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NFL Week 2 Picks 2019 (September 12-16)

It might not have been a very good week for the NFL Picks, but I have to say it is great to have Sunday evenings back reserved for the Leagu...

Friday, 13 September 2019

Weekend Football Picks and Fantasy Football 2019 (September 14-16)

The first international break of the season has come to a close and the time before the next one in October feels like a critical period to really see the campaign for clubs begin to take shape.

By the time the October break comes around, the Premier League clubs will have all played 8 games domestically and those involved in European competition will have played a third of their Group games in a bid to move through to the Knock Out Rounds.

We also move through the Third Round of the League Cup and I do think the reassessment of what clubs are expecting from this season will be made in that October two week break. I also think it can be a critical time for clubs to make decisions about their managers and which direction their teams are going, while others will be looking to get through the two week break despite the pressure that comes about making changes.


It is a big month for my team Manchester United and manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with some very difficult games coming up in the League. I think the Europa League Group is one they should negotiate without too many issues, but the League games coming up look very difficult on paper and the manager could be under big pressure if United can't pick up the kind of number of points expected.

I will be putting out a few more thoughts on United before the European games coming up this midweek.


The first month of the Football Picks were not as productive as I would have liked- some of it was down to bad luck, others down to poor selections. The new month will hopefully begin to turn things around and that begins with this weekend selections followed by the Fantasy Football thoughts for GameWeek 5.


Liverpool v Newcastle United Pick: The opening Premier League game of this weekend coming out of the international break is from Anfield where Liverpool will be expected to make it five wins from five in the League.

You don't always know how a team will react out of an international break with the short turnaround between players arriving back from all over the world and getting onto the field in this League game. It would still be a big surprise if Jurgen Klopp is not picking his strongest team even with a Champions League game coming up this week and I think that is a Liverpool team that will have too much for Newcastle United.

Steve Bruce might not have been the first choice of many of the fans of Newcastle United, especially not to replace a much loved manager in Rafael Benitez, but a win at Tottenham Hotspur and a home draw with Watford has got the team moving in the right direction. He has also shown signs of making Newcastle United tough to beat like Benitez had done, although his team are lacking some quality and I would fear for them at Liverpool if they were to concede early in this one.

The biggest question mark about Newcastle United is whether they have enough goals in the side and I think that is going to be a problem this weekend. Even a backup goalkeeper that Liverpool have to continue to use may not make much of a difference with the feeling that Newcastle United are going to sit deep and try and frustrate their opponents for long periods.

Newcastle United don't have a very good record here in recent seasons and last season they crumbled to a 4-0 defeat. Liverpool are creating enough chances to think they are going to be pretty comfortable on Saturday again and I think they can cover this big Asian Handicap, even if they have not been at their best defensively.

In the two home games played Liverpool have looked very threatening and I think an early goal in this one would allow the floodgates to be opened much like what happened to Newcastle United when they visited Norwich City last month. I can't deny this is a big Asian Handicap for any team to cover in the Premier League, but Liverpool have managed to win 9 of their last 21 home League games by at least three goal margins.

That might have been a bigger number if not for a late goal conceded to Arsenal in the last fixture here. Newcastle United can be a very stubborn opponent and last season only Liverpool managed to win by this margin against them, but Norwich City looked to have exposed what can be a soft underbelly and an early Liverpool goal could lead to a very one-sided fixture on Saturday.


Brighton v Burnley Pick: On paper this may not be a fixture that leaps off the page as one that could be featuring a lot of goals, but there has been enough about both Burnley and Brighton in the opening month of the season to think that is not going to be the case on Saturday.

Graham Potter's approach for Brighton might not have been rewarded with too many points from the last three League games, but they have been a touch unfortunate. There were enough chances created to beat West Ham United, while the home defeat to Southampton was very much down to being reduced to ten men in the first half.

All teams could struggle at Manchester City, but Brighton gave a good account of themselves and they should have scored there. Defensively there are one or two questions that come with a more positive style of football, but Brighton should be able to create chances against this Burnley team.

On the other hand Burnley have also been unfortunate and created enough in their first four games to believe they can give Brighton plenty of think about too. Ashley Barnes has been a player in form and Burnley have scored in four of their five games played in all competitions this season.

It does look like a game that should see both teams having chances to score, which was the case last season too. The one concern is that there is a slight lack of quality in the final third which can be an issue for both Brighton and Burnley, but I think the approach taken by the former's manager Graham Potter will ensure an open game is produced, one far more than what would have been expected when Chris Hughton was in charge at the Amex Stadium.

Both teams have only scored in one of Brighton's four League games so far, but the underlying stats suggest it should have happened in more than that and I will back both teams to hit the net in this one.


Manchester United v Leicester City Pick: Periods of sloppy play have really cost Manchester United in the first month of the new season and that has put Ole Gunnar Solskjaer under some pressure to start producing better results. Missed penalties against both Wolves and Crystal Palace have seen the club drop at least three points, while a dominant first half at Southampton was not followed up as another two points slipped away.

While the underlying statistics say Manchester United have been a little unfortunate, I do think there is a vulnerability about this team even with the additions of Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James.

It says something that those are three of the better performers at the club through the first month of the season, but Manchester United are going to have to step up their levels with a more difficult set of games coming up. First up is this home game against a Leicester City team who will be full of belief after remaining unbeaten through August and who have already drawn at Chelsea in the League.

Brendan Rodgers does want his team to get forward and create chances, but they are also still happy to sit back and counter with the pace of James Maddison and Jamie Vardy a real threat for opponents to deal with. Counter attacking is what Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants his team to thrive upon too though and I do think this could be a match in which both teams are standing off one another at times.

The onus is on Manchester United to win the game, but that will play into the Leicester City hands and so finding the right balance is going to be all important.

I do have to say both teams have actually defended pretty well for the most part in the early stages of the season and the team that has the cleaner overall performance could edge to the three points. Mistakes are going to be crucial to determining the outcome, but even then this does not feel like a game that will be featuring a glut of goals.

5 of the last 7 between these clubs has produced three or more goals shared out, but last season it took two goals in the final seven minutes to get to that number in their meeting at Old Trafford. Since Leicester City returned to the Premier League, 2 of their 5 games here have ended with two or fewer goals shared out and I think this is going to be a tight affair on Saturday too.

Manchester United are beginning to look potentially short of numbers at the back, especially if Aaron Wan-Bissaka can't be passed fit, but I think the two defences will still have a strong showing on the day. Backing under 2.5 goals at odds against looks to be the play here and that is going to be my selection as I hope Manchester United can get back on track with a home win.


Sheffield United v Southampton Pick: This looks a weekend in which I feel comfortable making a number of plays, but one fixture I can't really get a good grip on comes from Bramall Lane.

