College football is back and with it, college football sports betting. Each week during the NCAA football season, we’ll break down the biggest games of the week from a betting perspective and give you a pick or a lean for the games you, and the rest of America, are going to be watching.
Please note we’ll be referencing only legal, regulated sportsbook betting lines and totals here at PlayPicks. A “pick” is a wager that, as of the time of this writing, we feel good about and could end up in our weekly plays. A “lean” is a wager that, as of the time of this writing, we favor over the other side. It could end up in our plays after additional research or information is released.
And finally, a quick reminder to only gamble with money you can afford to lose. Having a little sweat in the game is certainly fun, but if the losses sting, that fun goes away. Be smart, and betting can be a blast.
Week 1 picks results: 4-2
Week 1 lean results: 2-0
(10) USC @ (17) Stanford
DraftKings Sportsbook lines: Stanford -4.5 / Total 56.5
So who is the best team in the PAC-12?
Everyone is saying Washington, but they just lost to Auburn last weekend. The 1-0 Trojans and 1-0 Cardinal will face off this weekend in Palo Alto. Both squads would like to be in the conversation for conference supremacy alongside the Huskies.
In Week 1, both USC and Stanford used second-half runs to coast to easy victories, but both teams also got off to slow starts against inferior opponents.
USC was actually losing 14-12 to UNLV before they woke up in the second half to win 43-21. QB JT Daniels, the replacement for Sam Darnold, threw for over 280 yards and a touchdown in the victory. In the second half, the USC defense took over and forced three turnovers that led to the lopsided final score, but the Trojans did not cover.
Stanford also had troubles. In their opening game, San Diego State went up 7-0 before a 16-point Cardinal run grabbed ahold of the game. The Aztecs, after beating Stanford last year, held star running back Bryce Love to a total of 29 yards on 18 carries. San Diego State couldn’t keep up in the end as the Cardinal won 31-10 to cover the 14-point line.
Now, this USC-Stanford matchup happened twice last year with both games, including the PAC-12 title game, won by Stanford. Does USC have the horses to get a victory in 2018 over the Cardinal? Well, they better find a way to stop the run because they gave up 308 yards rushing to UNLV. If they don’t, they could be in for a long night.
Stanford has won their last six straight home games in September. It’s hard to see why they won’t make it seven. The USC run defense is not up to stopping one of the best running backs in the county. The Cardinal will run wild on the Trojans and win in a high-scoring affair.
Pick: Stanford -4.5
Lean: Over 56.5
(3) Georgia at (24) South Carolina
DraftKings Sportsbook lines: Georgia -10.5 / Total 53
Georgia opened the 2018 season with a walk in the park: a 45-0 blowout against Austin Peay. The Bulldogs showed their backfield will be just fine without NFL draft picks Sony Michel and Nick Chubb. They ran the ball for 284 yards in the opening victory.
However, we don’t know how good the 2018 version of the Dawgs will be just yet. This team was an overtime away from winning a National Championship, but are they as talented as a year ago?
South Carolina also had an easy victory. They cruised past Coastal Carolina 49-15. The game was never close, and SC scored touchdowns on their first three possessions. QB Jake Bentley looked great, throwing for four touchdowns and zero interceptions, as the Gamecocks covered the 31-point spread.
Here comes a top five team into Columbia, and the fans will be on fire. Georgia has won three straight games inside Williams-Brice Stadium and has covered five of their last seven games as road favorites under Kirby Smart. This game could really open up the SEC East if South Carolina could pull off the upset. But that is asking a lot.
Don’t kid yourself: this is a tough place to play. If you take South Carolina lightly, they will make you pay for it.
The Gamecocks are 7-2-1 ATS over their last 10 games, and Will Muschamp has settled into his new job nicely. South Carolina’s defense this year is legit and will present problems for QB Jake Fromm and the rest of the Georgia offense.
Both these teams covered huge lines last week, but double-digit home dogs are a favorite play of mine. This game has rock fight written all over it. Georgia wins, but take the points in a low-scoring contest.
