Rejoice! College Football Saturday is Back

Mason
Mason
Hutson Mason takes over for Aaron Murray in Georgia as the Bulldogs welcome Clemson.

It’s finally here! Football Saturday is back!

Clemson (+8) at Georgia (O/U 54) – The Tigers enter 2014 having to replace a lot of offensive talent which means Head Coach Dabo Swinney will rely on a seasoned defense to carry his team early in the season. Georgia enters the post-Aaron Murray era with QB Hutson Mason who will benefit from having Heisman Trophy hopeful Todd Gurley in the backfield.

Cole Stoudt replaces Tajh Boyd at QB for Clemson and although it was in mop-up duty last season, he threw five TD passes. The Georgia defense struggled mightily last season and I’m not sure how quickly they turn things around. I sense a close game in Athens so take the Tigers and I like the over.

Driskel
Jeff Driskel returns from injury to lead the Gators into 2014.

Idaho (+37) at Florida (O/U 50) – It’s been an incredibly long offseason in Gainesville following last year’s horrendous season. The Gators and Head Coach Will Muschamp will feature a very good defense and an offense that returns quarterback Jeff Driskel who missed most of last year with an injury. His absence led to many of the problems for the Gators.

Last season, the Vandals surrendered 80 points to Florida State and now they play a Gators’ team that has won 24 straight season openers. I like Florida to cover and I love the over.

Fresno State (+21) at USC (O/U 58) – Is anyone happier to actually play a game than Steve Sarkisian and the Trojans? The last week has seen the coach be called a ‘racist’ by a former player and he’s had to deal with Josh Shaw’s heroic story-turned police investigation. USC and Fresno saw each other in the Las Vegas Bowl where the Trojans routed the Bulldogs 45-20.

USC has excellent talent in the top 22 players but the depth is hurting a bit. Fresno State has to replace record-setting QB Derek Carr who could be starting for the Oakland Raiders in the NFL. I like USC to cover today simply because I think ¬†they’ll be excited to play football and remember, this was a ten-win team last season. I love the over as well.

Florida State (-19) vs Oklahoma State (O/U 64) – The defending national champions open their season in Cowboys Stadium against the Cowboys from Oklahoma State. Like USC, the Seminoles have to be happy to get back on the field after a ‘crabby’ offseason for Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston.

Mike Gundy has done a great job for his alma mater in Stillwater but he could use a signature win but it won’t happen here. The Seminoles have too much speed and talent in all of the right places and I expect them to cover tonight. I also love the over.

LSU (-5.5) vs Wisconsin (O/U 50) – The good news for Wisconsin is that they are one of the Big Ten’s top teams for 2014. The bad news is that they have lost six of their last seven bowl games which means the jump in competition has been an issue. The fact that the Badgers return just three starters on defense doesn’t bode well for them either. The Tigers always reload well and that’s the case again in Baton Rouge. QB Zach Mettenberger is off to the NFL and Head Coach Les Miles seems likely to play both Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris in the opener.

The game is being played in Houston but that favors the Tigers significantly who don’t have a long way to drive. The amount of newcomers on the Wisconsin defense worries me and it looks like the Badgers will go with untested QB Tanner McEvoy. I like the Tigers to cover and I’ll take the under as the Tigers will limit Melvin Gordon forcing the Badgers to throw.

Four More Games For Me to Rebound With This Weekend

Kiffin
Kiffin
Can Lane Kiffin and the Trojans rebound this week against Boston College?

Season Record 2-7, Last Week 1-3

If ‘close’ counted in wagering college football games then I’d be kicking some serious butt. Unfortunately it doesn’t and therefore I’m struggling through the first two weeks.

I’m bound to get back on track and I think this is the week to do it.

Boston College (+14) at USC – The Trojans have had a heck of a week haven’t they? They lose to Washington State in the Coliseum behind some atrocious quarterback play and then have to deal with rumors about a ‘players’ only meeting.’ I’ve found that in most cases, those meetings typically don’t do much for the success of a team.

Boston College travels West with a 2-0 record over Villanova and Wake Forest. The defense is giving up just 12 points per game but the offense is only averaging 24. The Trojans can still play pretty good defense and I think that’s the difference here. I also look for the Trojans to get the ground game going too. I like the athleticism of USC to cover.

Lynch
I love Lynch and Northern Illinois traveling west to play Idaho.

Northern Illinois (-28.5) at Idaho – The Vandals have been outscored 82-16 in their first two games against North Texas and Wyoming. They rank 124th in the nation in scoring and 114th in the country in scoring defense. The Northern Illinois Huskies had a week off following their 30-27 win at Iowa.

Quarterback Jordan Lynch accounted for over 300 yards of total offense and the Huskies’ D picked up three Hawkeyes’ turnovers despite giving up over 400 yards. This game being played in the Kibbie Dome worries me slightly but the Huskies will still romp over arguably the worst team in the FBS.

