Most seasons week two of college football is primarily filled with a second matchup between a powerhouse tuning up against an overmatched inferior team prior to conference play, and for the most part this year is no different. There are two notable exceptions, both involving teams from the same pair of states. Oregon State travels to Ann Arbor seeking to spoil Jim Harbaugh’s home debut as head coach of the Michigan Wolverines in an early game, and number seven ranked Oregon is at number five Michigan State on Saturday night. There are also two other games between ranked teams worth watching: Oklahoma (#19) at Tennessee (#23), and LSU (#14) at Mississippi State (#25).
South Florida at Florida State (-28½) (under 55); 11:30 am ET on espn
Just a few years ago USF was fielding a nationally ranked team and producing NFL prospects like George Selvie, Mike Jenkins, Tyrone McKenzie Jason Pierre-Paul and Nate Allen; now the Bulls are not even close to Central Florida as being considered the state’s fourth best team. That big a spread will scare many away, but I’m willing to place one unit on the Seminoles to cover.
Western Michigan (-4½) at Georgia Southern (under 56½); 6:00 pm
Without Kevin Ellison, GSU has no chance. Favian Upshaw was awful last week, going 2-13 with four picks against West Virginia. I’ll place one unit on the Broncos as a road favorite and another on the under, withe the Eagles defense keeping the score relatively close.
Buffalo (+17½) at Penn State (under 49); 12 noon on espn2
The Nittany Lions allowed a whopping ten sacks against Temple last week, including one when the Owls rushed only two players. Penn State will play with a chip on their shoulder after that debacle, but I don’t think that alone will be enough to cover the spread.
Army at Connecticut (- 6½) (under 48½); 12 noon on cbssn
Last year UConn snatched defeat from the jaws of victory when a would-be tying touchdown pass was returned 99 yards for a pick-six by Army. The Huskies’ defense looked good in last week’s upset over Villanova, but it’s difficult to back UConn with much confidence considering how bad they have been in recent years.
East Carolina (+21) at Florida (53½); 7:00 pm on espn2
Considering how impotent they have been the last couple years, I just have trouble backing the Gators as a three-touchdown favorite against anybody.
Houston at Louisville (-13½) (under 57½); 12 noon on fox sports
Former wide receiver Greg Ward is as much of a threat to run as he is to pass for Houston, but the Cougars don’t have enough overall talent to keep up with Louisville.
Fresno State (+31½) at #17 Mississippi (over 54½); 3:30 pm on espn2
Despite the obvious disparity in the skill levels between the Bulldogs and Ole Miss, that point spread appears to be a little too high.
Temple at Cincinnati (-6½) (under 55½); 8:00 pm on espnn
I have a hunch that Temple will have a bit of an emotional letdown after last week’s huge upset over Penn State; Cincinnati’s offense will be too much for the Owls.
#14 LSU (-3½) at #25 Mississippi State (over 48); 9:15 on espn
Last year the Bulldogs shocked LSU in a 34-29 win at Tiger Stadium, with Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott totaling 373 yards of offense – including 105 yards rushing. The LSU players have been waiting 365 days for revenge, and Leonard Fournette, Travin Dural, Malachi Dupre and Tyron Johnson comprise what is arguably the best foursome of offensive talent in the nation this year. Two units on Louisiana State to cover as road dogs, and another on the over.
Miami of Ohio (+31½) at Wisconsin (over 52); 12 noon on espnu
Not a fan of big chalk, so I’ll give a very slight lean to the Redhawks to cover.
Kansas State at Texas-San Antonio (+22½) (over 51½); 12 noon on foxsports1
UTSA has just enough offensive firepower to cover, and go over the game’s point total.
Marshall (-3) at Ohio (over 59½); 7:00 pm
Ohio is one of the better teams in the MAC, but Marshall’s offense will overwhelm the Bobcats. Look for a high scoring game: The Thundering Herd defeated Purdue 41-31 last week, while Ohio beat Idaho 45-28. Three units on the over.
Hawaii (+41½) at #1 Ohio State (under 65½); 3:30 pm
As tempting as it is to take the dog and that many points, I’m not going to touch this game. A final score of something like 77-0 would not surprise me in the least.
Wake Forest (+4½) at Syracuse (under 41½); 12:30 pm
The Orange lost starting quarterback Terrell Hunt to a season-ending Achilles’ tendon injury last week, leaving freshman QB Eric Dungey to make his first start against a solid Wake defense. I’ll go with one unit on the Deacons to cover, and one unit on the under.