Both teams scoring would not surprise me and I can see all three results being a possibility, but I don't really know how to feel about either of these teams just yet.

Sheffield United work very hard and have shown considerable heart to come from behind a couple of times already this season to earn points. Southampton have been a team who have been playing better than their results with chances being created and I think it is a match that I will sit back and take note of the way it develops.

With other options out there, I am moving past this fixture.


Tottenham Hotspur v Crystal Palace Pick: Over the last twelve months Crystal Palace have been a very effective away team in the Premier League and they finished the 2018/19 season with the sixth best away record in the Division.

The style of play employed by Roy Hodgson has been very effective against the top teams as the results have shown. Since the beginning of the 2018/19 season, Crystal Palace have won at Manchester City, Arsenal, Wolves and Manchester United, while they have earned a draw at Old Trafford in that time too and narrowly been beaten at Liverpool in a game they took the lead in.

This makes Crystal Palace a dangerous opponent for Tottenham Hotspur who have not looked at their best in the first month of the season. Defensively there have been some real question marks about the performances, but Tottenham Hotspur have been decent enough going forward and I do think the close of the European transfer window will settle this squad down.

Christian Eriksen has to be more focused on the immediate future with Spurs and I also think the likes of Jan Vertonghen will be back in the centre of defence to help a team who have conceded in each of their opening four games. There are still some problems for Tottenham Hotspur to deal with, especially in those defensive areas, but I think a more settled squad can produce a good performance before the Champions League returns during the week.

To be fair to Tottenham Hotspur they have created chances in the majority of their games and it is only a poor defensive performance that has let them down. They did beat Crystal Palace here a few months ago so they won't be intimidated by the very strong record The Eagles have at some of the top clubs over the last several months, while most would have seen that Crystal Palace were a touch fortunate to win at Old Trafford.

If Crystal Palace defend very well they could frustrate their hosts, but I think teams have found opportunities against them and even the return of James Tomkins may not be enough to change that immediately. With that in mind I think Tottenham Hotspur will have a little too much for them on the day and I would not be surprised if they matched the margin of victory they had against Crystal Palace in the first game in this Stadium.

Backing Tottenham Hotspur to cover the Asian Handicap is my selection.


Wolves v Chelsea Pick: This is a big Premier League game for both Wolves and Chelsea as two teams who have made slow starts to the new campaign look for some momentum. A big month is coming up before the next international break with a couple of European fixtures to be negotiated and Nuno Espirito Santo and Frank Lampard would love to ease some of the pressure by helping their teams earn the three points here.

It is going to be an interesting game as neither team has defended as well as they would like, but both have also shown they can score goals. That should show up on Saturday out of the international break and I do think the layers are underestimating the chance of seeing at least three goals shared out.

That was how the corresponding fixture ended last season and I think the way Chelsea have been playing this season will contribute to that being the outcome here. Frank Lampard does want his side to get forward and create chances, but that has left them vulnerable the other way and it is not surprise that 4 of Chelsea's 5 games under Lampard have ended with at least three goals produced.

Wolves games have not seen as many goals before the game at Goodison Park, but there have been chances for teams and they have struggled for clean sheets. This is a team who do enough to create opportunities for themselves though and I would not be surprised if both teams score here with the 1-1 scoreline perhaps the one that worries me the most.

I don't think either team will be happy with that result, so I am expecting to see both Wolves and Chelsea looking to be positive for much of the ninety minutes. Only a Paul Pogba penalty miss prevented the Wolves game against Manchester United hitting at least three goals and that is not going to put me off in backing there being at least three goals in this one.

I mentioned ahead of the game against Manchester United that Wolves had been involved in a lot of high-scoring games against the top six teams last season and that would have continued if Pogba had scored his penalty. This is a fixture where both teams look capable of scoring while not being the most convincing at the back and I think the odds against quotes of seeing at least three goals is a big price and one that can't be ignored.


Norwich City v Manchester City Pick: The late afternoon Premier League game comes from Carrow Road and if Daniel Farke continues to ask his Norwich City team to play in the style they have been for the first month of the season, it could be a very entertaining game.

However it is also a style that Manchester City will be very good at exploiting and I really don't think this is going to be anything but an away win. Manchester City have been creating chances for fun in the opening weeks of the season and only a very lucky Tottenham Hotspur team have avoided conceding at least three goals and also escaping without being beaten.

The Champions have scored five times at West Ham United and three times at Bournemouth in wins away from home in the Premier League and they have created wide openings in all of their fixtures so far. The international break can snap some of the momentum created with the players coming back from far and wide, but this is a deep squad and the likes of David Silva, John Stones and Gabriel Jesus have been at home preparing for this fixture.

Aymeric Laporte's injury is a big blow for Pep Guardiola as the one defender he relied on the most. I do think that leaves Manchester City short of cover and perhaps even a little short of quality in defensive areas, but they will make do and the manager is not someone who is going to use the injury as an excuse considering Kevin De Bruyne missed a large chunk of last season and Manchester City still won the domestic treble.

One thing the injury does do is give Norwich City an opportunity to contribute to this fixture and they have shown they can create chances in their first four League games despite playing two of the top four from last season. In the weeks ahead there might be a real possibility to start racking up the points, but for this fixture I would say it is going to need a super effort to be very competitive which is about as far as I think Norwich City can go.

I do think the home team can play a part, but Manchester City should have enough quality in the final third to really open up this Norwich City defence missing two key performers. It might turn into a high-scoring game in which both score, but my edge goes to Manchester City and I will back them to win a game featuring at least four goals shared out, a number that has been hit in all four of their Premier League games so far.

Norwich City have been beaten 4-1 at Liverpool and 2-3 here by Chelsea so goals should be in the offing on Saturday. I can't really back Manchester City to cover this Asian Handicap as they will need to win by at least three goals to earn a full payout, while Norwich City don't defend well enough to believe they can stay within that number with any confidence either.

Last season the large majority of Manchester City away games did not feature as many as four goals shared out, but I do think the loss of Laporte might leave them a touch vulnerable at the back. That is especially the case against an attacking Norwich City team and in the first game without Laporte's influence in the team and so backing the Champions to win a high-scoring game is the play.


Bournemouth v Everton Pick: The first of the live Sunday offerings from the Premier League comes from the Vitality Stadium and you have to believe this is going to be a game that does feature goals.

It might be a surprise to say that about any Everton away game considering they have yet to score on their travels in the Premier League and 5 of the last 6 away League games have featured two or fewer goals shared out. Even then it would be a massive surprise if they can't create good chances against this Bournemouth defence which has been decimated by injury and who have given opponents massive opportunities in each of their four Premier League games played so far this season.

Those chances are a major reason Bournemouth are set as the home underdog, but I couldn't back Everton to win considering their lack of goals in away games. They might get one or two here this weekend because of the porous defence the hosts have been playing with, but I can't be having Everton as a favourite.

