Updated: Sep 9, 2021
It's Thursday and you know what that means: It's time to make some college football picks. And damn does it feel good to get back into the swing of things, and have college football to look forward to every Saturday!
In terms of the picks themselves, last week was largely a success. Overall we went 4-3-1 which isn't great, but really, just about every game I bet on looked about how I expected (Wisconsin-Penn State, Clemson-Georgia being close, low-scoring games specifically) outside of Louisiana-Texas (more on that coming in a minute). That was the one game I wagered on that just went totally different than I was anticipating.
And really, that's why I'm fired up to get to Week 2 - with one caveat. While I'm fired up for the picks (duh!) it's worth noting that Week 2 is one of the hardest weeks to gamble on. You of course have to factor in what you saw in Week 1, but also can't totally overreact to it either. Instead, you have to find that balance between using the information from Week 1, but not totally relying on it. In other words, don't question your off-season prep, people! Stick to your guns!
As always, the point spreads are provided by DraftKings Sportsbook, oh and one more thing: If you haven't checked out the new College Football Gambling Podcast - which goes even more in-depth than these articles - make sure to listen below. The goal is to make you the smartest bettor you can be going into Saturday, so make sure to download and subscribe.
Now, let's get to the Week 2 picks:
No. 12 Oregon at No. 3 Ohio State (-14.5): Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET, FOX
As I said up top, betting Week 2 is always a balancing act. You don't want to overreact to what you saw Week 1, but you don't want to disregard it at all either.
Sometimes however you get lucky, and Week 1 confirms what you thought all off-season. That's the case for me with Oregon.
Look, I love Oregon. The wacky uniform combinations. The duck riding a motorcycle. It doesn't get more college football than that. And I love that they've kind of emerged as at least an interesting team worth monitoring on the West Coast.
The problem is, if you watched them last year, they were really "good" in name only, specifically on offense. They easily could've lost to UCLA late in the year (that was the first sign, in my opinion, that UCLA was turning a corner as a program) and scored 17, 31 and 17 points in their final three games. The game where they scored 31 - against USC in the Pac-12 title game - came when they only had 243 yards of total offense and took advantage of three USC turnovers.
So, why do I bring up last year: Well, because it was much the same last weekend with Oregon. While all the focus was on Kayvon Thibodeaux's injury - we won't know until later this week if he'll play - the Ducks were actually outgained by Fresno State 373 to 358. Their first two scores also came off Fresno turnovers, which came deep in Fresno's territory. Basically, if Fresno could've taken care of the ball, that probably would've been a loss, instead of one touchdown win.
Add all of it up, and I like Ohio State this week.
Yes, 14.5 points is a lot. But I also don't think we should undersell what they did last week against Minnesota either. In a tough, hostile environment, they still went on the road and won going away. Sure, they took advantage of a lot of big plays, and they will need to grind out more drives against Oregon.
But at home, in a hostile Horse Shoe, I think they take care of the Ducks. Take the Buckeyes, even with the big number.
No. 5 Texas A&M at Colorado (UNDER 50): Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, FOX
Sometimes in life, you just can't overthink things. So I'm going to keep this "preview" short sweet and to the point.
Jimbo Fisher is taking a first-year quarterback, on the road for his first career start away from College Station (by technicality, it's a "neutral site" game in Denver. But it still ain't Kyle Field).
That same quarterback threw three interceptions last week
On the other side, Colorado is starting a true freshman at quarterback against the best defense he will see all year.
I just don't see Colorado having all that much success moving the ball, and I also can't see Jimbo Fisher putting too much on Haynes King's shoulders.
I expect Jimbo to play conservative, take the air out of the ball, rely on his run game and defense and get out of Denver (it's technically a neutral site game in Denver) and with a quiet, ho-hum 27-10 type victory.
I love the UNDER here.
No. 10 Iowa at No. 9 Iowa State (-4.5): Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET, ABC
It's Cy-Hawk weekend, bayyyybe. The game that America circles on its calendars annually, and where you tell the wife, "Honey, call the sitter. We've got to football watch this afternoon!"
Ok, well maybe not so much.
But still, this legit might be the biggest Cy-Hawk game of our lives. And it seems as though most of the buzz coming in is on the "Hawk" portion of this rivalry. That's because Iowa largely dominated their opener against Indiana, cruising to a 34-6 win that was never really competitive. While Iowa State was sluggish against Northern Iowa, barely holding on for a victory.
But remember, we can't overreact to Week 1. But we can't dismiss it either. Which leads me to this: What if I told you that 14 of Iowa's points came off pick six's. Would you be feeling nearly as confident if last week's final score was 20-6 against Indiana, with Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras completing just 13 of 27 passes for 145 yards?
Especially on the road, in Ames, against an Iowa State team that hasn't won this trophy since 2014. Meaning, there isn't a single Cyclone that has ever beaten Iowa.
This one will be close and low-scoring. But I believe Iowa State wins somewhere in the 24-10 window.
No. 15 Texas at Arkansas (UNDER 57): Saturday, 7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN
To quote Nick Saban, "I'm not going to, so QUIT ASKIN!"
No, I will NOT say "Texas is back!" even after I came away legitimately impressed by the Longhorns last week. As I said on Tuesday's Aaron Torres Podcast, the Longhorns were one of two teams - along with Florida State - that looked wayyyy better than I expected last week, largely dominating a darn good Louisiana team at home.
Still, while I love what I saw from Texas, I'm not ready to jump all aboard the Texas express in this one.