Appalachian State (+20) at Clemson (under 58½); 12:30 pm
Granted it was against inferior competition, but Appalachian State looked impressive in a 49-0 shutout over Howard last week; they held a 33-8 edge in first downs and a 663 to 171 advantage in total yards. One unit on the Mountaineers to cover the point spread.
#21 Missouri (-10) at Arkansas State (over 56); 7:00 pm
Perhaps it is because there are so many other quality teams in their conference, but Missouri seems to be completely overlooked and undervalued. I cannot for the life of me understand why the spead is this low. Last week Arkansas State made one mistake after another, giving up 509 yards in a 55-6 loss to USC. I’m all in with five units on Missouri in this game.
Eastern Michigan (+13½) at Wyoming (over 53); 4:00 pm
Tough to back either team; Eastern Michigan’s run defense looked bad allowing 38 points in a loss to Old Dominion last week, while Wyoming lost at home to FCS North Dakota.
Massachusetts at Colorado (-13) (over 61½); 2:00 pm
Another game between two unimpressive teams; the Buffaloes looked bad in last week’s loss to Hawaii, while UMass has gone 5-31 in the last three years since moving up from the FCS. Despite the high point total, I’ll put two units on the over.
Minnesota (-3½) at Colorado State (under 58½); 3:30 pm on cbssn
Minnesota looked decent in a 23-17 loss last week to third-ranked TCU.
Oregon State (+17½) at Michigan (under 46½); 12 noon on abc
While the spotlight will be on Jim Harbaugh, it is Michigan’s defense that will be the real story in this game. Two units on the under.
Tulane at #15 Georgia Tech (-27½) (under 59); 3:30 pm
As much as I detest going with the chalk in games with huge spreads, I expect the Jackets to absolutely destroy Tulane with ease. One unit on Georgia Tech.
#10 Georgia (-17) at Vanderbilt (over 48); 3:30 pm on cbs
The Commodores are awful, they are out of their class against a top ten team. Georgia should win this game easily; one unit on the Bulldogs.
#20 Boise State (-2½) at Brigham Young (under 57½); 10:15 pm on espn2
Boise State’s offense looked bad last week against Washington, but their defense is solid and should keep BYU in check. I’ll give a slight lean to the Broncos to win this game, but the play here is to look for a low scoring game; four units on the under.
#9 Notre Dame at Virginia (+13) (over 46½); 3:30 pm on abc
There has been a lot of buzz about the Fighting Irish after their big win last week against Texas. The reality is that the Longhorns are not that good, while Virginia is a better team than they are being given credit for. Notre Dame should win, but that’s a lot of points to cover on the road. Two units for Virginia.
Iowa at Iowa State (+4) (under 50½); 4:45 pm on fox
Iowa State’s defense is better than in past years, and should be good enough to keep this game close.
San Diego State (+14) at California (under 59½); 5:00 pm
Cal is surely the better team, but they’re not great; take the Aztecs and the points.
Memphis (-12½) at Kansas (under 63); 7:00 pm
Kansas is an atrocious team, while Memphis is a solid under the radar club. The Tigers should cover this game with ease.
Toledo (+21½) at #18 Arkansas (over 55½); 4:00 pm
Toledo is not bad, but without RB Kareem Hunt they will be overmatched against the physically superior Razorbacks.
Middle Tennessee at #2 Alabama (+34½) (under 56½); 4:00 pm
MTSU put up 70 points last week, but there is a world of difference between Jackson State and ‘Bama. If the Crimson Tide made a solid Wisconsin team look mediocre last week, what will they do with Middle Tennessee?
San Jose State (+7) at Air Force (under 59); 10:15 pm on espnu
San Jose State executed to perfection last week, rolling up 707 yards of offense while their defense limited a pretty good UNH team to 186 total yards. The line appears to be a little high; it could come down to a last second field goal.
Pittsburgh at Akron (+12½) (over 50); 6:00 pm
Last week Pitt struggled against Youngstown State, while Oklahoma toyed with Akron. Based on the Panthers’ weak defensive showing I’ll take the Zips plus the double digit points.
Bowling Green (+7½) at Maryland (under 71½); 12 noon
Even though neither team has a good defense, I’ll take the bait on that big point total and lay two units on the under.
#22 Arizona at Nevada (+11) (under 63); 7:00 pm on cbssc
Arizona lost PAC-12 defensive player of the year Scooby Wright to a knee injury last week, which will help Nevada’s run game immensely. Nevada only lost by seven points on the road to the Wildcats last year, and should be able to cover the spread at home this time around; one unit on the Wolf Pack as a double digit home underdog.