Everton have not won a League game here with 2 losses and 2 draws in the 4 games since Bournemouth were promoted. And for my criticisms of Bournemouth defensively, this is a team who have been still looking productive going forward, one that has scored in all of their Premier League games played this season and who will have noted the problems Wolves caused Everton two weeks ago.

While Marco Silva's men have looked good defensively for the most part, they are far from watertight as the Wolves game underlined. Watford, Aston Villa and Wolves all have had decent openings against Everton and Bournemouth have a system which does produce attacking returns.

3 of the 4 League games between these teams hosted by Bournemouth have featured at least three goals and I will back that to be the outcome of this one.


Watford v Arsenal Pick: When you think of Arsenal playing Watford you do tend to believe the underdog has a big chance of an upset because they are a bogey team for The Gunners, but since returning to the top flight it is Arsenal who have won 6 of their 8 meetings in the Premier League.

The side have a very good record at Vicarage Road too and I do think Arsenal are looking a tempting price to win here.

The only factor that is hard to really put a value in is the return of Quique Sanchez Flores who takes over from sacked Javi Gracia for his second spell as manager of Watford. In the 2015/16 season Flores took Watford to 13th in the Premier League table and to the FA Cup Semi Final, but that was not enough to save him from the chop by the notoriously impatient Pozzo family.

He clearly impressed enough to be given a second run at Vicarage Road but his Watford team were beaten heavily by Arsenal in both League games in the season he managed the club. Quique Sanchez Flores did lead Watford to an upset at the Emirates Stadium in the FA Cup, but he is coming into a side that have been struggling defensively and with little time to work with players between the return from international duty and this game kicking off on Sunday afternoon.

Arsenal should be much more settled and they have a front line that looks like it will provide plenty of goals in the months ahead. They have been creating chances for fun and it is making up for some of the defensive vulnerabilities that continue to be displayed by the Champions League chasing club.

Ultimately I do think the Watford defensive problems are far grander of the two clubs at the moment and that can be the difference on the day. It should be a tight game with Watford trying to impress a new manager, but I think Arsenal will edge to the three points and they are at just a good enough price to be worth backing this weekend.


Aston Villa v West Ham United Pick: The final game of the Premier League weekend comes on Monday Night Football as Aston Villa try to win their second League game of the season. It looks a big test in front of them against a West Ham United team who had been in fine form going into the last international break.

Manuel Pellegrini has to be very happy with the way West Ham United have bounced back from the opening day hammering at the hands of Manchester City. They have won 3 straight games in all competitions and The Hammers have been creating plenty of good goalscoring chances in their wins over Watford, Newport County and Norwich City.

They will continue to take an attacking approach to this fixture as West Ham United look to be one of a number of clubs chasing a top six or seven finish which will come with a potential European berth. So far the quality in the final third is hard to ignore and West Ham United will certainly pose problems for an Aston Villa defence still finding their feet at this level.

James Chester could be back in time for this fixture which will be a boost for Dean Smith's men, but he might be a touch rusty so West Ham United will feel they have the players to exploit any vulnerabilities left in the home team.

Aston Villa have some decent players of their own who have made a mark at the top level of English Football. However losing Trezeguet to suspension is a blow and I do think they are still struggling with the right balance needed to win games in the Premier League.

They do have a good home record against West Ham United with 3 wins from the last 5 hosted at Villa Park, but the latter are the team who have played better through the first month of the season. In fact West Ham United have won 4 of their last 5 away games in all competitions and being able to back them on the Asian Handicap in an essential 'Draw No Bet' market looks to be the play.

MY PICKS: Liverpool - 2.25 Asian Handicap @ 2.05 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Brighton-Burnley Both Teams to Score @ 1.85 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Manchester United-Leicester City Under 2.5 Goals @ 2.00 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Tottenham Hotspur - 1.25 Asian Handicap @ 1.95 Bet365 (2 Units)
Wolves-Chelsea Over 2.5 Goals @ 2.00 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Manchester City & Over 3.5 Goals @ 1.72 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Bournemouth-Everton Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.80 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Arsenal @ 2.05 Bet Fred (2 Units)
West Ham United 0 Asian Handicap @ 2.00 Bet Victor (2 Units)

August 2019/20: 14-17-2, - 8.78 Units (64 Units Staked, - 13.72% Yield)



Fantasy Football (GameWeek 5)
I have to say that so far my Fantasy Football campaign has been a little better than average overall, but GW4 proved to be a solid if not spectacular week.

On most occasions I would be happy with the 59 points earned two weeks ago, but I have missed on my Captain for a fourth week in a row and that has to be a source of frustration.

Price changes are again being a real pain in the backside with my decision to pick Xande Siva to make up the fifteen seeing him lose 100K in value. I am not sure how someone with a small ownership is losing money while a player like Anthony Martial remains very high even after over 40,000 players removed him from their squads two weeks ago.

I was one of those and my decision to bring in Manuel Lanzini looks a solid one even if returns were minimal last time out.

Liverpool's first clean sheet in the Premier League was the foundation for the points last time out, but the big contributor was Youri Tielemans who I did keep faith in despite a slow start to the season. My decision to bring in Harry Maguire has proved to be a poor one with 3 points earned from two matches, but I am not going to compound that by keeping him in the squad this month, while Che Adams continues to get into strong positions but has yet to convert those into goals for Southampton.

I am keeping the faith with Adams at least through two more games, but any more failures and I think I will have to think about making a move and accepting he is not going to bring in his pre-season form to the higher League level he is now competing at.

At least not while he is sitting in my squad anyway.


Ahead of GW5 I am going to identify some teams I am looking to get behind over the next four weeks before the next international break and others I am perhaps going to steer clear of.

Next week I will look at a few more individual players as I did in the first three weeks of the season, but I think coming out of the international break and looking at how the next four weeks can shape up for teams is a better plan for this week and something that can aid in transfers that can be made.


Teams That Could Provide Clean Sheets to Get Behind
Burnley- they have had a very difficult opening month of the season, but Burnley have impressed from a defensive standpoint for the most part.

This is a team that are not giving up too many chances and with Brighton, Norwich City, Aston Villa and Everton to come before the next international break, I think they could provide some defensive recruitments for those looking for differential makers.

Everton- there will be many with Everton defenders and I do think they are worth holding onto at the moment. Manchester City visit Goodison Park this months and they do have a difficult game at Bournemouth, but a home game with Sheffield United could produce returns.

They also have some decent fixtures out of the next international break so I would not be overly concerned by the four goals conceded in the last two games.

Tottenham Hotspur- defensive performances have not been great, but Tottenham Hotspur should improve with the European transfer window closed. Home games against Crystal Palace and Southampton as well as trip to Brighton in the next four weeks could be a good chance to get back on track at the back.

