Last week got us back in the swing of things as college football returned and the Tailgater crew resumed its gridiron speculation. The results varied (as a reminder, all picks are against the spread):
Zach Bigalke: 3-3
John Mitchell: 5-1
Matt Strobl: 3-3
While week 2 doesn’t offer the top tier matchups that opened the season, there are still a handful of compelling games. Here are our weekly selections along with some thoughts on who might emerge with wins.
Week 2 Picks
This week offers some interesting betting lines and competitive inter-conference games among good (but not great) programs. We also have the SEC debut of the Texas A&M Aggies and the Missouri Tigers, who will looking to prove that they belong with the big boys by securing home victories against Florida and Georgia, respectively.
Here’s what the Tailgater crew is predicting. Rankings are according to the AP Top 25 poll. All times are eastern. All picks are against the spread as defined by Yahoo! Sports’ final lines.
Saturday, 12:00pm. Manhattan, KS
Miami Hurricanes @ Kansas State Wildcats (-7)
Strobl: Last year, the ‘Canes lost to K-State at home on a last-minute instant replay reversal; that has to be haunting the team. They’ll come in with revenge on their minds. Unfortunately, KSU QB Collin Klein presents Miami with a difficult obstacle. Given that the Miami D allowed 32 points against BC, Klein and the #21 Wildcats should be able to find some success. PICK: Kansas State
Mitchell: To me this is a tossup game, and a 7 point spread seems pretty big for a matchup that could go either way. The Miami offense looked good last week, and I’m leaning toward the ‘Canes to cover. Or better. PICK: Miami
Bigalke: What’s the line on this game? One touchdown? It isn’t high enough. If Boston College hung more than 400 passing yards on the Hurricanes, Collin Klein’s budding confidence in his arm is going to turn this quickly into a rout. Need we say more? PICK: Kansas State
Saturday, 12:21pm. Columbia, SC
East Carolina Pirates @ South Carolina Gamecocks (-21.5)
Strobl: South Carolina should win this regardless of whether or not Connor Shaw’s week 1 shoulder injury keeps him off the field. But the line is just too tempting ECU should manage to avoid a blowout. PICK: East Carolina
Mitchell: Shaw is questionable to play, and even if he does it’s unlikely that he’ll be 100%. South Carolina is still the better team, but as we saw against Vandy, the Gamecocks aren’t exactly a juggernaut. PICK: East Carolina.
Bigalke: The #9 Gamecocks are three-touchdown favorites. Is East Carolina that much worse than the Commodores, who gave South Carolina everything but a loss in the season opener? And how game fit is Connor Shaw after getting injured last week in Nashville? The bookmakers have been very generous here, mateys. PICK: East Carolina
Saturday, 3:30pm. College Station, TX
Florida Gators @ Texas A&M Aggies (-1)
Strobl: This is essentially a pick-the-winner scenario. Despite the 13th man and despite Florida’s lackluster play not just in week 1 but last season as well, I’m leaning toward the #24 Gators. A&M has a lot to prove in its SEC opener, but replacing Ryan Tannehill is no mean feat, and Florida coach Will Muschamp won’t feel out of place in the Lone Star State. PICK: Florida
Mitchell: This is another tossup game, and while A&M has a lot to play for, Florida has the edge. I don’t like Manziel in his first meangingful game going up against a talent Gator defense. Florida’s offense may not be great, but it should be good enough. PICK: Florida
Bigalke: The Aggies have been firing salvos at the Gators and Kyle Field will be fired up for its first-ever SEC showdown. Florida hasn’t impressed me like it has some, but they’re a known quantity while A&M’s opener against Louisiana Tech was canceled due to the hurricane. How will new QB Johnny Manziel fare in his first college game? Vegas basically sees this as a pick ‘em as different sportsbooks have one or the other team as a 1- or 2-point favorite. Our line says A&M by 1, and after Saturday, A&M will still be undefeated in SEC play… by at least 2 points. PICK: Texas A&M
Saturday, 3:30pm. South Bend, IN
Purdue Boilermakers @ Notre Dame Fighting Irish (-14.5)
Strobl: This Hoosier State showdown shouldn’t be much of a game, if #22 Notre Dame’s opener against Navy was any real indication of what it can do. Has Brian Kelly finally gotten his offensive genius in gear? If so, it could be a long afternoon for Purdue. PICK: Notre Dame
Mitchell: It’s easy to focus on Notre Dame’s week 1 blowout and forget that Purdue is a solid team. The Irish should win this, but Purdue is good enough to keep it within two scores. PICK: Purdue
Bigalke: So the Irish won on Irish soil last weekend, and now they’re supposedly a top-25 team. Purdue had an easier week, playing in the same time zone they will this Saturday. Is this incarnation of Notre Dame really ready to outdo a sneaky-decent Boilermakers team by more than two touchdowns? They might win under the watchful gaze of Touchdown Jesus, but it won’t be a breeze in a battle for Indiana supremacy. PICK: Purdue
Saturday, 4:00pm. Corvallis, OR
Wisconsin Badgers @ Oregon State Beavers (+7)
