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Friday, 6 September 2019

College Football Week 2 Picks 2019 (September 7th)

The first week of the College Football season was spread over two weekends, but it is in the books and it was a relatively decent start for the Picks to follow on a positive 2018.

Week 2 is another very busy one and I have analysed a few of my picks and added others to the 'MY PICKS' section below.

I should have a longer thread ahead of Week 3, but in Week 2 I am looking at getting this season really going with some momentum behind it.

Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles @ Mississippi State Bulldogs Pick: It might not have been the best performance they are going to produce in 2019, but the Mississippi State Bulldogs will be very happy to have gotten away to a 1-0 start. Winning non-Conference games is a sure fire way to get close to a Bowl bid before heading into the very difficult scheduling of the SEC and the Bulldogs should be very much favoured to exit Week 2 of the 2019 season at 2-0.

That is taking nothing away from the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles and there is the fact that they should be highly motivated to take down a higher Ranked in-State rival. They are coming in off a very strong win in Week 1 and the team has 10 starters back on the Offensive unit and 6 back on the Defensive side of the ball which makes the Golden Eagles arguably the favourites to win the Conference USA Championship.

Southern Mississippi will also be confident from the fact they beat SEC Kentucky Wildcats in 2016 and last year gave SEC Auburn Tigers all they can handle in a narrow road loss. A similar level of performance is possible for them with nothing to lose here and all the pressure being on the favoured Bulldogs to win the game.

The Offense may feel they can have some success against the Bulldogs who only have 4 starters back on the unit and who gave up 28 points last week to Louisiana on a neutral field. They did only allow 13 points per game in 2018, but the losses have already shown up in the difficulty Mississippi State had last week in stopping Louisiana and I do think that will give Southern Mississippi the belief they can at least push their Power 5 opponent.

In terms of this spread much is going to be decided on the Golden Eagles Offensive unit facing the Bulldogs Defensive unit. If the latter can find a way to at least make some big plays they should be comfortable in scoring the points to pull away for the win.

Joe Moorhead will be looking for improvement Defensively, but he will be pleased with the way Tommy Stevens started at Quarter Back in taking over from Nick Fitzgerald. Last week Stevens threw 2 Touchdown passes and also rushed for another Touchdown, although I do think the Golden Eagles have had an improving Defense in recent seasons and so it will be a big statement for the new Quarter Back to guide the Bulldogs to anything above 30 points.

Tommy Stevens can do that with the healthy Running Backs by his side and it was Kylin Hill who had most success last week with almost 200 yards on the ground. He has to find a way to establish the run against the strong Southern Mississippi Defensive Line, but after the performance in Week 1 I would not put it past the Bulldogs to back it up and have another strong week.

The Bulldogs were 5-1 against the spread as the home favourite last season and they were also strong in non-Conference games. The Southern Mississippi performance at Auburn twelve months ago is one that does make me wary of opposing them here, but I think the Bulldogs Defensive unit can show a little better than last week which can help them just edge clear for the win and the cover.

Southern Mississippi have been a good underdog to back when given more than 9 points in recent times, but Mississippi State have had the better of this in-State rival with a 3-1 record against the spread in the last four between them. They beat the Golden Eagles by 49 points in 2014 and 18 points in 2015 and I will back Mississippi State to cover here.

Texas A&M Aggies @ Clemson Tigers Pick: The National Championship may have ended up with the Clemson Tigers, but they may not have made the PlayOffs if they had not been able to hold off the Texas A&M Aggies in 2018. That is probably not something that is likely to have happened even if they had lost, but Clemson won't have forgotten how close they came to a defeat in College Station as they host the Aggies in Week 2 of the 2019 season.

It is certainly raising some intrigue to this game even though the Tigers are big favourites to beat the Aggies. Clemson are bringing back 8 Offensive starters from last season and also 4 Defensive starters, but it is the development of Trevor Lawrence at Quarter Back which may make the Tigers favourites to win the National Championship not only in 2019, but 2020 too.

Like may big schools, Clemson know they have to plug in new starters each season with many of their big names likely going to leave to play in the NFL as soon as they eligible. However the standard of play at this school over the last few years means they get their pick of some of the top recruits in the nation so I can't imagine there is going to be a big drop off from them Defensively, even with four starters coming back.

We will learn how much the Tigers have remembered from their game with the Aggies from 2018 as Kellen Mond leads the Aggies who have 7 Offensive starters back from last season. Mond had a huge game in College Station to almost secure the upset, but this time the Clemson Tigers will feel they have a Secondary that can make bigger plays and prevent the Quarter Back beating them through the air.

It will still be up to Mond though as it is unlikely the Aggies are going to have a lot of joy running the ball against the Tigers Defensive Line. I expect he will be confident after a decent performance in Week 1, but playing on the road in Memorial Stadium is going to be a completely different test for the Quarter Back than when the Aggies hosted the Tigers in 2018.

