Last week, my picks did okay, at 8-7 (+$61). This week, I am betting against overreactions. There has been one week of football played. That is it. And yet, many will look at a score, or perhaps a box score, and completely discard their pre-season judgment of a team. Bad idea.
Two big games I am not playing, and why:
- Texas (-7.5) at BYU: This opened lower, but for purposes of this column, I only use lines available when I write the column (the day before we publish).
- Notre Dame +4 at Michigan (-105): I already have a wager on Michigan under its win total, and a Notre Dame wager here is almost doubling down on that, which I do not want to do. Also, Notre Dame's field goal kicking scares me here.
One small game I am not playing, and why: Cincinnati -8 at Illinois (-105): I already have a bet on Cincinnati to win the AAC and an under wager on Illinois.
FAU +21 at East Carolina (-110): I had a chance to watch this FAU team. They have some players. I'm taking the Owls and acknowledging that playing on the road, on a short week, after playing the biggest game on the schedule (Miami) is a very tough circumstance.
Wake Forest at Boston College Under 48.5 (-106): Boston College struggled to score against Villanova. Wake's defense is pretty salty, and its offense is not great. This is still early in the year, and on somewhat short rest. Root for ugly.
South Carolina at Georgia -3 (-110): If Georgia catches a field goal snap, the game goes into overtime, and Georgia wins, would this line feel funny? Focus on how the team plays and not just the final score. South Carolina's offense is not Clemson's. Then again, South Carolina does play defense. I like the Dawgs at home.
Miami (OH) +17.5 at Kentucky (-110): I bet against Miami (OH) last week in a few pick'ems, and they lost. But Kentucky really is not a great football team, and could be looking ahead to the Week 3 matchup with Louisville.
Florida -3 at Miami (-105): Don't be fooled by Florida's lackluster performance against Toledo. Florida has been awful against scrub teams when there is a big opponent on deck. Look for Florida's run game to ultimately make the difference, specifically by running Jeff Driskel.
Middle Tennessee at UNC Over 66 (-106): I am expecting a shootout here. Middle Tennessee can score, and North Carolina wants to push tempo a ton, particularly after losing last Thursday to South Carolina.
Oregon -22 at Virginia (-107): Virginia beat BYU last week. Oregon could not be any different from BYU. I don't like Virginia's style of defense against Oregon's attack, and David Watford is too inaccurate against this Oregon secondary.
Duke at Memphis +6 (-106): Duke is laying points on the road? Memphis is not a good team, but Duke is nothing special, either.
Arkansas State +13 at Auburn (-110): Gus Malzahn's new team vs. his old team. Malzahn knows Arkansas State's personnel, but the Red Wolves can play.
Buffalo at Baylor -27.5 (-105): The high in Buffalo Saturday? 80. The projected high in Waco? 100. This is a fade of the Bulls.
Louisiana Lafayette at Kansas State -10 (-110): Was there a more shocking loss than Kansas State over the weekend? Statistically, there were plenty. But on name value, the defending Big XII champ losing to an FCS school is simply huge. Arkansas routed Lafayette. I think Kansas State will come out focused and do the same.
Hawaii at Oregon State -27 (-105): I took Hawaii last week against USC and won. Oregon State was upset by Eastern Washington. So why would I lay on the Beavers here? Simple. Mike RIley is a fine coach, and Eastern Washington's passing offense, which shredded Oregon State, is better than Hawaii's. I look for a statement, bounce-back game.
Idaho +28 at Wyoming (-110): Is Wyoming really four touchdowns better than Idaho? I don't believe that.
Washington State at USC -14 (-120): USC has its defense together under a new coordinator, and I look for the Trojan's run game and defense to give the Cougars fits. I wish I din't have to pay such a high price to stay on 14, however.
Arizona at UNLV +10 (+100): UNLV was blown out by Minnesota -- a team that I do not think is very good. However, they were only outgained by a 5.2-4.9 margin on a per-play basis. Minnesota scored on a pick-six, a blocked field goal, and a kickoff return. Those scores count, they're just not exactly repeatable in Minnesota's favor, or UNLV's disfavor. I think this line is a bit inflated based on that.
Syracuse +15.5 at Northwestern (-110): Syracuse hung tough against Penn State, and I feel this line is an overreaction to Week 1.
Southern Miss +28 at Nebraska (-105): Nebraska's defense did struggle with Wyoming. Southern Miss struggled with Texas State. But, six turnovers by the Golden Eagles aren't likely to be repeated, and I'll take the four touchdowns and reduced juice.
Reviewing some of the season-long wagers:
- N.C. State Over 7 wins (+105): The Pack looked great against Louisiana Tech, but lost QB Brandon Mitchell for potentially as long as the next five games. Ouch.
- Virginia Tech Under 9 wins (-150): Tech's defense was nasty and gave Bama's offense plenty of fits. But its offense was so incredibly bad. Logan Thomas looked like he hadn't improved at all from last season, his receivers were as bad as expected, and 41 of Virginia Tech's 59 plays went for two or fewer yards.
- Nebraska Over 9.5 wins (-110): Nebraska's defense was simply awful against Wyoming and doesn't give me much confidence in this Wager going forward. The Huskers gave up a school-record number of first downs. It looked like it did to end the season.
- Purdue Under 5.5 wins (-300): With odds like this, you have to be sure. I was. I still am. Purdue looked terrible in getting destroyed by Cincinnati.
- Illinois Under 3.5 wins (-110): Illinois almost lost to Illinois State at home. I am confident this team will not reach four wins.
- Iowa State Under 5.5 wins (-225): The Cyclones lost at home to Northern Iowa. They'll need to really outperform in the remaining games to hand me a loss.
- Washington State Under 4.5 wins (-125): The Cougars lost at Auburn, but ran the football much better than expected (134 yards on 25 carries). I do think the game at Cal is tougher than first thought, and still feel good about this.
- Colorado Under 3.5 wins (-155): I now feel bad about this, as the Buffs' new coach had them organized and motivated in Game 1.
- LSU Over 8.5 wins (-125): The win over TCU was big for this one. Now, the Tigers can afford to lose three of its five games against: At Alabama, Texas A&M, at Georgia, Florida, at Ole Miss, and still win the wager. The Tigers looked very good and the offense seems to be improved.
- Mississippi State Under 5.5 wins (-130): The Bulldogs looked inept offensively outside of running the ball with Ladarius Perkins, as I expected, in its loss to Oklahoma State. Receivers did not get open. And the defense finally broke. Mississippi State also lost its quarterback for an undetermined amount of time.
- Vanderbilt Under 7 wins (-125): Vanderbilt actually looked pretty good, but the loss to Ole Miss is big for this total, as it was one of the Commodores' tossup games.
- Auburn Under 7 wins (-145): The Tigers won at home as a big favorite, but it was not easy. Auburn's passing game is still very rough, and its run defense seems to be a bit of a question.
- Kentucky Under 4.5 wins (-155): Kentucky blew one of the rare games in which it will be favored this year -- against Western Kentucky. Barring something very strange, this one is very likely to cash.
- Pitt over 6 wins (-110): The Panthers were annihilated by Florida State, but actually showed quite well in some aspects, and I am still very confident in this wager.