Hello, friends. After a rather disastrous Week 1 in the picks column, Week 2 provided a bit of a bounce back. It wasn’t a spectacular performance, but we finally put up a winning week and inched closer to .500, where we can really start to feel good about things again.
Florida State has had a similar start to the season, with an abysmal Week 1 showing against Virginia Tech followed by a win against lowly Samford that required a fourth quarter comeback and a pick-six late to ice things. It wasn’t pretty, but it got Willie Taggart in the win column for the first time in Tallahassee. There are clearly very real issues for the ‘Noles, particularly on offense and, more specifically, with their offensive line play.
This week, Florida State heads north to Syracuse to face the Orange in the Carrier Dome with the hopes of righting the ship and picking up a win in ACC play. Typically, the Seminoles would find themselves as double-digit favorites against Dino Babers’ crew, but right now FSU is favored by less than a field goal. That shows how far they’ve slipped in the eyes of the books and the public, as it’s fallen since open. The question is, have they dropped off too much? We’ll answer that in this week’s picks as we continue to press forward in our quest for winners, but first, a look at where we stand after two weeks.
Last Week: 9-7
Full Season: 14-16
Georgia State at Memphis UNDER 60 (Friday, 7:00 p.m. ET)
With the shuffling of the college football schedule due to Hurricane Florence bearing down on the Carolinas, Georgia State at Memphis is now your Friday night primetime game on ESPN. I don’t expect you to have seen the Panthers this season, but they’ve played pretty good defense while being absolutely awful on offense. Memphis has a reputation as a team that rolls up points, but they struggled in some nasty weather last week with Navy. I think Memphis scores plenty here, but not at will as they do against some smaller schools. I also don’t think the Panthers will get much off of the Tigers and the Under will hold with some serious garbage time sweats.
Troy (+11.5) at Nebraska (Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET)
Yes, I gave Troy out at home as a 10-point dog to Boise in Week 1. Yes, they lost horribly. However, I’m riding with the Trojans again, for better or worse, as they head to Nebraska. The Huskers are coming off a loss in Scott Frost’s debut to Colorado. Quarterback Adrian Martinez definitely has “the juice” but he’s banged up and I think Troy got refocused last week. This might not be fun, but I’ll take the Trojans in a spot where the line has ballooned four points since open and now sharp action is coming back in on Troy.
Florida State (-3) at Syracuse (Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET)
It’s get right time for the ‘Noles, and I think Syracuse sets up well for them. Their first two games have been slugfests and they simply haven’t responded right. This time, they get a Syracuse team that is Charmin soft on defense. Deondre Francois can get himself into a rhythm with the passing game and Cam Akers can get loose in the running game. As the offense gets some of their swagger back, the defense will have its hands full with Eric Dungey and the up-tempo Orange, but as this game goes on, I expect the talent of FSU to finally show up and pull them away with a fairly comfortable win. If they don’t, we’ll know exactly where this ‘Noles team stands.
Tulane (-3.5) at UAB (Saturday, 1:00 p.m. ET)
It’s great that UAB was able to bring back their football program, but right now things aren’t going great for the Blazers. They got blasted last week by the Chanticleers of Coastal Carolina, and this week, they have to welcome in Willie Fritz and the Wave. I like Tulane here to win big. The Wave got off to a sluggish start offensively against a Wake team that’s very tough to run against (110 ypg, 3.06 ypc), but UAB is among the worst rushing defenses in the nation, allowing 225 yards per game and over 5.5 yards per carry. The option attack is set to get loose in Birmingham and I like the Wave to roll.
Vanderbilt (+13.5) at Notre Dame and UNDER 52 (Saturday, 2:30 p.m. ET)
Notre Dame and Vanderbilt have both looked great on defense so far this season. We’ll learn a lot about the Vandy defense and how legit it is this week, but to it’s not like Brandon Wimbush and company have been lighting it up for the Irish. Notre Dame struggled to put up points on Ball State a week ago and I don’t see them suddenly finding tremendous success against a Vandy defense that’s allowed 17 total points in two games. I think Notre Dame wins here and maybe by a reasonably comfortable margin, but this feels for all the world like a 24-17 type game.
Boise State (+2.5) at Oklahoma State (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET)
Not sure if you’ve noticed, but Boise State is pretty nasty. The Pokes aren’t bad by any stretch, but I’ll ride with the Murder Smurfs here (trademark Steven Godfrey). I don’t really have much else to say about this other than I think Boise is the better team and I’m certainly not picking against them very often this year.
Miami (OH) at Minnesota UNDER 46.5 (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET)
Minnesota’s looked very good defensively since a few early hiccups against New Mexico State in the opener, holding Fresno State to 14 points in their last game. Miami, meanwhile, got blanked last week by Cincinnati. Things won’t get easier on offense for the RedHawks this week and I think we’re headed to another slugfest in Minny.
USF (-10.5) at Illinois (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET)
Quite frankly, this is just fading Illinois being real bad. USF is a good football team, one that got a semi-lucky win over Georgia Tech last week. Even with some likely unrepeatable success in special teams (two kickoff return touchdowns), the offense moved the ball very well against the Yellow Jackets and Illinois has struggled this year with Kent State and Western Illinois in their two wins. I think it comes crashing down on the Illini this week in a major way: with a lopsided USF win.
LSU at Auburn UNDER 44.5 (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET)
There’s no secret that these two teams are better defensively than they are offensively. I’m a bit worried because the Under feels like it’s probably a somewhat public side, but at 44.5 it’s low enough to scare off most. Not me, as I’ll be rolling with these two stingy defenses and banking on the fact that neither offense seems very capable of sustained drives against top defensive competition.
Missouri (-6) at Purdue (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET)
Purdue through two games has just not looked sharp. I love Rondale Moore, but there’s no one else on this offense that is even close to a dynamic playmaker, which makes it pretty easy to decide who to key on as a defense. Mizzou beat me up last week with a dominant performance against Wyoming, and nothing this Purdue defense has done this season has me thinking they’re going to have a great night against Drew Lock. Mizzou by a healthy margin here.
Washington at Utah UNDER 47 (Saturday, 10:00 p.m. ET)
Washington’s defense is filthy. Utah’s is pretty darn good too and they are just really bad offensively. I could see this being 23-14 as we just cruise under this total.
Fresno State at UCLA UNDER 50 (Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET)
This total is dropping, so lock it in shortly. UCLA’s defense played pretty well against Oklahoma last week, they just happened to be on the field so much it ultimately didn’t matter. Fresno State had a rock fight with Minnesota and I think we might be in for more of the same this week in L.A.