I went 14-10-1 last week against the spread. Some of my late Saturday afternoon picks were close, but didn’t fall in my favor. I did hit on most of the marquee games. I fell into a trap of picking a few large spreads against mid-major teams. Big programs often don’t take those games very serious, thus falling short of the large point spread.
We have already lost a few marquee players for long periods of time. Make sure you keep an eye on the injury reports cause a few backup quarterbacks are playing this weekend.
A couple Heisman candidates stumbled in Week 1. Will USC QB Sam Darnold right the ship? Will Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield become the Heisman favorite with an elite performance against Ohio State?
We at ‘America’s White Boy’ pick 25 college football games against the spread in Week 2 of the NCAA Football season (September 9th, 2017). We also focus on small conference games and Thursday night games.
Stanford at USC (-6.5) – My pick is USC Trojans
One of these teams looked great last week and the other team was USC. Stanford smoked Rice 62-7 and were able to get three quarterbacks some reps in a game. Starting quarterback Keller Chryst passed for 253 yards before he got the hook. RB Bryce Love could have had insane numbers, but was pulled after rushing for 180 yards on 13 carries. USC was a four touchdown favorite against Western Michigan, a team who went undefeated in the regular season. The Broncos lost a lot of talent (and their head coach), so expectations were low coming into the year. They still have plenty of players with big game experience and confidence. They were able to hold USC QB Sam Darnold to no passing touchdowns and two interceptions. USC needed a 28-point fourth quarter to get the win. I’m going to chalk it up to not being prepared and overlooking WMU. USC will be better prepared for the Cardinal. You may think USC/Stanford has been a back-and-forth rivalry, but you’d be wrong. Stanford has won 7 out of the last 10 games against the Trojans, including three-in-a-row. I’m going to take USC to cover in this game because Stanford is without the now NFL rookie Christian McCaffrey, who was huge in Stanford’s last three wins against USC. I also like Sam Darnold more than most people. I have to take USC to cover at home.
Oklahoma at Ohio State (-7.5) – My pick is Oklahoma Sooners
Ohio State easily won last year’s game against Oklahoma 45-24 in Columbus. A lot of faces have changed, but the starting quarterbacks remain the same. Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield was nearly perfect last week against UTEP. He was 19 of 20 for 329 yards and three touchdowns. He was pulled around halftime in the blowout win. Ohio State has some issues with Indiana last week. Their secondary looked extremely loose and IU receivers were getting open, especially the bigger receivers. The Buckeyes made some adjustments at halftime and were able to outscore the Hoosiers in the second-half with a 36 to 7 run to finish the game. Oklahoma lost running backs Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine to the NFL, but they now have three running backs they can depend on (Abdul Adams, Marcelias Sutton & Trey Sermon). I predict Ohio State to have trouble covering the 6’5, 254-pound OU tight end Mark Andrews. The half-point swung my pick and have to take points. The Sooners are a better team.
Auburn at Clemson (-5.5) – My pick is Auburn Tigers
This is another rematch that happened early last season. Clemson won 19-13 and went to win the College Football Playoff championship. Both teams come into this game with a lot of new faces. Both teams also had a warm-up game last week. Auburn beat Georgia Southern 41-7 and Clemson beat Kent State 56-3…so both benches got some work in late in those games. Auburn QB Jarrett Stidham is a Baylor transfer and has a big arm. Auburn has a very good running game with Kerryon Johnson and Kam Martin in the backfield. I’ll be interested to see if Auburn will let Stidham air out the ball or if he will run a controlled, run-first offense like Auburn has run year’s past. Clemson also had a new starting quarterback, junior Kelly Bryant. He’s a dual-threat quarterback who backed up Deshaun Watson for two seasons. The Tigers look a lot like last year’s team, but I worry their defense won’t be as good. I predict this will be a close game. I think these teams are almost even, but I have to give the slight advantage to Auburn. Their defense is better and I like Stidham under center. I’m taking the points in this one.
Georgia at Notre Dame (-4.5) – My pick is Georgia Bulldogs
This is my nightmare game. I’ve historically been below average on Notre Dame and Georgia games. As a bettor, you just have a couple teams that you struggle trying to handicap or you just outright avoid. I might personally avoid this one, but since I try to pick the most popular games, I’ll pick this game. Georgia QB Jacob Eason sprained his left knee in last week’s game. True freshman QB Jake Fromm will get his first college start at Notre Dame…both pretty cool for him and a bit frightening. The national spotlight will be on him. Fromm will have help from running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, so he should do just fine. As far as Notre Dame is concerned, why do people think this team is at a CFP-level? Did we all forget all the trouble they had last season. They did return a lot of guys, but I’m being cautious here. It’s been over a decade since Notre Dame has been favored against an SEC team. They have only faced two SEC teams over the last decade. They squeaked by LSU in a bowl game in 2014 and got smoked in the BCS Championship game by Alabama a handful of seasons ago. I have to take the points here. I just have questions about the Irish’s ability to stop the run.
Nebraska at Oregon (-14) – My pick is Oregon Ducks
Oregon started the season with a 77-21 drubbing of Southern Utah. QB Justin Herbert looked great and RB Royce Freeman was his usual, consistent self (doesn’t it feel like Freeman has been at Oregon for a decade?). Nebraska’s first game didn’t go as smooth. Arkansas State stayed with them for the entire game. The Cornhuskers won 43-36 to blow the over/under of 51 out of the water. I predict there won’t be much defense in this game. The travel to Oregon and being over-matched on offense will be trouble for Nebraska. I’m taking Oregon to cover at home.
