin (-31.5), O/U 58, 12:00 p.m.
After a terribly slow start against Utah State, Wisconsin rolled to a blowout win. Florida Atlantic’s players can’t be fully focused on football given what’s going to happen in their home state this weekend. All of that leads to another rout for the Badgers.
Pick: Wisconsin (-31.5)
Northwestern (-3) at Duke, O/U 55, 12:00 p.m.
Ah, the Pretentious Bowl. With the way Northwestern played against lowly Nevada last week, it’s hard to imagine them going on the road and beating an non-conference opponent. But Duke, no matter what they think, isn’t half the team that they were a few years ago during the flukiest 10-win season one could imagine in 2013.
Neither team is reliable at this point and this reeks of a 21-17 game.
Pick: Under 55
Iowa (-2.5) at Iowa State, O/U 48, 12:00 p.m.
Iowa was pretty damn impressive last week. Sure, the offense only scored 24 points against Wyoming. But that defense bottled up Josh Allen and made the Cowboys look silly offensively. Iowa State looked much improved in a convincing win over Northern Iowa. Both step up in class this week to battle for the Cy-Hawk.
Iowa has won two in a row in this series, but the programs have split the last six meetings. Iowa State hangs around all day, but Iowa squeaks one out.
Pick: Iowa (-2.5)
Towson at Maryland (NL), 12:00 p.m.
Pittsburgh at Penn State (-21), O/U 66.5, 3:30 p.m.
Penn State’s offense looked good last week. Pittsburgh struggled against Youngstown State and had to go to overtime to beat the Penguins. This one may be a shootout for couple quarters. That’s enough to push the total to at least 70.
Pick: Over 66.5
Western Michigan at Michigan State (-7), O/U 50, 3:30 p.m.
I’ve already talked about what Western Michigan did last week. As for the Spartans, they controlled things from the start against Bowling Green and cakewalked to a 35-10 victory. But we found out a lot more about Western Michigan than we did about Michigan State last week.
The only question is whether the Broncos can get it together after putting up such a strong fight in LA last week to pull off the upset here. For some reason, I think the answer is “yes.”
Pick: Western Michigan (+7)
Eastern Michigan at Rutger (-5), O/U 50, 3:30 p.m.
Rutger looked competent last week, which is more than they could say for most of the 2016 campaign. Eastern Michigan went to a bowl game last season for the first time since 1987, and had their first winning mark since 1995.
While Rutger has certainly improved, I’m riding with Chris Creighton this week. The dude is a winner. As a head coach, Creighton is 149-73, which includes a 63-15 mark at my alma mater, Wabash College. And this weekend, he gets his first win over a Power-5 team.
Pick: Eastern Michigan (+5)
Nebraska at Oregon (-13.5), O/U 69.5, 4:30 p.m.
This line has moved four points since Oregon opened at -9.5. I’m not really sure why. Yeah, Oregon scored 77 points last week. But that was against Southern Utah University. However, when the sharks move the line that far in that short of time, they tend to have good reason. I don’t know if Oregon covers where they’ve moved the line, but I know these teams will score a ton of points.
Pick: Over 69.5
Western Kentucky (-7.5) at Illinois, O/U 53, 8:00 p.m.
Lovie Smith is a touchdown dog at home to a Conference USA team. And that may be close. Hilltoppers with ease.
Pick: Western Kentucky (-7.5)
Minnesota at Oregon State (-2), O/U 52.5, 10:00 p.m.
The PJ Fleck era got started with a bit of a dud last week. Sure, the Gophers are 1-0, but the boat didn’t row smoothly in a 17-7 win over Buffalo. Meanwhile, Oregon State got thrashed by Colorado State two weeks ago, and barely got by Portland State this past week. So, despite Minnesota’s struggles on Saturday, it seems like a lock that Minnesota wins outright in Corvallis.
Pick: Minnesota (+2)
South Carolina at Missouri (-2.5), O/U 72.5, 7:00 p.m.
I thought hard about making BYU (+2) at home over Utah the upset special, and perhaps I’ll regret not pulling that trigger on Saturday night. But after catching a lot of west coast football while living in Nevada last season, I’m convinced that BYU, as a program, is miles behind Utah right now. And LSU may have broken them completely before the Holy War.
So, instead, I’ll go with the Gamecocks, fresh off a big win over media darling North Carolina State. Missouri might have hung 70 last week, but they also gave up 43 to Missouri State. South Carolina will be able to move the ball and score against the Tigers and they’ll pick up a road win that will put them in the driver’s seat, at least for the time being, in the SEC East.
Pick: South Carolina (+2.5)