Who will win the SEC East showdown between South Carolina and Georgia?
The second Saturday of the college football season isn’t exactly filled with a ton of marquee matchups, as many of the top teams in the country will once again be feeding on cupcake opponents.
Still, there are at least a few must-watch games on the docket such as South Carolina-Georgia, Notre Dame-Michigan and Florida-Miami that will fill the cravings of diehard college football fans.
With so many mismatches and big point spreads on the card this week, it’s a very challenging week to handicap and make picks. Nevertheless, here are the breakdowns and predictions for every Saturday game of Week 2.
Note: All spreads and totals used are courtesy of Covers.com. Games involving FCS teams are not included, since many sportsbooks don’t offer those matchups.
Miami (Ohio) RedHawks at Kentucky Wildcats
Spread: Kentucky (-17)
Kentucky looked every bit like the worst team in the SEC in its season-opening loss to Western Kentucky. However, Miami (Ohio) managed to look even worse in a 52-14 trouncing at the hands of Marshall.
The RedHawks likely won’t fare much better in their second straight road game, especially against a more athletic Wildcats squad. Kentucky running back Raymond Sanders should find plenty of room to run against a Miami (Ohio) defense that gave up an average of 5.3 yards per carry against the Thundering Herd last week.
Picks: Kentucky (-17), Over
Prediction: Kentucky 45, Miami (Ohio) 20
Eastern Michigan Eagles at Penn State Nittany Lions
Spread: Penn State (-24)
Penn State’s highly touted true freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg looked solid in his debut performance against Syracuse last week, completing 22 of his 31 passes for 278 yards and two touchdowns in the 23-17 win. Hackenberg, along with his dangerous receiver duo of Allen Robinson and Geno Lewis, should look even better this week at home against Eastern Michigan.
The Nittany Lions should win this game rather easily. However, 24 points seems like a lot to cover for a team that averaged just 29 points per game at home last year.
Picks: Eastern Michigan (+24), Under
Prediction: Penn State 31, Eastern Michigan 10
Houston Cougars at Temple Owls
Spread: Houston (-3)
The first conference game of the new-look American Athletic Conference should feature plenty of offense. Temple QB Connor Reilly and Houston QB David Piland may not be household names, but both of them can sling it around the field when given the chance.
Ultimately, if this game does turn into an offensive shootout, then you have to side with the team that has the better offensive weapons. That’s the Cougars, who have two dynamic playmaking pass-catchers in Deontay Greenberry and Daniel Spencer.
Picks: Houston (-3), Over
Prediction: Houston 48, Temple 38
Bowling Green Falcons at Kent State Golden Flashes
Spread: Bowling Green (-6.5)
Bowling Green’s defense looked absolutely outstanding last week in a 34-7 win over defending Conference USA champion Tulsa. Kent State’s offense, on the other hand, just didn’t look up to snuff in a lackluster 17-10 win over Liberty.
The Falcons look like an improved team from last year, while the Golden Flashes look like they’ve taken a sizable step back. Bowling Green’s defense should be able to get the job done once again, as the Falcons look to start their quest for a MAC title in strong fashion.
Picks: Bowling Green (-6.5), Under
Prediction: Bowling Green 27, Kent State 17
South Florida Bulls at Michigan State Spartans
Spread: Michigan State (-23)
South Florida became one of the casualties of the FCS revolution last week, as the Bulls surprisingly got blown out by McNeese State 53-21 at home. Unfortunately, they’re not going to have an easy time trying to bounce back from that devastating defeat, as they now have to travel to Michigan State to face one of the most talented defenses in the nation.
What the Spartans lack on offense—namely a competent quarterback and a proven rushing threat—they make up for with a defense that features plenty of veteran standouts such as linebackers Max Bullough and Denicos Allen, cornerback Darqueze Dennard and safety Isaiah Lewis. It’s shaping up to be another tough day for South Florida’s offense, but I question whether or not the Spartans can do enough offensively themselves to cover such a big spread.
Picks: South Florida (+23), Under
Prediction: Michigan State 29, South Florida 10
Cincinnati Bearcats at Illinois Fighting Illini
Spread: Cincinnati (-7.5)
After a dominant 42-7 win over Purdue last week, Cincinnati now has a tricky game to deal with on the road against Illinois. The Bearcats are clearly the more balanced and more talented overall team. But we’ve seen plenty of Tommy Tuberville-coached squads have letdown performances in years past.
Cincinnati should ultimately be able to pull out the win. But improved Illinois QB Nathan Scheelhaase should at least be able to keep pace with Munchie Legaux and the Bearcats offense.