Strobl: Few power programs, if any, looked worse in week 1 than did the Badgers. A decent enough start broke down into a panic-filled fourth quarter as the FCS Northern Iowa Panthers nearly escaped with a monster upset. It had to have been a wake-up call for Wisconsin. We didn’t expect the Big Ten Champion hopefuls to need a statement game so soon, but the Badgers need to be convincing in their first FBS matchup of th year. PICK: Wisconsin
Mitchell: Wisconsin didn’t look good last week, but this is still one of the Big Ten’s best versus one of the Pac 12′s mediocre teams. The spread is too enticing to pick against the Badgers. PICK: Wisconsin
Bigalke: After squeaking by FCS Northern Iowa in their opener, Bielema will hope the Badgers merely needed to shake off their summer rust as they travel cross-country to Corvallis. The Beavers lost the benefit of their FCS tune-up thanks to Isaac. Not that it likely would have mattered, but now Oregon State faces Wisconsin without game reps in their system. That’s a hell of a tall task for Mike Riley’s crew. PICK: Wisconsin
Saturday, 7:00pm. Baton Rouge, LA
Washington Huskies @ LSU Tigers (-23.5)
Strobl: LSU suffered a significant blow in losing starting offensive tackle Chris Faulk for the season. Faulk’s knee will necessitate some shuffling on the line, but #3 LSU is one of very programs that can withstand the loss. This is a big enough spread that it’s tempting to give the Huskies the benefit of the doubt, but the Tigers are just too good. PICK: LSU
Mitchell: Granted this is a big spread. But it’s also a home game, at night, in one of the toughest places to play in the country. The Washington offensive line is going to struggle against the Tigers’ front seven. This one should end up lopsided. PICK: LSU
Bigalke: Should the Tigers really be 24-point favorites? If Huskies QB Keith Price plays like he did in last year’s bowl, they’ll beat the spread. Will it be enough to win a night game in Baton Rouge? Probably not… but if I’m a betting man, playing against Vegas, I… PICK: Washington
Saturday, 7:30pm. Pasadena, CA
Nebraska Cornhuskers @ UCLA Bruins (+5)
Strobl: Could this trip to the Rose Bowl be a preview of things to come for Nebraska? The #16 ‘Huskers have their sights set on a Big Ten title, and a tune-up against UCLA could help prepare for conference play. The Bruins looked good in taking down Rice. But this ain’t Rice. PICK: Nebraska
Mitchell: Both of these teams looked good last week, and while UCLA may be better than many thought, they won’t be good enough. Taylor Martinez has made some big improvements to his game in the offseason. PICK: Nebraska
Bigalke: With the Huskers less than a touchdown favorite in the Rose Bowl, the question becomes a matter of faith. How much faith do you have in Jim Mora? Or Brent Hundley? Or Taylor Martinez’s newfound throwing acumen, for that matter? Nebraska “should” win… but will it be close? PICK: Nebraska
Saturday, 7:45pm. Columbia, MO
Georgia Bulldogs @ Missouri Tigers (+2.5)
Strobl: Like A&M, Missouri will be looking to make its SEC mark this weekend. And like A&M, the Tigers get an opponent that was less than impressive in week 1. Better yet for the Tigers’ sake, #7 Georgia comes in with four defensive starters suspended. A supposed top 10 team, the Bulldogs seem overrated. And weakened as they are defensively, could find themselves on the wrong end of this one. PICK: Missouri
Mitchell: This is a hunch more than anything else. Although Missouri is now an SEC foe, this one will have the feel of an early-season non-conference road game for the Bulldogs. And those types of games haven’t been kind to UGA in the past. PICK: Missouri
Bigalke: Missouri, like A&M, play their first SEC game at home. Unlike the Aggies, this is a divisional tilt for the Tigers. The Bulldogs are supposed to knock their way through a seemingly easy schedule to return to the SEC Championship, but James Franklin and a potent offense might thwart those ambitions. Vegas isn’t that confident in Georgia, either. PICK: Missouri
Picks of the Week: Our Favorite Point Spreads
: Oklahoma State (-10) over Arizona
Ok, so the Wildcats are a bit better than Savannah State, to say the least. But come on. Giving 10 to a team that won 84-0 in week 1? That’s a slap in the face. Arizona eked out a 24-17 over Toledo, but we’re expected to believe it’ll stay within spitting distance of the Cowboys? It seems unlikely.
: NC State (-4.5) over UConn
UConn stomped FBS newcomer UMass last week, while NC State had mixed results against Tennessee. The Wolfpack pass defense struggled early, and must now go on the road against an offense that led the way to a 37-0 shutout. However, NCSU came back and made a game of it against a solid Vols team. The Wolfpack could be better than many are giving them credit for and should take this week 2 tilt.
: UCF (+18) over Ohio State
Urban U is laying nearly three touchdowns in this one… but however much or little Ohio State is favored, they’re in for a hell of a fight against a bunch of fired-up Knights. UCF should easily cover whatever spread is out there, and they’re a threat to win outright. Don’t laugh when I pick UCF.
Join us in the coming weeks as Tailgater continues to present its weekly picks and previews along with reactions to the best and worst of what college football has to offer.