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Thursday, 4 September 2014

College Football Week 2 Picks 2014 (September 4-6)

It was a fascinating first week of the College Football season and one that would have opened the eyes of the favourites like Florida State and Alabama that things might not go all their own way this season.

Those two teams escaped with wins in the opening week, which is very important at the end of the day, and teams like the UCLA Bruins and Ohio State Buckeyes were other well favoured teams that struggled a little to open the season.

Of course there was also the performance of Kenny Hill for the Texas A&M Aggies that saw fans of that team quickly forget about Jonny Football as they caused one of the big surprises of the week by winning, easily, in South Carolina.

However, the team that impressed the most were the Georgia Bulldogs who many feel have the inside track to the SEC East title now that South Carolina have been dropped and look a real contender. They won't fear anyone from the SEC West, bar Texas A&M, and there are some intriguing weeks ahead of us.


It also seems that the big games are coming thick and fast early in the new season and Week 2 follows suit with the likes of Stanford-USC, Oregon-Michigan State, Notre Dame-Michigan and Ohio State-Virginia Tech all to come.

The picks made a decent, if unspectacular start, to the new season with a profit through Week 1, but a couple of poorer picks prevented it being a better day. However, I am not going to complain as it was the LSU Tigers comeback win over Wisconsin that proved to be the key to a winning week and they had to come back from a large deficit to do that.

Week 2 is a new game now and hopefully the following picks will produce another winning week.


Arizona Wildcats @ UTSA Roadrunners Pick: The UTSA Roadrunners were surprising winners last week in Houston, but they can credit six turnovers for being the key to that game and I think the layers have made too much of an adjustment in this one.

As good as Houston were projected to be, the Arizona Wildcats are one of the top teams in a very impressive Pac-12 Conference and who are coming off a huge Offensive output in a beat down of the UNLV Rebels.

The Wildcats won the turnover battle in their easy home win over the Roadrunners last season, but UTSA should have a different level of confidence with a huge amount of starters from last season returning and 6 straight wins.

Arizona are 7-2 against the spread against non-Conference teams under Rich Rodriguez and they are 2-1 against the spread as the road favourite over the last two seasons. I do think they have more talent than UTSA and I believe this line should have been at least double digits.


Kansas State Wildcats @ Iowa State Cyclones Pick: Games between the Kansas State Wildcats and Iowa State Cyclones have ended with the former winning in recent years, but they have generally been close games before the blowout last season.

Before the 34 point win at home, Kansas State had won the previous 5 games by 8 points or fewer so that makes the line look a little big. However, the teams were in such contrasting form last week and Iowa State have lost a key piece of their Offense which makes me believe the Wildcats can win this one with something to spare.

The Wildcats should be able to dominate on the ground and I think their Defense is able to slow down Iowa State's Running Backs to the point of really putting pressure on Sam Richardson to make plays with his arm. With the pressure Kansas State should get up front, and the loss of Quenton Bundrage, it could be a long day for the Iowa State Offense.

I expect Kansas State to wear down Iowa State with their own running game and they are 20-6-1 against the spread in Conference games over the last three years. The Wildcats are 3-1-1 against the spread as the road favourite in that stretch too and are also 3-1-1 against the spread in the last 5 games of this series.


Oklahoma Sooners @ Tulsa Golden Hurricane Pick: Early in the season, teams do tend to rest starters when they are dominating a game and that could be one of the concerns for the Oklahoma Sooners as they visit the Tulsa Golden Hurricane. The other would be if the Sooners are looking ahead to the game with the Tennessee Volunteers which takes place next week, but I will still add Oklahoma to my teams to pick this week.

The Sooners should be focused in proving they are the best team in Oklahoma and have won 7 straight games in this series by 37 points per game. They have covered similar numbers to the one the layers have set this week in their last 4 games against Tulsa and the Sooners should have a lot of success both through the air and on the ground.

I expect the Defense to make enough plays to keep Tulsa from picking up steam, while the Golden Hurricane have also lost their last 8 games against ranked teams by an average of 25 points per game.

