10 College Football Picks Against the Spread (ATS) for Week 2

LSU visits Texas; A&M heads to Clemson

The Week 2 edition of college football picks against the spread is highlighted by two marquee non-conference games: LSU’s trip to Texas and Texas A&M’s visit to Clemson. Elsewhere, Auburn returns home after its big win over Oregon to host Tulane; South Florida tries to regroup after its Week 1 debacle; and West Virginia travels to Missouri in a battle of teams searching for their first win. Here are 10 predictions for games against the spread.

 

Rice (+18) over Wake Forest (Friday)

Rice is 0–1, but it’s fair to say the Owls are much improved in Year 2 of the Mike Bloomgren era. After stumbling through a 2–10 record in 2018 — with one of the wins over FCS foe Prairie View A&M by three points — Rice made Army sweat last Friday night. The Black Knights, an 11-win team last year, won the game 14–7 but were held to 284 total yards on a 4.4 per-play average. Last year, Rice allowed an average of 446.1 yards per game and 6.9 yards per play. Wake Forest, as expected, was very good on offense and not so good on defense in its thrilling 38–35 win at home over Utah State. Wake is the better team, but Rice should be able to keep things tight in Houston. Wake Forest 30, Rice 17

 

LSU (-5.5) over Texas

It was only one game, and the opponent was Georgia Southern (though the Eagles did win 10 games a year ago), but it’s hard not to be impressed with LSU’s new-look offense. The Tigers scored a touchdown on their first five possessions and rolled up 472 yards of offense in a 55–3 win in Baton Rouge. Texas, obviously, will pose more of a threat, but the Longhorns are rebuilding on defense (only two returning starters) and gave up 413 yards to Louisiana Tech last weekend. Both teams are loaded with talent, but LSU appears to be — at this early juncture of the season — a bit more complete. LSU 28, Texas 20

 

Texas A&M (+17.5) over Clemson

This line seems high — which means Vegas is begging us to take Texas A&M. I’m taking the bait. Yes, Clemson is arguably the best team in the nation. But Texas A&M is also very good and — by virtue of its near-upset of the Tigers last year — genuinely believes it can win this game. The key will be Kellen Mond. The junior quarterback will need to play mistake-free football and hope that his defense can find a way to slow down Trevor Lawrence, Travis Etienne and the explosive Clemson attack. Clemson 31, Texas A&M 20

 

Missouri (-14) over West Virginia

Missouri was one of several SEC East teams that struggled in Week 1. The Tigers jumped on top of Wyoming 14–0 but were outscored 37–17 the rest of the way. They did some good things offensively (537 total yards) but committed three turnovers and really struggled defensively. The guess here is that the offense will continue to roll in the home opener, and the defense will show improvement against a West Virginia team that struggled to move the ball against James Madison on Saturday. The most alarming stat: WVU did not have a rushing attempt that went for more than five yards. That is not a formula for success — especially on the road. Missouri 31, West Virginia 14

 

Tulsa (-6) over San Jose State

San Jose State has been one of the worst teams in the nation in recent years, and that doesn’t figure to change in 2019. The Spartans opened the season with a 35–18 win over a Northern Colorado team that went 2–9 last year. Winning sure beats the alternative, but a 17-point win over a bad FCS team doesn’t suggest that San Jose State is on the verge of a big jump. Tulsa was overwhelmed offensively in a 28–7 loss at Michigan State, but the Golden Hurricane did some good things on defense. Michigan State was held to 303 total yards on a 3.9-yard average and scored only one offensive touchdown. Tulsa might not be ready to contend in the AAC West, but this is a decent team that was hit hard by injuries last season. Tulsa 28, San Jose State 14  

 

Western Michigan (+16.5) over Michigan State

Michigan State will have another opportunity to flex its offensive muscles against a Group of 5 team this week as Western Michigan makes the short trip from Kalamazoo. The Broncos are 1–0 after disposing of Monmouth 48–13 last weekend. They are loaded with experience at the skill positions on offense and return 10 starters on defense from last year’s team that went 7–6 overall. Michigan State should field one of the top defenses in the Big Ten, but there are still questions about the offense after last week’s lackluster effort. The Spartans should do enough to win this game — but maybe not enough to prove that they are a real threat to contend in the Big Ten East. Michigan State 30, Western Michigan 16

 

FIU (-7.5) over Western Kentucky

Western Kentucky was the only FBS team to lose to an FCS school in Week 1, dropping a 35–28 decision at home to Central Arkansas. The Hilltoppers were outscored 21–0 in the fourth quarter and allowed 7.3 yards per play for the game. Not good. FIU was also a disappointment in the opener, losing 42–14 at Tulane on Thursday night. The defensive numbers were alarming for the Panthers; Tulane averaged 7.1 yards per rush, 10.3 yards per passing attempt and 8.0 yards overall per play. At least Tulane is an FBS team (a solid AAC team to be specific), so I wouldn’t be as concerned about FIU’s ability to compete in the C-USA East Division as I would about Western Kentucky. FIU 34, Western Kentucky 17

 

Tulane (+18) over Auburn

Tulane, as mentioned above, was one of the surprises of the first week of action. The Green Wave dominated a solid FIU team that won nine games last season. We’ve been waiting for the breakthrough under Willie Fritz. Maybe this is the season. Auburn is riding high after its huge win over Oregon in Texas. The Tigers’ offense struggled a bit early — as is to be expected with a true freshman quarterback — but was at its best when it mattered most, with three touchdown-scoring drives of at least 58 yards in the second half. Auburn 31, Tulane 20

 

Georgia Tech (-6) over South Florida

Georgia Tech lost its opener by 38 points yet finds itself as a six-point favorite in Week 2. That’s what happens when the loss came against Clemson and the Week 2 opponent is South Florida. The Bulls were alarmingly uncompetitive in a 49–0 loss at home to Wisconsin on Friday night. Up until the final minutes of the fourth quarter, USF had zero drives that went for more than 20 yards and only one that went for more than 10. It was a tough debut for new offensive coordinator Kerwin Bell, the former Florida quarterback who was most recently the head coach at Valdosta State. Georgia Tech figures to struggle in the ACC this year as it transitions away from the option attack, but the Yellow Jackets should play well in the first home game under the new coaching staff. Georgia Tech 24, South Florida 14

 

UCLA (-7) over San Diego State

Neither team played well offensively in the opening week of the season, but UCLA, at least, has a few excuses. First of all, the Bruins played a quality opponent (Cincinnati) on the road, and they were without two of their top offensive weapons, running back Joshua Kelley and wide receiver Theo Howard. San Diego State has no excuse; the Aztecs beat Weber State but managed only two field goals and 238 total yards on 73 snaps (3.3 per play). Ryan Agnew completed 30 passes and did not have a completion that went for more than 12 yards. That is hard to do. UCLA has its issues, but the Bruins still have decent talent and will be making their home debut. With Kelley and Howard back (hopefully), UCLA should be able to score some points. UCLA 24, San Diego State 14

 

Last week: 5–5

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