Thursday, September 6, 2018

College Football: The Week 2 FIVE

We're feeling full and heady this week after NOT entirely sucking in Week 1 (which has been our norm).

Last year the slate of games on week 2 was eerily similar to this weekend's slate, not promising. All week 2 did was provide us with one of the wackiest weekends of the season as upsets, and great games, started popping up all over the place.  Here's hoping for a repeat this time around.

Let's get to it....

1. Colorado @ Nebraska (-4) [65]

Pick: Colorado to cover +4

From the handicapper's toolkit: It's always better when a team has played a game versus a team that has yet to play. Nebraska is breaking in a new coach, a new system, and their game last week was called on account of lightning and rain. Colorado beat up on in-state rival Colorado State.  Last week Colorado gave me a win, I'm hoping to duplicate the feat this weekend.

2. Memphis (-4.5) @ Navy [68]

Pick: Memphis to cover -4.5

I have Memphis picked as my Group of 5 representative in the New Year's Six bowl games this year. Navy is coming off a loss to Hawai'i (the early season's best story) where they struggled mightily defending against the pass. Guess what Memphis does really well?  Add to that the fact that this is a conference game and I think Memphis comes out guns blazing.

3. Iowa State @ Iowa (-4) [47]

Pick: Iowa to cover -4

Going back to the same angle here. Iowa struggled in the first half against Northern Illinois before figuring it out and dominating the 2nd half 30-7. Iowa State's game was canceled due to lightning.  The game is at Iowa so expect the first half wave to the patients in the Children's hospital and a dominating performance by the Hawkeyes against a Cyclones team that is trying to replace a lot and really could have used that 1st game.

4. Clemson (-12.5) @ Texas A&M [54]

Pick: OVER 54.

Not every five pick is a spread pick, and this total pick comes courtesy of a Clemson team that's got a nasty defensive front 7, but real questions in the defensive backfield matching up against an aTm team that can score in bunches, but tends to let other people score as well. Both teams beat up on inferior competition last weekend but I thought Clemson looked better than A&M in doing so.  Still, 12.5 seems an awful lot to take.  I expect some scoring here.

5. Wyoming @ Missouri (-18) [52]

Pick: Wyoming to COVER +18

Wyoming struggled with pass happy Washington State last week while Missouri dominated over an FCS opponent. Missouri doesn't have near the speed or passing game of Wazzu and I think Wyoming's defense rebounds a bit here. Almost 18 points is a LOT for Missouri to win by and I don't think they have that in them.

Other games:

North Carolina (-16) @ ECU [60] - Every fiber in my being is screaming against UNC here but the problem is their opponent might not be any good.  I originally considered this game for FIVE inclusion but instead might make a small play on ECU in case the Tarheels really are that bad. That said, North Carolina A&T is the best team in the FCS right now so losing to them is not the harsh thing many envision.

Virginia @ Indiana (-6.5) [51.5] - I want to like Virginia here but Bronco Mendenhall's boys are going to have to prove it to me before I include them in the FIVE. Same for Indiana. I need to see more.

Michigan State (-6) @ Arizona State [54] - Michigan State didn't look so swell last weekend and Arizona State looked great. But the Sun Devils are a team that's going to have to prove it to me before I start including them. I THINK Michigan State wins here, and wins big, but they had real problems against a pretty good Utah State team without the speed and athleticism that the Sun Devils possess.

Arizona @ Houston (-4.5) [71] - No team under performed versus expectations last weekend than Arizona. Their offense looked AWFUL against BYU.  Houston has even more talent on defense than do the Mormon Cougars but looked suspect on offense.  My lean here is to take the UNDER, but not enough to put it in my five.  Houston, at least, figured it out in the 2nd half.

Duke @ Northwestern (-2.5) [48.5] - At the beginning of the season I was pretty sure this game would be between two 0-1 teams. Reverse that, and you have two 1-0 teams that, to me, are fairly evenly matched playing in what could be the low-key game of the day.

Georgia Tech (-3.5) @ South Florida [62.5] - Both teams beat up on sub-par competition last weekend and, to be honest, I'm not overly enthused by either this year. South Florida might want it more because this would be a Power 5 win for them. But coach Charlie Strong needs to replace a lot. I like the under here a little.  But that's about my only lean.

UCLA @ OU (-30.5) [64] - As I write this, the line is 30.5, it could move as high as 32 as people begin to realize just how good OU is, and how big of a rebuilding project Chip Kelly faces. Speight is probably out so this score could wind up being whatever OU wants it to be.

Air Force @ FAU (-9) [69.5] - The line feels a little out of whack to me, FAU being favored by too much.  But the Owls are going to be angry and we could be seeing a situation where Lane Kiffin says "screw it" and runs it up.  That said I think the Air Force triple option allows them to keep it close.

USC @ Stanford (-5) [57] - Both teams are coming off impressive "looking" wins over Mountain West competition.  Both teams found themselves in dogfights at halftime however and only started to pull away at the end when their superior athleticism finally took over.  To me this is a "pick-em" game with Stanford given 2 or 3 due to being at home, on the Farm.

California @ BYU (-3) [46.5] - Are we at the point where BYU starts to get overrated because they beat someone the pundits thought to be good but weren't? (Arizona) I THINK so but not enough to pull a FIVE trigger on the Bears.

Games in which I have a rooting interest....

UTEP @ UNLV (-24) [55.5] - This is a danger game for the Rebels because, well, we ALL KNOW what happened the last time they were a huge favorite.  UTEP is truly awful however and I saw positive signs for the Desert Rug Rats against USC. Armani Rogers is the real deal. It would be great if they could cover, as that would provide some solid momentum heading into what is looking like an increasingly tough Mountain West schedule.

And Finally......

Western Michigan @ Michigan (-28) [56.5] - How bad has it gotten for Michigan?  Not too bad because they're still favored by 4 touchdowns against a team that lost to Syracuse by 13.  After last week's dismal performance against Notre Dame there is no team that needs a positive bounce-back like the Wolverines.  Harbaugh's offense HAS to get better or they're going to find themselves on the outside looking in when it comes to the B1G.  The Notre Dame loss hurt, but it doesn't have to be a season killer.  What the team has to avoid is letting the Irish beat them twice.

Last weekend I had some technical difficulties and was unable to get my FIVE locked into CappedIn. I'm going to try and remedy that this week, and include what would have been the financial results into this week's results.

Enjoy the games.

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