Texas Football: not back. I should've known when I saw the picture of the Arkansas fan's house that had mowed the "Horns Down" logo into their yard that the game would be far too hostile for a freshman QB alongside Texas' new head coach. Regardless, a 1-2 week brings us to a ho-hum 4-3 record on the year. On the bright side, however, my leans last week went 4-1 if you happened to tail those. Nevertheless, we move onward en route to our first perfect weekend of the young season right here. Let's dive in. Oh, and please make sure I don't bet too many more away favorites this year unless I'm absolutely certain of a cover as these crowds are raucous and ready for blood.
New Mexico +30.0 @ #7 Texas A&M & Under 50
New Mexico started the year off 2-0 including a big win over in-state rival New Mexico State. They now go into College Station to face off against 7th ranked goliaths, Texas A&M. Obviously, they're immediately put at a disadvantage. But some of that is negated in the fact that they have a senior transfer QB from an SEC school, Kentucky, in Terry Wilson. I'm not saying he's incredible, but his experience is just what a team like the Lobos need to keep a game respectable. Further, Haynes King will remain sidelined for at least another month. If you watched any of A&M's game against Colorado you'd know the backup, Zach Calzada, played bad. Really bad. They put up less than 300 yards of offense against the Buffaloes, mostly due to his ineptitude. But as bad as their offense was, the defense was completely dominant, and will be all season long. Finally, the Aggies begin SEC play the following week against a red-hot Arkansas team that you have to imagine they're looking ahead to. A&M by maybe 3 touchdowns, and the total definitely stays under.
#8 Cincinnati -4.0 @ Indiana & Under 49.5
Okay, I'm breaking my rule and betting a road favorite as this game sees the Hoosiers as 4 point home dogs to Luke Fickell and company. It features two name-worthy QBs with experienced, aggressive defenses. Both teams averaged north of two takeaways per game last year and are capable of carrying their offense on down nights, such as this weekend. I don't feel as though Michael Penix is fully healthy from his ACL tear from last November, and this Cincy defensive front is elite, one of the best in the nation. The Bearcats can be somewhat susceptible through the air at times, but I don't believe Indiana will be able to take advantage and their O-line has been subpar through the first two contests this year. The question to ask is do you think Indiana will be converting third and 6-plus throughout the game, to which I'd say not. My prediction for this game is Cincinnati winning, something like 27-17.
San Diego State +9.0 vs. Utah
SDSU are 9 point dogs to the visiting Utes, where the total sits at just 44.5 points. The Utes have given up 20-plus points in 8 straight contests against FBS opponents and are potentially one of the youngest two-deep defenses in the nation. Meanwhile, Brady Hoke, who I'm 99% certain dreams and daydreams about a multitude of ways of possessing the best run defense, is back with the Aztecs for the second time in his head coaching career. Here's the point, though: I don't see Utah running on SDSU effectively at all, which puts the pressure on their QB, who boasts' a miniscule 7.4 career average yards per pass and 1.47 touchdown passes per game average. The Aztecs don't need to do anything outrageous offensively, so long as they stick to their gameplan and attempt to wear down the Utes. In the past 25 games, The Aztecs have only allowed two teams to top 26.5 points, and Utah's offense doesn't qualify as being of superior talent/scheming to get themselves there. My official play is SDSU +8 but I really like Utah's team total under 27 points.
Mississippi State -3.0 @ Memphis & Under 64.5
My only qualm with the spread is MSU's offensive woes away from Starkville, but this will be the greatest defensive challenge Memphis will face this year. Additionally, Brady White has finally left Memphis, taking with him numerous records as he is arguably the greatest QB the Tigers have ever deployed. I see the Bulldogs commanding the line of scrimmage in this game, specifically stopping Memphis' rush attack. Freshman QB Seth Henigan seems to have great touch throwing the ball, but I don't like his odds faring and testing the waters against an SEC defense known to be confusing for opposing quarterbacks. Further, although these teams haven't met much recently, State is 10-0 straight up in their last 10 meetings. Now, obviously Memphis has come a long way since those days, but there's still a strength gap I don't believe they'll be able to surmount. There are two stats most telling for this Memphis defense though. First, they just allowed 582 yards of offense through the air last week - wait, what offense does Mississippi State run again? Second, through two games against an FCS opponent and Arkansas State, they've only forced a handful of three and outs. Not good. I don't believe this is a look-ahead or let down spot for either team as it will be one of Memphis' toughest matchups and Mike Leach knows he needs these wins as much as any program in the country.
#10 Penn State -5.0 vs. #22 Auburn
I was a Bo Nix believer early last year, thinking he was the answer to their problems. I was half right. He only is at home. On the road, however, he's terribly erratic, much like his new coach, Bryan Harsin. In his 20 losses at Boise State (14 of which away from home), his teams averaged just 2.83 yards per carry (YPC) as opposed to their typical 4.45 YPC in their wins. We don't know a ton about this year's Auburn team, but in these instances you just have to go based on history. PSU will be poised to stop a talented Tank Bigsby and from there I see Bo Nix failing to succeed as he will be forced to try and make plays out of his comfort zone. Realistically, as long as Sean Clifford doesn't attempt to force too many plays against Auburn's DBs Smoke Monday and Roger McCreary, their offense should be sufficient enough to get the job done. Ultimately, this game is close until around halftime, when PSU will pull away. The Nittany Lions in a night, white-out game at home (which is on my bucket list) will ultimately be too much for the visiting Tigers.
#1 Alabama at #11 Florida Over 60.0
Some key Bama defensive players hurt, Anthony Richardson has looked like a man amongst boys in his limited action.
#22 Auburn at #10 Penn State Under 53.0
Two defenses that are probably more trustworthy than their offenses.
Utah Team Total Under 27.0
SDSU defense is great, I don't trust Charlie Brewer.
Ball State +7.0 @ Wyoming
Capable super senior QB against younger defense that just allowed 43 points.
Fresno State +11.5 at #13 UCLA
Sneaky good Fresno team with a great QB that should keep the game interesting.
Written by Alex Hill