After a 6-8 performance last week with a couple of #badbeats, we’re right on .500 for the season at 18-18-2. Love the board this week – ride the underdogs.
#12 Florida State vs. NC State (+12.5)
It seems like eons since the Seminoles lost to Alabama in the season opener. FSU hasn’t played due to hurricane-related cancellations. NC State’s lone loss was mostly the cause of their special teams ineptitude vs. South Caroline and the Pack has one of the best defensive lines in the country – not ideal for first-time FSU started James Blackman. Rust and inexperience at QB for the ‘Noles will keep this game close into the fourth quarter.
West Virginia (-21) vs. Kansas
I expected Kansas to be better this year – I was way off. It seems like more of the same in Lawrence and the Mountaineers and Will Grier will put up plenty of points against a Jayhawk defense that has allowed 40 points in the previous two weeks against MAC opponents.
Baylor vs. #3 Oklahoma – O/U 63 – OVER
The Sooners got their “letdown” game out of the way vs. Tulane last week and may reach 63 on their own against a porous Baylor defense.
#13 Virginia Tech vs. Old Dominion (+28.5)
Fellow Otter Room writer Taylor Seale was very confident in the Monarchs covering against UNC at home last week – that was not to be. The Hokies will be sluggish looking ahead to Clemson next week, which could be the biggest game in Blacksburg in the last decade.
Vanderbilt (+18.5) vs. #1 Alabama
The Commodores may have poked the bear too much following last week’s win vs. Kansas State. Many of the defensive players were talking trash to Alabama immediately after the game, which gives me pause in this pick. The Tide showed some vulnerabilities against FSU in the only game vs. an elite defense this season and Vandy boasts the best defense in the SEC not named Alabama. That Vandy D will keep the game close even if the ‘Dores don’t cross midfield on offense. This is also one of the biggest games in Vanderbilt football history, which means the stands may be only 40% red.
#25 LSU vs. Syracuse – O/U 56.5 – UNDER
The Orange have put up points vs. some lesser opponents so far this year, but a night game in Baton Rouge is a different animal. The Tigers have their own offensive issues, but they won’t allow Syracuse to score more than 10 points.
Cal (+17) vs. #4 USC
Justin Wilcox is one of the early favorites for National Coach of the Year as the Bears have topped UNC and Ole Miss in the first three weeks of the season. Their swiss cheese defense from the Sonny Dykes era is no more as Wilcox has brought his defensive schemes that were so successful at Wisconsin. USC showed flashes against Stanford, but clearly has some holes that will be exposed in their first road game.
Nebraska (-11) vs. Rutgers
Nebraska is not any good, but they will beat Rutgers by more than two touchdowns at home. After being beaten down all week following the loss to Northern Illinois, expect the Huskers to come out with some fire Saturday and take care of Rutgers easily.
#14 Miami vs. Toledo (+13.5)
Like Florida State, Miami has not taken the field since week one. The only data point we have on the Hurricanes is a win vs. Bethune-Cookman – hard to gleam much from that performance. Toledo is a veteran-laden squad and will keep the contest close against a rusty Miami team, which will no doubt be playing in front of a sparse crowd.
Purdue (+10) vs. #8 Michigan
For as wrong as I was about Kansas, I was on point in my Purdue preseason predictions. Jeff Brohm has completely turned the culture around in West Lafayette and has the Boilermakers competitive, something that has not happened since the Joe Tiller era. There is tangible hype leading into this game and Michigan looked anything but invincible after scraping by Air Force at home last week.
Kentucky (+3) vs. #20 Florida
The Gators have beaten Kentucky 30 straight times and lead the series 50-17. However, this is a new era of Kentucky football. The Wildcats dominated South Carolina, who many pegged as a contender in the SEC East, on the road a week ago. The Gators simply don’t have the offense to go on the road and win. Kentucky wins this game straight up.
Iowa (+12.5) vs. #4 Penn State
For some reason the entire country is sold on Penn State as a national title contender. Apparently wins over Akron and Georgia State really send a message. Penn State’s best win to date vs. Pitt has been made to look very pedestrian after Oklahoma State dismantled the Panthers a week ago. Kinnick is as tough of a place to play in the Big Ten and Penn State has only won three road games since 2014. Those victories came against Rutgers, Indiana, and Purdue – such is life in the Big Ten. Iowa’s defense will contain Saquon Barkley and force Trace McSorley to beat them through the air. As they did last season vs. Michigan, the Hawkeyes will pull to upset over a top-5 team.
Colorado (+10.5) vs. #7 Washington
Like Vandy, this is the biggest home game for Colorado in the last 15 years. The Buffaloes will have revenge on their minds as the Huskies dominated CU in the PAC 12 Championship Game last season. This is the biggest test for either team and as long as the Buffs can keep Dante Pettis in check on special teams, CU has the horses to hang with Washington for four quarters.
#24 Oregon vs. Arizona State – O/U 75.5 – OVER
Pac 12 after dark special here. Simply put, neither team has plays defense.