There is also a more set way of playing for the Tigers this time around with Trevor Lawrence the undisputed starting Quarter Back. He did not need to be at his best to beat the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in Week 1, but Lawrence has proven to be someone who can thrive in a big game spot and this is most certainly one of those.

Lawrence is going to need to be at his best if he is going to take on this Aggies Defensive unit which is not expected to have a drop off in 2019 after a strong 2018. The Aggies will want to improve the points per game given up, but this is a tough place to start and I do think Clemson are going to be treating this game like a 'revenge' one even though they managed to win last season.

It should mean we get the very best effort from Clemson and I do think being able to host this game will mean they come out and make a statement by blowing past another SEC West team.

Both teams have some strong trends which means they have to be respected, but I do think the Clemson Tigers are arguably the best team in College Football and the motivation of not allowing this game to be as close as the 2018 one between these teams will get an 'A plus' performance from them. The Tigers do have a difficult game against Syracuse on deck having been beaten by their Conference rivals in 2017 and winning by just 4 points in 2018.

Jimbo Fisher teams are not ones that I want to be opposing when it comes to these spread picks, but Texas A&M will be facing a different looking Clemson this time. I am expecting Trevor Lawrence to make some big plays throughout this game and it should be enough for the Clemson Tigers to win and cover as they create history with a seventeenth straight win for the first time in school history.

San Diego State Aztecs @ UCLA Bruins Pick: Chip Kelly had a big reputation during his time as Head Coach of the Oregon Ducks and the UCLA Bruins have hired him after his short spell trying to impact the NFL. Last season the Bruins finished 3-9 in their first season under Chip Kelly and there is a real expectation that this team can at least double that number of victories in 2019 with the 19 returning starters they are bringing back to the field.

An opening week defeat to the Cincinnati Bearcats would have been a blow for the UCLA Bruins even though Cincinnati might be considered the best team in the American Athletic Conference. What would have bothered Kelly more than the defeat was the fact his team only produced 14 points after averaging less than 25 points per game in 2018.

There is expected to be an improvement Offensively and Defensively in the second year of any system so the Head Coach will be looking for a young team to show they are much better than the performance in Week 1. It would be wrong to rule a line through the Kelly impact after one game, but the Bruins fans might begin to lose their patience if UCLA are beaten at home in Week 2 against an opponent they have never been beaten by.

San Diego State Aztecs only finished 7-6 in 2018, the first time in four years they had not won double digit number of games in a season. The Aztecs won in Week 1, but they largely disappointed Offensively, although San Diego State will believe they have the Defensive unit that can at least give them a chance in any game they play.

That belief will remain strong even though only 5 starters have returned from 2018 on the Defensive side of the ball and UCLA are going to need to be a lot better in Week 2 compared with Week 1 if they are going to win this game. The Bruins were missing some key players on the Offensive side of the ball who should be returning this week and I think that makes a big difference for them in helping produce better numbers.

Moving the chains won't be easy, but the UCLA Bruins showed improvement in the second half of 2018 and I am going to credit the Bearcats for holding them down last week. With some key players back this week I do think they can offer more problems for the San Diego State Aztecs to deal with, but the key to covering the spread may be how well the two teams can play when the Aztecs have the ball Offensively.

A change in system is being put together Offensively for the Aztecs and I think that is going to take some working through to really see the best of them in 2019. As I have said, you don't want to make sweeping statements about how a team is going to do after one game, but the Aztecs averaged just 20 points per game in 2018 and this could be another difficult year to find the consistency they want on that side of the ball.

The Aztecs will want to establish the run against the Bruins, but the latter played well Defensively last week in the loss against Cincinnati and I think that is going to be the reason they can win and cover in Week 2. It isn't easy to trust the UCLA Bruins after such a poor performance Offensively, but I think they will be better this week with a healthier team taking to the field.

UCLA have a strong record against San Diego State and the latter are 1-8 against the spread in non-Conference games as the road underdog of less than 14 points. While the Bruins have not exactly been a covering machine as a favourite in non-Conference games, they are 10-1 against the spread when favoured by less than 9 points in the first of back to back home games.

The Bruins bounced back from losses last season with a 5-3 record against the spread following a loss and I think Chip Kelly will see a much better effort all around from his team which leads to the cover.

ULM Warhawks @ Florida State Seminoles Pick: One of the more stunning results in the opening week of the 2019 season has to be the collapse Florida State had in the second half against Boise State. Falling to 0-1 in that fashion the year after a 5-7 finish meaning missing out on a Bowl Game has already put Willie Taggart under pressure as Head Coach even if he is pointing out the positives from Week 1.

Much bigger things were expected from the Seminoles in 2019 having looked like a team that is going to be improved on both sides of the ball. 2018 was the first time Florida State finished with a losing record since 1976 and they failed to make a Bowl Game for the first time since 1982, but with 8 starters back on both the Offense and the Defense meant they were coming into the season with expectations of being much more competitive.