Pittsburgh at Penn State (-21) – My pick is Penn State Nittany Lions
This game bounced in my head for quite awhile. The line has jumped from -18.5 to -21…which is giving me pause. Penn State is one of the best teams in the country with a superstar running back. Let me remind you that Pitt beat Penn State 42-39 last September. Pitt got out to an early 28-7 lead and never relinquished the lead. Penn State is a much better team when playing from ahead. Pitt was able to squash RB Saquon Barkley’s running game by forcing Penn State to pass and get some quick scores. Pitt struggled last week against Youngstown State. They beat the Penguins 28-21 in OVERTIME. Yes, Youngstown State forced Pitt into overtime. The Panthers were thirteen point favorites going into that game. I’m sure the outcome of that game is why this point spread is so lopsided. I would love this line if I caught it when it opened, but I’m still taking the Nittany Lions to cover in Happy Valley.
Indiana at Virginia (+3) – My pick is Indiana Hoosiers
Indiana were pests against Ohio State last week, but the Buckeyes proved to be too much in the second-half. IU QB Richard Lagow looked great in the first-half and turned WR Simmie Cobbs Jr. into a star. His 6’4 body was difficult to cover and made a few ‘jump ball’ catches against the smaller OSU secondary. Virginia played William & Mary last week and nothing jumps out at me. They won the game 28-10. Believe it or not, I did not watch that game. UVA QB Kurt Benkert had an okay game, throwing for 262 yards and three touchdowns. I would have expected more from a quarterback playing William & Mary. I look for Indiana to get their run game going in this game. They didn’t have much success on the ground against Ohio State with 20 carries for 47 yards (if you take away Lagow’s negative sack yardage). Indiana lost a lot of offensive line talent in the NFL Draft and are in rebuilding mode in that area right now. I still have to take Indiana to cover on the road. I just think the Cavaliers are a bad team.
Western Michigan at Michigan State (-7) – My pick is Michigan State Spartans
The Spartans aren’t supposed to have a very good team this season, at least by their past standards. They are probably as good, or a little better than they were last year (three wins in 2016). As far as Western is concerned, they held their own against USC and are coming off a near-perfect season in 2016. The Broncos aren’t nearly as talented and lost a lot of talent to the NFL Draft and graduation (as well as their coach P.J. Fleck, who is now Minnesota’s head coach). Western Michigan will not be a very good passing team this season and will rely on their running game. Run defense willt be Sparty’s best attribute. I’ll take Michigan State to cover all day and think they’ll win by double-digits.
Iowa at Iowa State (+2.5) – My pick is Iowa Hawkeyes
You must throw out the record book when these teams face each other. There have been many good Iowa teams that fell to bad Iowa State teams. Iowa ran away with the game last year with a 42-3 win at home. The Hawkeyes looked great last week in beating Wyoming 24-3 at home. Iowa’s defense appears to be very stout. Wyoming has a good offense, so holding them to three points was surprising. The Cyclones beat Northern Iowa 42-24 last week and no one really stood out. ISU QB Jacob Park just dink and dunked the Panthers. He will not be able to do that against Iowa. I know the outcomes of this rivalry have been historically odd, but I have to take Iowa to cover in Ames.
Eastern Michigan at Rutgers (-5) – My pick is Eastern Michigan Eagles
This is when we pick a game with smaller conference teams (or apparently odd Eastern Michigan lines). This spot is usually where I would poke fun at Eastern Michigan…but can’t do that this season. The Eagles won and covered at home against Charlotte. They were favored by two touchdowns in that game. It’s rare that EMU is favored in any game in a season, let alone a double-digit point spread. They aren’t favored in this game since they are facing a Big Ten team, but Rutgers is the worst Big Ten team. The Scarlet Knights are bad and MAC teams have had success (a few times) against a Big Ten teams in the past. It’s not a ridiculous notion that this game could be close, or even that the Eagles may squeak by with a win! I’m not going to go as far as put down some jeallybeans on Eastern, but I will take the points.
South Florida at Connecticut (+17.5) – My pick is South Florida
Houston at Arizona (+1) – My pick is Houston
Utah at BYU (+1) – My pick is Utah
Memphis at Central Florida (-2.5) – My pick is Central Florida
Mississippi State at Louisiana Tech (+8) – My pick is Mississippi State
South Carolina at Missouri (-2.5) – My pick is Mizzou
Middle Tennessee at Syracuse (-9.5) – My pick is Syracuse
UNLV at Idaho (-6.5) – My pick is Idaho
Charlotte at Kansas State (-36) – My pick is Kansas State
Ohio at Purdue (-4) – My pick is Purdue
Oklahoma State at South Alabama (+28) – My pick is Oklahoma State
Minnesota at Oregon State (-2) – My pick is Minnesota
Buffalo at Army (-16.5) – My pick is Buffalo
Wake Forest at Boston College (-1) – My pick is Wake Forest
Tulane at Navy (-13) – My pick is Navy
Sweetbob’s college football picks against the spread record in previous seasons:
*These picks are for entertainment purposes
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.