NCAA Football Predictions: Week 2 Opening Line Report and Picks
My three opening takes from Week 1 of the college football season? I'm liking my pick of Will Grier to be the first Heisman winner ever at West Virginia, Jim Harbaugh is one of the most overrated coaches in NCAA history, and the Pac-12 is already in a world of hurt and in jeopardy of missing the College Football Playoff again.
Grier was spectacular in the Mountaineers' 40-14 win over Tennessee. He threw for 429 yards and five touchdowns - two other sure TDs were dropped. He's going to put up monster numbers all year with two of the country's top receivers in David Sills V and Gary Jennings Jr. With Texas shockingly losing at Maryland, WVU looks like Oklahoma's main competition in the Big 12.
The Pac-12's supposed top team, Washington, probably should have beaten Auburn in Atlanta but kept shooting itself in the foot and lost 21-16. Not a good look for a conference that was left out of last season's playoff and went 1-8 in bowl games. Washington pretty much has to win out now to have any shot at the playoff. To make matters worse, UCLA lost as a big favorite at Cincinnati and Arizona fell at home to BYU.
I'll admit that I thought Ole Miss transfer Shea Patterson would solve Harbaugh's quarterback problem at Michigan, but that wasn't the case in Michigan's 24-17 loss at Notre Dame (which, to be fair, should be one of the country's best defensive teams). Patterson was a meh 20-for-30 for 227 yards with a pick. What was baffling was that Harbaugh didn't take advantage of Patterson's mobility at all; he rushed five times for negative 21 yards. All the Michigan homers surely will sing Harbaugh's praises again as he wins the next five games, but wake me when the Wolverines hit a three-game stretch of Wisconsin, at Michigan State and Penn State.
Here are a few Week 2 opening lines that caught my eye. Games Saturday unless noted. Picks are ATS. Rankings from last week's poll.
Colorado at Nebraska (-4.5): We have to wait a week to see the Cornhuskers debut of coach Scott Frost. Nebraska's game Saturday against Akron was canceled due to severe weather and won't be rescheduled. Have to love those loyal Huskers fans (not that there's anything else to do in Nebraska) as they still sold out a game for an NCAA-record 362nd straight time despite the weather. There was some talk about playing the game Sunday, but apparently Akron had some logistical challenges (i.e.: the school already got paid a fat appearance fee so why bother getting crushed if you don't have to). Another Big 12 school, Iowa State, also had its game vs. South Dakota State canceled due to weather. The Cyclones are still hoping to play someone on their bye week bye (Oct. 20) or on Dec. 1 if they aren't aren't playing for the Big 12 championship (they won't be). The Buffs opened with a 45-13 throttling of Colorado State last Friday. Of course, these teams used to be Big 12 rivals. They haven't played since 2010. The pick: Nebraska.
No. 2 Clemson at Texas A&M (+12.5): This game was obviously scheduled years ago, but it's a great story line now because Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney and new Aggies head coach Jimbo Fisher used to reign supreme in the ACC. The Tigers might already have a QB controversy. In their 48-7 win over FCS school Furman, Kelly Bryant started as planned, but true freshman Trevor Lawrence, the top-rated QB recruit by some services, looked better. He was 9-for-15 for 137 yards and three scores. Clemson scored on all five of Lawrence's drives. Swinney says both guys will play again vs. Texas A&M but didn't say who would start. One would presume it would be Bryant only with his experience and this is Clemson's first road game and a very hostile environment. Fisher's debut was a success as A&M routed some school called Northwestern State, 59-7. Trayveon Williams rushed for 240 yards and three scores in barely more than two quarters of work. It was the second-best rushing performance in school history. The pick: Texas A&M.
No. 15 USC at No. 13 Stanford (-4.5): Frankly, it's a pretty weak schedule overall this week, and this is the only game as of now that features two ranked teams, although that could change with the new polls. True freshman QB J.T. Daniels, the 2017 Gatorade national high school player of the year, started a bit slowly for the Trojans but clearly got more comfortable as the game went in a 43-21 win over UNLV. He finished 22-for-35 for 282 yards and a touchdown. He was the first true freshman quarterback to start at USC since Matt Barkley in 2009 - they went to the same L.A.-area powerhouse high school. The Cardinal opened with a 31-10 home win over San Diego State last Friday. Bryce Love's Heisman candidacy didn't get off to a great start as the 2017 runner-up finished with just 29 yards rushing on 18 carries. K.J. Costello made up for that, throwing for 332 yards and four scores. Stanford lost at USC last season, 42-24, and then in the Pac-12 title game to the Trojans, 31-28. The pick: Stanford.
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