2014 Week Two College Football Picks
Week two of the college football season is upon us, and with more then a few ranked teams struggling against lesser opponents last week, it's looking like it could be a wide open race to see who makes the initial four team college football playoffs.
Another thing learned was the importance of paying attention to the spreads of games, namely how much they move leading up to kickoff. In last week’s picks column I talked about how the line moving six points and Wake Forest going from a favorite to an underdog in their game against UL Monroe scared me away from taking Wake, a game UL Monroe went onto win 17-10. This trend continued during the weekend, as at least four other games had good sized line moves on the day of the game that turned out in favor of the late bettors. Vanderbilt opened as a 16.5 point favorite against Temple, with the line eventually dropping to 13.5 the morning of the game. In the evening hours leading up to kickoff, the line dropped a whopping five points to 8.5 as bettors poured money in wagering on Temple. They clearly knew what they were doing, as underdog Temple went on to absolutely dominate Vandy and win 37-7. Houston opened as a 13 point favorite against UTSA. On gameday, the point spread dropped even more going from 11 to 8.5, with underdog UTSA controlling the entire game and winning 27-7. Another double digit underdog was California against Northwestern. Northwestern opened as a 12.5 point favorite, the line dropped to 10 by game day, and dropped 2.5 more points in the hours leading up to the game, with Cal winning outright 31-24. Example number four is the Alabama/West Virginia spread went from 26 to 22 on Saturday, and while Alabama did eventually pull away for a 33-23 victory, they never came remotely close to covering. Like all things gambling though, nothing is ever a guarantee. The line in the Texas/North Texas game dropped from 26 to 20.5 on gameday, and even getting their starting quarterback David Ash knocked out couldn’t slow down Texas as they went on to win convincingly 38-7.
The opening weekend of picks amounted to a 4-4 record against the Vegas line. Here is a quick rundown of the results
Tulsa – 6 Tulane– Tulsa comes back late and somehow covered six point line in overtime, winnig 38-31. (W)
Bowling Green – 7 Western Kentucky – Laughably terrible pick that was over early, WKU dominates 59-31. (L)
Arizona -23.5 UNLV – Rich Rod starts off with big win as expected routing the Mensa student athletes at UNLV 58-13. (W)
UCF – 1 Penn State – Close game through out, Penn State hits field goal with no time left to win 26-24 (L)
Marshall -24 Miami Ohio – Marshall was up 28-3 at the half but came out flat in the second, needing a late Rakeem Cato TD run to seal the victory and win 42-27. (L)
Nebraska – 21 Florida Atlantic – I thought Bo Pelini would make the game personal after the controversy of his brother’s forced resignation last year, and he certainly did. The Cornhuskers rang up 779 yards of total offense on route to a dominating 55-3 victory. (W)
Georgia -7 Clemson – Close game through out until the current best player in the country Todd Gurley took over with his own personal highlight reel in the fourth quarter as Georgia pulled away to win a convincing 45-21 win.(W)
Washington – 16 Hawaii – Tough to cover a 16 point line when you only score 17. Washington wins 17-16. (L)
Last week I picked all favorites to cover in the eight games chosen, and this week will be no different with other then one even spread game the rest of the teams picked are favorites. There are 45 games this weekend that don’t involve teams from FCS schools, here are picks for sixteen of them to hopefully start your September gambling off in the right direction.
Arizona (-7) at UTSA Thursday 8:00 PM
Thursday’s lone college football game has the misfortune of going up against the NFL opening night juggernaut between Green Bay and Seattle. Odds are, if you see someone watching this game at a bar, they probably have money on it. Arizona goes up against a UTSA team that has 20 returning starters, all of whom are seniors. As spotlighted above, UTSA was one of the double digit underdogs who beat up on a strongly favored team last week when they upset Houston 27-7. Despite the veteran squad, a letdown after such a big win has to be expected in someway or another. Arizona won last year’s game 38-13, and despite the Wildcats being 2-10 against the spread in road openers, I expect them repeat last years performance against UTSA and cover the seven point line.
PICK ARIZONA -7
Pittsburgh (-4) at Boston College Friday 7:00 PM
Pitt star receiver Tyler Boyd, who in 2013 broke multiple team freshman receiving records held by Larry Fitzgerald, dislocated his pinkie last week, but is still expected to play. Thankfully that is keeping the spread down in a game I think the Panthers will win comfortably. Last year Andre Williams was nearly the entire Boston College offense, but now he is in the NFL backing up fantasy sleeper Rashard Jennings in the New York Giants backfield. The Eagles are well known for their impressive record of sending offensive linemen to the pros, but they’ve also earned a reputation for not stepping up against quality opponents. Though Pittsburgh might not be ranked, they’re a good team definitely four points better then a B.C. team that’s 1-3 against the spread in its last four home openers
PICK PITTSBURGH – 4
Penn State (-14) vs Akron Saturday 12:00 PM
The Nittany Lions won a close one in Dublin last weekend against UCF, and thankfully get to relax this week against an Akron that hasn’t beaten a team from the Big Ten since the 1800s(no exaggeration). The only time Penn State lost a home opener in the last twelve years was during their scandal plagued 2012 season, and they’re going up against a team that has lost its last twenty road openers by an average of four touchdowns. I lost picking against Penn State last week, I’ll go with them this week.
PICK PENN STATE -14
Missouri (-3) at Toledo Saturday 12:00 PM
This line opened at six and has quickly dropped to three since. Missouri struggled last week against South Dakota State pulling ahead late to win 38-18, while Toledo and running back Russell Hansbrough took care of UNH 54-20. I know Toledo is a popular upset pick, and that laying points on the road early in the year with significantly less experienced team (8 returning starters for Missouri, 16 for Toledo) is never a good idea, but I still like the Tigers in this one. The line is too small for a Missouri team that is 7-1 against the spread in their last eight games against teams with losing records, going up against a Toledo team that is 1-6 against the spread in their last seven home games against teams with a winning record. Going against my ramblings above about paying attention to big lines moves, I’m picking Mizzou.
