Week 2 College Football Picks

BY: Grant

Week 2 SEC Picks and Predictions

            Week 1 was successful for the SEC as the conference went 11-3 on the weekend. Record wise, that is solid. However, the strength of competition is something that needs to be considered when looking at the positive record. In Power Five matchups, the SEC went 1-3 with Tennessee’s win over Virginia being the only victory. Don’t fret, though, as the SEC has a chance at redemption this weekend as there are five power five matchups throughout the SEC and six if you include the #20 Ole Miss @ #24 Tulane game.

            This weekend is highlighted by a rematch of last year where Alabama went on the road and squeezed by Texas 20-19 in Austin. On Saturday, #11 Texas will be taking on #3 Alabama in Bryant-Denny Stadium. College Gameday will be at this game and the game is at 7PM EST. What more could college football fans ask for? The only real answer to that is my picks. Last week, I went 12-2 on the money line and 4-4 on the spread. While I looked good on the money line, I still have something to prove on the spread. Tail me at your benefit and fade me at your expense. The odds listed are provided by DraftKings.

Vanderbilt @ Wake Forest (-10, O/U 56), 11AM EST, ACCN

            How about those Commodores? Now, I know beating Hawaii and Alabama A&M isn’t exactly impressive, but Vanderbilt still did it. There have been plenty of years where they were incapable of beating one or even both.

            This week, they will be tested in Winston-Salem. Wake Forest is not a contender for the College Football Playoff, but they are by far the best team Vanderbilt has played. A ten-point spread on this game feels wrong to me. Vanderbilt is a much better coached team than they have been in the past. A.J. Swann has the Vandy offense moving well as he has 452 yards and five touchdowns to one interception in two games. To add on to that, the Vandy offense is averaging 41 points per game.

            Wake Forest is dealing with the loss of QB Sam Hartman as he transferred to Notre Dame. He was the operator of the offense by far as he threw for 38 touchdowns last season. Now, the offense is in the hands of Mitch Griffis. The sophomore QB had a good game last week against Elon as he threw for 329 yards and three touchdowns.

            With both teams not playing outstanding competition in the first week or so, it is hard to judge this game. Wake should bring it this week as they are at home, but I don’t think Wake’s best punch will be enough to totally knock out the improving Commodores.

Prediction: Wake Forest wins, Vanderbilt covers +10

Ball State @ #1 Georgia (-42.5, O/U 53), 12PM EST, SECN

            The only thing in question for this game is the spread. I’m almost surprised there isn’t one as I imagine Sanford Stadium is going to lose a lot of hype by the time they are up by 28 at halftime. I’ve heard the bar scene there is pretty good, so I don’t blame the students who are trying to get an early start on those lines and covers.

            Last week, the Dawgs started out slow. The offense sputtered for a bit too long under new offensive coordinator Mike Bobo and new QB Carson Beck. While that was true, UT Martin never had a chance in this one as Georgia held them scoreless until the 4th quarter. The 17-0 halftime score had some people confused, but don’t be so used to seeing results like that.

            As much as I would enjoy fading Georgia in some way in this game, I can’t bring myself to do it against Ball State. The Dawgs will come out hot and remind people that they are for real, even if it is against a much worse opponent. Watch for the spread to still be in question come the 4th quarter.

Prediction: Georgia wins, Georgia covers -42.5

Eastern Kentucky @ Kentucky, 3PM EST, ESPN+ & SECN+

            This shouldn’t be a shocker to see yet another early season matchup where the SEC team can’t even get a spread since they are supposed to beat the other team so badly. There’s not too much to get into with this one as Kentucky will win this game with ease. Watch for Kentucky QB Devin Leary to make an improvement this week as he threw for 241 yards and only a 1-1 touchdown to interception ratio.

Prediction: Kentucky wins

#20 Ole Miss (-7.5) @ #24 Tulane, O/U 66.5, 3:30PM EST, ESPN2

            Lane Kiffin in New Orleans is going to be a show worth watching repeatedly. Tulane is fresh off a Cotton Bowl win over USC and I’m sure they are relishing in the opportunity to take a SEC team down at home.

            Last week, Ole Miss did not play nice host as they beat Mercer 73-7. QB Jaxson Dart went off as he threw for 334 yards and four touchdowns with zero interceptions. Yes, it was nowhere near the competition that the Rebels will face on Saturday or for the rest of the season. However, there’s more to it than the stats. Dart proved himself to be the worthy starter for Ole Miss and as a QB who will have a standout season.

