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Predicting the winner of every Week 2 college football game, from Oklahoma-Ohio State to EIU-NIU

S&P+ projects close finishes in each of Week 2’s four big games. It could be a really fun Saturday evening.

Ohio State v Oklahoma Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Below are picks and projections using 2017 S&P+ projections. See the bottom of the post for more detail about these.

The spread (listed in parentheses) is shown next to S&P+’s pick for each game. When S&P+ predicts a push (a tie with Vegas, basically), I’m listing the pick on the side that S&P+ would’ve picked, if teams could score in decimals. This document breaks games out into their decimal glory.

Ranked vs. ranked

NCAA Football: Temple at Notre Dame
Notre Dame’s Dexter Williams
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
  • No. 2 Ohio State 35, No. 5 Oklahoma (+7) 30 (Saturday, 7:30 PM ET, ABC)
  • No. 3 Clemson 28, No. 13 Auburn (+4.5) 24 (Saturday, 7:00 PM ET, ESPN)
  • No. 6 USC 31, No. 14 Stanford (+6.5) 27 (Saturday, 8:30 PM ET, Fox)
  • No. 24 Notre Dame 30, No. 15 Georgia (+4.5, but the actual projection is 29.6 to 25.3, a virtual push) 25 (Saturday, 7:30 PM ET, NBC)

This is unique: Basically all four big-game underdogs are projected to barely cover. The home-field advantage I apply to games is 2.5 points, but making it three points would flip two of these four picks.

Regardless, though, we’re all for home-and-home series as a whole; they should just play any Notre Dame-Georgia game in the Sugar Bowl.

This foursome of games should be exciting. It would be far more exciting if they weren’t all scheduled for virtually the same damn time on Saturday night. This is ridiculous scheduling.

Other ranked teams in action

NCAA Football: Akron at Penn State
Penn State’s Saquon Barkley
Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

No spread picks for FBS vs. FCS games, which typically don’t have lines.

  • No. 1 Alabama 46, Fresno State (+43.5) 4 (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, ESPN2)
  • No. 4 Penn State 41, Pittsburgh (+22) 24 (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, ABC)
  • No. 7 Washington 49, Montana 11 (Saturday, 8:00 PM ET, Pac-12)
  • No. 8 Michigan 36, Cincinnati (+34) 12 (Saturday, 12:00 PM ET, ABC)
  • No. 9 Wisconsin 45, Florida Atlantic (+32) 15 (Saturday, 12:00 PM ET, BTN)
  • No. 10 Florida State (-34.5) 50, UL-Monroe 10 (Saturday, 12:00 PM ET, ACCN)
  • No. 11 Oklahoma State 44, South Alabama (+28) 22 (Friday, 8:00 PM ET, ESPN2)
  • No. 12 LSU 49, Chattanooga 7 (Saturday, 7:30 PM ET, SECN)
  • No. 17 Louisville 32, North Carolina (+10) 25 (Saturday, 12:00 PM ET, ESPN)
  • No. 18 Virginia Tech 44, Delaware 10 (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, ACC video)
  • No. 19 Kansas State 46, Charlotte (+36.5) 15 (Saturday, 12:00 PM ET, FSN affiliates)
  • No. 20 Washington State 33, Boise State (+10) 31 (Saturday, 10:30 PM ET, ESPN)
  • No. 21 USF 39, UConn (+17.5) 23 (Saturday, 10:30 AM ET, ESPN News)
  • No. 22 Florida 46, Northern Colorado 6 (Saturday, 12:00 PM ET, SEC Video)
  • No. 23 TCU 32, Arkansas (+3.5) 29 (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, CBS)
  • No. 25 Tennessee 48, Indiana State 14 (Saturday, 4:00 PM ET, SECN)

Speaking of memorable things from the early-1980s, it’s good to have Pitt-Penn State back. As intense as it may be, though, Pitt’s got quite a bit to prove after a Week 1 dud (an overtime win) against Youngstown State.

