College Football Picks Against the Spread: Can Ohio State Cover and More
It's time to take a look at some of the spreads of the biggest college football games of Week 2. Week 1 was marked by the tradition of power schools beating up on the weak and infirm of the college football world.
But in it's second week, the 2010 season brings us some juicy matchups, as well as some interesting lines heading into Friday. Whose spread is a little too big? Whose is just right? Let's take a look.
Nebraska (-28) vs. Idaho
This one has "Trap game" written all over it. Not so much in that Nebraska might lose, but in that the Vandals will keep this one closer than you think they will.
Senior quarterback Nathan Enderle runs a high-powered passing game, that lit up North Dakota for 399 yards last week. Idaho posted a winning record last year, and much of the talent from that team made a return appearance this year.
Meanwhile, Nebraska's freshman phenom quarterback Taylor Martinez had a stellar debut against Western Kentucky, tallying 263 total yards and a pair of rushing touchdowns. But the Vandals are a better team than the Hilltoppers. Will he do it again?
Pick: Nebraska. The Huskers have too much talent. The Vandals could keep it to within 14 for most of this one, but Nebraska will pull away late.
USC (-19) vs. Virginia
While Idaho-Nebraska could be a tricky one, this one doesn't look to be to close at all. The Trojans and their high-octane offense blew through the Warriors of Hawaii in their season opener, while the Cavs beat up FCS opponent Richmond. Advantage USC, right?
Look again. The Trojans gave up 34 points to Hawaii, and Virginia's offense likes to throw the ball, evidenced by quarterback Marc Verica's 283 yards in their first game of the year. This one has all the makings of a good, old fashioned shootout.
Pick: USC. They'll want to send a message in Week 2, but expect Virginia to float around that magic number all game long.
Georgia Tech (-14) @ Kansas
Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson has been creating headaches for defensive coordinators since his days at Navy. His triple option offense is among the most feared in football. By contrast, new Jayhawks head coach Turner Gill's offense could only muster three points in a loss to FCS North Dakota State.
But KU's defense did only concede six points, and I feel like the fact that they know the Jackets will run the ball makes it more likely they can stop them.
Pick: Kansas. Not just beating the spread, but getting the victory as well. Rock chalk.
Oregon (-12) @ Tennessee
Kenjon Barner and the rest of the Ducks' offense put on quite the display last week, skunking New Mexico 72-0 at Autzen Stadium. Meanwhile, the Vols, under new head coach Vince Dooley, put the screws to Tennessee-Martin, beating the Skyhawks 50-0.
Oregon's run game is formidable, going three deep now that LaMichael James is back from his suspension. But the Vols showed poise against Martin, and Neyland Stadium is a tough place to come in and win, even in a down year for Tennessee.
Pick: Tennessee. Oregon wins the game, but Tennessee gains respect.
Stanford (-6) @ UCLA
The Cardinal have become media darlings behind head coach Jim Harbaugh and sophomore quarterback Andrew Luck. They looked unbeatable against Sacramento State, dismantling the Vikings 56-17. The Bruins certainly didn't live up to some of their preseason hype, falling to the Kansas State Wildcats 31-22.
While UCLA gets Stanford at the Rose Bowl, the Cardinal look to be the better team by a fairly significant margin through the first week of the season.
Pick: Stanford. Perhaps that line isn't quite big enough.
Notre Dame (-3.5) vs. Michigan
For the second straight year, both of these teams come into this clash with high hopes for the season. The Irish made sure head coach Brian Kelly's debut was a successful one, knocking off Purdue 23-12. The Wolverines took the fire extinguisher to head coach Rich Rodriguez's seat for the time being with a strong 30-10 win over the UConn Huskies.
The Wolverines are led by thrilling sophomore quarterback Denard Robinson, who promises to give defensive coordinators nightmares all season long, but the maize and blue need a win against the Irish to help save Rodriguez from the axe.
The Irish defense, which has been a thorn in their side for several years now, looked sharp against Purdue, but can they stop Robinson? Their offense looked solid with new quarterback Dayne Crist, but can he keep the momentum going?
Pick: Notre Dame.
Oklahoma (-6.5) vs. Florida State
Given the way Week 1 went for each of these teams, perhaps the odds should be flipped. Oklahoma was nearly upset by the Utah State Aggies, while Florida State eviscerated the Samford Bulldogs.
But the Sooners seem to have an unstoppable force running the ball, in senior DeMarco Murray. Murray racked up 208 yards and two touchdowns against Utah State, and looks capable of punishing opponents all season long.
The Seminoles looked sharp as well, and quarterback Christian Ponder promises to torment the Oklahoma defense all day long.
Pick: Florida State. Even in Norman, this should be a close one all game long.
Alabama (-11) vs. Penn State
The Crimson Tide of Alabama got their 2010 title defense underway with a bang last week, blowing up San Jose State 48-3. But Penn State got an impressive victory too, ringing up Youngstown State 44-14.
Nittany Lions quarterback Robert Bolden looks good, but the true freshman had better be ready to go, because Tuscaloosa has a way of devouring young quarterbacks. Penn State also needs a better game from senior running back Evan Royster than it got last week.
Alabama looked unstoppable last week, as quarterback Greg McElroy threw for 218 yards on just 13 completions. The Crimson Tide will probably be without defending Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram, but they have enough depth at running back that it shouldn't matter.
Pick: Penn State. My upset of the week. The Nittany Lions might not win, but they'll beat the spread, no doubt in my mind.
Ohio State (-8.5) vs. Miami
The game of the week. The 'Canes look to avenge their 2003 title game loss on that suspicious pass interference call, while the Buckeyes look to prove themselves as legitimate title threats this season.
Both teams feature dynamic, dual-threat quarterbacks in Ohio State's Terrelle Pryor and Miami's Jacory Harris. Both teams feature talented, hungry defenses. Miami needs to prove they can win outside of the state of Florida, while the Buckeyes need to prove they can beat elite competition from a conference other than the Big 10.
Pick: Ohio State. If Miami had gotten them last season, this would be different. But the Buckeyes look too good this season, and Terrelle Pryor seems to be coming into his own as a passer.