Teams That Might Be Worth Avoiding For Clean Sheets
Manchester United- the underlying stats haven't been bad and it has got to the stage where the Official Website wanted to make that clear.

However games against Leicester City, West Ham United, Arsenal and Newcastle United prior to the international break and then Liverpool out of that break means I want to steer clear of an injury hit club.

Liverpool- I have two defenders from the club and I would keep them through GW5 with a home game against Newcastle United to come. However later this month Liverpool face Chelsea and Sheffield United away from home and then host Leicester City and the Alisson situation will determine whether I want to keep doubling up on the leaders at the back.

Leicester City- this is a team who have been performing well defensively even though they only have a single clean sheet. However games away from home at Old Trafford and Anfield and a home one against Tottenham Hotspur might mean the stats are not backed up on the scoreboard for a while.


Teams That Could Produce an Attacking Return
West Ham United- there is some real value in the West Ham United players at the moment considering the form they have shown in the last month in the final third.

Games against Aston Villa, Manchester United, Bournemouth and Crystal Palace suggests they can keep it going.

Chelsea- this is much to do with the value in the Chelsea starters at the moment. Both Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham look like they are set in the first choice eleven for Frank Lampard with only potential Champions League involvement holding them back in the Premier League.

Lampard does like his team getting forward so games at Wolves and at home to Liverpool don't concern me in terms of the goals Chelsea could score. After that they look to be hitting a very productive portion of their schedule too.

Bournemouth- ever since they have been promoted to the Premier League Eddie Howe has made sure his team have been positive with their attacking approach.

Everton, Southampton and West Ham United face Bournemouth this month and I would expect this team to be involved in some high-scoring games so their attacking players could be worth bringing back into squads that have lost faith in them.

Burnley- like I mentioned from their defensive standpoint, Burnley have some decent fixtures coming up after a difficult August. Ashley Barnes will be the main focus of attention, but there are other players here who could return at a decent value.

Teams I Fear for in the Final Third
Manchester United- as a fan of this great club it is hard to see them in both sections to avoid this month. Injuries are hurting the team and some tough games are coming up.

Only Daniel James can really be picked at the value, but the other prices on the attacking players suggest there is better choices out there.

Wolves- a mixed set of games and this is a team who have yet to show any real consistency in the Premier League. I do rate Wolves as a team, but there may be better options out there with teams who don't play Chelsea and Manchester City over the next month.


GameWeek 5 Team
There are some really good choices that can be made to reshape squads coming out of the international break and I imagine there will be plenty using their Wild Card after tough starts to the season.

I am not panicking with my team selection yet and I do think I can shape it to my liking with the weekly transfers rather than having to make wholesale changes.

My one transfer this week has been used to replace Harry Maguire with James Tarkowski- I mentioned the good set of fixtures coming up for Burnley compared with Manchester United and saving the 500K just means more money in the bank for when bigger moves need to be made.

I selected Tarkowski ahead of Matt Lowton despite being 500K more expensive as the centre half can be a real threat from set pieces for Burnley. That would make up for any goals being conceded and I also think he is far more secure in the starting eleven than Lowton.

Overall I am pretty happy with my team and this week the 3-5-2 formation picked is making use of all of the investment made in the midfield players I have in the squad. My front line has yet to really return the kind of points I would have liked, but I am keeping faith in Southampton and Bournemouth for at least a couple of weeks.

My GW5 team can be seen below:

Ederson- Norwich City are going to cause problems for Manchester City as they will for most visitors to Carrow Road this season, but the City goalkeeper remains my first choice goalkeeper even through the Aymeric Laporte injury.

At this moment I would say he is almost the only guaranteed Premier League starter for Manchester City, especially in the back five.

Virgil Van Dijk- Liverpool earned their first clean sheet of the season two weeks ago and I think they have to be favoured to make it two in a row against Newcastle United.

Andrew Robertson- he has actually lost 100K in the official game as the attacking returns have not been produced at a time when Liverpool have not had too many clean sheets. However like his defensive partner Van Dijk, I would not be surprised to see Robertson end with back to back clean sheets.

John Lundstram- effectively a midfielder choice for Sheffield United as they host a Southampton team that can struggle for clean sheets.

Youri Tielemans- I hate playing those players who are facing Manchester United, but Youri Tielemans had a very good game two weeks ago. He is also facing an injury hit opponent.

Manuel Lanzini- as I have mentioned, West Ham United could be ready for some big attacking returns and Manuel Lanzini is a key player for them. I am hoping the international duty with Argentina has not meant he needs a rest, but playing on Monday this week will help recovery time.

Raheem Sterling (VC)- I have got my Captain wrong in four weeks in a row, but I am once again off the Raheem Sterling bandwagon. He should have chances against Norwich City who have been defensively poor, but I do see a situation where he is not given the full ninety minutes after double duty for England.

Champions League games begin this week too so Sterling might be given a chance for a rest at some point which may limit returns.

Bernardo Silva- lots of players have lost faith in Bernardo who has only started two of the four Premier League games this season. However he remains a big part of Pep Guardiola's plans and scored two weeks ago which may spark his season.

Sadio Mane (C)- a home game with Newcastle United should give the Liverpool front three many opportunities to get on the scoreboard. Sadio Mane might also be ready to make a statement after showing real frustrations with partner Mohamed Salah in the win over Burnley.

Che Adams- I am losing patience with Che Adams, but Southampton's main striker is still getting some very good chances. He has to take one soon if he is going to maintain his spot in the Southampton starting eleven and my own squad.

Time is running out but a game at Sheffield United and at home against Bournemouth should be the final chances for Adams to turn his season around.

Joshua King- he is the penalty taker for Bournemouth and the next three weeks look like a very good chance for King to get his season moving. Everton have not defended as well as they would like and have conceded at least twice in back to back League games.


Bench- Michael McGovern, James Tarkowski (I have brought him into my squad for the long-term, but this week I have better options in my starting eleven), Caglar Soyuncu (I would not be surprised if Leicester City were able to keep a clean sheet at Old Trafford against injury hit Manchester United, but other options are more appealing), Xande Silva.

College Football Week 3 Picks 2019 (September 13-14)

Week 2 of the College Football season is in the books and I have to admit that it was not an ideal one for the NCAAF Picks as I ended up with the first losing week of the season.

Some of it was down to bad beats, the most notable being the late Touchdown the Clemson Tigers gave up in their dominant win over the Texas A&M Aggies, but some of the other selections were never looking likely to cover.

It is a long season before we come to an idea of whether it is going to be a good one or a bad one, but I am largely pleased with the way I am coming down to my shortlist in each week and I do believe it is a system that can lead to another winning year when the 2019 season is wrapped up in early January 2020.


