After an uneventful Week 2, this week is poised to be one of the best days of the regular season. First #2 Florida State visits #10 Louisville at noon. Then #1 Alabama looks to extract revenge over #19 Ole Miss at 3:30. And in the nightcap…where do we even begin? Notre Dame visits Michigan State at 7:30. Over on Fox, Ohio State travels to Oklahoma in a sexy non-conference matchup. We’ll be treated to watching Christian McCaffrey and Stanford take on USC in ABC’s primetime game as well.
So many must-see games, so many spreads to analyze. Let’s get rolling.
*Note – All odds courtesy of Bovada.
**Note – Home team in Italics
#2 Florida State (-3) over #10 Louisville
Even in a week where Ohio States plays Oklahoma, this actually might be the most intriguing game. Florida State is currently ranked first in ESPN’s Football Power Index while Louisville has shot all the way up to fifth after two dominant wins to open up the season. How dominant have the Cardinals been? Oh, they’re only averaging a nation-leading 9.9 yards per play, which is 1.6 yards per play higher than the team that is in second in the country. But who have they played? ESPN’s FPI has Charlotte ranked as the second-worst team in the nation while Syracuse is only ranked 72nd. Florida State, on the other hand, has a high-quality win over Ole Miss.
One key in this game will be the respective running games. Small sample size, but Dalvin Cook and the Seminoles rushing offense is only tied for 70th in yards per rush attempt. Meanwhile, the Cardinals are first in that same category, averaging a ridiculous 9.0 yards per attempt. They’re also ranked 19th in opponent yards per rush attempt through two games, which leads me to believe that they can slow down Cook. So is Louisville for real? Honestly, I have no idea. I’ll hesitantly take Florida State because I’m very high on their quarterback, Deondre Francois.
Vanderbilt (+6) over Georgia Tech
I like Vanderbilt with the spread in this game for two reasons. One, despite being six-point underdogs, the Commodores are actually ranked higher in ESPN’s FPI (49th) than Georgia Tech (56th). And two, the over/under in this game is very low (42.5). Generally speaking, low totals provide immense value to the underdog, hence why I like Vandy on the road.
Oklahoma State (-4.5) over Pittsburgh
The Cowboys made headlines last week by losing on a controversial Hail-Mary to Central Michigan. For that reason, I like them as a buy-low candidate against Pittsburgh. Granted, the Panthers are a pretty-solid team. But Oklahoma State is still the 15th ranked team in the country according to FPI. Plus, Central Michigan isn’t bad! I bet the Cowboys shake off last week’s abberation with a bounce-back win at home.
#19 Ole Miss (+11) over #1 Alabama
Obviously Alabama is nasty. But Ole Miss is pretty damn good as well. They had a 28-6 lead over #2 Florida State two weeks ago, and even though they ended up blowing that game, I’m convinced that the Rebels have what it takes to give the Crimson Tide another tight battle. After all, this will be the first true road test for quarterbacks Jalen Hurts and Blake Barnett (it’s unclear who will start). The ‘Bama defense will lead them to victory, but Ole Miss will hang around.
Boston College (+6) over Virginia Tech
Don’t look now, but Boston College actually has a pretty good quarterback: Fifth-year senior Patrick Towles is actually competent, which means the Eagles offense finally has some life. Taken together with their stout defense, BC has great value this weekend as a six-point underdog against a mediocre Virginia Tech squad.
#17 Texas A&M (+3.5) over Auburn
The Aggies have a lot of talented players that we’ll probably see on Sundays sooner rather than later (e.g. defensive-end Myles Garrett). Plus, Texas A&M has a very solid quarterback in Trevor Knight while Auburn has big-time QB issues. Even though the Tigers have a good defense, I’ll take Texas A&M as a road underdog.
#12 Notre Dame (-8) over #18 Michigan State
As I said before the season, the Spartans are overrated. They struggled to beat Furman in Week One, which partly explains why ESPN’s FPI only has them ranked as the 47th best team in the country. Yep…47th. I know, they’re still in the Top 25: They don’t deserve to be. Notre Dame will put them in their place.
#7 Stanford (-8.5) over USC
A part of me thinks people might be underrating USC only because they got smacked by the nation’s best team in Week One. The only problem is that they’re playing Christian McCaffrey and the Cardinal this weekend. Stanford’s coming off a bye week, so they should be in good shape from a health standpoint, and McCaffrey torched USC with over 400+ all-purpose yards when they met last year.
Game of the Week
#14 Oklahoma (+1.5) over #3 Ohio State
77% of the betting public is backing the Buckeyes, mainly because they’ve looked phenomenal in wins over Bowling Green and Tulsa…Bowling Green and Tulsa…not exactly two heavyweights. The Sooners, on the other hand, dropped their opening game to Houston. Simply put, what we have here is a great “sell-high” candidate in Ohio State and a terrific “buy-low” team in Oklahoma. It appears the sharps are thinking the same thing, too. The Buckeyes were three-point favorites earlier this week, but even with the high levels of public support, the line has dropped from -3 to -1.5. The smart money is clearly on Baker Mayfield and Oklahoma at home.
McCaffrey photo courtesy of USA Today Sports