Week 2 of college football is all but here, and it is time again for my against the spread (ATS) picks.
This week has some amazing games on tilt. Both the No. 1 and No. 2 teams on the AP poll have a true test this weekend, facing off against other hungry ranked squads.
Also this week, there are rivalry games, the opening of conference play in the SEC and Pac-10, and much, much more.
My Week 1 record was hardly spotless, but when all was said and done, the majority of my picks proved to be correct. An above .500 week is a decent way to start off the season, but there is still an extremely long road ahead.
Hopefully Week 2 will be a little nicer to my pocketbook.
Last Week: 10-8-2
A yearly rivalry from 1981 to 1990, it has been almost 10 years since Penn State and Alabama have battled. But there will certainly be no love lost in this revival.
Since 1959, the tide has rolled Bama’s way against the Nittany Lions, posting an 8-5 record and winning three of the last four meetings.
Alabama was no stranger to laying down a whooping onto Penn State during this nine-year rivalry, winning three games by at least 11 points, and only losing two games by more than a touchdown.
But the past is just that, and youth is something with a short order of it.
Penn’s State true freshman quarterback Robert Bolden showed off his talent in Week 1, but with the caliber of this Week 2 opponent and his inexperience in huge games, we can probably take that with a grain of salt.
The Nittany Lions should have their hands full with Alabama and the crazy schemes that Nick Saban likes to draw. A two-score lead at home should be a doable feat for the Tide in Week 2.
Pick: Alabama -12
In a rematch of the unforgettable 2003 Fiesta Bowl, Ohio State squares off against Miami in what could be the most interesting game of the week.
Both teams annihilated their weaker first week opponent. Each put up a 45 spot and their defenses allowed zero points. (Ohio State’s had a FG blocked that was run back for a TD.)
However, Week 2 will bring a revealing test for both teams and it will be a much more realistic measuring stick than what we saw against these “Squash-Me University” squads.
These teams are practically identical when looking at their first week numbers, but it is hard not to get the feeling that Ohio State has a slight edge over the often-inconsistent Miami Hurricanes.
The Hurricanes secondary is probably the most worrisome. While they do have experience now, it’s hard to forget the several times that they fell apart last season
Miami’s defensive line should find ways to get at Terrelle Pryor, but once they flush him out of the pocket, things could get ugly. If these defensive back are not sure of their assignments, it will open up seams for Pryor to throw through and then it could be time to bring on the nasty.
Plus, the Horseshoe is always a nightmare for visiting quarterbacks, so Ohio State should be able to cover 10 points even if The U’s best defense does show up. It will definitely be a close game but this matchup is too big for Jim Tressel to lose at home this early in the season.
Pick: Ohio State -9.5
Texas’ offense did seem a bit stale in Week 1, but don’t be so fast to write the Longhorns off just because they didn’t light up the scoreboard against their first week opponent.
There is an explosive offense buried inside of Texas and it won’t be long before their fury is unleashed on an unexpected opponent. A nice little cupcake in the form of Wyoming should be the perfect bait to lure this offense out of hiding.
With that said though, Texas’ ATS record in their last five September games (1-4) and last seven non-conference games (1-6) doesn’t exactly exude a ton of confidence when thinking about taking the Longhorns to cover. Also, the Longhorns only beat Wyoming by 31 points last year and that was with Colt McCoy.
The Longhorns seem like a risky pick this week, and after getting burned by them last week, it might be smart to go the other way.
Pick: Wyoming +29
The first-ever meeting between the Nebraska Cornhuskers and the Idaho Vandals should be anything but “Midwestern friendly.”
While Nebraska clobbered Western Kentucky in their home opener, the Vandals also devoured their first test of the season, destroying North Dakota 45-0.
So, we know both offenses can pick apart lousy defenses, but how will they do when the road gets a bit tougher?
Idaho’s defense returns 10 players and should be a step up from what Taylor Martinez and the Big Red saw in Week 1. Nebraska’s defense will also face a slightly harder test, but nothing Bo Pelini’s death squad can’t handle.
If that doesn’t do it for you, chew on the fact that the Cornhuskers are 6-0-1 ATS in their last 7 non-conference games.
Pick: Nebraska -28.5
Offense! We’ve got offense here…get’em while their hot.
In Week 1, Oregon and Tennessee combined for an amazing 122 points scored and an even bigger, zero points allowed. If that doesn’t scream offense, then you might want to get your ears checked.
Tennessee might have the tougher time repeating the performance in Week 2, staring down at one the best defenses in the nation.
Oregon’s offense certainly seems legit, but the blinding blanket of orange in Neyland Stadium might be a bit startling for this rather young squad.
As a road favorite, the Ducks are a mixed bag over their past 20 games (9-11), but there is something about Oregon that leads you to believe that they still have their foot on the pedal.