Things have not really changed as far as the top teams chasing the PlayOffs are concerned, although the LSU Tigers win in Texas last week is a very big one that could have implications down the stretch. There is much excitement about the LSU team going into 2019 and you would find it hard to leave them out of the PlayOffs if they are able to win all of their games bar the road trip to the Alabama Crimson Tide.

As long as they are not blown out by the Crimson Tide, the Tigers could force their way into the final four, but any non-Champion of one of the Power 5 Conferences will need some luck landing their way.

Defeats for Washington and Stanford in Week 2 have taken away some of the leading contenders in the Pac-12, the Conference which looked most vulnerable to missing out again. At this moment I think both Alabama and Clemson would need to lose twice to be overlooked in the National Championship PlayOff picture which means there are only likely going to be two other spots available.

Utah and USC are still going to be hopeful of representing the Pac-12, while Oklahoma look to be the team to beat in the Big 12. The Michigan Wolverines need Overtime and some luck to remain unbeaten, but that win over Army has actually seen their position worsen in my opinion, especially as both Ohio State and Michigan State have looked stronger in what is a very highly competitive Division.

The Week 3 slate is not expected to make things any clearer at this stage of the season when you see the kind of favourites the top schools are, but a sloppy loss can prove very costly even in September.


The College Football Picks begin on Friday this week and I will analyse a few of the selections made while adding the rest to the 'MY PICKS' section below. Hopefully it will be a week in which I return to producing more winners than losers to get this season back on track.


Kansas Jayhawks @ Boston College Eagles Pick: A big statement was made in Lawrence when the Kansas Jayhawks announced that Les Miles would be coming in as their new Head Coach. It has been a long time since Kansas were relevant as a Football team, but having a Head Coach who has won the National Championship would have raised the belief at the school.

In saying that it is very clear that this is not a quick fix with the Jayhawks who might have had 5 players returning on both sides of the ball, but who are also learning a new system under Miles. It has largely been unimpressive so far as the Jayhawks have struggled to overcome a school that does not play in the FBS, while they then followed that up with a home defeat to Coastal Carolina from the Sun Belt Conference.

In both games Kansas have actually been beaten in terms of the yardage battle so they can't even claim they are perhaps unfortunate to be at 1-1. Instead some will suggest the Jayhawks are a little lucky to have a win on the board and now they have to face the Boston College Eagles who have opened the season at 2-0 despite having only 9 returning starters from the 2018 team which ended at 7-5.

Boston College have had five winning seasons in the six years Steve Addazio has been the Head Coach here although Addazio himself will be hoping he can take his team to eight wins for the first time since 2009. The cancelled Bowl Game was perhaps costly in that aim in 2018, but a strong start to the 2019 season will have given the Eagles confidence, especially the Week 1 win over Virginia Tech Hokies as the underdog.

There is a feeling from the Head Coach that he is expecting big things from his team Offensively despite only having 5 starters back on this side of the ball. So far Boston College are living up to those expectations having gained 5.1 yards per carry and AJ Dillon being healthy is huge for the Eagles.

Dillon is expected to carry the workload for Boston College from the Running Back position, but it is the new found ability to catch the ball and make plays out of those systems which are making the Running Back look like a complete player. He will be looking to keep that going in Week 3 against a Kansas Defensive unit which has not been tested by this kind of Offensive team in the first couple of weeks of the season.

With Dillon looking good, Anthony Brown has not been under pressure at Quarter Back and has played clean games which is what Steve Addazio will be expecting from him. So far Brown has thrown 5 Touchdown passes and no Interceptions and while Kansas have some decent numbers, once again those have to be put into context due to the level of opponent they have faced in the first two games of the 2019 season.

Ultimately I think Boston College will establish the run and that should make things comfortable for Brown at Quarter Back to make some plays to keep the chains moving. It will also mean it is up to Carter Stanley to lead the Jayhawks to enough points to be competitive in this one, but the Quarter Back has been a little inconsistent so far and will be facing an Eagles Secondary which has picked up some turnovers.

Kansas will likely hope to lean on Pooka Williams who had over 1000 yards rushing in 2018 and who made his first start of 2019 last week when only just missing out on 100 yards on the ground. Williams and Khalil Herbert are going to have a tough time establishing the run against the Boston College Defensive Line which has shown in the early goings that they have may come together despite losing key performers from this unit from 2018.

So far the Eagles have held teams to 3.6 yards per carry and Kansas haven't exactly been lighting up the scoreboard with only 3.9 yards per carry themselves. Pooka Williams will help, but Carter Stanley is going to be playing from behind the marker plenty of times and could find himself under pressure from the pass rush.

The Jayhawks have to keep Stanley in third and manageable when you think of the turnovers Boston College have been creating and I do think it is going to be tough to stay competitive even with this start on the spread. It needs to be an effort way above what we have seen so far from Kansas and there is also the worry they could be looking ahead to the home game with West Virginia next week which could present the best chance for a Conference win this season.

It is the first time these teams are facing each other but I do want to factor in the 1-6 record against the spread that Kansas have in the week prior to facing West Virginia. This is a big number too, but Kansas have struggled in non-Conference games and continued that by failing to cover in the first two of 2019 to drop to 7-21-1 against the spread in their last twenty-nine non-Conference games.

Boston College do run the ball a lot which means the time could tick off quickly in this one and make it difficult to cover the spread, but they are 5-1-1 against the spread in their last seven when winning by at least 20 points. They should be able to control the Jayhawks on the lines of scrimmage on both sides of the ball and I think that will be key in helping the Eagles not only win this game, but win by a three Touchdown margin too.


Miami (Ohio) Redhawks @ Cincinnati Bearcats Pick: For most College Football fans the Victory Bell rivalry is one that may escape their attention, but this is a game that is going to be played for the 124th time in Week 3. The Cincinnati Bearcats and the Miami (Ohio) Redhawks are separated by just 40 miles and both teams are looking to improve on their 1-1 starts to the 2019 season while also building some momentum to take into their Conference schedules.

It is no surprise that the Cincinnati Bearcats have been dominating the recent series between these two teams and will be looking for a fourteenth win in a row over the Redhawks. In 2018 the Bearcats surprised by going 11-2 just one season after a 4-8 finish under Head Coach Luke Fickell and they remain favourites in the American Athletic Conference even if the Bearcats are negotiating a tougher schedule this season.

Matching the eleven wins earned last season was always going to be a difficult challenge, but Cincinnati won't be happy with the effort in the blow out defeat at the Ohio State Buckeyes last week. At least the Buckeyes are considered the top school in the State, but the fans won't be so appeasing if Cincinnati are to be downed by Miami (Ohio) for the first time since 2005.

