ATS record (2017): 6-3. “Toot toot,” goes my horn by my very hand.
Friday, September 8
Oklahoma State (-28) at South Alabama
Oklahoma State was deeply impressive in its 59-24 win over Tulsa, as silly as that sounds. The Cowboys showcased an incredible offense, which you expected, and an impressive defense, which you may not have. They covered the spread in that game, and look forward to a similar matchup against South Alabama. They’re not a playoff favorite like Alabama yet they have grand ambitions, so they have to take these opportunities to put up big scores. Look for the Cowboys to make another statement with this game.
Also, I usually don’t pick over/unders, but a good way to have fun this season is to pick the over in every Oklahoma State game and pray for a shootout. Your supplications will usually be answered.
My pick: Oklahoma State (-28).
Saturday, September 9
Fresno State at Alabama (-43.5)
Is Fresno State a better football team than Alabama? No. Can Alabama beat Fresno State by 43.5 points with its scout team? Probably. Will the Crimson Tide want to? That’s another question entirely. Nick Saban isn’t averse to blowouts, but he usually reserves them for revenge games, games against former assistants, or when someone gets him real worked up about complacency in the weekly presser.
Jeff Tedford isn’t a former Saban assistant, the Bulldogs have never played Alabama, and to my knowledge Saban hasn’t put on a podium-slapping, exasperated diatribe about “doing things the right way” this week. The simple fact is that 43.5 points is a lot — way more than necessary to leave any doubt about their dominance.
My pick: Fresno State (+43.5).
Louisiana-Monroe at Florida State (-33.5)
A similar pick, for different reasons. Firstly, Florida State just got done playing Alabama, which isn’t exactly correlated with explosive offensive performances in the week following. Secondly, FSU quarterback Deondre Francois went down with a knee injury after being left alone in an empty backfield with what seemed like the bulk of the Alabama defense. He’ll be down for the rest of the season, sadly, and tapped to take the reins is three-star true freshman James Blackman, whom FSU lists as 6’5 and 185 pounds. If this is sounding like the recipe for a modest-yet-tasteful performance against a lesser team while breaking in a new quarterback, you may just be right.
My pick: ULM (+33.5).
Auburn at Clemson (-5.5)
Clemson remains untested (I don’t care how many points the Tigers put up on Kent State) and Auburn might be seriously good. You can’t say Auburn is “tested” at this point either after routing Georgia Southern (41-7), but the team has finally found a quarterback in former Baylor Bear Jarrett Stidham, who threw for two touchdowns and ran for another in his first football game since 2015, the defense and special teams looked strong. Auburn could should give Clemson a very tough game, and could plausibly emerge with a W. Give me the points.
My pick: Auburn (+5.5).
Boise State at Washington State (-10.5)
I realize that I’m picking (almost) all underdogs this week, but this line is just silly. Any analytical system or eyeball test worth its salt has this as a one-possession game, and so do I. I’m not that high on Luke Falk; Washington State lost this game outright last year; and blowing out Montana State (31-0) doesn’t justify this line. While recording a shutout is commendable, don’t go thinking the Cougar defense can do the same against the Broncos.
My pick: Boise State (+10.5).
Stanford at USC (-10.5)
Travelling to a conference rival and preseason darling is a daunting task, but Stanford might just be up to it. USC only managed a 49-31 win over Western Michigan, and the game was significantly closer than the scoreboard indicated. Meanwhile, Stanford travelled to Australia and did exactly what they were supposed to, blowing out Rice 62-7. This should be a tighter game than most people, and the line, are predicting.
I may have said this before, but Stanford is a very good football team which has gotten lost in the preseason hype about other PAC-12 teams. They’re not as exciting, sure, and they lost their star running back, but they’re soundly built and ready to give anyone a run for their money.
My pick: Stanford (+10.5).
Oklahoma at Ohio State (-7.5)
The Buckeyes took a little while to get going in their opener against Indiana, trailing 14-13 at the half. But they made some adjustments at the break, leaned on their athletic advantage, and quite calmly wrested the game back from the Hoosiers, ultimately winning a 49-21 rout.
That won’t work against Oklahoma. The Ohio State offense has attracted questions since the 2015 national title game, basically, and against Oklahoma, will quite simply be forced to score a lot of points, because Baker Mayfield is going to score points. Oklahoma is fielding an experienced, talented defense. I totally buy that Ohio State is the favorite to win here, but a touchdown-plus spread is not justified. I don’t trust the Buckeyes to live up to this challenge, and I have a lot of faith in Oklahoma’s consistency.
My pick: Oklahoma (+7.5).