They have a freshman quarterback, who will be playing his first road game, in a hostile environment at night in Fayetteville. I'm also not crazy betting Arkansas either, with KJ Jefferson struggling in Week 1, and the Hogs needing 21 points in the fourth quarter to rally and beat Rice.
So I guess what I'm trying to say is, as much as I'd love taking Texas as a touchdown favorite on the road, the smarter play to me seems to be to simply to stay away from the freshman quarterback on the road, the quarterback who struggled at home last week, and just assume we get a low scoring, 27-20 type game.
Missouri at Kentucky (-5): Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network
You know how I said up top how I kind of felt like all off-season that Oregon's offense was overrated?
Well at the same time, you know what else struck me from this off-season as well: Missouri's pass game was kind of overrated too. Connor Bazelak balled out against LSU, in a game that everyone watched, throwing for four touchdowns. So we all assumed he was awesome all year. Instead, you want a crazy stat: After the LSU game, he threw for just three the rest of the season.
So when you factor in that Missouri's offense was probably a tiny bit overrated last year, that their defense was abysmal down the stretch (they gave up 50, 49 and 51 points in their final three) and that they didn't exactly blow the roof off of things last week against Central Michigan, I have my concerns.
I'm also excited to see what Kentucky looks like as well.
Look, again, I'm not trying to overreact to one week of college football. But there's no doubt that Mark Stoops is committed to opening up the pass game this year, and Kentucky's offense looked absolutely awesome last week against UL-Monroe.
Seriously, just look at this video.
This isn't your older brother's Kentucky Wildcat offense.
So while they beat up on a bad UL-Monroe team last week, I believe the offense has evolved, believe in Will Levis at quarterback and believe Wan'Dale Robinson might be Kentucky's most explosive skill position player in years (Benny Snell was a stud - but not nearly as explosive).
Anyway, this is all a long-winded way of me saying, I like the Cats.
Especially after losing in Columbia last year.
Washington at Michigan (UNDER 48.5): Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC
Ah, the game of the day. A matchup between two teams that are... unranked with one coming off a loss to an FCS program?
Not exactly the way you want to wrap a wild Week 2 on the couch.
Yet I still do believe that this game will tell us a lot about these two teams.
One, I'll be honest: I just didn't understand the Washington buzz coming into the year. Seriously, I heard some people call them a playoff dark horse, which never made sense to me. They played just four games last year, under a first year head coach and had erratic (to put it delicately) quarterback play.
And people thought they could make the playoff?
As Cris Carter used to say, "C'mon, man!!!!" It showed in their game against Montana, where they finished with 4.9 yards per completion, and 2.4 yards per rush. Against an FCS team. Not great.
Still, for all my criticism, one thing that is indisputable is that the Huskies get after it on defense. They were the No. 1 defense in the Pac-12 last year, and did hold Montana to just 232 yards of total offense last week (yes, in a loss).
So I do like like this Washington defense, and forgive me, but I just don't trust Jim Harbaugh to take care of business in a big game. As good as the Wolverines looked last week - and they actually did look good - the offense didn't really open things up, and they also lost their most explosive wide receiver Ronnie Bell to a season-ending injury.
Harbaugh generally plays things close to the vest in big games, and I expect him to do the same here. That plays exactly into what Washington wants.
I have no idea what to make of the seven-point spread. But I do love the UNDER here.
No. 21 Utah (-7) at BYU: Saturday, 10:15 ET, ESPN
It wouldn't be a college football preview if we didn't get in a little Pac-12 After Dark, right?
And while I'm not crazy about taking a road team, favored to win by a touchdown on the road, I want you to think of it from the opposite perspective: BYU won its opener last week against Arizona. They're at home, in a rivalry game... and this line keeps trending in favor of Utah.
What it says to me again, is something I've believed all off-season: BYU is totally overvalued coming into this season. Yes, BYU had a dream season in 2020, but as we discussed all last year, they didn't play a single Power 5 team, and they lost a ton off that team. Not only Zach Wilson, but the Cougars also had their best wide receiver and offensive lineman drafted to the NFL, and have only four returning starters on defense.
Oh by the way, even though they beat Arizona last week, they were also outgained.
Add in the fact that I loved Utah all off-season, and I'm rolling with the Utes in the return of "The Holy War" after an absence last season.
Pittsburgh (-3) at Tennessee = Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN: Say this for Josh Heupel - I don't know if Tennessee will be good this year, but at least they'll be interesting. Yet for all the excitement of last week's win, Joe Milton did complete just 11 of 23 passes for 140 yards. So I'm not fired up to bet Tennessee here, but are we really taking Pitt, on the road in Neyland?
South Carolina (-1) at East Carolina - Saturday, 12:00 ET, ESPN2: This line has bounced all over the place, from South Carolina as a slight favorite, to a two-point underdog, back to being favored. And with good reason: Outside of Vanderbilt, I think they might be the least talented team in the SEC. Every ounce of me wants to take East Carolina, especially after they played a better-than-you-realize App State team last week. But I just can't push myself to actually put my own money on this game.
NC State (-2.5) at Mississippi State - Saturday, 7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2: Another one where everything makes me want to take NC State, a team that I think might be the second best in the ACC behind Clemson. But one, does anyone ever really feel safe betting on NC State, in pretty much anything? Especially on the road, with all those cowbells clanging in StarkVegas?
Stanford at No. 14 USC (-17) - Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, FOX: First off, love FOX getting into the Pac-12 After Dark Biz. Two, this game feels like it could go extra Pac-12 After Darky. USC needed a late rally to pull away from San Jose State last week. Stanford was awful and has already made a quarterback change. Point being, I wouldn't bet my worst enemy's money on this game.
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