Every week throughout the season we’ll give you a college football viewing guide by highlighting the five best games of the coming weekend. We will also pick those five games against the spread, plus some other matchups that caught our eye from a betting perspective.
Week 1 brought the heat, y’all. Upsets! Excitement! Hospital beds! The college football season is off to a tremendous start.
What do we have in store for Week 2? There are only two ranked vs. ranked matchups on Saturday, but they sure are good ones with No. 12 Texas A&M traveling to Death Valley to face No. 1 Clemson and No. 6 LSU heading to Austin to square off with No. 9 Texas.
Beyond those two, there are plenty of other intriguing matchups you should watch over the course of the weekend. Let’s get into it.
(Note: All times ET, point spreads from FanDuel Sportsbook)
5. Army at No. 7 Michigan
Time: Noon | TV: FOX | Line: Michigan -22.5
Jeff Monken has done a tremendous job building up the Army football program. Army is 29-10 over the last three seasons, including a historic 11-win campaign a year ago. And after 14 years of losing, the Black Knights have defeated rival Navy in three straight seasons. But Army hasn’t had a big-time upset under Monken. It nearly came in Norman last year. Could it happen at the Big House? The Black Knights had an underwhelming performance in Week 1 — a 14-7 win over Rice. We all know traveling to Ann Arbor will be a far more difficult challenge.
Meanwhile, Michigan introduced its new Josh Gattis-led uptempo, spread offense in a Week 1 win to mostly positive results. The passing game was efficient but not particularly explosive against Middle Tennessee, but the Wolverines gashed the Blue Raiders for 233 yards on the ground and put up 40 points in a comfortable win. While Shea Patterson threw three TD passes, it had to be encouraging for the Michigan coaches to see true freshman RB Zach Charbonnet go for 90 yards on just eight carries. We’ll see how the UM offense fares against Army.
Picks: Sam Cooper: Michigan -22.5, Nick Bromberg: Army +22.5
4. No. 23 Stanford at USC
Time: 10:30 p.m. | TV: ESPN | Line: USC -1
It looks like we may see a battle of backup quarterbacks on Saturday night at The Coliseum. For Stanford, third-year starter K.J. Costello is out after taking a hard hit to the head against Northwestern. Backup Davis Mills will make his first career start in Costello’s place. After coming on in relief of Costello against the Wildcats a week ago, Mills went 7-of-14 for 81 yards in a 17-7 win. The Cardinal will also be without all-conference left tackle Walker Little, who hurt his knee against the Wildcats and won’t be there to protect his quarterback’s blindside.
USC was dealt a much tougher blow than Stanford in its opener. JT Daniels suffered a torn ACL and meniscus after being sacked late in the first half of the team’s win over Fresno State. Daniels is out for the year, thrusting true freshman Kedon Slovis into the spotlight for the Trojans. Aside from one 80-yard scoring drive, the offense struggled without Daniels. Slovis went 6-of-8 for 57 yards, but 41 of those yards came on one throw. He also threw an ugly interception. New USC offensive coordinator Graham Harrell will likely look to get Slovis some high-percentage throws early in the ballgame.
Picks: Sam: USC -1, Nick: Stanford +1
3. Cincinnati at No. 5 Ohio State
Time: Noon | TV: ABC | Line: Ohio State -16
Cincinnati knocked off UCLA 24-14 at home to open its season, but some sloppiness from the Bearcats in the first half — a missed field goal, fumble and interception — kept the Bruins in the game for much longer than they should have been. Cincy cannot afford to make those kind of mistakes if they want to have a realistic chance of upsetting the mighty Buckeyes in Columbus. Bearcats head coach Luke Fickell has a long history with Ohio State, including a stint as interim head coach. He’ll have his guys ready to play in a big-time atmosphere like the Horseshoe.
On the other side, Ohio State got off to a hot start in the first game of the Ryan Day-Justin Fields era. Day is in his first year taking over for Urban Meyer. His offense, led by the Georgia transfer QB Fields, came roaring out of the gates in a Week 1 win over Florida Atlantic. It took less than 10 minutes of action for the Buckeyes to take a 28-0 advantage over the Owls. Fields got things rolling with a 51-yard scoring run before throwing TD passes to Jeremy Ruckert, Binjimen Victor and Chris Olave. From there, OSU took the foot off the pedal but still cruised to a 45-21 win. Expect Cincinnati to provide much more resistance than FAU.