Picks: Illinois (+7.5), Over
Prediction: Cincinnati 38, Illinois 33
Florida Gators at Miami Hurricanes
Spread: Florida (-3)
The Hurricanes will likely be many analysts' trendy “upset special” this week, but I actually like the Gators on the road. Miami has two terrific offensive weapons in QB Stephen Morris and RB Duke Johnson, but the Hurricanes just don’t have the overall strength and toughness on offense to match Florida’s powerful, fast and physical defense.
Dominique Easley, Leon Orr and Michael Taylor should keep Johnson contained, while Florida’s outstanding corner combo of Marcus Roberson, Loucheiz Purifoy and Jaylen Watkins will severely limit Morris’ opportunities to make big plays in the passing game.
Picks: Florida (-3), Under
Prediction: Florida 26, Miami 13
Oklahoma State Cowboys at UTSA RoadRunners
Spread: Oklahoma State (-27)
Oklahoma State’s offense started off last week’s season opener against Mississippi State looking a little shaky. But the Cowboys worked out the kinks in the second half, once quarterback J.W. Walsh settled down and got in a groove.
Walsh, running back Jeremy Smith and wide receiver Josh Stewart should be able to make plenty of big plays indoors on the Alamodome turf. Still, it’s hard to feel confident laying 27 points on the road against an experienced and underrated RoadRunners squad.
Picks: UTSA (+27), Over
Prediction: Oklahoma State 49, UTSA 24
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at Tennessee Volunteers
Spread: Tennessee (-13)
New Western Kentucky coach Bobby Petrino got some vengeance on his former conference, the SEC, with a big debut win against Kentucky in Week 1. Unfortunately, it’s going to be tougher for Petrino’s squad to pull out another big victory over an SEC foe in front of over 100,000 screaming Tennessee fans at Neyland Stadium.
Though there’s a chance that the Volunteers could be looking ahead to two tough upcoming road games against Oregon and Florida, they should be able to win this one comfortably if they actually manage to stay focused on the task at hand.
RB Rajion Neal, who averaged 8.8 yards on 16 carries in the season opener, is a budding star. The Hilltoppers, who have four new starting defensive linemen this season, just aren’t strong enough in the trenches to handle Neal and Tennessee’s massive and powerful offensive line.
Picks: Tennessee (-13), Under
Prediction: Tennessee 35, Western Kentucky 17
Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders at North Carolina Tar Heels
Spread: North Carolina (-17.5)
Middle Tennessee State stunned an ACC team last year, when the Blue Raiders went to Georgia Tech and destroyed the Yellow Jackets 49-28. The question is: Can they do it again this time around against a North Carolina team that is coming off a tough, physically grueling loss to South Carolina last week?
The answer: Yes!
Picks: Middle Tennessee State (+17.5), Under
Prediction: Middle Tennessee State 31, North Carolina 27
Army Black Knights at Ball State Cardinals
Spread: Ball State (-7.5)
Last year’s meeting between these two teams was decided by eight points. It’s likely that this year’s game will be just as close. Ball State clearly possesses more dangerous offensive playmakers than the Black Knights, especially the dangerous duo of RB Jahwan Edwards and WR Willie Snead. But the Cardinals defense, which ranked 105th nationally in total defense last year, leaves a lot to be desired.
The Black Knights may not be able to pull off an upset on the road, but they should be able to score enough to keep this game within a touchdown.
Picks: Army (+7.5), Over
Prediction: Ball State 34, Army 30
Toledo Rockets at Missouri Tigers
Spread: Missouri (-17)
The Rockets didn’t do themselves any favors in non-conference play by scheduling back-to-back road games against formidable SEC opponents to start the 2013 season. A week after getting beat up by Florida down in Gainesville, Toledo now heads to Colombia to battle a Missouri team, which put up 58 points on Murray State in Week 1.
Led by QB Terrance Owens, RB David Fluellen and WR Bernard Reedy, the Rockets offense should be able to put a scare into the Tigers. But ultimately, Missouri should be able to prevail at home in a game that has the potential to quickly turn into an offensive shootout.
Picks: Toledo (+17), Over
Prediction: Missouri 42, Toledo 31
Buffalo Bulls at Baylor Bears
Spread: Baylor (-27.5)
Baylor’s offense looked like it was in midseason form in Week 1, as the Bears rolled up 69 points on Wofford. Another blowout victory is to be expected once again this week against an overmatched Buffalo defense, which will be playing its second straight road game, following a 40-20 loss to Ohio State last week.
The Bulls have a bona fide star defender in LB Khalil Mack. However, the rest of the defense simply won’t be able to contain Baylor’s plethora of explosive playmakers.