Pick: South Carolina +10.5 / Under 53
(2) Clemson at Texas A&M
DraftKings Sportsbook Lines: Clemson -12 / Total 54
Texas A&M looked outstanding against Northwestern State in the debut of new head coach Jimbo Fisher. Now, for Coach Fisher’s second game, he gets 2016 National Champion Clemson at home. If the Aggies think they are going to put up over 700 yards of offense like they did in Week 1, they have another thing coming on Saturday night.
College GameDay will be in College Station, and the 12th man will be at full throat all night long for this SEC-ACC clash. The atmosphere inside Kyle Field is always something special, but expect an extra dose of noise for this game, at least early.
Even after the explosive debut of Texas A&M’s new offense, there are some major questions about the Aggies’ ability to move the ball against one of the best defensive fronts in all of college football. Clemson’s D barely broke a sweat holding Furman to just 117 yards rushing in Week 1. The Tigers won 48-7.
Clemson’s defense is considered the best in the ACC, and their front seven might be best in the country. Texas A&M could be in for a very long night if they can’t protect their QB and get the running attack going.
Against NW State, Aggie QB Kellen Mond threw two touchdowns and ran for another. Running back Trayveon Williams went off for 240 yards on 20 touches and three scores. However, the level of competition had a lot to do with those gaudy stats. The offense won’t get the same looks or the time to find open receivers like they did last week.
For the Tigers, they have two quarterbacks good enough to play anywhere in the country. Both could see action on Saturday. There is talent all over the field, and the Aggies defense will need to show they can keep up with all the skill and speed Clemson will throw at them.
These two teams haven’t played since 2005. That was before A&M moved to the SEC and Clemson became a national power. This game could be a blowout, or Jimbo Fisher could announce his team’s presence on the national stage as a playoff contender.
A win for the Aggies puts them on the map, but a Clemson orange crush could just as easily happen.
Lean: Clemson -12
Colorado vs. Nebraska
DraftKings Sportsbook Lines: Nebraska -5 / Total 65.5
“I’d rather be dead than red.”
Those were the words uttered this week by former Colorado HC Bill McCartney about former Big 12 rival and Week 2 opponent Nebraska.
He went on to add, “Seriously, here’s what you have to understand about Nebraska. Here, we’ve got CU, CSU, Air Force, and the Broncos. You know what they’ve got? Nothing! Just that team that’s coming. There’s nothing else for them to do. When they get up every day, that’s the only option they have, is to get behind that Big Red thing.”
Well, to be fair, that “Big Red thing” does have five national championships. Colorado has one.
Yet those comments give you a feel for how big of a deal this game is for the Buffaloes. McCartney won Colorado’s only national title, and he was the person who really put the fire into the rivalry with the Huskers. Unfortunately for McCartney, his record vs. Nebraska was only 3-9-1. CU’s overall record against the Big Red is a pretty sad 18-49-2, and the Buffaloes’ move to the PAC-12 has gone as well as Nebraska’s move to the Big 10 — not well.
This game brings back the ghosts of seasons past, like when Colorado blew out Nebraska in the Big 12 title game in 2001 only to see Nebraska play for the national title against Miami. This game is going to be a lot of fun. Having a former Husker player on the sidelines for NU only adds to the excitement.
Nebraska has not played a game yet because of a weather-related cancelation against Akron last week. We have yet to see star freshman QB Adrian Martinez take the field for first-year head coach Scott Frost. The Husker fans are dying to see their native son take Nebraska back to the top, and Frost is a veteran of several great battles with Colorado during his playing days. His team will be ready to play.
Last week, Colorado’s offense looked unstoppable against in-state rival Colorado State. But it’s hard to take too much from the game given that CSU’s defense is awful. However, QB Steven Montez has NFL skills and put up over 300 yards and four touchdowns. He also ran in another score during the 45-13 beatdown of their in-state rival. The Blackshirts will have their hands full for sure.
We don’t know what to expect from Nebraska yet. The element of surprise and the extra week of practice could be a factor in this game. However, this line feels like Husker fans have been betting with their hearts, not their heads. Mike Riley didn’t leave a lot for Frost to work with in Year 1, and playing a true freshman at QB in the first game of the season is a risky proposition.
It feels like the wrong team is favored in this one.
Pick: Colorado +5