A 6-6 record was not enough for the Redhawks to be invited to a Bowl Game in 2018 and they have only had one post-season game since 2010. They are still expected to be a contender in the MAC Conference despite bringing back 10 returning starters from 2018, although the biggest question mark remains the Quarter Back situation for the Redhawks.

Brett Gabbert is the one who has been given the chance to shine (Blaine Gabbert's younger brother) and he has responded with 2 Touchdown passes thrown and 1 Interception through the first two games. He has not been helped by some injuries on the Offensive unit, but it is going to be a challenge to move the ball with any consistency on this Bearcats Defense despite some injury concerns of their own in the Secondary.

So far Gabbert has been well protected, but that has not always resulted in big plays down the field. He is not being helped by his Running Backs who have averaged 3.8 yards per carry so far this season and now face a Bearcats team who have given up just 4 yards per carry despite facing Ohio State and UCLA in their opening two games of the 2019 season.

Gabbert may have some success, but it looks a difficult test for him considering the inexperience he has at this level. He will then be relying on the Redhawks Defensive unit to step up and make some plays and I do think Miami (Ohio) are going to believe they can do that despite the 7 returning Offensive starters Cincinnati have brought back from 2018.

One of the main issues that Cincinnati have had so far is finding a consistent rushing attack to ease the pressure on their Quarter Back. Michael Warren had over 1300 yards on the ground last year, but the Bearcats have so far managed to earn just 3.4 yards per carry which is some way down on the 5.2 yards per carry they were managing over the course of the 2018 season.

You can't only blame the fact that the Bearcats played Ohio State either as they struggled to really get going on the ground against UCLA in Week 1 too. The Redhawks Defensive Line has played tough over the last twelve months and they will believe they can force Cincinnati to put the ball in the hands of Desmond Ridder to beat them.

Ridder had a tough outing like many of the Offensive players in Week 2, but he was effective in the win over the Bruins when throwing 2 Touchdown passes and 1 Interception while also passing for almost 250 yards. He would like to get better protection from the new Offensive Line, and Ridder also has to be wary of how the Redhawks Secondary have been able to turn the ball over, but there are some holes in the backside of the Defense that can be exploited.

That is going to be the key to not only winning this game but also covering the big spread. The Redhawks have been a solid road underdog to back under Chuck Martin, but they are 2-8 against the spread in their last ten non-Conference games.

Luke Fickell's Cincinnati team have improved to 5-2 against the spread as the home favourite in the last seven in that spot, while the Redhawks are also 1-7 against the spread when playing a non-Conference game off a straight up win.

Of course the rivalry will motivate the underdog very much, but the Bearcats are looking to bounce back from a poor display in Week 2. Miami (Ohio) Redhawks do have revenge on their mind having lost multiple times in a row to Cincinnati, but they are 4-8 against the spread with that motivation behind them under their current Head Coach and I am going to back the Bearcats to find a way to pull clear in the second half and cover this mark.


Pittsburgh Panthers @ Penn State Nittany Lions Pick: This is going to be the 100th time the Pittsburgh Panthers and the Penn State Nittany Lions are meeting in College Football, but this might also be the last time they play each for some time.

A decision was made to not schedule any more games between these rivals and it is not clear when that situation will change. That should mean a very strong atmosphere is generated at State College and it is certainly a game that should motivate Pittsburgh to upset their hosts and favourites in this Week 3 meeting.

The Panthers moved back to 1-1 last week with a win over Ohio at home following a Week 1 defeat to the Virginia Cavaliers. Offensively there are some questions to answer for Pittsburgh and it could be the main problem for them when they face the 2-0 Nittany Lions who have blown out back to back opponents to open the 2019 season.

Both teams have returned in 2019 with depleted teams from last season, but there will still be some belief in both camps that they can have strong years. The Nittany Lions have a tougher path being in the Big Ten East Division which is loaded with teams that will have ambitions of making the College Football PlayOffs, while the Pittsburgh Panthers are hoping to begin a new streak of Bowl appearances having missed out in 2017 before returning to the post-season in 2018.

Pittsburgh have to match the expectations that would have come out of reaching the ACC Championship Game at the end of the 2018 regular season. Only back to back defeats to Clemson and Stanford prevented the Panthers from finishing with a winning record in three of the four years under Head Coach Pat Narduzzi.

Getting back to the Conference Championship Game will be difficult after losing to Virginia, but the Panthers will believe their Defensive unit will give them a chance to win games if they can keep playing at their current level. The Panthers have been stout up front and shown improvement from last season, while the Secondary have been well protected by the pressure Pittsburgh have managed to get up front.

It is going to be a big test for them in Week 3 when facing the Penn State Offensive unit that has overwhelmed two opponents the Nittany Lions would have been expected to beat comfortably. The Nittany Lions have covered two big spreads in those games and this is a team who have managed to overcome the fact that their starting Quarter Back and Running Back from 2018 have both left having been the top two rushing performers for the team last season.

Sean Clifford has come in as Quarter Back and has looked very comfortable in the role for Penn State, but we have to accept that this is going to be a much tougher game than facing Idaho or Buffalo. He has to lean on the run being established to make sure things are opened up in the passing game and this is a game in which Clifford will learn much more about himself.

This might be a game in which Sean Clifford doesn't have to do too much more than playing a clean game to help Penn State win and cover the spread. While I do think the Nittany Lions will move the chains, it is going to be interesting to see if Pittsburgh have much Offensive success when you think of the struggles they have had to open this season.

Kenny Pickett is an experienced Quarter Back but he has yet to really impress through the first two weeks of the season and Pittsburgh have a tough match up in front of them. One of the problems for Pickett is that the Panthers have not found a path to replace the likes of Darrin Hall and Qadree Olisson who both surpassed 1000 yards on the ground last season and Pittsburgh have only earned 3.6 yards per carry through two games.

Now they have to try and get things going against a Penn State Defensive Line giving up just 2.2 yards per carry and that is going to put pressure on Pickett to make plays from the Quarter Back position. An inexperienced Offensive Line has struggled in pass protection as well as opening holes for the Running Backs and I expect Penn State to exploit that as they swarm the Quarter Back when he steps back to throw.

The Nittany Lions Secondary have played well and I think there is every chance that the hosts can cover the spread thanks to the limitations they put on the Pittsburgh Offense.

Pittsburgh have played well as large road underdogs, but Penn State have been really locked in when playing teams who don't have losing records that are playing with revenge against them. There are some nice trends in favour of the Panthers, but Penn State have been a very good home favourite under James Franklin and they are 16-4 against the spread when playing off back to back straight up wins and cover of the spread.

This is going to be a close one with both teams putting in their all in what could be the last time they meet for some time, but I like Penn State to find a way to produce the Offensive output needed to beat the handicap.