Once the Ducks settle down, they should prove to be the better team on the field.
Pick: Oregon -12
South Florida’s first-ever shot at the state’s big boy could leave them looking up at Florida’s flexing muscle when the brawl is through.
The first game following the Tim Tebow Era left Florida fans with a confusing taste in their mouth. The Gators won, and by a decent amount, but leaned a little heavy on their defense.
John Brantley’s play will only get stronger as the season continues and he should shine a bit brighter in his second game.
USF’s B.J. Daniels gives the Bulls a shot to cover this spread, but the Gators’ defense might be too much when all is said in done.
Pick: Florida -15.5
As back-to-back winners of the Cy-Hawk Trophy, Iowa is quickly retaking the stranglehold on a cross-state rivalry that, less than 10 years ago, leaned heavily towards Iowa State.
The Hawkeyes are undeniably the better team to take the gridiron this week, but if the Cyclones have anything to going for them, it is that they sure know how to cover a spread.
Since 2001, Iowa State has covered seven of the nine games in this rivalry, playing just good enough to beat Vegas’ expectations.
But last year’s 35-3 stomping by the Hawkeyes has to make you believe that the tide of this rivalry is turning once again, and a long winning streak is just getting started for Iowa.
Hawkeyes should win this game in a rout.
Pick: Iowa -13.5
With the long and storied histories of these programs, it is amazing that Oklahoma and Florida State have only faced off five times and four of those times were in a bowl game.
Oklahoma has won four straight in this series, but change is in the air. A stagnant showing by the Sooners’ offense and an explosive performance by the Seminoles could mean that this matchup is primed for a shift.
Christian Ponder is the game changer for Florida State. He completed 85.7 percent of his passes last week, gained 11.93 yards per attempt, and connected for four touchdowns.
Yes, it was against Samford, but don’t underestimate the ability of Ponder. Sooner Nation could be cursing his name before the night is through.
Pick: Florida State +8.5
When lines reach the upper 30’s, it is hard to judge the matchup on anything else but ATS records.
Wisconsin is 5-0 ATS in its last five games at home against a team with a losing record. OK, 0-1 isn’t exactly the biggest losing record in the world, but if this game was scheduled in December, San Jose State would most likely still be under .500.
A 38-point spread is a hard line to swallow and followers of Wisconsin know that covering large spreads have never really been the Badgers’ forte. However, San Jose State is still licking their wounds from the pantsing they took from Alabama and an absolute route by Wisconsin is not out of the question.
The Badgers should smell blood and will hopefully teach San Jose State a lesson about scheduling back-to-back away games against Top 25 teams.
Pick: Wisconsin -38
Arkansas’s offense is sparkling in the early going, but try not to get too distracted when deciding who to take in this matchup.
The Razorbacks have yet to lose a game to the Warhawks, but covering the spread hasn’t exactly been a given for Arkansas against Louisiana-Monroe. In the past four games between these teams, Arkansas is 1-2-1 against the spread, failing to cover in the past three.
This will be the Warhawks’ first game of the year, though, and that in itself may cause enough hiccups to open a door for an embarrassing rout.
Still, a five touchdown spread seems a bit much.
Pick: Louisiana-Monroe +34
Kansas football woes appear to have hit rock bottom. Not only did they lose in a touchdown-less game in their home opener to a terrible opponent, but the loss also extends an eight-game losing streak stemming from last season.
However, examining Kansas’s ATS record will certainly light up the eyes on any dedicated gambler. The Jayhawks are 1-9 ATS over the past 10 games and this makes Georgia Tech seem like a Grande Burrito Pick of the Week.
Josh Nesbitt and the Yellow Jackets' option offense should give Kansas fits and this game has the potential to get extremely ugly before halftime.
Pick: Georgia Tech -13.5
In the only meeting between these teams, USC marched onto the Virginia’s field as the better team and left it with a lopsided victory.
Two year later, USC will once again take the field as the much superior squad and should have no problems leaving the stadium as the victor.
Spreads haven’t exactly been USC’s thing lately, though, losing seven of their last 10 lines.
Virginia, on the other hand, loves proving bookmakers wrong on the road. In the Cavaliers’ last six road games, they have covered the spread five times, many times as heavy underdogs.
However, traveling out west will definitely take a toll, leaving this otherwise spotty defense quiet susceptible to a succession of late quarter scores.
The ATS records may say to go the other way, but for some reason it doesn’t seem like it should be hard for USC to beat Virginia by three touchdowns…even with their shoddy secondary.
Pick: USC -19.5
This lopsided SEC matchup will probably end up just as everyone expects.
LSU has rattled off 10 wins over the last 11 meetings with the Commodores and it should be more of the same this Saturday.