Tulsa are also 4-10 against the spread against non-Conference teams under the guidance of Bill Blankenship, while there is expected to be rain on Saturday at the game. That also gives Oklahoma an edge with the way they defended the run last week and how comfortable their Running Backs were in the opener.


Missouri Tigers @ Toledo Rockets Pick: Last season, the Missouri Tigers only just saw off the Toledo Rockets thanks to some key turnovers and I expect this is going to be another tough battle. However, the SEC East reigning Champions should have enough to see off Toledo again, even in another close battle.

The Rockets are just 1-3 against the spread in their last 4 games as the home underdog and the Missouri Tigers have been strong under Gary Pinkel when expected to win on the road, going 12-3 against the spread in those situations over the last few years.

Both Gary Pinkel and Maty Mouk should have the motivation to really want to put in a performance here as one is a former Head Coach in Toledo and the other was born in Ohio.

It may need a couple of turnovers to swing this in favour of Missouri but they are also 10-4 against the spread when playing non-Conference teams over the last few years.


Akron Zips @ Penn State Nittany Lions Pick: There is no doubt that Penn State are coming from a long, gruelling road trip to Ireland, but they won the game in Dublin last week and should be ready to go at Happy Valley where the home fans are feeling very good about their team.

Not many are tipping Penn State to be a force in the Big Ten East with the three teams expected to be leading the way, but Christian Hackenberg will give them a real chance to surprise teams.

For now, they will concentrate solely on the Akron Zips, a team that has lost their last 20 road openers by 28 points per game. The Zips did give Michigan all they could handle last year, and they are 7-3 against the spread as the road underdog in Terry Bowden's two years here, but they could be made to be one-dimensional and I am not convinced they have enough to slow down Hackenberg.

Penn State are 8-4 against the spread as the home favourite over the last two seasons, while Vanderbilt were 9-3 against the spread in that situation under James Franklin. I expect the Nittany Lions to remain focused and find a way to keep the pressure on Kyle Pohl and eventually pull away for a win by more than two Touchdowns.


UAB Blazers @ Mississippi State Bulldogs Pick: When games like this come about, you always have to worry about the potential of a backdoor cover as teams rest their starters once they get ahead by a comfortable margin. That might be the biggest concern for Mississippi State backers this week, but I still think the Bulldogs can beat another Conference-USA team with something to spare.

You have to be impressed with the way UAB knocked off Troy last week, but this should be a much bigger test for them and the Blazers haven't been at their best when set as a road underdog in the last couple of years (3-8 against the spread).

However, a new coaching staff may change their mentality and this is definitely a big number to cover with backdoor possibilities that much greater.

Mississippi State are 13-7 against the spread as a home favourite under Dan Mullen and I think their Defense showed they can cope with a Conference-USA team to the extent that they can win this one and cover the number.


Michigan State Spartans @ Oregon Ducks Pick: Anyone who pays attention to College Football will know how often the Michigan State Spartans have been compared with the Stanford Cardinal, a team that has given the Oregon Ducks fits.

In a game that could have deep Play Off implications, this is the game that has captured all the attention going into Week 2 of the College Football season. Both teams are favourites to win their respective Conferences and both reached double digits in terms of wins last season.

Michigan State are tough to run against and they can get a lot of pressure up front, but Marcus Mariota is one of the leading contenders to finish the year as the Number 1 pick in the NFL Draft. They are very similar to the Cardinal in that they can slow down Oregon to the point of making this a competitive game, although the Spartans need the Offense to fire to give themselves a chance to cover.

The Spartans will need Jeremy Langford to be fully healthy as they will look to run the ball to punish the Oregon Defense and Michigan State are 4-0 against the spread in the last two years as the road underdog.


San Jose State Spartans @ Auburn Tigers Pick: Nick Marshall took his punishment in the first game against the Arkansas Razorbacks as Auburn began their season with a strong Conference win and they can pay this game full focus. After this one, Auburn go on a bye and the Tigers should be ready to come out and dominate the San Jose State Spartans.

This is a big number so the Auburn Tigers have to play a pretty error free game, but they should be better on both sides of the ball this week against a weaker opponent than Arkansas.