Power 5 vs. Power 5

Iowa State v Iowa
Iowa’s Akrum Wadley vs. Iowa State in 2016
Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images
  • Iowa State (+2.5) 28, Iowa 27 (Saturday, 12:00 PM ET, ESPN2)
  • Duke (+3) 29, Northwestern 28 (Saturday, 12:00 PM ET, ESPNU)
  • Wake Forest (+1.5) 24, Boston College 21 (Saturday, 1:00 PM ET, ACC video)
  • Indiana (-3) 28, Virginia 25 (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, ESPNU)
  • Oregon 33, Nebraska (+13.5) 29 (Saturday, 4:30 PM ET, Fox)
  • Missouri 33, South Carolina (+2.5) 31 (Saturday, 7:00 PM ET, ESPN2)
  • Oregon State 27, Minnesota (+2) 26 (Saturday, 10:00 PM ET, FS1)
  • Utah 27, BYU (+1.5) 27 (Saturday, 10:15 PM ET, ESPN2)

¡El Assico! is maybe the most intriguing game of Saturday’s early session. On paper, this could be a wonderful opportunity for Matt Campbell’s rising ISU Cyclones. On the field, however, Iowa has won the last two games by a combined 53 points.

FBS vs. FBS

  • Memphis (+2.5) 31, UCF 30 (Friday, 6:30 PM ET, ESPNU)
  • Purdue 27, Ohio (+4) 25 (Friday, 8:00 PM ET, FS1)
  • Army 34, Buffalo (+16.5) 18 (Saturday, 12:00 PM ET, CBSSN)
  • West Virginia 38, East Carolina (+24) 25 (Saturday, 12:00 PM ET, FS2)
  • Colorado 43, Texas State (+35.5) 14 (Saturday, 2:00 PM ET, Pac-12)
  • Ball State (-14.5) 37, UAB 20 (Saturday, 3:00 PM ET, ESPN3)
  • Rutgers 28, Eastern Michigan (+5.5) 27 (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, BTN)
  • Syracuse (-9.5) 41, Middle Tennessee 25 (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, ACC video)
  • Old Dominion (-4) 32, UMass 27 (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, )
  • Texas 42, San Jose State (+26) 19 (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, LHN)
  • Navy 33, Tulane (+13.5) 26 (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, CBSSN)
  • Michigan State (-7) 32, Western Michigan 22 (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, BTN)
  • Central Michigan (+6) 28, Kansas 28 (Saturday, 4:00 PM ET, FSN affiliates)
  • Tulsa 32, UL-Lafayette (+15) 22 (Saturday, 4:00 PM ET, ESPN3)
  • UCLA 41, Hawaii (+23.5) 21 (Saturday, 5:00 PM ET, Pac-12)
  • NC State 37, Marshall (+24.5) 17 (Saturday, 6:00 PM ET, ACC video)
  • SMU 35, North Texas (+13) 25 (Saturday, 7:00 PM ET, ESPN3)
  • Toledo (-9.5) 40, Nevada 26 (Saturday, 7:00 PM ET, ESPN3)
  • Idaho 35, UNLV (+6.5) 32 (Saturday, 7:00 PM ET, ESPN3)
  • Mississippi State (-8.5) 39, Louisiana Tech 29 (Saturday, 7:30 PM ET, CBSSN)
  • New Mexico 39, New Mexico State (+7) 33 (Saturday, 8:00 PM ET, Facebook)
  • UTEP (-1.5) 34, Rice 29 (Saturday, 8:00 PM ET, $CUSA)
  • Baylor (-16.5) 38, UTSA 20 (Saturday, 8:00 PM ET, FSN affiliates)
  • Western Kentucky 32, Illinois (+7.5) 26 (Saturday, 8:00 PM ET, BTN)
  • Houston 29, Arizona (+1) 29 (Saturday, 10:30 PM ET, ESPNU)
  • San Diego State (+3.5) 33, Arizona State 32 (Saturday, 11:00 PM ET, Pac-12)

So what lessons did UCLA learn in Sunday’s dramatic comeback win? Are the Bruins going to shift right back to their stodgy, uncreative, pro-style ways, or was the free-wheeling UCLA offense we saw in the second half against Texas A&M the New UCLA?