Picks: Sam: Ohio State -16, Nick: Ohio State -16
2. No. 12 Texas A&M at No. 1 Clemson
Time: 3:30 p.m. | TV: ABC | Line: Clemson -17.5
Texas A&M gave Clemson its biggest scare of the 2018 season. Can the Aggies pull off the upset in 2019? It’s Year 2 for Texas A&M under Jimbo Fisher and his team is mighty talented, led by quarterback Kellen Mond, who impressed against the Tigers in College Station last year and continues to improve. Mond has plenty of weapons to spread the ball to with Jashaun Corbin at RB and Quartney Davis and Jhamon Ausbon at receiver. The Aggies dominated Texas State 41-7 in Week 1, but it’ll be a different kind of atmosphere going on the road to Death Valley to deal with Clemson, a team with more firepower on both sides of the ball.
On the other side, Clemson cruised to a 52-14 win over Georgia Tech to start its most-recent national championship defense. Travis Etienne had a huge night, putting up 205 rushing yards and three scores on just 12 carries. But quarterback Trevor Lawrence uncharacteristically threw two interceptions and completed only 56.5 percent of his passes. Is that a cause for concern? Probably not, but at least it will present a bit of a wakeup call for a player who rose to national prominence and won a national title as a true freshman. A&M is far more talented than Georgia Tech, so Lawrence will need to be sharper if Clemson wants to avoid the upset in what could prove to be the Tigers’ toughest regular season test.
Picks: Sam: Clemson -17.5, Nick: Clemson -17.5
1. No. 6 LSU at No. 9 Texas
Time: 7:30 p.m. | TV: ABC | Line: LSU -6.5
In a year with College Football Playoff aspirations, LSU has its first massive test on Saturday night in Austin. The Tigers’ debuted their new spread offense in a dominant 55-3 victory over Georgia Southern in Week 1. LSU put up 472 yards of offense in the win, including a sterling effort from QB Joe Burrow: 23-of-27 for 278 yards and five touchdowns. LSU has never exactly been well-regarded for its passing attack, so a performance like that opened some eyes — even against Georgia Southern. Meanwhile, the defense held the Eagles’ vaunted triple-option offense to only 98 yards.
While the LSU offense impressed, its defense puts a lot of pressure on the shoulders of Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger. After another injury, the Longhorns are down to just one healthy running back, starter Keaontay Ingram. Behind Ingram are Roschon Johnson, the team’s third-string QB, and David Gbenda, who moved from linebacker this week. That could put the onus on Ehlinger to try to fight for yards with his legs as well as look for big-play receivers Collin Johnson and Devin Duvernay. These Longhorns also have visions of a national title in 2019 — and a win over an SEC opponent like LSU would go a long way in the eyes of the CFP committee. Tom Herman has traditionally done really well as an underdog. Does he have another upset in his back pocket?
Picks: Sam: Texas +6.5, Nick: Texas +6.5
Records ATS to date: Sam: 5-3, Nick: 4-4
Week 2’s best bets
Nick Bromberg (Last week: 2-1)
Ohio at Pittsburgh (-5.5): Let’s get crazy with a MAC upset over an ACC team. I see Pitt dropping to 0-2 at the hands of Ohio’s very good offense. The Panthers are down two key defensive linemen for the season and the offense didn’t click in Week 1 with new coordinator Mark Whipple. Pick: Ohio +5.5
No. 21 Syracuse at Maryland (-2): Are the Terrapins that good or is Syracuse getting bumped down because of a ho-hum win over Liberty that was overshadowed by all the absurdity involving Hugh Freeze? Anyway, let’s go with the ranked team. And that’s Syracuse. Pick: Syracuse +2
Western Kentucky at Florida International (-7.5): Both teams suffered bad losses in Week 1. FIU got freight-trained by Tulane and WKU lost 35-28 to FCS Central Arkansas. In this case I’m taking the team that lost on the road to a conference opponent. That’s FIU. Pick: FIU -7.5
Sam Cooper (Last week: 0-2-1)
West Virginia at Missouri (-14): Missouri moved the ball very well but was plagued by turnovers in an embarrassing road loss to Wyoming last weekend. West Virginia got a win over James Madison, but could muster only 34 rushing yards on 24 carries. Yikes. I like Missouri to bounce back in a big way. Pick: Missouri -14
No. 18 UCF at FAU (+10): FAU showed some fight after falling behind 28-0 at Ohio State last week, but I don’t really envision the Owls being able to keep up with UCF for four quarters. Give me the Knights to cover on the road. Pick: UCF -10
Cal at No. 14 Washington (-14): Cal beat UC Davis, an FCS team, but had to overcome an early 10-0 deficit and four turnovers to do so. Washington came out of the gates looking strong with Jacob Eason at quarterback. The fact that Cal upset Washington last year will give UW added motivation. Pick: Washington -14
For Week 2 picks from Pat Forde, Pete Thamel and Dan Wetzel, subscribe to the Yahoo Sports College Podcast.
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