The Tigers have also held Vanderbilt to under 10 points in five straight games and if this trend continues, they should have no problems beating that suspiciously small line.
Although LSU has failed to cover their last three spreads, don’t let that bother you. This game should fall the Tigers way.
Pick: LSU -9.5
Utah’s dramatic victory over Pitt in Week 1 probably did not completely surprise the knowledgeable college football fans out there and neither should this pick.
The Utes have absolutely owned their seasonal matchup with the UNLV Rebels, winning 13 of their 15 meetings and scoring at least 35 points in five of the last six. They have also done a decent job covering the spread against the Rebels, posting a 6-2-2 ATS record over the past 10 games.
One worrisome fact: Utah has only beaten UNLV by more than 23 points three times. While these Runnin’ Rebels are hardly as bad as those teams were, they still are very capable of giving up a boatload of points to Utah.
UNLV has had their own ATS woes on the road, though, failing to cover 13 of their past 17 road lines.
Utah should be able to take advantage of their home field and light the Rebels up like a casino.
Pick: Utah -23
The first SEC game of the 2010 season, which may only draw small amounts attention away from the first official day of NFL Football, could have serious implications within the SEC West.
Mississippi State’s Tyler Russell currently leads the nation in Passer Rating (298.15) and the Bulldogs are hoping to see more of this against Auburn this Thursday.
While the Bulldogs defense looked sharp to start of the season, Auburn’s defense seemed shaky at times and will need to pick it up in order to keep Russell in check.
Overall, Auburn dominates this series with a 55-25-3 record, which includes the Tigers winning eight of their last nine matchups.
Auburn has also had decent success against the spread when playing the Bulldogs. Also, the Tigers have covered six of the past seven lines when these two teams meet.
If Auburn can duplicate the hype surrounding their team this season, they should have no problems covering two points.
Pick: Auburn -1.5
Georgia enters South Carolina as an underdog for the first time in over 20 years.
The Bulldogs haven’t lost in Williams-Brice stadium in over a decade, but this year people are convinced that the gap between Georgia and South Carolina is quickly shrinking.
Both teams handled their first week warmup games with brute force, but which team will be able transfer that performance into a game against an SEC opponent?
The line makes it seem like Vegas is leaning towards the Gamecocks being the better team, however don’t be fooled by these cleaver devils.
Georgia’s offense has a slight edge over the inconsistent Stephen Garcia and the Gamecocks, which should be huge when the game is close late.
Pick: Georgia +3.5
West Virginia covers this line without a problem
Did you see Marshall against Ohio State last week? They looked absolutely terrible.
A two touchdown spread should be a cake walk for the Mountaineers.
If you still need numbers, here you go. West Virginia has whooped on the Thundering Herd in every single game they have ever played, winning by at least 17 points in seven of the eight games.
That’s enough numbers to convince me.
Pick: West Virginia -13
Stanford’s Andrew Luck threw some logs onto his Heisman Trophy fire last week, passing for 316 yards and four touchdowns, making fans on the Farm completely forget about that Toby Gerhart guy.
This week, in the first Pac-10 game of the season, the Cardinal takes on the UCLA Bruins. Last season, Stanford snapped a five-game losing streak to the Bruins and this year they are poised to extend this winning streak a bit further.
UCLA’s defense struggled slightly against Kansas State last week, but its real defense might actually show up for this home game.
However, Luck is quickly coming into his own and this first true test should show us that he is more than ready to take Stanford on a run towards the Pac-10 title.
Pick: Stanford -6
California will be the only team in the Pac-10 this season to play a team in the future Pac-12.
The Bears have only faced off against Colorado four times, three of those times in Colorado. Depending on how Commissioner Larry Scott draws up the conference divisions over the next year or so, these teams might have to get used to seeing each others’ ugly faces.
In the past four matchups, this game has been fairly even, but it is hard to believe that it will play out that way this year.
Cal’s offense and defense are much superior to anything the Buffs have to offer and the Bears are usually unstoppable their first few games on the season.
Tedford’s boys should cover this spread without a doubt.
Pick: Cal -8.5
Over the past few preseasons, the Michigan/Notre Dame game tends to fool people into believing that this storied rivalry is tapering off. Yet, when the matchup nears, it seems like they always have much more on the line than previously expected.
Both the Irish and the Wolverines surpassed expectations in Week 1, absolutely owning their opponents and actually looking really good in the process.
It is still hard to tell which direction these programs are headed this season and picking a winner of this game is even more difficult.
Michigan is 4-0 ATS in their last four non-conference games and is 5-1 ATS in their last six September games.
To add to that, Notre Dame is 0-4 ATS in their last four September games and 0-4 ATS in their last four games against the Big Ten.
Take that with what you will, but Michigan seems like the bet to me.
Pick: Michigan +4