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.
Record on Picks through 2 weeks: 6-4
Record on Leans through 2 weeks: 2-2
(4) Ohio State at (16) TCU
Draftkings Sportsbook Lines: Ohio State -11.5 / Total 58
This is the third game for which Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer can’t be on the sidelines due to his suspension stemming from the firing of his now former coach Zach Smith. However, this is the second full week Meyer has been permitted to coach his team at practice to help install the game plan. The Buckeyes go on the road for the first time in 2018, and it’s against a ranked opponent.
Will not having Urban available on the sidelines matter for this game? It might.
Ohio State is 2-0 after blowout victories over Oregon State and Rutgers. Yet Gary Patterson’s TCU Horned Frogs are light years better than those two pushover teams — the Buckeyes know it. If the game is close late, that’s where not having Meyer could play a role.
TCU has also destroyed their first two opponents in Southern and SMU. Unfortunately for TCU, Saturday night’s contest is not being played on their campus but rather in Arlington at AT&T Stadium. Yes, TCU will have an advantage with the game much closer to their campus, but don’t underestimate the way the Buckeye fans travel. They have been looking forward to this game for a while. Don’t expect the building to be completely hostile toward Ohio State.
OSU QB Dwayne Haskins came into the season as a Heisman Trophy candidate, and he has done nothing so far to quiet down that talk. Through two games, Haskins is completing 79.2% of his passes with nine touchdowns and only one interception. If TCU doesn’t find a way to slow down Haskins and all his weapons, this could be a long night for Gary Patterson’s defense.
On the other side, TCU’s Shawn Robinson is the best athlete the 2018 Buckeyes will have seen so far. Robinson’s ability to run — 112 carries and 3 rushing touchdowns already — will present a major problem for DE Nick Bosa and the rest of the Ohio State defense. If Ohio State allows Robinson to pick up first downs with his legs, the rest of the offense opens up for him.
However, he didn’t throw the ball well against SMU. Bet on the Buckeyes trying hard to keep him in the pocket. That’s where Robinson is prone to making mistakes.
This game will have a lot of energy early, but in the end, there is too much talent on Ohio State’s sideline for TCU to handle.
Pick: Ohio State -11.5
(12) LSU at (7) Auburn
Draftkings Sportsbook Lines: Auburn -9.5 / Total 44.5
These two teams own the most impressive victories of the young 2018 season. Auburn’s win over Washington and LSU’s whipping of Miami, both on neutral fields, have set up both teams to be in the conversation for the playoffs if they continue to play well.
Saturday’s game, however, will have more to say about who could challenge Alabama for the SEC West crown than it will for the postseason. Historically, this game has been a war. Both teams will lean heavily on their defenses to make big plays.
The total on this game feels right, but the line does not.
To start, Auburn has not been good in the red zone. If Washington had been able to convert their scoring drives to touchdowns instead of field goals, the Huskies would have won the opener in Atlanta. QB Jarrett Stidham was awful last year when he played at LSU. His numbers this season, 32 for 47 for 386 yards and 1 touchdown, aren’t what we expected from a guy with NFL aspirations. He will need to play much better on Saturday if Auburn wants to start the season 3-0.
For LSU, QB Joe Burrow has been steady but not specular leading his new team. The Ohio State transfer was good enough in Week 1 against Miami, but the offense struggled at times against Southeastern Louisiana last week. This will be his first road test of the season. What’s more, Jordan Hare Stadium is one of the toughest places to play in the country. Auburn is currently tied for second in the country with 9 sacks, so expect a lot of hand-offs to running back Nick Brossette and others early to set up play-action late.
The schedule for Auburn is really tough with road games coming up at Mississippi State, Georgia, Ole Miss, and then the Iron Bowl at Alabama. If AU can’t protect their home field on Saturday, there is no way they are winning the SEC West. LSU also has tough games still to come, but a win on the road against another top 10 team will really put the spotlight on Ed Orgeron’s squad.
Finally, LSU has really struggled on third down this season. Against Auburn’s stout defense, this doesn’t seem like the week for the offense to explode. However, the last two meetings between these schools were decided by one score.
Auburn wins, but take the points.
Pick: LSU +9.5
(17) Boise State at (24) Oklahoma State
Draftkings Sportsbook Lines: Oklahoma State -3 / Total 63.5
Boise State is back. They are bringing one of the best offenses in country with them to Stillwater on Saturday. When you put up 818 total yards of offense against air, it’s impressive. When you do it against a Division I football team, people take notice.
QB Brett Rypien is lighting up the scoreboard with 7 touchdowns and no picks and is averaging over 330 yards passing per game. The Broncos have looked amazing against Troy and UConn and have a real shot to get a marquee victory on the road against a Power Five school this week. These are the opportunities you have to take advantage of if you want to make a case for the playoffs at the end of the year.
The problem for Boise State is they are facing an offense even better than their own. Oklahoma State leads the nation in offense, averaging a ridiculous 674.5 yards per game. The Cowboys will be even more potent on Saturday with a fully rested Justice Hill returning to the lineup at running back.
OSU basically had two scrimmages to start the year, but there is certainly massive offensive talent on their roster. Both these teams can score, but who has the better defense? The answer to that question will decide this game.
For that reason, the play here is the over. It might be a square pick, but don’t over think this game. Both teams have scored over 50 points in both their games this season. They could hit the over by halftime if these teams maintain their current form.
Pick: Over 63.5
(22) USC at Texas
Draftkings Sportsbook Lines: Texas -3.5 / Total 49
Vince Young is not playing in this game; neither is Matt Leinart. However, these are two marquee brands in college football. When they play against each other, you have to watch.
Both these teams are off to disappointing starts to the 2018 season, and their fans are right to be concerned. This is not your dad’s version of Texas versus USC, but it’s a big game nonetheless.
First off, what is going on with Tom Herman?
At Houston, Year 2 was his breakout season, and that tremendous 2016 season with the Cougars is what led to the job offer in Austin. For a second straight year, Texas lost to Maryland. Then last week, UT looked uninterested in their win over an average Tulsa team. This is not what Longhorn fans thought they were getting when they hired one the brightest young minds in college football two years ago.
As we discussed in this space last week, USC’s defense has really struggled stopping the run. Bryce Love and Stanford were too much for the Trojans last week and they were handed their first defeat of the season. How USC handles going on the road for a second straight week as underdogs will say a lot about the rest of their year. The PAC-12 title is still in their sights, but you can kiss the playoffs goodbye with a loss in Austin.
Neither team can afford to start 1-2, but USC carried much higher expectations than Texas into this season. Having QB JT Daniels healthy enough to play is big for the Trojans, but their offense has left a lot to be desired during the first two weeks. Expect a step in the right direction in this game.
Ultimately, the Trojans have more talent on their sideline. That should show over the course of four quarters. Texas still has a lot of rebuilding to do. They don’t have the skill players needed to match up with USC. Take the points and even a USC money line play.
Pick: USC +3.5