Last Week: 7-6
Coulda’ been better; coulda’ been worse. Some was beyond our control — Rice in a shootout, then losing its QB, etc. Some was just a letdown by teams cruising (Alabama’s second team, looking at you). And some were just wrong — WVU isn’t good, but Mizzou played like we thought they might early this season.
What went wrong: ‘Bama, Wash., Stanford, Mizzou, Wake, Hawaii over.
What went right: Iowa, UCF, Maryland, Texas Tech, Tarheels, Tulane, A&M, etc.
Without further preamble, here are our picks for Week 3. Rebound time. (All composite spreads via SportsLine)
Not With a 10’ Pole and Stolen Money
Oklahoma -24 on the road vs. UCLA. Yes, the Bruins are awful, but this is the first road game for a very suspect OU defense — and for Jalen Hurts in this offense. It’s not much of a step-up in competition over Houston and South Dakota, but it is a marginal one. Chip Kelly is going to make Jalen throw the ball...if they can. This one smells sort of shoot-outish, despite reason and sanity.
Stanford +7.5 at UCF. If you watched the last three quarters of the USC game, this one should give you the willies. That said, UCF’s defense isn’t stocked with blue-chippers like the average P5 team. I have absolutely no idea what’s going to happen here and neither do you.
FSU at UVA -7.5. I don’t know that either team can score 7 1⁄2 points, to be honest. After blowing two huge home leads, the ‘Noles now hit the road. This team could be thoroughly demoralized and ready to quit already. Or they could be ready to regroup. Let’s find out Saturday.
Alabama -25 at South Carolina. Alabama’s average SEC margin of victory the last 8 years is 25.5 PPG. So, this spread seems about right, particularly with a freshman QB suiting up fro the Gamecocks. But, with Alabama’s uncertainties along the OL, injuries and developing depth on defense, and the fact that we don’t know what kind of team the 2019 Crimson Tide even is, I’d stay away from this one. My gut says 38-6ish Alabama, but I’m keeping my powder dry for a week, especially in an SEC opener on the road.
Bet the House, Baby
Duke -6.5 at MTSU. Little Middle isn’t bad. But I do think they’ll struggle to score against a veteran Blue Devil front seven — they tend to have problems putting points on G5 teams. Duke isn’t all that bad, and the offense may be on track. But, even if it’s a .500 year in Durham, they’re certainly good enough to cover a touchdown against a CUSA team.
Buffalo -4 at Liberty. Liberty isn’t there yet. They’re just not — and weirdly, I think they looked better last season. Next year this is probably going to be a more dangerous team after a talent injection and Freeze installing his offense (recall how bad Ole Miss looked in 2012?!). But for now the Bulls have the overwhelming talent advantage and are accustomed to playing better in far bigger venues. UB by 10+.
Oklahoma State -13.5 at Tulsa. Tulsa isn’t as terrible as you think, but the Pokes love rubbing it in against undersized teams. And, yes, that is a bad matchup for the Hurricane — Tulsa’s DBs are tiny; OSU’s receivers are not. And, I just don’t think Tulsa can exploit an iffy OSU secondary consistently enough — not when facing a nasty OSU pass rush. Cowboys comfortably on the road, 41-20.
ECU at Navy -6. Last year was the rare step back for the Midshipmen. But, if they’ve been anything the last decade, it’s a portrait of consistency — esp. on the ground. The Pirates gave up 6 YPC to the NCSU Wolfpack, a team that much prefers to air it out. Worse, ECU were lifeless on offense. They’ll get some scores this week, but not a bunch, as Navy’s secondary is better than you would expect, and the offense kills the clock on them for a full 60. 24-14 Navy sounds good.
San Diego State -16 at NMSU. You saw how bad the Aggies were last week, right? You saw how good SDSU looked on the road in UCLA, right? More of the same. The Aztecs raze Las Cruces to the ground, in a three-plus touchdown beating. If there were any one game of the week, it’s this one.
NC State -6.5 at WVU. Mercy, is West-by-damn-Virginia bad. DYK: They are the only team in all of FBS without a run of 10+ yards? But, hey, at least it’s paired with a depleted passing game! The secondary has been downright terrible too and got bullied by the Mizzou Tigers. This was always going to be a rebuilding project in Morgantown, but with the lack of talent and the transfers and a new coach and schemes? This is a woeful, woeful team in 2019. Wolfpack cruise.
Long Shots Worth a Shot
Michigan State -13.5 vs. Arizona State. The Sun Devils have been downright disappointing this year, especially on offense. And that’s not going to be helped by a 2000-mile road trip against a top-flight defense. Sparty gets the cover late in a low-scoring one. Something like 28-10.
Kansas State +7.5 at Miss. State. The Bulldogs should win, and probably by 10-14 points. But Kleiman’s ‘Cats have looked game this season, and they’re faster than I’ve seen them than at any point in the past decade. This is QB Tommy Stevens first live competition of the year.
Auburn -34.5 vs. Kent State. Kent State is terrible, and they certainly can’t put up more than a pity score on the Tigers’ defense. On the other side, Auburn hasn’t run the ball well against two good defensive lines, but this is definitely the week to get that offense on track. I think they do...in a big way too. 49-3 Tigers.
Texas Tech -3 at Arizona. DYK: TTU has the top defense in the B12 as of today, to go along with a Top 25 offense? The Wildcats will score...some. But the Raiders aren’t going to give up a ton of turnovers to help them in that endeavor, and they have the overall talent advantage. Probably not quite the shootout the books suspect, I like the Red Raiders by 7-10 in Tucson.
Iowa -2 at Iowa State. The road team usually wins this one, and given the ‘Clones slow start and a veteran QB for the Hawkeyes, I like IU by a score. And that one score is enough to get the cover.
Southern Miss +1.5 at Troy. Two of the top 3 in C-USA square off for an early season elimination game. After breaking an 80-year losing streak, Troy finally climbed to 2-7 against the Golden Eagles in 2016. This one is apt to be as close as that last one (36-31).
Wazzu -9 at Houston. Absolutely nothing Houston has done leads me to believe they keep this within two scores. D’Eriq King is truly a crappy quarterback. If the Cougs can contain his legs, and avoid busts in the secondary, the Dread Pirate should one-up his former OU coaching counterpart, Holgo. And the less said about that Houston “defense” the better. 38-17 Wazzu.