Last Week Recap:
Even through the tumultuous college football landscape in Week 2, our picks were kind to us as we went 6-1 on the official plays and 2-0 on the leans. I urge you to go back to last week’s article and read through my write-ups again as I was on complete fire, especially towards the end as my last three picks were made almost to perfection. In a surprising twist, though, Alabama was our lone loss as they heavily struggled in Austin. Interesting to note, though, is the line moved in our favor 2.5 points before kickoff, which rarely happens in big college games that late in the week, and we still lost. Oh well. On to the last weekend of a majority of non-conference games before things heavily pick up for most teams’ seasons.
Texas State at #17 Baylor Under 53.0
Last year, Baylor only beat Texas State 29-20 in their first game of the season. Baylor also begins conference play next week, traveling to Ames to play Iowa State. Now, the way to beat Baylor is through the air, as their run defense has been stifling since the beginning of last year. Conversely, the Bobcats’ identity is to open up the passing game through positive run plays. Advantage: Baylor (Texas State had 43 rushing yards on 20 attempts and their QB was sacked 5 times for a loss of 43 yards against Nevada). On the other hand, Texas State’s defensive starters consists entirely of upperclassmen, and they completely reloaded in the offseason with transfers. Baylor will keep a pretty closed playbook as they want to rest heading into conference after a tough OT game against BYU last week. More importantly, Texas State is allowing just 4.2 yards per play through two games. I’m not saying this game won’t see any points, just not enough to warrant an over of 53. I see it as like 38-10 or something along those lines. Under 53.
Old Dominion +10.0 at Virginia
After getting off to a shaky 1-6 start in Ricky Rahne’s first season as head coach of Old Dominion, they turned the year around, going 5-1 in the last six outings. They almost managed to beat Virginia Tech in their first game this year, and lost by two touchdowns to a solid East Carolina football team last week. Basically, things are on the up and up for them. Virginia, meanwhile, has seemingly lost all offensive momentum they possessed a year ago from their potent attack, amassing just 3 points last week to Illinois (and only 34 to Richmond). Further, the Cavaliers are a team that lost all five offensive linemen from a year ago, top three runners, and starting tight end. It doesn’t help that they allowed just under 35 PPG to FBS teams last year, and lost eight key players on that side of the ball too. In the rebuild era for Tony Elliott, he has rough sledding ahead of him missing such key pieces at Virginia outside of a great QB and DB. I think this line should be closer to a touchdown so we’re laying the money on Old Dominion to cover the spread against the Cavaliers, who unfortunately travel to play Syracuse on Friday of next week.
Notre Dame -10.0 vs. California
Question: “Alex, why are you picking Notre Dame to win by 10 points when they can barely get to 10 points?”
Answer: California is miraculously worse at offense than the Irish. That, and Notre Dame will have spent the entire week fixing their offensive issues and won’t be taking any more games for granted this season. The Golden Bears’ best attribute last year was their above average defense that they had to completely rework heading into this season. Not to mention turnover prone QB Jack Plummer and a retooled offensive line this season. Notre Dame’s stacked defense won’t surrender more than 10-14 points in this affair (aside from the potential of pick-sixes and the like), and I’ll wager they get to 30. Final prediction: 28-10, or maybe worse, and we walk away richer because of it.
Tulane at Kansas State Over 47.0
11 of Tulane’s 22 defensive two-deep players are underclassmen on a roster that surrendered 34 points per game last year. Their middle of the road offense last year brings back the starting QB and RB, 3 of the top 5 WRs, both TEs, and 2 starting O-linemen, bringing in 2 more transfers on the line as well to replace some of the guys from last year. I point out all that to say I expect the Green Wave to put out some points this year (they’re averaging 47 against two inferior opponents so far this season). Deuce Vaughn should find plenty of success on the ground, en route to his eighth straight 100-plus yard rushing outing, with Adrian Martinez trying to manage the game in the air (without throwing the game away). But in all reality, I see this game definitely going over the total of 47 and it’s potentially my favorite play of the week. Score prediction: something like Kansas State 35, Tulane 17. Or maybe even higher than that.
#12 BYU at #25 Oregon Under 58.0
I’ve watched enough Bo Nix games to know he’s much better at home than on the road. For what it’s worth, I also believe Dan Lanning has seen Nix play enough too that he knows they won’t be able to win big games on his back. BYU was also heavily tested last week by a team similarly built to this Oregon Ducks team and they managed to hold them to 3.6 yards per play for the entire game. They’re incredibly disciplined and disruptive and will keep Nix guessing on every drop back. Lanning is an excellent defensive mind and capable of getting the most out of his players there, which is why they’ll be much improved from their Week 1 performance against the reigning national champs. They won’t shut down Jaren Hall and company by any means, but the game will be respectable both ways. I also really lean Cougars +3.5 with Kelani Sitake getting his squad off to a solid 3-0 start, but I can’t just quite pull the trigger on it. My guess on the score would be 27-24 with a BYU win, but we’ll see how it plays out to see what we think of these teams moving forward.
Kansas at Houston Over 57.0
How ‘bout those Jayhawks winning 55-42 at West Virginia last week? And no, I’m not talking about the basketball team. They seem to be steering themselves in the right direction under the rule of Lance Leipold. This week, though, we like the over to hit instead of playing the spread. Here’s the deal: Houston lost A TON of production from last year’s solid team, particularly from their offensive line and defense (namely in the form of 26 sacks). Luckily for them, Kansas is still unlikely to be disruptive defensively as they had just one TFL against WVU a week ago. And both teams are susceptible to good quarterback play, of which both teams have. We also have the added bonus of Houston’s defense being on the field for 103 plays in a 2OT game last week, so all we need is for Kansas to effectively block Derek Parish and we should be fine. I see this game in the low-60s, 35-28 or something similar.
#22 Penn State -3.0 at Auburn
In the post-season last year at Auburn, there was a witch hunt trying to get Bryan Harsin fired and it almost worked. This season though, it’s up to his team to react accordingly and either let the season fall apart or not. I believe Penn State is the better team, but with the game being on the road in such a tough environment I can’t pull the trigger, so we’ll be paying close attention to how this game plays out. It’s also scary when Sean Clifford is the better QB by a considerable margin, and both defenses should be pretty good all season long. It’s yet to be seen, though, how Auburn’s run game looks this year against stout competition. It should be noted, too, that the Tigers have 11 veteran starters this season, so after this year there will be a major overhaul on their roster. Lean Under 47.5.
Mississippi State -2.0 at LSU
This is a program-defining game for LSU. MSU is the better team this year, but Death Valley should be rocking with such a big early season game happening. Not to mention all the recruits that’ll be in attendance. All that said, the Bulldogs’ defense has been chaotic in both their outings and it’ll be intriguing to see if Jayden Daniels just elects to scramble instead of looking for receivers as he tends to do. I still expect Will Rogers to continue upon his great season, as he’s been reading opposing defenses pretty well to this point. Lean Mississippi State -2.
Akron +47.5 at #15 Tennessee
Tennessee’s entire day will consist of getting out to a comfortable halftime lead and coasting through the rest of the game. They host Florida the following week for arguably the biggest game of their season and will keep the playbook completely closed, getting their young guys as many reps as possible while resting the starters. Then again, this game could shake out similarly to the Ball State game so I won’t be playing it. Lean the Zips +47.5.
Written by Alex Hill