The defeat to the Boise State Broncos will have hurt and I do expect to see a big reaction from the Seminoles when they open up Week 2 against an inferior opponent. They are playing an improved ULM Warhawks team who have 15 starters back this season, but even that improvement is not expected to be enough to really expect them to compete with a school like Florida State.

James Blackman had a very good start to life as the Florida State Quarter Back and I don't think it was a huge surprise that there were some inconsistencies in the second half when the Broncos adjusted Defensively. The start made should mean Florida State are going to be averaging much more than the 21 points per game produced in the 2018 season and the experience of the Offensive unit should see them establish the run effectively in this game.

It should mean Florida State can score their points in this one, although I do wonder if the up-tempo Offense being run last week is just slowed down a touch to make sure the Defensive unit is able to get their rest at times. The weather in Florida can be very difficult to deal with and especially when Defenses are spending too long on the field which was a definite issue for the Seminoles last week in the defeat to Boise State.

ULM are bringing back 7 starters to the Offense so they will believe they can have some success in this one, but I think they are facing an angry Florida State team. The Defense are going to want to step up and show Week 1 was an aberration rather than the rule for the Seminoles and I think that will show up here.

The Warhawks could have some success because of the experience they have and they are heading into a bye week meaning they can put in every ounce of effort to beat the Seminoles. However I do think the difference in level of these teams will show up and I am not expecting Florida State to take their foot off the peddle after coming in off a defeat.

They are also facing a Warhawks team who are 1-5 against the spread in their last six non-Conference games and I am going to look for Florida State to cover a big number in a bounce back effort.

LSU Tigers @ Texas Longhorns Pick: One element of the new College Football PlayOff which I have appreciated more than any other has to be the feeling that schools know they have to take some chances with the non-Conference schedule to give themselves an opportunity to make the final four in December/January. It has meant we get to see more very big games early in the season than some of the mismatches we used to get and there are two teams in Week 2 who meet one another with real PlayOff ambitions for the season.

The LSU Tigers and Texas Longhorns might be behind the Alabama Crimson Tide and Oklahoma Sooners in their respective Divisions, but the winner of this one will have a huge result on their schedule which may mean a single defeat through the rest of the season would still mean they are a leading contender to take a PlayOff spot.

An inexperienced LSU Tigers team finished 10-3 in 2018 and that their jump in the experience numbers means they are certainly a team with big ambitions. A dismantling of Georgia Southern was expected, but the level of performance will have made the Tigers fans very happy and a team with 8 starters on both sides of the ball and that includes having a starting Quarter Back Joe Burrow back to lead the team.

This is a very strong team on both sides of the ball, but they have to play a legit road game at the Texas Longhorns who finished with a 10-4 record in 2018 and who beat the Georgia Bulldogs in the Bowl Game. The Longhorns had three consecutive losing seasons before Tom Herman was hired and he has led them to winning years back to back including the first double digit winning year since 2009.

Herman was under some pressure after a poor start to 2018, but his team is much less experienced this year so matching ten wins won't be easy. There are only 5 starters returning on the Offensive side of the ball and 3 on the Defensive unit, but Herman is in his third year which means his recruits are involved and the Longhorns could be better than some expect.

Most will have them as a Big 12 Conference contender and I do think the Longhorns showed how good they can be in the win over Louisiana Tech in Week 1. Tom Herman will be the first person to tell you that his team are going to have to be much better in all aspects to beat a Ranked team like the Tigers, but being at home he has to like his chances with a better team than the amount of returning starters would suggest.

Having a lack of experience could be a problem and this is a game in which the spread has moved tremendously in favour of the visitors, but that should be something that inspires Texas. The Longhorns have enjoyed playing as the underdog and they are 8-2 against the spread in that spot with Tom Herman as the Head Coach.

Sam Ehlinger is an experienced Quarter Back which can be key for the Longhorns to make some big plays in this game to keep things competitive and I do think the underdog spot is one that they will thrive in. The LSU Tigers are clearly a very good team and one I think can challenge the Crimson Tide in the SEC West, but I do think the pressure is on them and they are a team that have struggled to cover spreads as the road favourite.

I expect the Texas Longhorns can make enough Defensive plays to remain competitive and this could be a relatively low-scoring game. With that in mind I have to say I really like the points in this one and I will back the Longhorns with the start at home as the fired up 100,000 crowd urge their Texas team to the upset.

I am not sure they will see it, but I also don't think the Longhorns will be blown out at home.

MY PICKS: Mississippi State Bulldogs - 16.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Clemson Tigers - 17 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
UCLA Bruins - 8.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Florida State Seminoles - 22 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Texas Longhorns + 6.5 Points @ 2.00 Bet Fred (1 Unit)
Kansas State Wildcats - 24.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Virginia Tech Hokies - 28.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Fred (1 Unit)
Nebraska Cornhuskers - 4 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
SMU Mustangs - 3 Points @ 1.85 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
UCF Knights - 11 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Auburn Tigers - 16.5 Points @ 1.85 Coral (1 Unit)
Arkansas Razorbacks + 6.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (1 Unit)

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

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