Kentucky (+7½) at South Carolina (under 56); 7:30 pm
Both teams are dealing with injuries, and both teams are coming off close victories last week. Kentucky is struggling on defense; South Carolina is struggling on offense. Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks are good enough to win this game even without several starters, but I’ll go with the Wildcats to keep it within a touchdown.
North Texas (+6½) at Southern Methodist (over 60½); 7:00 pm
This looks more like a pick’em than an almost-touchdown spread for SMU; I’ll go with the dog plus the points.
Ball State (+31) at Texas A&M (over 63); 7:00 pm on espnu
Even though the Aggies were very impressive last week, I’ll take the underdog and all those points.
Texas El-Paso (+20½) at Texas Tech (over 65); 3:00 pm on fsn
Even though UTEP is bad, the Red Raiders do not deserve to be three touchdown favorites after giving up 45 points to Sam Houston State last week. If you enjoy high scoring Arena Football style games, this one is right up your alley. Two units on the Miners to cover.
Washington State at Rutgers (-1½) (under 63½); 3:30 pm on espnu
Even with a cross-country road trip, Rutgers should be able to beat a Cougars team that was unable to defeat Portland State. One unit on Rutgers.
#19 Oklahoma (-1) at #23 Tennessee (under 65); 6:00 pm on espn
Bowling Green passed for 424 yards and scored 30 points last week against the Volunteers, and Tennessee had a mere 47-yard advantage in that contest. The Sooners are the better team, and should be able to walk away with a road win.
Rice (+15½) at Texas (over 48½); 8:00 pm
The Longhorns are coming off a 38-3 loss, while rice has scored at least 30 points in each of their last four games. The line appears to be based on history over previous seasons rather than on present day realities. Three units on Rice to cover.
Georgia State (+6½) at New Mexico State (over 64½); 8:00 pm
Both teams looked inept last week. Not much of any reason to back either team, so I’ll go with the dog and the points.
South Alabama at Nebraska (-26½) (over 54); 8:00 pm
Nebraska avenges last week’s loss to BYU on a South Alabama team that is in the wrong place at the wrong time.
#7 Oregon at #5 Michigan State (-3½) (over 66½); 8:00 pm on ABC
The Ducks have some issues on defense – they allowed 41 points to Eastern Washington last week – while Michigan State has issues with their special teams, allowing Western Michigan to score a touchdown on a kick return. One unit on the Spartans on what is by far the best matchup of the week.
Florida International (+8) at Indiana (over 55½); 8:00 pm
Indiana has a good offense, but their defense is dreadful; they allowed 47 points and 659 yards last week to Southern Illinois. FIU is coming off a victory over a pretty good Central Florida team; don’t be surprised if they pull off another upset here. One unit on the Golden Panthers plus the points.
Idaho (+45) at #8 Southern Cal (under 67); 8:00 pm
USC blasted Arkansas State 55-6 last week, and should have a similar outcome Saturday against Idaho. That being said, it’s difficult to have confidence in any team winning by almost seven touchdowns.
Tulsa (+5½) at New Mexico (over 71½); 8:00 pm
This will be another game that will keep the scoreboard operator busy; lots of offense and sieve-like defenses.
Central Florida (+21) at Stanford (under 47); 10:30 pm on fs1
Two teams coming off upset losses square off in this late night game. UCF lost 15-14 to Florida International, while Northwestern beat the Cardinal 16-6. Stanford should win, but that line looks way too high to me. Two units on UCF, and one on the under.
UCLA (-28) at UNLV (over 64½); 10:30 pm on cbssn
No matter how much effort they may put into this game, Nevada-Las Vegas is far away from the talent level of the Bruins that this game is nothing more than a glorified scrimmage. One unit on UCLA to cover the four-touchdown line.
Western Illinois at Illinois (-24) (under 59½); 12 noon
Illinois is coming off a 52-3 thrashing over Kent State, and the result of this game should be similar. The Leathernecks simply don’t have the talent to keep pace with the Illini; one unit on Illinois.
Indiana State at Purdue (-15½) (under 53); 12 noon on espnn
Even lowly Purdue can beat an FCS team.
Jacksonville State (+41½) at Auburn (under 63); 12 noon
Another game where I’ll tempt fate on such a huge line; one unit on Jacksonville to cover and another on the under.
Howard (+45) at Boston College (over 58½); 1:00 pm
Same story as above, but I’ll go with the over here.
Sacramento State at Washington (-30½) (under 61); 2:00 pm
With a bit of a lower line than the last two I’ll go with one unit to chalk.
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