Published September 05, 2013
Week 1's picks were average. Completely, in fact.
I picked eight games and we split, 4-4. The toughest gambling beat of the entire opening weekend might well have been Vanderbilt losing by four points on a busted defense 75-yard rush when the line was Vandy getting 3.5. That and North Carolina not punching in a 1st-and-goal at the two late in the South Carolina game. Yep, there were lots of tight games.
This week we're going to return to five picks, but with a special bonus selection of the game of the week from outside the SEC. This special bonus pick is clearly Notre Dame at Michigan, the second-best game of the weekend.
So here are my picks:
Georgia -3 vs. South Carolina
I know, I know. We lost with Georgia last weekend, but I have faith in Aaron Murray. I do. Even though he's lost three straight against South Carolina and even though Murray can't win the "big game." I think the Bulldogs get it done this weekend.
Not only that, I think they cover.
Western Kentucky +14 at Tennessee
Bobby Petrino is one of the 10 best coaches in college football. He destroyed Kentucky with surgical precision Saturday. I don't think he'll be able to pull off back-to-back SEC upsets, but I do think he'll keep this game close. So if you get two touchdowns and you get Petrino going up against an unproven and untested Tennessee team, I think you have to take Petrino and Western here.
Arkansas State +13 at Auburn
Auburn's a work in progress. By the end of the year I'll probably flip and start betting Auburn heavy because I think the team will improve drastically under Gus Malzahn. Now, I think the value play is Arkansas State, a team that won't be intimidated by Jordan-Hare's environment, and a defense that knows Malzahn's schemes pretty well. Again, I don't think Arkansas State will win, but I do think this game will be closer than 13.
Miami +3 vs. Florida
Last year, Florida got me several times when I picked against it early in the season. We had a great betting year in 2012, but the Gators owned us for the first two-thirds of the season. I found it hard to believe the Gators could keep winning with that woeful offense. But they did. All the way up to the Sugar Bowl, at least. Eventually, I learned my lesson in 2012.
I don't think the Florida defense is as good as it was last year and I think the offense is no better.
Last week, we won by taking Toledo +24 against the Gators. Miami +3 is a tough call here because the Hurricanes really don't have much of a home-field advantage and are probably a year away from being strong. I don't think the Gators are much better than an 8-4 team and Miami was one of my preseason sleepers.
So I'm taking the Hurricanes to cover and it wouldn't shock me at all if Miami won this game.
LSU -34 vs. UAB
LSU looked like the real deal against TCU. Are they susceptible to a poor showing coming off a big game? Of course. It's LSU, is there really anything a Les Miles coached team could do that would surprise you? But UAB is awful. And I think we'll actually see a clinical beating delivered by LSU, who looks like the early surprise team in this year's SEC.
So I'm rolling with the Tigers.
As a bonus this year -- or complete disaster -- I'll also be picking one non-SEC game of the week.
This week it's Notre Dame at Michigan and I like the Wolverines' -3.5
Notre Dame has lost its starting quarterback, its top two running backs, four of its top six receivers and a big-time tight end talent in Tyler Eifert. So you're telling me a mediocre Notre Dame offense from last year has lost most of its offensive weapons?
Meanwhile, Devin Gardner is playing great for Michigan and it's a home game for the Wolverines, who are looking to avenge last year's ugly five-interception, one-touchdown loss.
You've got to take Michigan here.
Fingers crossed on the picks this week.
Whether you're gambling or not, here's my viewer guide to the day's nine best games. This time it's in the Eastern time zone. That's because I can barely keep track of when games start now. I live in the Central time zone and broadcast from the Pacific time zone. Yet every game time is listed in Eastern time.
1. Start off with me and the FOX crew on FS1 from 10-12 ET
FYI, my mom told me I was great on television. (And she's totally and completely impartial.)
2. Florida at Miami, 12 noon, ESPN
If the SEC goes to nine conference games this rivalry will end. So why not watch it while you can? This is clearly the third-best game on college football's second weekend.
And I have no idea what's going to happen.
But it's the perfect way to start your college football buffet.
3. Western Kentucky at Tennessee, 11:21, ESPN Gameplan or ESPN3
Can Bobby Petrino do it again? And if he did, who wins the Petrino sweepstakes for next year? My early prediction was Missouri, but it should be 4-0 to start the season -- assuming the Tigers don't choke against Toledo. In fact, it might be worth hopping over to ESPNU to check out Missouri. Last year was a disaster, but this year I think the Tigers could be much improved.
So who gets Petrino?
We're going to start a running sweepstakes next weekend.
Meanwhile, what does Tennessee actually have on offense and defense? There's no real clear indication. But the Vols must win this game considering the next two games are at Oregon and at Florida. Yikes.
4. Oregon at Virginia, 3:30, ABC/ESPN2
Yes, the Ducks offense was impressive against Nicholls, but did you see the defense? It was incredible. I know, I know, the opponent was bad, but Oregon was flying to the ball and punishing ball carriers when they got there. Don't sleep on the Oregon defense this year.
Will traveling across the country impact the Ducks? Doubtful. But it's worth keeping tabs on the nation's second best football team.
5. South Carolina at Georgia, 4:30, ESPN
The unquestioned best game of the day.
I'll be watching every snap.
So should you.
6. Texas at BYU, 7, ESPN2
Look out, Longhorns. You're only a seven-point favorite in this game. Can you imagine the angst if Mack Brown and crew lost this one?
In all seriousness, how good is Texas this year? On the road at BYU and then next week at home against Ole Miss will start to give us a clue.
7. Sam Houston State at Texas A&M, 7, ESPN Gameplan
Outkick the Coverage rule: If Johnny Football's playing, I'm watching.
Plus, you can say you knew a sideline reporter before she was a star. Check out TexAgs reporter Kayce Smith making her sideline debut for the telecast. I'm telling y'all, she's going to be doing this for a long time to come.
8. West Virginia at Oklahoma, 7, FOX
How good is Oklahoma? The Sooners looked good in Week 1. West Virginia, meanwhile, looked awful against William and Mary. Oklahoma should blow out West Virginia.
Added benefit, Charles Davis and Gus Johnson are now one of the three best announcing teams in college football. My top three, FYI, are Verne and Gary, Brent and Herbstreit, and Charles and Gus. All three crews are outstanding.
9. Notre Dame at Michigan, 8, ABC
I'm rooting for Michigan for two reasons: a) my wife is more likely to sleep with me after Michigan wins and b) I'm hopeful this will end the Notre Dame talk early in the season.
There are many great days for me in college football, but two of my favorites are when Notre Dame and Ohio State lose their first games of the year.
10. Washington State at USC, 10:30, FS1
The Lane Kiffin hot seat watch continues. Washington State is bad. Can USC put the Cougars away early or could Mike Leach's team linger with USC for a half or more?
Who will replace Lane Kiffin at USC? Should we start an Outkick hotboard for this as well?
Finish off your night with FS1's 10:30 Eastern kickoff.
Follow me on Twitter @claytravisbgid