It’s somewhere around the 12-minute mark of the College Football Writing 101 class that you’re taught the buildup to Week 2 must be structured around overreactions to the season openers.
It’s true. Search every other outlet. Actually, don’t.
But if you did, you’d see that the Pac-12 is still a joke. That the SEC is overrated. That Trevor Lawrence has a ton of ground to make up in the Heisman race. That Chip Kelly forgot how to coach.
Somehow, missing from every piece I came across, was skepticism regarding LSU’s 55-3 win over the Georgia Southern juggernaut. Though the Tigers’ defense will again end up being one of the nation’s best, it should take more than them hiring a new offensive coordinator and pantsing a program that joined the FBS five years ago to convince the country that the Tigers have finally achieved long-elusive balance.
Joe Burrow completed 23-of-27 passes, with five touchdowns. Last year, he completed less than 55 percent of his passes against ranked teams — and threw all five of his interceptions — while leading LSU to a 1-2 road record in ranked matchups. Yet, a line that opened with LSU favored by 4½ in a true road game at Texas keeps growing.
Since taking over the Longhorns, Tom Herman has gone 8-2 against the spread as an underdog. As the head coach at Houston, he went 5-0-1.
TEXAS (+6½) it is.
Marshall (+12) over BOISE STATE: True freshman Hank Bachmeier threw for 407 yards while leading an 18-point comeback at Florida State in his first college game. He has an incredible career ahead of him, but he’s too green to see the letdown coming.
Cincinnati (+16) over OHIO STATE: It’s worth rooting for the Bearcats to keep the possibility of a Group of Five playoff team alive. Cincy coach Luke Fickell — who spent his previous 15 years at Ohio State — possesses enough balance and experience to throw a scare into his alma mater.
Army (+22) over MICHIGAN: There is no intimidation or aura for an Army core that has won 10 straight games and took Big 12 champ Oklahoma to overtime in Norman last year. How’d the Black Knights hold Heisman winner Kyler Murray to a season-low 165 yards passing? By holding the ball for nearly 45 minutes. The triple-option will again allow Army to limit the damage.
Rutgers (+20) over IOWA: There is no need for the Lou Brown winning-streak speech, but the Scarlet Knights will be able to breathe after winning for the first time in a calendar year. And with a new species at quarterback in Texas Tech transfer McLane Carter — whose debut marked Rutgers’ first passing performance for more than 300 years in 14 seasons — the back door will be wide open.
MARYLAND (-2) over Syracuse: Tommy DeVito threw for 176 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions at powerhouse Liberty in his first game replacing the Orange’s all-time passing leader, Eric Dungey. Who’d like to set the over/under on when he’s told to go home and get his bleeping shinebox?
UTAH (-21½) over Northern Illinois: For all of the hate routinely hurled upon the Pac-12, it was rather forward thinking of it to invite the Utes into the fold. Without them, the conference might not have any chance at the playoff.
Texas A&M (+17) over CLEMSON: The defending champs should feel good, knowing Lawrence can’t possibly play any worse than he did last week. The Tigers also have to be terrified, knowing that one of the most talented defensive lines in college football history couldn’t stop Kellen Mond from throwing for 430 yards and three touchdowns in last season’s nail-biter. This year, a lesser Clemson defense faces an Aggies quarterback even more prepared for this moment.
COLORADO (+4) over Nebraska: Scott Frost’s credentials carry a lot of weight, but the overhyped and underwhelming Cornhuskers have to win one road game under him before I lay the points.
New Mexico State (+55) over ALABAMA: Always take 55 points. Always. I don’t care if the Patriots are playing Plainview Old-Bethpage JFK High School. Always. This waste of everyone’s time matches the highest spread ever under Nick Saban. In the similarly lopsided 2013 meeting against Georgia State, the defending champions won 45-3.
Ucf (-10½) over FLORIDA ATLANTIC: I absolutely despise siding with such an overwhelming public pick, but I’d hate being on the wrong side of the Knights’ 50-point explosion even more. UCF, which beat the Owls 56-36 last year, hasn’t lost a regular-season game in two years, and had just one win decided by single-digits last season.
Buffalo (+30) over PENN STATE: Idaho benefited to the tune of a reported $1.45 million for its willingness to absorb a 79-7 embarrassment in Happy Valley. We benefit with an inflated line.
AUBURN (-18) over Tulane: Remember when true freshmen quarterbacks were guaranteed to struggle adjusting to the next level? Bo Nix doesn’t.
Cal (+13½) over WASHINGTON: Even the defending Pac-12 champs don’t always look much better than their brethren. Last season, the Huskies won conference games by an average of just over nine points.
Stanford (+1) over USC: David Shaw gets more out of talent than just about any coach in the country. Few produce less than Clay Helton. Now, the USC coach will be without quarterback JT Daniels and forced to start lightly recruited Kedon Slovis, last seen being eliminated in the second round of the U.S. Open.
Best bets: Army, New Mexico State, Texas A&M
Last week (Best bets): 10-10 (2-1)
2014-18 record: 641-612-10
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