Kansas (+7) at Rice -Charlie Weis’ Jayhawks are 1-0 following a 31-14 win over South Dakota State. Rice meanwhile is 0-1 having lost their season opener to Texas A&M in College Station 52-28 but the score doesn’t indicate how competitive the game was. The Owls rolled up over 500 yards of offense on the Aggies and trailed by only three points entering the third quarter.

It was only when Johnny Manziel entered the game in the second half that Rice was behind the eight ball. The Owls rushed for over 300 yards on 51 carries against an Aggies defense that was supposed to be better than that. Despite being from the more powerful conference Kansas is really bad. I like Rice to win by more than seven.

Notre Dame (-21) at Purdue – I have to say I’m really surprised by this spread. Purdue enters at 1-1. Their loss came against Cincinnati by the score of 49-7. Their victory came in their home-opener 20-14 over Indiana State who by the way gave up 73 points in their opener to Indiana. For the Fighting Irish, this is a classic trap game.

They are coming off a shootout loss to Michigan and host rival Michigan State next week. The loss in Ann Arbor was disappointing because Brian Kelly had to think his defense was better than what they showed. The Boilermakers should offer them the perfect opportunity to earn back some confidence and respect.

The Boilers rank 99th in passing and 103rd in rushing nationwide. That should be more than enough for the Irish defense to lay their ears back. I fully expect Notre Dame to continue to throw the ball with Tommy Rees, but I also think they’ll try to establish some dominance on the ground too.

I think Darrell Hazell will get things turned around in West Lafayette in time but it won’t be this season. Look for the Irish to put a whipping on the Boilermakers and cover the 21.

 

Win Totals for College Football Independents

Golson
Golson
The loss of Golson will have significant implications for the Irish in 2013.

The list of independents has grown with the disappearing act done by the WAC. Idaho, New Mexico State and FBS newcomer Old Dominion join the Irish, Air Force, Army and BYU this season. This is a group of extremes to be sure when it comes to wins and losses.

Army 4.5 (+110 over/-140 under) – The Black Knights enter 2013 off of a disappointing 2-10 record but should improve upon that this season. As is typically the case, Army ranked number one in the nation in rushing and dead last in passing. It’s no secret what they like to do offensively. The defense must be better though. They gave up over 35 points per game in 2012. The Knights play at Hawaii, Ball State and Air Force and get Stanford and Wake Forest at home. It isn’t a difficult schedule but I still see the under.

Mendenhall
Bronco Mendenhall and BYU will ride the defense again in 2013.

BYU 8 (+120 over/-150 under) -The Cougars were 8-5 last year but went 0-3 against top 25 opponents. The defense was outstanding ranking third in the country with just 14 points per game. The offense is a far cry from the days of Ty Detmer and Steve Young. It ranked middle of the road in both rushing and passing. The schedule is not easy. They have road games at Virginia, Wisconsin and Notre Dame and also play Boise State, Texas and Georgia Tech at home. I have to take the under here.

Idaho 1.5 (+125 over/-155 under) – The 1-11 Vandals are just not that good to be honest. They ranked almost dead last in points for, points against and rushing yards. Now they enter the independent type of schedule that will not be easy. They have seven road games which include Florida State, Ole Miss, Arkansas State and Wyoming. The home schedule features Fresno State and MAC champion Northern Illinois. I see only three winnable games here and that leads me to think the under is the right play.

Navy 6.5 (-140 over/+110 under) – Much like their rivals the Army Black Knights, the Midshipmen were one of the top teams in rushing and one of the bottom teams in passing. Their defense was significantly better though and thus the 8-5 record. This season Navy has key road games at Indiana (who they had a thriller with last year), Notre Dame (who beat them by 40) and San Jose State. The home portion will include tough ones with Air Force and Pitt. I like the Academy for another seven or eight win season.

New Mexico State 2.5 (-120 over/-120 under) – The 1-11 Aggies struggled mightily last year ranking near the bottom in rushing, points for and points against. That combination will get you absolutely nowhere. In the first four weeks, NMSU has road games at Texas and at UCLA and they must also go to rival New Mexico. The home slate features Minnesota, Boston College and San Diego State. I can see two wins potentially on their schedule but nothing makes me want to take the over.

Notre Dame 8.5 (-125 over/-105 under) – Not many at this time last year had the Fighting Irish pegged for a trip to the BCS Championship Game but they rode a solid defense and efficient offense all the way there before being thumped by Alabama. They will enter the season without the quarterback who guided them as Everett Golson is not on the team due to academic issues. Also gone are a couple of key members of the defense including Manti T’eo. The schedule features road games at Michigan, Purdue, Air Force and Stanford. In South Bend, the Irish entertain Michigan State, Oklahoma, USC and BYU. They also have a neutral site game against Arizona State. I see the issue at QB haunting them and the luck they had last year runs out. Take the under.

Old Dominion The Monarchs enter their first year of play in FBS and currently there is no win total listed. They have had good success in the lower division going 10-2 last season. East Carolina, Pitt and North Carolina are all on the road but the rest of the schedule is very winnable. I would say eight wins is doable for ODU.