NCAA Football Predictions: Week 2 Opening Line Report and Picks
by Alan Matthews - 9/1/2014
What an interesting first week of college football. Obviously it's way too early to read too much into things, but Florida State doesn't look all that invulnerable unless Oklahoma State is way better than we think. Alabama looks somewhat overrated, while Texas A&M appears underrated. If I'm a Cleveland Browns fan I'm pretty worried at the moment. Kenny Hill looked as good as if not better than Manziel ever did in his first career start.Hill has jumped up to +1000 to win the Heisman on Sportsbook.ag. Maybe Kevin Sumlin is the true superstar of that Aggies program. I'm calling it right now: Sumlin will be the coach of the Dallas Cowboys in 2015. Here's a look at a few interesting matchups on the Week 2 schedule. There were no totals out as of this writing.
East Carolina at South Carolina (-16): I truly couldn't love East Carolina more here. I guess there are two ways South Carolina could go after it was punked by A&M. The Gamecocks could come out like gangbusters and trounce ECU, but I don't see that happening. I think it goes the other way. USC comes out flat and is frankly much more interested in looking ahead to next week's game with Georgia, because that becomes the whole season. Lose that, and the SEC East title is all but gone. The Pirates are a terrific offensive team with QB Shane Carden, and South Carolina's best offensive player, running back Mike Davis, is likely to sit out after re-aggravating an ankle injury against the Aggies. The pick: ECU. The early action is heavy on South Carolina, so I'm holding out here in case it gets above 17.5.
BYU at Texas (-3.5): Do you remember when these teams played early last season in Provo? BYU clobbered the Longhorns 40-21, rushing for an obscene 550 yards, 259 of those by quarterback Taysom Hill, the most by any QB in Division I since Texas' Vince Young in 2005. That really was the end of the line for ex-Texas coach Mack Brown. He fired defensive coordinator Manny Diaz the next day. Brown, of course, made it through the season, but that embarrassment essentially stamped his ticket into retirement. Hill is back and had a huge Week 1 game in a blowout of UConn. Texas will be without starting QB David Ash. He was dinged up in a 38-7 win over North Texas. If it's concussion-related again, his career might be over. He missed much of last season because of similar problems. Sophomore Tyrone Swoopes will start. The pick: Horns exact payback.
Michigan State at Oregon (-13): This is the nonconference game of the regular season, the only scheduled nonconference matchup of the year between Top 10 teams (that could obviously change depending on the polls). It's also where ESPN GameDay will be. I would argue that a close loss for Michigan State would be just fine in terms of reaching the College Football Playoff, but if Sparty gets blown off the field, the Big Ten really has an image problem. Especially after Ohio State looked very average against Navy and Wisconsin choked away a sure win against LSU last week. Michigan State essentially is Stanford in the way the Spartans play, and we all know how much trouble the Cardinal give Oregon. Not since Oklahoma in 2006 has Oregon had such a highly-ranked nonconference opponent visit Autzen Stadium. The pick: Oregon wins a close one.
USC at Stanford (-3): Jump on this line before it possibly moves to 3.5. I'm fairly shocked it's not at a touchdown. USC is being overvalued simply because it is USC. True, the Trojans looked pretty good in their season-opening 52-13 blowout of Fresno State, in which USC ran a Pac-12 record 105 plays, but in my opinion the books are reading too much into that because Fresno State isn't half as good as the team USC beat 45-20 in last season's Las Vegas Bowl. USC also played 11 true freshman, and that will catch up to the Trojans against a disciplined, experienced team like Stanford. Plus the Cardinal will be hungry for a little retribution after their national title hopes were ruined last season in L.A., a 20-17 loss to the Trojans. The pick: Stanford.
San Jose State at Auburn (-31): This line is at least three points too high. I believe Auburn takes this game for granted and is more worried about its next game, at Kansas State. Arkansas played Auburn evenly for a half in their opener. San Jose State is replacing star quarterback David Fales but had no trouble in its opener, a 42-10 win over North Dakota. I'm not exactly predicting an upset here, but should SJSU pull it off it would be the first time in school history it would beat ranked teams in consecutive games (against ranked teams). The Spartans closed last season by upsetting No. 16 Fresno State. The pick: Take SJSU but wait until later in the week. This number is climbing.
Air Force at Wyoming (pick'em): I will almost always touch on any games that are a "pick'em" because I believe they are tremendous value when all you have to do is pick the right side. Wyoming was fortunate to win its opener against Montana, while AFA rushed for 539 yards in a blowout of Nicholls State. It's always tough to prepare for that option attack. Maybe if the Cowboys had two weeks to do it. The pick: Air Force.
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