Picks: Baylor, Under
Prediction: Baylor 49, Buffalo 17
San Diego State Aztecs at Ohio State Buckeyes
Spread: Ohio State (-27.5)
If you listened to Urban Meyer during his postgame meetings with the media, he didn’t exactly sound thrilled with the mistakes his team made in its season opener.
Meyer likely rode his players hard during practice this week, and Ohio State should respond with a more impressive all-around performance against a San Diego State team that got embarrassed by Eastern Illinois at home last week.
Picks: Ohio State (-27.5), Over
Prediction: Ohio State 49, San Diego State 17
Oregon Ducks at Virginia Cavaliers
Spread: Oregon (-22.5)
Any time a West Coast team has to travel across the country to play an afternoon game on the East Coast, there’s always the worry about how the dreaded time zone switch will affect the team’s performance. That could be the case for Oregon’s players, who could have a tough time getting motivated for a game against Virginia.
The Ducks should win this one rather easily, but if they get off to a sluggish start in the first half, this game may not end up being the blowout that many expect.
Picks: Virginia (+22.5), Over
Prediction: Oregon 41, Virginia 24
Utah State Aggies at Air Force Falcons
Spread: Utah State (-9.5)
You have to wonder if there will be a bit of a hangover effect for the Aggies in this situation, following a tough loss last week to in-state rival Utah.
Utah State will have the best player on the field, QB Chuckie Keeton, but it will also be playing its second straight road game against an Air Force team that’s gone 28-9 at home during Troy Calhoun’s tenure. Keeton should be able to make enough plays to guide the Utes to victory, but the Falcons should be able to keep this game within 10 points.
Picks: Air Force (+9.5), Over
Prediction: Utah State 38, Air Force 33
South Alabama Jaguars at Tulane Green Wave
Spread: Tulane (-6.5)
Neither of these teams are destined to put a lot of tallies in the win column this season. But as far as this matchup goes, it’s hard not to like Tulane.
The Green Wave will have the best two offensive players on the field, RB Orleans Darkwa and WR Ryan Grant. Those two should be able to create enough plays to lead Tulane to its second victory of the season, which would already match the team’s win total from 2012.
Picks: Tulane (-6.5), Over
Prediction: Tulane 36, South Alabama 21
Idaho Vandals at Wyoming Cowboys
Spread: Wyoming (-28)
Wyoming came up just short in a bid to upset Nebraska last week, losing to the Cornhuskers 37-34 in Lincoln.
Normally, a hangover effect would be expected after that type of hard-fought road loss. But luckily for the Cowboys, they should be able to get back on track this week at home against an Idaho team that doesn’t even look like a competitive FBS program any longer.
Picks: Wyoming (-28), Over
Prediction: Wyoming 63, Idaho 13
South Carolina Gamecocks at Georgia Bulldogs
Spread: Georgia Bulldogs (-3.5)
South Carolina has won the last three games in this series, and the Gamecocks should be able to keep that streak going with another big win in Athens. If you watched the Georgia-Clemson game last week, it was easy to see how much that game took out of the Bulldogs, especially their young, inexperienced defense, which looked completely gassed by the end of the third quarter.
QB Connor Shaw, RB Mike Davis and WR Shaq Roland should be able to take advantage of Georgia’s tired legs on defense and come up with an early statement win in this crucial conference showdown.
Picks: South Carolina (+3.5), Under
Prediction: South Carolina 26, Georgia 20
Duke Blue Devils at Memphis Tigers
Spread: Duke (-4)
Duke beat Memphis 38-14 and out-gained the Tigers by 348 total yards in their meeting last year. However, this year’s matchup looks to be a little more even.
The Blue Devils have more impressive offensive pieces, especially WR Jamison Crowder. But their lackluster defense is what could allow Memphis to make this game interesting.
Picks: Memphis (+4), Under
Prediction: Duke 34, Memphis 31
Syracuse Orange at Northwestern Wildcats
Spread: Northwestern (-16.5)
This is a tough turnaround for Syracuse. After a hard-fought, physical loss to Penn State at MetLife Stadium last week, the Orange now have to head on the road to play a talented Northwestern offense that put up 44 points on the road against Cal last week.
If the Wildcats offense starts clicking early, it may not take long for this game to spiral out of control.
Picks: Northwestern (-16.5), Over
Prediction: Northwestern 45, Syracuse 20
Navy Midshipmen at Indiana Hoosiers
Spread: Indiana (-12.5)
Indiana is the type of team that bettors need to be aware of this season. The Hoosiers have one of the most underrated groups of skill-position players in the country, especially their wide receiver trio of Kofi Hughes, Shane Wynn and Cody Latimer.