Stanford Cardinal @ UCF Knights Pick: Not many teams in College Football can say they have a 25-1 record in the last two seasons, but the UCF Knights also recognise they are very unlikely to be given a chance to play in the College Football PlayOffs. After going unbeaten in 2017, UCF finished last season with a 12-1 record having lost the Bowl Game, but they will be looking to maintain their regular season run.

Josh Heupel is the Head Coach in his second year with the Knights and he has to believe they can get very close to matching their number of wins from last season. 8 Offensive starters and 5 Defensive starters have returned from 2018 and the Knights have won both games played in 2019 in dominant fashion.

There is a difficult schedule in place for UCF who have to visit both Pittsburgh and Cincinnati and also host Stanford, but the Knights are feeling bullish about their chances to push for a big Bowl Game. If they can knock off Stanford it will be a big win despite the Cardinal coming into Week 3 with a 1-1 record after being blown out by the USC Trojans in Week 2.

Stanford lost a number of starters at the end of the 2018 season and have a very difficult schedule of their own which suggests this could be only the second season under David Shaw that the team does not reach at least nine wins. The defeat to the Trojans would have knocked some confidence, but at least Stanford could have KJ Costello back at Quarter Back this week after he was knocked out of the Week 1 win over Northwestern.

The Cardinal are going to need Costello to be back at full health if they are going to upset the odds on Saturday. They have struggled to run the ball so far this season with 3.3 yards per carry produced so far and they don't figure to get much joy from the UCF Defensive Line which has restricted teams to 2 yards per carry.

The problems on the Stanford Offensive Line has not only been restricted to rushing the ball, but they have also had troubles in protecting the Quarter Back. With Costello only just back from a concussion, Stanford have to make sure they can try and keep him upright in this one, although it won't be easy against the UCF pass rush which has given the Secondary the platform for success.

It is important for the Knights to play well Defensively because Stanford have regularly been a strong Defensive outfit of their own under David Shaw. The last couple of years have not really been up to the standard you might expect, but UCF are still uncertain about who they want to start at Quarter Back and it might be up to whoever gets the call to make the plays to move the chains.

A strong Running Back committee have put UCF in a position to move the chains on the ground which has eased the pressure on their starting Quarter Back, but the Stanford Defensive Line has been tough to run on so far in 2019. They have held teams to 3.4 yards per carry this season and even last week Stanford restricted USC to 4.1 yards per carry so they will feel they can at least restrict the Knights in this one.

It might put some pressure on the starting Quarter Back to make some plays, but the Stanford Secondary have not been playing to the level expected and that is where UCF can potentially move clear. It is a big statement game for UCF who want to show the Power 5 Conferences that they deserve more respect for their record and I do think they can win this game.

Stanford have to be respected as a team who can surprise when people expect them to be beaten easily. The Cardinal have not been as strong as a road underdog and UCF have been very good in the spot of the home favourite, but Stanford being 14-4 against the spread as an underdog under David Shaw can only be restricted.

They have also bounced back from straight up losses, but there are some very strong trends in favour of the UCF Knights and I do like the home team here. I expect them to have the stronger Defense on the day and that could make the difference with some big plays on that side of the ball producing short fields and I will look for the home team to cover the spread in this one.


Iowa Hawkeyes @ Iowa State Cyclones Pick: Week 3 has not scheduled too many really big games, but the biggest may be the one between Iowa State Cyclones and Iowa Hawkeyes who meet for the forty-second year in succession. The rivalry might not be one that grabs the attention of the rest of the nation, but for both of these schools there is plenty of bragging rights to be earned and both teams are amongst the best in their individual Conferences.

The Hawkeyes have won at least eight games in four seasons in a row and finished up 9-4 in 2018, but Kirk Ferentz will be looking for a little more from his team as they bid to return to the Big Ten Championship Game. They have opened the season with two straight wins and Iowa have looked very good in both which has given them some real momentum to take into this game.

Iowa State are also unbeaten at 1-0, but they had a very early Bye Week in Week 2 and so have had two weeks to prepare for this game. Matt Campbell's Cyclones went 3-9 in his first season as Head Coach, but they finished with back to back 8-5 records and they are bringing back 8 starters on both the Offensive and Defensive side of the ball.

If the Cyclones had won their Bowl Game last year they would have earned nine wins for the first time since 2000 and so Campbell has to be given a lot of credit for turning around this school. However he will be the first to tell you that Iowa State have to be better than their performance in Week 1 when needing Overtime to beat Northern Iowa at home.

This is a team that some may consider have the best Defensive unit in the Big 12 and the Cyclones are going to need to live up to that to have a chance of beating Iowa for the first time in five attempts. The Cyclones Defensive Line looks like one that could be tough to run against, but Iowa will give it a good go with their strong Offense that has been lighting up the scoreboard in the first two weeks of the season.

Iowa will be looking to open things up on the ground through Nate Stanley who has showcased all of the experience he has built up in his College career at Quarter Back. Stanley has been well protected behind this Offensive Line who are expected to have a big year and he has thrown 6 Touchdown passes without an Interception so far.

I am expecting Stanley to have some success moving the chains through the air and that might help open things up on the ground. The Hawkeyes look like they will have some real success in this one and so far Iowa's Defensive unit with only 4 starters back are showing little drop off from last season.

The Defensive Line was supposed to take a step back after losing some many key players, but Iowa have held teams to 3 yards per carry in their first two games and that is going to give them a chance to win any game they play. If the Cyclones still had David Montgomery you would think Iowa State could establish something on the ground, but a new look Running Back committee means I would give Iowa the edge and force the Cyclones to look to the air to keep the chains moving.

Iowa have to believe if they can slow down the run up front that they have a real edge in the game as their Secondary is where the strength of the Defense lies. Brock Purdy and Deshaunte Jones had a big game against an overmatched Northern Iowa team, but passing on the Iowa Secondary is a much more challenging task and Jones struggled in this game last year.

The sharps seem to be behind the home underdog, but I have to say I like Big Ten Iowa to come out on top in this rivalry game. I hate going up against the pros, but Iowa look the stronger team on both sides of the ball and have also had the better of the recent games in the series.

Iowa State having a Bye before this game will help and I do think this is going to be close, but I like the Hawkeyes. The latter are 15-2-1 against the spread in their last eighteen games as the road favourite, and Iowa are also 3-1 against the spread in the last four in this series.

The Cyclones are 0-4 against the spread in their last four home games and while they have been a good underdog to back under Matt Campbell, I am going to look for the experience of Nate Stanley to guide the Hawkeyes to a vital win on the road.


Arizona State Sun Devils @ Michigan State Spartans Pick: A Bowl defeat means Michigan State had to settle for a 7-6 record in 2018, but they still had a winning record for the eighth time in nine seasons. Six of the last nine seasons have seen the Spartans win at least ten gams in a single season and they head into Week 3 with a 2-0 record.

