NCAA Football Predictions: Week 2 Opening Line Report and Picks
Remember when Florida State and Tennessee were programs that mattered? On Jan. 4, 1999, in the Fiesta Bowl, the Vols won their last national title by beating Florida State 23-16. The next year, the Seminoles won it all. Those years must feel like forever ago to the respective fan bases in the wake of what happened on Saturday.
Florida State was gifted a home game when its matchup against Boise State was moved from Jacksonville to Tallahassee because of the threat of Hurricane Dorian. Didn't matter as FSU lost 36-31. The Noles blew a 31-13 lead to a Broncos team starting a true freshman quarterback. That QB, Hank Bachmeier, threw for 407 yards, the most ever by a Boise State first-time starting quarterback. He was 8-for-12 for 136 yards on third down, with all eight completions leading to first downs. The Broncos were 10 of 19 on third down and the Seminoles 1 of 12. FSU managed just 68 second-half yards. To say Coach Willie Taggart is on the hot seat now is a bit of an understatement. The Seminoles are -21.5 this week at home against UL Monroe.
At least FSU lost to a good team. Tennessee might have hit rock bottom with 38-30 home loss to Georgia State, which was a 25-point underdog and got paid $950,000 to show up. The Panthers, picked to finish last in the Sun Belt Conference, only launched their program in 2010, had never beaten a Power 5 school, and were 2-10 last year. Georgia State held the Volunteers to 93 yards rushing on 31 carries, while allowing only one rush of longer than 10 yards. In classic form, former Florida coach Steve Spurrier got off a zinger about his former bitter rival being embarrassed:
"They just thoroughly beat Tennessee," Spurrier told Andy Staples of The Athletic. "It wasn't any fluke. There weren't any fluky plays. They were 26-point underdogs, is that right? Rocky Top might be Rocky Bottom for a week or two until they win one, I guess."
The Vols are 3.5-point favorites at home Saturday vs. BYU. The Cougars were thumped 30-12 by Utah in Week 1.
Here are a few Week 2 opening lines that caught my eye. Games Saturday unless noted. Picks are ATS and rankings could change when new polls are released.
No. 12 Texas A&M at No. 1 Clemson (-18.5): These teams played a great game in Week 2 in College Station last year, with the Tigers winning 28-26 - Trevor Lawrence wasn't even the team's starting quarterback yet, which almost seems laughable now. He did play, though, going 5-for-9 for 93 yards and a score. Kelly Bryant, now at Missouri, was 12-for-17 for 205 yards and a score while rushing for 54 yards and a touchdown. Kellen Mond hit Kendrick Rodgers on a 24-yard TD pass with 46 seconds left, but the Aggies' 2-point try was no good. They had 501 yards of offense. A&M opened last weekend with a 41-7 win over Texas State, picking off four passes. That's the most for the Aggies since 2006. Mond threw for three scores and rushed for one. Clemson opened its title defense with a 52-14 win over Georgia Tech last Thursday. Travis Etienne rushed for a career-high 205 yards and three touchdowns in Clemson's 16th straight win. Lawrence struggled a bit, completing 13 of 23 for 168 yards and two picks. Some books have dropped him down to a co-favored role with Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa as the Heisman favorite. Pick: Texas A&M.
No. 6 LSU at No. 10 Texas (+4.5): Could be an early College Football Playoff elimination game because I expect both clubs will lose at least once more this season. No team has reached the playoff with two losses. ESPN GameDay will be in Austin. You may remember that LSU tried to hire Tom Herman in 2016 (and reportedly had agreed to his contract demands), but he chose Texas - and probably got more money than he would have by using LSU as leverage. On Nov. 26, 2016, Texas announced it had hired Herman and LSU the same day announced Ed Orgeron was no longer the school's interim coach but full-time guy. LSU blew out Georgia Southern 55-3 in Week 1. Joe Burrow tied a school record with five TD passes and did it in the first half. The Tigers' point total was their most in a non-overtime game since scoring 63 against New Mexico State in 2014. Texas was a 45-14 win over Louisiana Tech. Sam Ehlinger threw four touchdown passes. Herman had been 0-2 in openers at UT. Pick: LSU.
No. 25 Stanford at USC (TBA): I'm not going to include games that don't have a line very often but we have to address each team's quarterback here. Southern Cal beat Fresno State 31-23 on Saturday but lost starting QB J.T. Daniels to a season-ending knee injury. He tore both his ACL and meniscus, but at least it happened early enough in the year to where Daniels can still redshirt. He will be replaced by true freshman Kedon Slovis, who beat out redshirt junior Matt Fink and redshirt sophomore Jack Sears to win the No. 2 job during training camp even though the latter two guys were much more highly-touted recruits. Sears has since left the team. Slovis was 6-for-8 for 57 yards with a pick vs. the Bulldogs. Meanwhile, Stanford QB K.J. Costello left Saturday's 17-7 win over Northwestern with a head injury near the end of the first half, and his uncertain status is why this opened with a TBA. He was 16-for-20 for 152 yards with a TD before going down. His backup is touted freshman Davis Mills, who was 7-for-14 for 81 yards in relief. I can tell you I'll be going under what's likely to be a low total in this one if Costello doesn't play. It's the sixth straight year that USC opens Pac-12 play vs. Stanford, which has won nine of the past 12 in the series. Pick: Stanford even if Costello sits.
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