Navy’s secondary simply won’t have an answer for the Hoosiers’ playmakers in the passing game.
Picks: Indiana (-12.5), Over
Prediction: Indiana 52, Navy 24
Southern Miss Golden Eagles at Nebraska Cornhuskers
Spread: Nebraska (-28)
Nebraska’s defense didn’t just look shaky in last week’s close call win over Wyoming, the Cornhuskers looked downright dreadful on defense. Luckily, the unit should fare much better against a Southern Miss team, which comes to Lincoln riding a 13-game losing streak.
Even if the defense struggles again, the talented backfield duo of QB Taylor Martinez and RB Ameer Abdullah should be able to lead the Cornhuskers to enough points to cover the four-touchdown spread.
Picks: Nebraska (-28), Over
Prediction: Nebraska 56, Southern Miss 17
Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns at Kansas State Wildcats
Spread: Kansas State (-10.5)
A week after getting upset at home by FCS opponent North Dakota State, the Wildcats will now be looking to bounce back against an underrated Louisiana-Lafayette team.
If Kansas State’s new starting QB Jake Waters can limit his mistakes, and if the offensive line can give RB John Hubert more room to run, then the Wildcats should be able to pick up their first win of the year. However, Ragin' Cajuns QB Terrance Broadway is the type of gifted playmaker who will cause matchup problems for the Kansas State defense.
Picks: Louisiana-Lafayette (+10.5), Over
Prediction: Kansas State 35, Louisiana-Lafayette 31
Colorado State Rams at Tulsa Golden Hurricane
Spread: Tulsa (-10.5)
I thought there was a chance that Tulsa could lose its season opener on the road against Bowling Green last week. But I was surprised at just how ineffective the Golden Hurricane offense was in the 34-7 blowout loss.
That’s definitely a cause for concern. Nevertheless, QB Cody Green, RB Ja’Terian Douglas and the rest of the offense should be able to get back on track at home against a Colorado State defense that just gave up 41 points to Colorado last week.
Picks: Tulsa (-10.5), Over
Prediction: Tulsa 42, Colorado State 27
Texas Longhorns at BYU Cougars
Spread: Texas (-7)
If Texas wants to make 2013 its season of redemption, then the Longhorns have to start by going up to BYU and making a statement against the Cougars, who are coming off a tough loss to Virginia in their season opener.
The Longhorns have a clear talent advantage in this game. However, the problem is, we’ve seen too many letdown performances from Mack Brown’s squad in recent years. Still, I don’t expect a letdown here, especially now that Texas QB David Ash looks like he’s finally starting to put it all together. Texas just has too many weapons on offense and too much speed on defense for BYU to handle.
Picks: Texas (-7), Over
Prediction: Texas 44, BYU 30
UAB Blazers at LSU Tigers
Spread: LSU (-34.5)
After watching LSU take care of business against TCU in its season opener, it’s clear that QB Zach Mettenberger is now playing on a different level than he did last year. Mettenberger should look great once again when he faces a UAB secondary that allowed 9.7 yards per pass in a loss to Troy last week.
The Blazers simply won’t have an answer for Mettenberger, receivers Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry, and the Tigers’ deep stable of running backs.
Picks: LSU (-34.5), Over
Prediction: LSU 56, UAB 14
North Texas Mean Green at Ohio Bobcats
Spread: Ohio (-4)
Ohio got absolutely obliterated by Louisville last week, which makes you wonder what type of confidence the Bobcats will be playing with in this game, following such a poor performance.
North Texas is a veteran team that returns 17 starters from last year. The experienced Mean Green, led by senior QB Derek Thompson, should be able to handle the road environment and come up with a big non-conference win against an Ohio team that seems to have taken a bit of a step back from last year.
Picks: North Texas (+4), Over
Prediction: North Texas 30, Ohio 23
West Virginia Mountaineers at Oklahoma Sooners
Spread: Oklahoma (-21)
With both teams breaking in new starting quarterbacks, I expect this game to be much more low scoring than last year’s wild 50-49 shootout.
Judging from the way West Virginia played in its season opener against William & Mary, it doesn’t seem like coach Dana Holgorsen has much faith in his passing attack at this point in the season. That’s why I expect the Mountaineers to take the air out of the ball and ride RB Charles Sims to try to eat up the clock.
Ultimately, the Sooners should make enough plays at home, but the West Virginia defense, which looks to have improved after last year’s dreadful performance, should at least keep this game respectable.
