10 College Football Picks Against the Spread for Week 2

Georgia looks to seize control of the SEC East in Columbia

The Week 2 edition of college football picks against the spread is highlighted by a key clash in the SEC East as Georgia heads to Columbia to face South Carolina. Elsewhere, Dabo Swinney and Jimbo Fisher renew their rivalry as Clemson visits Texas A&M, TCU makes the short trip to Dallas to face local rival SMU, and Northwestern hosts Duke in matchup of 1–0 teams.

 

Georgia (-9.5) over South Carolina

This is the biggest game of the Will Muschamp era at South Carolina. The Gamecocks, picked by most (but not Athlon Sports) to finish second in the SEC East, host the mighty Georgia Bulldogs before what figures to be an electric crowd at Williams-Brice Stadium. We didn’t learn too much about either team as each posted lopsided wins over overwhelmed opponents. Georgia’s roster is more talented, but South Carolina does boast some top-flight talent on the offensive side of the ball that could cause some problems for the retooled Bulldog defense. Jake Bentley is in his third year as the starting quarterback, and he has an outstanding group of wide receivers at his disposal. So don’t be surprised if South Carolina scores some points against a Georgia defense that isn’t quite settled yet. It’s the other side of the ball that is the concern. Georgia is loaded with playmakers and will put a ton of pressure on what figures to be a middle-of-the-pack SEC defense. Georgia 37, South Carolina 27

 

TCU (-22.5) over SMU

SMU was one of the more disappointing teams in Week 1, falling behind North Texas 36–0 en route to a 46–23 loss. The Mustangs actually outgained UNT on a per-play basis (6.0 to 5.6) but ran only 43 plays from scrimmage, and it should be noted that 130 of SMU’s 256 total yards came on two plays in the fourth quarter. This team was a complete no-show in the first game under a new coaching staff. Not good. TCU, predictably, had little trouble with Southern, rolling to a 55–7 win in Fort Worth. TCU 48, SMU 21

 

Northwestern (-2.5) over Duke

Both teams played well in Week 1 wins — Duke at home over Army and Northwestern at Purdue. The Wildcats employed a two-quarterback system, using both Clayton Thorsen and T.J. Green in an effort to keep Thorsen’s workload down as he returns from a torn ACL. NU coach Pat Fitzgerald has given no indication how the staff will manage the position going forward. Duke was methodical in its impressive win over Army, using a balanced offense and taking advantage of two Black Knights turnovers to post a 20-point win over a team that it lost to a year ago. This is strictly a home-team pick. Northwestern 27, Duke 21

 

Central Michigan (-6.5) over Kansas

I’m not sure why this spread isn’t higher. These two teams played in Lawrence last season, with CMU recording a 45–27 win and outgaining the Jayhawks 590-to-470. They’ve each played one game this season: Kansas lost at home to Nicholls (and managed only 255 yards of offense) while Central Michigan dropped a 35–20 decision at Kentucky. Seems as though Central Michigan was the better team last year and Central Michigan is the better team this year. Central Michigan 34, Kansas 21

 

Clemson (-12.5) over Texas A&M

It’s another round of Jimbo Fisher vs. Dabo Swinney, but this time Fisher is the boss at Texas A&M after making the move from Florida State. The Aggies might not be the best team Clemson plays in 2018, but Kyle Field will no doubt be the most difficult environment the Tigers will deal with. It will be interesting to see how Swinney handles his quarterbacks. Kelly Bryant will get the start, but will the Tigers have a quick hook if the veteran struggles? And if so, how will true freshman Trevor Lawrence handle playing his first action in a road game? Texas A&M also played two quarterbacks in the opener, with Kellen Mond getting the (somewhat surprising) start and Nick Starkel also seeing time. Conventional wisdom suggested Starkel might be the better fit for the new coaching staff, but Mond might be the better option this week — and in two weeks when A&M heads to Alabama — due to his ability to make plays with his feet against a ferocious defensive front. The guess here is that the Aggies keep things interesting for a while, but in the end Clemson will just be too much, especially on defense. Clemson 31, Texas A&M 17

 

Penn State (-7.5) over Pittsburgh

Penn State struggled in Week 1, surviving in overtime to beat Appalachian State 45–38 at Beaver Stadium. Playing their first game in the post-Saquon Barkley/Joe Moorhead era, the Nittany Lions’ offense produced solid numbers (over 200 yards rushing and passing) but was a bit too inconsistent. The defense had some issues, allowing a Sun Belt offense led by a first-time starter at QB to roll up 451 total yards, including 292 in the air. Pittsburgh took care of business against Albany, scoring all of its points in the first half of a 33–7 win at Heinz Field. We all remember what happened the last time these two teams played in Pittsburgh — the Panthers won 42–39 — but don’t forget that last year Penn State rolled to a 33–14 victory at Beaver Stadium. It won’t be as easy this time around, but the Nittany Lions — who boast the better roster — will record their first win at Pitt since 1998. Penn State 31, Pittsburgh 23

 

Arizona State (+7) over Michigan State

Herm Edwards’ debut went about as well as possible; Arizona State dominated UTSA 49–7, and the Sun Devils showed significant star power at quarterback (Manny Wilkins), running back (Eno Benjamin) and wide receiver (N’Keal Harry). This was obviously just one game, and ASU has a lot to prove on defense, but this could be a fun team that emerges as a surprise in the Pac-12 South. Michigan State, on the other hand, was not impressive in its 38–31 Week 1 win over Utah State. The Spartans had trouble running the ball against a Utah State team that was not good at stopping the run last year, and the MSU defense allowed 319 passing yards against an offense that topped 300 passing yards only one time against an FBS opponent last year. I smell upset. Arizona State 30, Michigan State 27

 

Florida (-14) over Kentucky

Kentucky will be searching for its first win over Florida since 1986 and its first win over the Gators in Gainesville since 1979. It’s not going to happen in 2018. The question is: Can the Wildcats keep things interesting? Kentucky did some nice things, especially in the running game, in its 35–20 win over Central Michigan, but there was one significant issue that figures to be an area of concern all season — the passing game was non-existent. Terry Wilson, the starter, and Gunnar Hoak combined to average only 4.7 yards per attempt and threw two INTs (both by Wilson) against a defense that was forced to respect the running game. It’s tough to envision the Wildcats having much success on offense against top-tier SEC defenses with such a one-dimensional attack. Florida 30, Kentucky 14

 

UAB (-10) over Coastal Carolina

There’s not much to read into the Week 1 performances of either of these teams. UAB, as expected, dominated Savannah State (52–0), and Coastal Carolina, as expected, had trouble at South Carolina (lost 49–15). UAB is well-positioned for a run at the West Division title in Conference USA, while Coastal Carolina appears to be one of the weaker teams in the Sun Belt. Simply put: UAB is the much better team. UAB 34, Coastal Carolina 18

 

Washington State (-34) over San Jose State

Washington State, very quietly, was impressive in Week 1, beating Wyoming 41–19 in Laramie. The Cougars rolled up 394 yards of offense, good but hardly great for a Mike Leach offense. What stood out was their defense; in the first game of the post-Alex Grinch era, Wazzu held Wyoming to 206 yards on a 3.5-yard average. Wyoming will not be a very good offensive team in 2018, but that is still an encouraging start for the Cougars. San Jose State’s season got off to a sobering start; the Spartans lost at home to UC Davis, 44–38, allowing 589 yards of offense. This will not go well for Brent Brennan’s team. Washington State 51, San Jose State 10

 

Last week: 4–6

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