If the answer is the former, unbeaten Hawaii might have a chance to make this a game. If it’s the latter, maybe not.

FBS vs. FCS

Jacksonville State v LSU
Eli Jenkins is no longer with Jacksonville State, but the Gamecocks are still explosive.
Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images
  • Utah State 42, Idaho State 15 (Thursday, 8:00 PM ET, Facebook)
  • Florida International 40, Alcorn State 21 (Friday, 7:00 PM ET, beIN)
  • Ole Miss 48, UT Martin 15 (Saturday, 12:00 PM ET, SEC+)
  • Maryland 41, Towson 16 (Saturday, 12:00 PM ET, BTN)
  • Kentucky 48, Eastern Kentucky 13 (Saturday, 12:00 PM ET, SECN)
  • Georgia Tech 43, Jacksonville State 17 (Saturday, 12:30 PM ET, FSN affiliates)
  • Temple 39, Villanova 17 (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, ESPN3)
  • Northern Illinois 40, Eastern Illinois 20 (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, ESPN3)
  • Colorado State 50, Abilene Christian 14 (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, Stadium)
  • Miami (Ohio) 45, Austin Peay 12 (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, ESPN3)
  • Kent State 40, Howard 16 (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, ESPN3)
  • Appalachian State 49, Savannah State 8 (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, ESPN3)
  • Georgia Southern 33, New Hampshire 22 (Saturday, 4:00 PM ET, ESPN3)
  • Wyoming 39, Gardner Webb 20 (Saturday, 4:00 PM ET, ATTRM)
  • Vanderbilt 50, Alabama A&M 7 (Saturday, 4:00 PM ET, SEC+)
  • California 46, Weber State 19 (Saturday, 5:00 PM ET, Pac-12)
  • Bowling Green 37, South Dakota 24 (Saturday, 6:00 PM ET, ESPN3)
  • Troy 47, Alabama State 10 (Saturday, 6:00 PM ET, ESPN3)
  • Akron 42, UAPB 19 (Saturday, 6:30 PM ET, ESPN3)
  • Texas A&M 49, Nicholls 11 (Saturday, 7:00 PM ET, ESPNU)
  • Southern Miss 40, Southern 19 (Saturday, 7:00 PM ET, Stadium)

Georgia Tech looked mostly good in a gut-wrenching loss to Tennessee, but the Yellow Jackets are dealing with both disappointment and a short week. If they lay an egg on Saturday, they could find themselves in a dogfight with an FCS top-10 team.


Each year at Football Study Hall, I have posted weekly S&P+ picks as a way of affirming the ratings’ validity. I use my S&P+ system as a complement to most of my analysis, and the picks are a way of showing it generally knows what it’s talking about.

S&P+ tends to hit between 50 (meh) and 54 percent (great) against the spread from year to year. It isn’t always the single best performer, but it holds its own. And beyond picks, it goes deeper than any other set of college football analytics on the market. You can go into granular detail regarding team strengths and weaknesses in a way that no other set of ratings allows. (See the annual team statistical profiles as proof.)

This year, I will be posting the weekly S&P+ picks at SB Nation instead of FSH.

Because I like to experiment, however, I won’t just be posting the official S&P+ picks. Go to this Google doc, and you will find three sets of picks: S&P+, F/+ (combined ratings from S&P+ and Brian Fremeau’s FEI), and what I’m calling an adjusted S&P+ pick, in which I attempt to account for two additional factors: week of play and type of game.

  • Week of play: I’m finding that there are cycles to scoring averages throughout a given season. Week 1 typically falls below the season scoring average, while the final weeks of the season tend to perk up in the scoring department. This adjusted projection will take this into account.
  • Game type: It shouldn’t be surprising to learn that the standard deviation of possible results in a game against FCS competition, for instance, is different than that of a conference game. This projection will also adjust for different types of games. This will mean some pretty extreme projections (Arkansas by 63 over FAMU, for example), but we’ll see how it performs.