            As for Tulane, they are coming off a 37-17 home win over South Alabama. For a team that won the Cotton Bowl the year before, you would expect that they would beat a team like South Alabama by more than 20. That concerns me as they are facing a SEC team. It may have been a situation where Tulane was looking ahead, but even if they were… my concerns still exist.

Prediction: Ole Miss wins, Ole Miss covers -7.5

#23 Texas A&M (-4) @ Miami (FL), O/U 51, 3:30PM EST, ABC

            Texas A&M looked night and day different last week than they did last season. Last year, A&M’s offense was a major issue. They didn’t score 40 points in a game all season. While New Mexico isn’t the competition that Miami or the SEC teams TAMU will face this year, it is still noteworthy that they scored as much as they did (52-10 win over New Mexico).

            Last year, the Aggies defeated the Hurricanes 17-9 in College Station. While it’s possible for the game to end in an Aggie victory again, it is near impossible for the game to be as low scoring. Texas A&M running their offense through Bobby Petrino is a huge change and Miami also made a change in hiring Shannon Dawson to be their offensive coordinator.

            Miami beat Miami of Ohio last week 38-3. Last season, the Hurricanes didn’t score 40 in a game just like the Aggies didn’t. So, their week 1 performance should be promising for Hurricane fans.

            Like last year’s game, Saturday should be a good contest and Vegas agrees. I don’t feel great about this pick because it is counting on the Aggies, but I’ve got to pick someone.

Prediction: Texas A&M wins, Texas A&M covers -4

Kent State @ Arkansas (-38, O/U 58.5), 4PM EST, SECN

            Last week the Hogs were calling early and often as Arkansas beat Western Carolina 56-13. Arkansas QB K.J. Jefferson had a fantastic game as he passed for three touchdowns and added one on the ground. On top of that, the defense only allowed three points in the first half. So, this game was over the minute the first beer was cracked the morning of the game.

            As for this week, I don’t expect anything different in terms of the result. However, Kent State is better than Western Carolina. They should give Arkansas a little bit more trouble than WCU, but not much more.

Prediction: Arkansas wins, Kent State covers +38

Austin Peay @ #9 Tennessee, 5PM EST, ESPN+ & SECN+

            Don’t you just love not having odds. This is so good for college football to watch one team pummel another for 60 minutes. I can’t complain, though, as I will be at this game.

QB Joe Milton needs to show out this game. He started out the game against Virginia looking rough at times, but he improved steadily as the game went on. It is going to be vital to see an efficient Vols offense this week as they are set to go on the road to Gainesville, Florida to take on the Gators next Saturday night. The other thing to watch for is how the Tennessee defense looks. They looked great against Virginia. However, the strength of opponent needs to be considered. This week is a much worse opponent than Virginia, but that doesn’t mean the defense won’t be one of the focal points when it comes to Josh Heupel’s summary of the game.

Prediction: Tennessee wins

#11 Texas @ #3 Alabama (-7.5, O/U 54), 7PM EST, ESPN

            If the second rendition of this matchup is anything like last year’s game, watch this game at all costs. Alabama defeated Texas in Austin 20-19 with the help of some controversy. Bryce Young appeared to have intentionally grounded the ball and that was called incomplete. On top of that, current Texas QB Quinn Ewers had to exit the game due to an injury. Before he was injured, Ewers was tearing up the Alabama secondary.

            While that occurrence is possible for a second time, I see Alabama taking much more time of possession than they did a year ago. Thus, allowing for fewer possessions for Texas. The Longhorns may have the advantage in a shootout, but the Tide has the advantage in a grind. So, will Alabama QB Jalen Milroe be able to extend Alabama drives to keep Quinn Ewers off the field? With this game being in Tuscaloosa, I say yes.

Prediction: Alabama wins, Alabama covers -7.5

Middle Tennessee @ Missouri (-21, O/U 47.5), 7PM EST, ESPN+ & SECN+

            Mizzou is coming off a boring 35-10 win over South Dakota while Middle Tennessee is limping into this contest after being drug by Alabama. Former five-star WR Luther Burden III had a good game for the Tigers last week as he went for 96 yards on seven receptions and a touchdown. Another standout for Mizzou was Senior RB Cody Schrader. Schrader ran for 138 yards on 18 carries with a touchdown. Both were especially impressive as it seemed that Missouri wasn’t trying to show too much of their true offense during this game. Maybe the same thing happens again on Saturday as they are far better than Middle Tennessee.