Getting back up to ten wins is going to be difficult when you consider the schedule that Michigan State have to deal with in the Big Ten East. This is a big game for the Spartans too considering they were beaten by the Arizona State Sun Devils last season and will be looking for revenge here.

Arizona State also finished with a 7-6 record in 2018 in Herm Edwards first season as Head Coach in Tempe and like the Spartans they have also started 2-0 in 2019. This could be a game that determines final Bowl bids for both teams and so I do think this is one of the more important ones scheduled in Week 3 of the season.

There are other similarities between these teams outside of the record in 2018 and record going into Week 3 of the 2019 season. Both teams are going to rely on strong Defenses to make up for what can be inconsistent Offenses and both are bringing back a number of starters from last season on both sides of the ball to make them very experienced.

While mostly experienced, you can't ignore the fact that Arizona State have a Freshman starting at Quarter Back in Jayden Daniels and this is by far and away the toughest test he has faced in his early College career. Daniels has not started badly at all, but the Michigan State Defensive unit is one of the stronger ones in College Football and all the pressure is likely to be on Daniels arm if the Sun Devils are going to move the chains.

The fact that the majority of yards gained by the Arizona State Offense have come through the air will help, but Daniels is likely going to be playing out of third and long situations. Running the ball against Michigan State has not only been tough, but it has been nigh on impossible and that has also allowed the Spartans Defensive Line to pin back their ears and get after the opposition Quarter Back with regular success through the first two games.

Michigan State have not exactly played two top teams, but they have shown this is a Defense that could improve on the numbers produced in 2018 and I think they will give their team every chance of earning revenge for the defeat to Arizona State last season.

Brian Lewerke is leading the Spartans from the Quarter Back position, but the overall experience of the Offensive unit should lead to much better than numbers than the underachieving ones of 2018. There have been signs of that already in 2019, but Michigan State need more consistency and Lewerke is going to have to have a good game to ensure his team are able to not only win this one, but cover a big looking spread.

I do think the Spartans will have a better time establishing the run than the Arizona State Sun Devils and that could be key for them in making sure their Quarter Back does not feel he has to win the game by himself. It is also important to establish the run to slow down the Arizona State pass rush, although this Michigan State Offensive Line is expected to be much better than last year and have been protecting Lewerke very well so far this season.

Revenge should be an additional factor for Michigan State who were beaten as a five point favourite in Tempe last season and I also look for the Spartans to keep the momentum going through to their first Conference game of the season next week.

The Spartans have not been a home favourite you have wanted to back in recent years, but they did manage to cover this line last week. I expect the Defense to step up for the team and force Jayden Daniels into one or two mistakes, and that could be the difference in the outcome of the game.

Michigan State are 21-15 against the spread playing with revenge under Mark Dantonio and I am looking for them to make a statement by covering a big number against a solid Arizona State team in Week 3.


North Texas Mean Green @ California Golden Bears Pick: The Pac-12 North Division looks a very competitive one on paper, but not many would have picked the California Golden Bears to be challenging for a place in the Conference Championship Game. They did finish with a winning record in Justin Wilcox's second year as Head Coach, but the upset win over the Washington Huskies in Week 2 means the Golden Bears should be looking to match the eight wins earned by the school in 2015.

It is also a win that will make California genuine contenders to win this Division, although the schedule is not a kind one with visits to Oregon and Stanford to come. For now Wilcox will be demanding his players remain focused on their return home and not fall to an upset defeat one week after winning in Seattle.

The Golden Bears are hosting the North Texas Mean Green as they look to improve their 2-0 record. The visitors are considered one of the better teams in the Conference USA and they have won 9 games in each of their last two seasons, although they were battered in the Bowl Game by the Utah State Aggies.

North Texas are off a heavy defeat to the SMU Mustangs and they begin Conference play in Week 4, but Seth Littrell will not be happy with the way they played last week and I do expect to see a reaction. The Mean Green have brought back 8 starters on the Offensive side of the ball, but they are facing a California team who have 7 starters back on the Defense and who have looked like a very experienced team on that side of the ball.

A key battle for North Texas comes up front as they look to establish the run against a Golden Bears Defensive Line who have been very good at stopping the run. Tre Siggers had a good game for the Mean Green in their defeat to the SMU Mustangs and North Texas have been effective at running the ball, but in the two full seasons under Justin Wilcox the Golden Bears have held teams to 4.1 yards per carry and 3.6 yards per carry and it looks like California may even improve on those numbers in 2019.

If California do win up front it could be a long day for North Texas whose Offensive Line has not been half as positive in pass protection as they have when it comes to establishing the run. It could mean this is a game where Mason Fine is put under pressure at Quarter Back and the Golden Bears will believe they can give their team the platform for success with the improvements the Defensive unit have continued to make.

There are a couple of injuries on the California Offensive Line which could be a problem for them going forward, but I am not sure we are going to see those issues in this Week 3 game. I would still expect the Golden Bears to establish Christopher Brown Jr and Marcel Dancy who have helped the team to 4.8 yards per carry so far this season. With North Texas having some real problems stopping the run through the first two games of the 2019 season, California should be in a position to keep the chains moving through much of the afternoon.

Chase Garbers will be asked to make sure he does not lose the game but I expect the Quarter Back could have one of his better games of the season here. With the California Golden Bears running the ball effectively I expect Garbers will be in a few third and short situations where he can attack a North Texas Secondary which has struggled so far this season.

Establishing the run and keeping ahead of the markers should also mean the California Offensive Line can offer Garbers some decent protection and I do like the Golden Bears to follow up an upset win by clearing a big spread.

The Mean Green have really struggled when it comes to covering the spread in recent games and I do think they are going to have more troubles stopping California than the other way around in this one. Any team coming off the high of an upset win can be dangerous to back when they are suddenly a big favourite, but I will look for the Golden Bears to create a couple of key turnovers which help them pull away from North Texas in this one.

MY PICKS: Boston College Eagles - 20.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Fred (1 Unit)
Cincinnati Bearcats - 17.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Fred (1 Unit)
Penn State Nittany Lions - 17 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
UCF Knights - 9 Points @ 2.00 Bet365 (1 Unit)
Iowa Hawkeyes - 1.5 Points @ 1.91 William Hill (1 Unit)
Michigan State Spartans - 14.5 Points @ 1.91 William Hill (1 Unit)
California Golden Bears - 14 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)
Florida Gators - 7.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Fred (1 Unit)

Week 2: 5-7, - 2.57 Units (12 Units Staked, - 21.42% Yield)
Week 1: 3-2, + 0.67 Units (5 Units Staked, + 13.40% Yield)

Season 2019: 8-9, - 1.90 Units (17 Units Staked, - 11.18% Yield)