Progress from Week 1 to 2 was more than baby steps, but thanks to a loser in Texas A&M as a best bet (the line had shrunk so far by kickoff thanks to Miami action my optimism was pre-dashed) and Cal’s lost 4th quarter lead, it was just 3-2, +0.05 units as a bottom line (ND, Purdue ML, App St winners). There’s been an unhealthy amount of criticism directed at this week’s slate (looking at you Awful Announcing), with the lack of ranked-v-ranked leading the list of complaints. Personally, I found the lack of appreciation for the 6-game ACC-B1G Challenge most disturbing. If PJ Fleck taking his Gophers into Chapel Hill for Mack Brown’s first game against a B1G team since George W. Bush was president doesn’t interest you – that’s a you problem! If I were to lodge a minor complaint myself, it would be Hurricane Lee’s looming effect over the northeast, possibly slowing the FSU offense versus Boston College, in what would be a total rout in benign conditions On to the further improving picks (chronological, best bet aside).
Bet 1: Georgia Southern +19.5 (-110) at Wisconsin (11:00am CT Sat 9/16, BTN; all odds via FanDuel)
It might seem like a spot for UW to rebound forcefully from the first loss of the Luke Fickell era, but GaSo is a plucky little team under Clay Helton. And last week’s loss on the Palouse isn’t the only red flag surrounding the Badgers. In Week 1 they struggled with Buffalo for the first half, only pulling away in the second half, and still not covering in a 21 point win as a 25 point favorite. What did Buffalo do in Week 2 – lost to FCS Fordham. The defense isn’t remotely as smothering as the Jim Leonhard-led units of late. The Sun Belt squad will keep it close enough behind their experienced former Tulsa QB Davis Brin.
Bet 2: Liberty -3.5 at Buffalo (11:00am CT Sat 9/16, CBSSN)
Now to bet against the other half of the UW-Buffalo opener. As noted, they backed it up with a 3-point home loss to Fordham, which featured a blown 21-3 lead in the process. Liberty is 2-0 in year 1 of Jamey Chadwell, and his Coastal Carolina bona fides followed him north. With a dual threat QB in Kaidon Salter, I expect plenty of points out of the visiting Flames. Buffalo is not a material step up in competition for the team that won their first two (Bowling Green, New Mexico St) by double digits.
Bet 3: UNLV +172 ML vs Vanderbilt (6:00pm CT Sat 9/16, CBSSN)
The Runnin Reb’s are going to be so happy they’re not playing Michigan again, they’ll join the SEC non-con pile on. UNLV is led by former SEC East head coach Barry Odom, and you can be sure he wants every bit of this upset of his former division foe. Vandy was gashed for nearly 500 yards in last week’s loss to Wake, and their one possession Week 0 win over Hawaii hasn’t aged particularly well. UNLV won the only other meeting between the two 34-10 in Nashville in 2019. Time for the G5 to sweep the home and home.
Bet 4: Oregon -38.5 vs Hawaii (7:00pm CT Sat 9/16, Pac-12 Network)
I was surprised to find out Hawaii is coming into this one with a 3-game winning streak over the Ducks. This is the first meeting in 29 years, when Hawaii beat the future Pac-10 Champs by 20. No such anomaly this time. Oregon doesn’t hesitate to run it up, and they’re ability to do it quicker than seemingly anybody else in the country is a habit that’s going on nearly 15 years. Up by 30 at the half, 40 through the third, and a safe cover.
Best Bet (2 units): Florida +6.5 vs Tennessee (6:00pm CT Sat 9/16, ESPN)
Too much pride in the Gator program to not take the points at home. In spite of his cannon, Joe Milton is not the steward of Heupel’s offense that Hendon Hooker was. Florida’s sloppy opening loss at Utah is further behind them and they’ll be pumped to make further amends in their SEC opener. Mertz looks to be in better shape than at any point in his Badger career, and I expect him to continue his chemistry with Pearsall. Two much investment and energy in Napier and his build to just get rolled in the Swamp.
Week 2: 3-2, +0.05 units; Season: 6-7, -3.30 units.