PICK MISSOURI – 3
Kansas State (-12) at Iowa State Saturday 12:00 PM
In last week’s loss to North Dakota State, Iowa State lost their star wide receiver Quenton Bundrage Jr. for the season due to a torn ACL. That doesn’t bode well for them against a Kansas State that has beaten them the last six times they’ve played. Furthermore, Iowa State is 1-7-1 against the spread in their last nine games against teams with winning records and could possibly be distracted by looking ahead to next week’s game against their interstate rival the Iowa Hawkeyes. Gotta go with Bill Snyder and the Wildcats in this one.
PICK KANSAS STATE -12
North Texas (–2.5) vs SMU Saturday 12:00 PM
North Texas plays well at home against lessor teams (8-0 in their last eight home games against teams with losing records) and has had recent success following a rough defeat like the beating they took last week against Texas (4-0 ATS following a 20 point loss). Neither team is very good, but as the next game will show you, it could be worse.
PICK NORTH TEXAS – 2.5
New Mexico State (EVEN) at Georgia State Saturday 2:00 PM
If you averaged the preseason rankings of all 128 college football teams, these would be 127 and 128. Georgia State was 0-12 last year and New Mexico State is 3-24 in their last 27 games. While New Mexico State has the nations longest streak with 54 years without a bowl game, more importantly for this week is that Georgia State has injury concerns with their top three running backs. Someone has to win this, hopefully my crapfest coin toss is right on this one.
PICK NEW MEXICO STATE EVEN
Maryland (-12.5) at South Florida Saturday 3:30 PM
South Florida running back Marlon Mack had 275 yards rushing and four touchdowns last week. Thankfully for him and the rest of the team, this helped to overshadow everyone else’s terribleness against an inferior Western Carolina squad who they barely beat 36-31. Maryland and their nine returning starters on defense shouldn’t face an issue covering the spread against a South Florida team that has gone 5-25 in their last 30 games against BCS teams.
PICK MARYLAND -12.5
Georgia Tech (-10) at Tulane Saturday 4:00 PM
Georgia Tech struggled mightily last week, leading Wofford by only five at halftime and are going up against a Tulane team who will be fired up playing their first game in a new stadium. Regardless, I still like the Yellow Jackets to continue their recent road success against non-ranked teams (6-1 against the spread in last seven games) and beat a Tulane squad who might be suffering from a letdown hangover after letting a win slip away against Tulsa in overtime last week.
PICK GEORGIA TECH -10
NC State (-17) vs Old Dominion Saturday 6:00 PM
NC State was another ACC team that struggled against inferior competition last week, only beating Georgia Southern 24-23. Here’s thinking that the Wolfpack right the ship and add onto a 14-2 streak at home against non conference teams.
PICK NC STATE -17
Arizona State (-25) at New Mexico Saturday 7:00 PM
New Mexico has lost fifteen straight games against ranked opponents by an average of 33 points per game and is not only missing their starting quarterback, but their backup is banged up as well. Arizona State is ranked in the top 20 and if full NCAA polls existed, New Mexico is probably around 120. Giving a little less then four touchdowns on the road early in the season is usually not a good thing, but when the talent differential is this high, you have to lay the points.
PICK ARIZONA STATE -25
UL Monroe (-14) vs Idaho Saturday 7:00 PM
UL Lafayette (-14) vs La.Tech Saturday 7:00 PM
The UL double feature has both teams playing at home against inferior teams. UL Lafayette received votes in both the Associated Press and Coaches poll this week and UL Monroe is playing one of the worst teams in the country in Idaho. That’s pretty much it.
PICKS UL LAFAYETTE -14 & UL MONROE -14
Notre Dame (-3) vs Michigan
Recent history in this matchup favors Michigan as they are 6-2 in the last eight games played, and the underdog has won seven of the last ten. The Wolverines looked to be in for a good season and should be favored in at least eight of their last ten games. I just think that this years Irish team is too strong, and with their tough schedule the rest of the season(mid October plays Stanford, UNC and at Florida State/last month of season plays at Arizona State, Louisville and at USC), this game is crucial to their success. This is the last game in the near future that these teams will play, and with the Wolverines having dominated recently in the series, Notre Dame would like nothing more then go out on top in front of the Irish faithful in South Bend. Michigan has three wins against ranked teams in the last five years, they won’t get the fourth on this one.
PICK NOTRE DAME -3
Boise State (-10) vs Colorado State Saturday 10:15 PM
This line is an overreaction to last week’s results in which Boise lost 35-13 to a ranked Ole Miss team and Colorado State won against Colorado 31-17. Boise isn’t as good as they’ve been in recent years, but they are still significantly more then ten points better at home then Colorado State, a team they’ve beaten the last three years by an average of 30 points per game. Boise is 24-1 their last twenty five games at home vs unranked teams, the streak continues.
PICK BOISE STATE – 10
Texas Tech (-20) at UTEP Saturday 11:00 PM
Last week, I got Saturday’s final game of the night/bailout game wrong in picking Washington to beat Hawaii. Hopefully Texas Tech keeps their recent success on road openers going (last four years have won by average of five touchdowns per game) against a UTEP team that hasn’t covered the spread in their last five games against a team with a winning record. If you don’t want to wait fourteen hours for the NFL games to start, take the Red Raiders
PICK TEXAS TECH – 20
Please feel free to leave any comments below, especially if you have any good picks of your own. Good luck this weekend, and as always, happy gambling.