             The spread looks weird to me at just 21 for this game, but Vegas always knows.

Prediction: Missouri wins, MTSU covers +21

Grambling @ #14 LSU, 7:30PM EST, ESPN+ & SECN+

            Some of the Tigers’ expectations may have adjusted after last week’s embarrassing loss to Florida State. It wasn’t that they lost the game, but it was how they lost it. In the first half, LSU should have had a much bigger lead than just three going into the break. When the Tigers came out on to the field in the second half, it was as if they hadn’t stepped on the field to begin with. Florida State exposed issues in the Tiger secondary. LSU couldn’t tackle or cover anything. To make matters worse, there seemed to be no adjustments made either at halftime or throughout the second half.

            This week, LSU will have no problems as they return home to face a much weaker opponent. LSU QB Jayden Daniels as well as the entire defense needs to show signs of improvement as LSU is going on the road to Mississippi State the following weekend. Starkville has proven to be a place that can catch someone off guard. However, LSU will not be caught off guard this week.

Prediction: LSU wins

McNeese @ Florida, 7:30PM EST, ESPNU

            After a rather embarrassing showing against Utah last week, Florida returns to The Swamp to beat up on McNeese. Last week, Florida QB Graham Mertz did not look good. Despite throwing for 333 yards, Mertz missed a lot of throws and the statistics were inflated because Florida was playing from behind the entire time.

            On the bright side, the Florida defense looked strong. They were able to hold Utah’s rushing attack to just 105 yards on the game. The Gators seem to be strong up the middle, but weaker on the perimeter. That “weakness” won’t be exposed this week. Easy win for the Gators.

Prediction: Florida wins

Arizona @ Mississippi State (-9.5, O/U 60.5), 7:30PM EST, SECN

            This is a weird matchup, but I’d much prefer this than some of the other matchups in the SEC this weekend. Last weekend, Arizona beat Northern Arizona 38-3 and Hail State beat Southeastern Louisiana 48-7. Normally, I’d take Mississippi State to win this game in a landslide. Being at home with a QB like Will Rogers against a PAC-12 (now PAC-2) defense seems like a recipe for success for the home team. However, I see Hail State looking ahead to their matchup next weekend as they host #14 LSU.

            Over the years, LSU has dominated the series. However, there have been times here and there where Mississippi State has beaten LSU in Starkville. Each of those times included an insane home environment and a weaker LSU team than their standard. After last week’s embarrassing performance in the secondary, Mississippi State and their fans are becoming more and more confident that they can pull off the upset next weekend.

            If Hail State is looking ahead, I wouldn’t blame them. However, I do see that as one of the reasons why this game is closer than expected.

Prediction: Mississippi State wins, Arizona covers +9.5

Furman @ South Carolina, 7:30PM EST, ESPN+ & SECN+

            Like Florida, South Carolina suffered a rough out of conference loss as the Gamecocks lost to North Carolina. If it weren’t for two poorly timed turnovers out of North Carolina QB Drake Maye, South Carolina would have lost that game by more than 14.

            South Carolina QB Spencer Rattler had a good game statistically by throwing for 353 yards, but South Carolina was behind for a lot of the game. Don’t expect Rattler to have 2022 Tennessee game-like stats all year.

            As for the game, South Carolina is likely to be looking ahead to their road trip against #1 Georgia next week. Even if they are looking ahead, they will win this game. Look for Furman to keep this one interesting for a while.

Prediction: South Carolina wins

Auburn (-6.5) @ California, O/U 54.5, 10:30PM EST, ESPN

            This is another strange power five matchup for the SEC. It isn’t every week, or even every year for that matter, when you see a SEC team playing out west and starting the game at 10:30 EST.

Auburn is a bit better than California. Although both teams blew out the competition in week one, I trust Auburn much more in this one. If this were a baseball game, I’d consider both teams. That said, I would be embarrassed for Auburn if they lose this game.

Auburn recruits nationally every year and had a great transfer class this year. California cannot say the same. Furthermore, Auburn head coach Hugh Freeze is experienced in traveling out west when he was with Liberty. He was quoted as saying “I don’t like scheduling teams on the west Coast. I just want to play somebody over here on the East Coast, but it was done. And, and so me complaining or not embracing it is not the proper response.”

Well, Coach Freeze, you complained. The football gods might punish the Tigers for a quarter or two because of that, but Auburn should coast in this one in the end.

Prediction: Auburn wins, Auburn covers -6.5

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