During the college football season, Stadium’s staff will provide weekly betting picks and advice throughout the year. Here are our thoughts on the Week 2 slate:
1. What is your favorite pick against the spread?
Alex Symonds, Stadium Senior Producer: Marshall (+12) over Boise State. After a come-from-behind victory at Florida State in Week 1, everyone is in love with Boise State and true freshman QB Hank Bachmeier. I thought he looked good, but not good enough to warrant giving double digits to a Marshall team that has one of the top defensive lines in the Group of Five. Marshall throttled an overmatched VMI team to open the season, while the Broncos are coming off an emotional road victory (with cross-country travel) heading into a short week. For me, it adds up to a close game between two of the best G5 teams in the country, and I’ll gladly take the points.
Andy Wittry, Stadium College Sports Writer: Army (+22.5) over Michigan. The Wolverines beat Middle Tennessee by 19 in Week 1 and they had 14 offensive possessions, not counting the two plays that ended the game. Michigan might have closer to half as many possessions on Saturday than it did last week; Army’s offense had the ball 10 times in Week 1 against Rice, but two of those possessions consisted of one or two plays at the end of a half, so the Black Knights only had eight real possessions. All it takes is two scoring drives like Army had last week — 16 plays for 95 yards in 9:48 and 18 plays for 96 yards in 9:21 — and the Blacks Knights will almost certainly cover the spread.
Nate Jacobson, Stadium Sports Betting Analyst: Nebraska (-3.5) over Colorado. The Game of the Year line for this contest was Nebraska -9, so there’s been a 5.5-point movement after the results in Week 1. The line move could be warranted because Nebraska struggled offensively to the tune of 4.2 yards per play against South Alabama in Week 1. While Colorado got the win and cover against rival Colorado State in Head Coach Mel Tucker’s first game in charge of the Buffaloes, I think the line has gone too far and that there’s value on the Cornhuskers at this price. This is also a revenge game from last year when Colorado won in Lincoln, and I expect for ‘Huskers fans to make the trip since these teams used to play in the Big 12.
2. What is your favorite total (over/under)?
AS: Under 51.5 Central Michigan-Wisconsin. Much like last week I have a disclaimer for this answer: you won’t want to watch this game, but I think it’s worth a wager (Army-Rice under 48.5 was a slog AND an easy winner). Wisconsin is annually ranked in the bottom third of college football in pace and currently has a top-20 defense in FBS per SP+. With a bye week on deck and Michigan at home after that, the Badgers will be happy to put the Chippewas away early in what I project to be a snoozer. Don’t watch this game, but take the under before it drops below 50.
AW: Under 45 in Stanford-USC. This Pac-12 game involves two teams with questions at quarterback. USC’s JT Daniels is out for the season with a knee injury, while Stanford’s K.J. Costello was last listed as questionable after getting knocked out of the Cardinal’s season-opener. Without Costello, Stanford’s offense failed to score a touchdown in the second half against Northwestern — and only had one touchdown with him on the field. New USC starter Kedon Slovis threw eight passes last week, which included an interception, so the jury’s still out on how the Trojans’ offense performs with him under center.
NJ: Under 47.5 in Miami-North Carolina. My initial thought on this game was to take Miami against the spread, but I think the under is a better play here as North Carolina is due for an offensive letdown after their upset win over South Carolina in Week 1. As for Miami, their offensive line is a huge question mark, and I don’t expect for them to light up defenses until they get that unit figured out. There’s also familiarity between the two head coaches (Manny Diaz was Mack Brown’s defensive coordinator at Texas), so I can see this one being a lower-scoring game.
3. Which underdog of a touchdown or more has the best chance of an outright upset?
AS: Texas A&M (+17.5) over Clemson. I had four other teams I thought about going with here, but I found myself coming back to Jimbo Fisher and the Aggies in Death Valley. Fisher is 4-5 straight up against Dabo Swinney and just one of those losses was by more than 10 points (and that occurred in 2017 when he already had one foot out the door in Tallahassee). A&M has playmakers all over the field on offense and defense, elite special teams (Braden Mann is a name you should know) and a staff that can confuse Clemson’s young offensive stars. Clemson could roll here, but I think Texas A&M at +650 on the moneyline has a whole lot of value in this spot.
AW: San Diego State (+7.5) over UCLA. Tennessee’s eight-point loss at home to Georgia State, who was a 25-point dog, tells us that almost anything could happen, especially this early in the season. It’s probably less crazy to think that Texas A&M could win at Clemson than it was for the Vols to lose to a Group of Five team that went 2-10 last season and was nearly a four-touchdown dog. While we only have a one-game sample size, San Diego State is ranked nine spots higher than UCLA in the SP+ ratings, including the No. 1 defense after its 6-0 win over Weber State in Week 1.
NJ: Texas State (+7) over Wyoming. I always try to fade a college football team the week after they pull off an upset win where their fans storm the field. This is the case with Wyoming, who just stunned Missouri in Laramie, and after an exciting week with the “Big Men on Campus” label, Wyoming has to travel to San Marcos, Texas for an encounter with Texas State. The Bobcats are headed in the right direction with new Head Coach Jake Spavital, who most recently was the offensive coordinator at West Virginia. While Texas State struggled against a superior Texas A&M squad in Week 1, they have a real chance of pulling out a victory against Wyoming.
4. What is one bet you are tempted to make this week, but know you probably shouldn’t?
AS: Any bet on Army vs. Michigan (-22.5, O/U 47). A month ago, I was ready to put my money down on the Black Knights in this matchup at anything more than three touchdowns, but after Week 1 I don’t know what to think. Army averaged just 4.4 yards per play against an awful Rice team in the opener, while reports out of Ann Arbor indicate Shea Patterson may be playing hurt. I don’t want any part of the side or total in this contest.
AW: New Mexico State (+55) at Alabama. That’s a ton of points to cover, even for Alabama. That being said, the Crimson Tide are actually projected to cover that spread, according to ESPN’s Bill Connelly’s SP+ ratings system. Alabama was scoreless in the first quarter against Duke, as running backs Najee Harris and Brian Robinson Jr. were held out while serving suspensions, but the Crimson Tide still put up 42 points, even without its starters playing the full game. I would expect New Mexico State to cover the spread, but Alabama at full strength, playing at home for the first time this season in a game in which one advanced ratings system suggests the Crimson Tide will cover is enough to scare me off.
NJ: Maryland (-1.5) over Syracuse. Back in July, I circled this game as a horrible scheduling spot for Syracuse. It would be their second straight road game with a massive home date against Clemson on deck. Because of that, I was more than ready to take Maryland as the underdog, but bettors quickly realized the tough circumstances for ‘Cuse, making the line move in favor of the Terps. I do think that Maryland will win this game, but I’m not going to bet it because I didn’t get the best number.