Without David Fales at Quarter Back, this will be a big test for Blake Jurich and although the Spartans have been a decent road underdog against the spread, I still think they will have a hard time staying within this number.

The Spartans have also lost 11 road openers by an average of 34 points per game and Auburn may have let their starters have enough time to cover here.


Arizona State Sun Devils @ New Mexico Lobos Pick: There aren't the best conditions expected for this game on Saturday evening, but it could be an especially tough time for New Mexico who could be missing the starting Quarter Back Cole Gautsche.

New Mexico lost their opening game despite being a 10 point favourite and they could be under pressure from DJ Foster if the Running Back picks up from where he left off last week.

With Gautsche doubtful and Carlos Wiggins another doubt, it may be tough for New Mexico to move the chains consistently in this one and I expect Arizona State's Defensive Line to cause some havoc in the backfield.

The Lobos have also lost their last 16 games against teams that have been ranked by 33 points per game and were 0-3 against the spread as the home underdog last season. Arizona State improved to 4-1 against the spread as the road favourite under Todd Graham and I expect they can get over this number.


Michigan Wolverines @ Notre Dame Fighting Irish Pick: The last meeting between these old rivals for the foreseeable future could be a hugely entertaining game on Saturday evening in South Bend.

I was surprised that the Notre Dame Fighting Irish were set as the favourites in the game considering the academic suspensions and I think Michigan are certainly capable of putting up plenty of points in this one.

I believe the Michigan Defense is going to be able to slow down the Notre Dame Offense enough to give themselves a chance of pulling the upset outright, although this looks like a game that may be settled by a field goal at the end of the day.

The Fighting Irish are only 8-11-3 against the spread as the home favourite under Brian Kelly, while they have followed up straight up wins with a 6-10 record against the spread in the two years either side of the 2012 season when reaching the National Championship Game.

7 of the last 10 games in this series have been won by the underdog, but I am going to take the points and look for Michigan to keep this close.


Texas Tech Red Raiders @ UTEP Miners Pick: The Texas Tech Red Raiders were not very good in Week 1, but they came through with a win and there is an expectation that they will be vastly improved this week.

The Red Raiders should be able to score plenty of points against the UTEP Miners especially as I do think they will clean up the ill-discipline that forced them on the backfoot a week ago. Turnovers could be a problem when flinging the ball around the field, but Kliff Kingsbury will have got into his team and I do think a much better game will be produced.

UTEP are capable of running the ball effectively, which they will try and use to keep the Texas Tech Offense off the field, but that was an area where the Red Raiders played well last week. The Miners should have some success running the ball, but might be forced to rely on the pass once they fall behind by a couple of scores, which I expect will happen.

Texas Tech have won their last 4 road openers by an average of 37 points per game, while the Red Raiders are also 8-0 against the spread when favoured on the road. The Miners lost all 3 games against the spread as the home underdog last season and I do think the Red Raiders win this by three Touchdowns.

MY PICKS: Arizona Wildcats - 7 Points @ 1.95 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Kansas State Wildcats - 12 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Oklahoma Sooners - 24.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Missouri Tigers - 3.5 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Penn State Nittany Lions - 14 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Mississippi State Bulldogs - 27.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Michigan State Spartans + 13.5 Points @ 2.00 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Auburn Tigers - 32.5 Points @ 1.92 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Arizona State Sun Devils - 23.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Michigan Wolverines + 3.5 Points @ 1.95 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Texas Tech Red Raiders - 20.5 Points @ 1.92 Sky Bet (1 Unit)

Week 1: 6-4, + 1.77 Units (10 Units Staked, + 11.7% Yield)
Season 2014: 6-4, + 1.77 Units (10 Units Staked, + 11.7% Yield)

Season 201365-49-2, + 8.49 Units (124 Units Staked, + 6.85% Yield)
Season 201254-59-1 - 7.11 Units (114 Units Staked, - 6.24% Yield)
Season 201163-36, + 23.25 Units (99 Units Staked, + 23.5% Yield)

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