NCAA Football Predictions: Week 2 Opening Line Report and Picks
Not a great opening weekend for the football-rich states of Texas and Florida.
The No. 23 Texas Longhorns were spanked at home by unranked Maryland, 51-41, in Tom Herman's UT coaching debut. Perhaps Charlie Strong wasn't the problem after all. The Terps are probably only the fourth-best team in the Big Ten East Division but put up 482 yards on what was supposed to be a good Texas defense. The Horns didn't look disciplined at all with 11 penalties for 117 yards and two turnovers. Herman will get that program fixed eventually, but it could be a long season. Herman is the 30th head coach in Longhorn history and just the third to lose his first game with the program, joining John Mackovic in 1992 and David McWilliams in 1987. I'm sure Texas will win big this week at home against a lousy San Jose State squad. UT is -28.5.
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At least Texas lost to a program you have heard of. Baylor was shocked at home by little Liberty, which won't be a full-time FBS school until 2019. Liberty had never defeated a Big 12 school before in school history and previously had only four wins over FBS opponents. Baylor's only previous loss to a lower-level team came in 1981 to Lamar. New Baylor coach Matt Rhule has a lot of work to do. It won't help that starting running back JaMycal Hasty left the loss with a knee injury that Rhule said could keep him out for a month. The Bears were already without 1,000-yard rusher Terence Williams, who is expected to be out another month with a shoulder injury. Baylor is -16.5 this week vs. UTSA.
The seat of Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin went from hot to nuclear on Sunday night when his Aggies managed to blow a 44-10 third-quarter lead at UCLA and lose 45-44. Bruins QB Josh Rosen made an early Heisman statement in throwing 491 yards and four fourth-quarter touchdowns for the biggest comeback win in the FBS since 2006. Aggies redshirt freshman QB Nick Starkel won the starting job but had to leave in the third quarter due to a foot injury. Fellow freshman Kellen Mond really struggled in his place. Not clear who will start this week vs. Nicholls State. The Bruins might be stating at a trap game vs. 2-0 Hawaii.
The University of Florida has struggled to find a good quarterback since Tim Tebow graduated, and the No. 17 Gators apparently still don't have one. They were inept offensively in a 33-17 loss to No. 11 Michigan. UF had 182 yards of offense and both touchdowns were by the defense. It was the Gators' first season-opening loss since 1989 - then again, Florida usually played cupcakes at home in Week 1. I truly believe that Coach Jim McElwain could be in trouble if this offensive problem continues.
Florida State fell to 1-7 all-time against AP No. 1 teams with its 24-7 loss to Alabama in Atlanta. FSU's defense played well in holding the Tide to 269 yards, but the offense had only 250 yards of its own and turned it over three times. To make matters much worse, star quarterback Deondre Francois left in the fourth quarter with a knee injury that is season-ending. No FBS freshman threw for more yards last year than Francois. The Noles won't miss him this week vs. UL Monroe but surely will on Sept. 16 vs. Miami. I no longer think FSU wins the ACC title or reaches the College Football Playoff. True freshman James Blackman took over for Francois vs. the Tide and likely will start going forward. He was a three-star recruit out of Belle Glades Central High in south Florida. According to 247sports.com, Blackman was ranked as the No. 34 pro-style quarterback in the 2017 class.
Here are a few Week 2 opening lines that caught my eye. Games Saturday unless noted.No new rankings out until Tuesday this week with a game Labor Day Night.
No. 10 Oklahoma State at South Alabama (+27), Friday: We won't overreact too much to what happened in Week 1, but I'm feeling good about my prediction of Oklahoma State being the best team in the Big 12 and QB Mason Rudolph winning the Heisman Trophy. He threw for 303 yards (just four incompletions in 24 attempts) and three scores while running for another touchdown in OSU's 59-24 blowout of a pretty solid Tulsa team. Rudolph joined Brandon Weeden as the only Cowboys quarterbacks to surpass 9,000 yards in career passing. James Washington, maybe the nation's top receiver, caught six passes for 145 yards and two scores. The Pokes had 640 total yards. South Alabama opened with a 47-27 loss at Ole Miss. Not quite sure how South Alabama landed a home game here vs. a Power 5 foe. I'm sure the Jaguars had to agree to visit Stillwater at least a few times in return. This could be a trap game for Oklahoma State with a visit to Pittsburgh next. The Pick: USA.
No. 7 Oklahoma at No. 2 Ohio State (-7): This could be a College Football Playoff elimination game for the loser. I was wrong on the Buckeyes in Week 1 as I thought they'd fail to cover the 21 points at Indiana last Thursday. Felt good about that pick when the Hoosiers led 21-20 with less than five minutes to go in the third quarter, but then talent won out in a 49-21 victory. J.K. Dobbins looks like the next great OSU running back with 181 yards on the ground, a school record for a freshman. He only started because Mike Weber, last year's leading rusher as a freshman, was out with a hamstring injury. Weber might have lost his job. Oklahoma opened the Lincoln Riley Era with a 56-7 rout of UTEP. Two-time Heisman finalist Baker Mayfield was magnificent in completing 19 of 20 for 329 yards and three scores in just a half of work. These two played last year in Norman and the Buckeyes rolled. ESPN's College GameDay will be in Columbus. It will mark the show's 16th appearance in Columbus, tied for most with Tuscaloosa, Ala. Ohio State will tie Alabama for most total appearances with its 40th (Oklahoma makes its 31st appearance). 5Dimes lets you beat each week which headgear Lee Corso will wear. The Pick: Ohio State (I'd shop around for 6.5).
No. 12 Auburn at No. 5 Clemson (-6.5): Deshaun Watson who? OK, let's not get ahead of ourselves, but his backup the past two seasons, Kelly Bryant, threw for 236 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 77 yards and a score in the defending national champions' 56-3 win over Kent State. It was the Tigers' most points in a season opener since 1990. Needless to say, that injury to FSU's Francois could benefit Clemson in a big way. At full strength, I had FSU winning in Death Valley on Nov. 11 but don't think so now. Auburn routed Georgia Southern 41-7 in Week 1. Baylor transfer QB Jarrett Stidham threw for two scores and ran for another in his Auburn debut. Last year's leading rusher, Kamryn Pettway, and wide receiver Kyle Davis were held out for undisclosed reasons. Then running back Kerryon Johnson left with a hamstring injury in the first half. Johnson finished with 16 carries for 136 yards and a score. His status this week is TBA. I can all but assure you that Pettway and Davis are playing, though. Clemson opened last season with a 19-13 win at Auburn. The Pick: Clemson.
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