Picks: West Virginia (+21), Under
Prediction: Oklahoma 31, West Virginia 21
Arkansas State Red Wolves at Auburn Tigers
Spread: Auburn (-10.5)
After a year spent coaching at Arkansas State last season, Gus Malzahn knows Arkansas State’s personnel very well, and he should be able to come up with a strong scheme to exploit the Red Wolves’ weaknesses.
Though Tiger fans still have to be concerned about QB Nick Marshall, this is an Auburn offense that looks like its making some noticeable strides on offense under Malzahn. That should continue this week with another strong performance at home.
Picks: Auburn (-10.5), Over
Prediction: Auburn 42, Arkansas State 20
New Mexico Lobos at UTEP Miners
Spread: UTEP (-6.5)
After suffering through seven straight losing seasons, including a three-win campaign in 2012, it doesn’t seem like there’s a lot of optimism surrounding the UTEP program right now. However, Miners fans can at least get excited about the potential explosive passing combination of QB Jameill Showers, a transfer from Texas A&M, and WR Jordan Leslie, one of the most underrated pass-catchers in the country.
Showers and Leslie should be able to do plenty of damage against a New Mexico secondary that ranked 106th nationally in pass defense last season.
Picks: UTEP (-6.5), Under
Prediction: UTEP 38, New Mexico 17
Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Michigan Wolverines
Spread: Michigan (-4)
On paper, the last edition of the Notre Dame-Michigan rivalry game appears to be one of the most even matchups in the history of the series. Both of these teams are tough in trenches, as they both feature stout defensive front sevens and solid offensive lines.
The real difference in this game, though, is at the quarterback position. Tommy Rees is a veteran senior signal-caller who should be able to handle the hostile crowd at the Big House. However, Rees just isn’t anywhere near the same caliber of dynamic playmaker that Michigan’s Devin Gardner is. Gardner is the type of athletic dual-threat quarterback who should cause fits for the Irish defense all night long.
Picks: Michigan (-4), Over
Prediction: Michigan 34, Notre Dame 23
Minnesota Golden Gophers at New Mexico State Aggies
Spread: Minnesota (-14.5)
The last time these two teams met in 2011, New Mexico State came into the game as a three-touchdown underdog, yet the Aggies still managed to pull off a 28-21 upset on the road.
While they may not be able to beat the Golden Gophers outright yet again, it wouldn’t be shocking to see New Mexico State keep this game relatively close against a Minnesota team that has gone just 2-8 on the road under coach Jerry Kill.
Picks: Minnesota 35, New Mexico State 26
Prediction: New Mexico State (+14.5), Over
Hawaii Warriors at Oregon State Beavers
Spread: Oregon State (-27)
Oregon State’s loss to Eastern Washington last week was arguably the biggest surprise upset of Week 1. Though it’s impossible to tell just how the Beavers will respond after that shocking defeat, you have to believe that head coach Mike Riley should be able to get a much better effort out of his players this week against Hawaii.
I expect Oregon State’s veteran defensive leaders: DE Scott Crichton, LB Michael Doctor and CB Rashaad Reynolds to all step up and play with much more pride this week than they did against the Eagles.
Picks: Oregon State (-27), Over
Prediction: Oregon State 49, Hawaii 10
Washington State Cougars at USC Trojans
Spread: USC (-15.5)
USC lacks a true leader and playmaker at the quarterback position, which is certainly concerning, and it’s something that will likely hamper the offense in this game.
Washington State may not have nearly the amount of future NFL talent that the Trojans do, but the fact is, if USC doesn’t get more consistency from behind center, it will likely allow the Cougars to hang around in this game.
Picks: Washington State (+15.5), Over
Prediction: USC 35, Washington State 24
Arizona Wildcats at UNLV Rebels
Spread: Arizona (-10.5)
This will be the first road test for new Arizona QB B.J. Denker, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he looks a little jittery and off his game.
UNLV certainly isn’t a great team by any stretch, but if the Rebels can force Denker into committing some key mistakes, they may be able to keep this game somewhat close.
Picks: UNLV (+10.5), Over
Prediction: Arizona 38, UNLV 30
San Jose State Spartans at Stanford Cardinal
Spread: Stanford (-25)
Last year’s meeting between these two teams was a lot closer than many were expecting, with San Jose State putting a scare into Stanford before the Cardinal ultimately prevailed 20-17. However, this year’s game likely won’t be nearly as close.
The Spartans have a terrific quarterback in David Fales, but Fales is going to have a tough time moving the ball down the field against a Stanford defense that is one of the strongest units in the country.
Picks: Stanford (+25), Under
Prediction: Stanford 48, San Jose State 21