College football best bets: Week 2

By VSiN Staff  (VSiN.com) 

September 10, 2022 12:47 AM
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Welcome to Week 2 of the college football season.

Each week, our VSiN experts will combine to give their best bets on select games. It was a rough Week 1, but we're dusting ourselves off and we're back at it for Week 2.

Odds are from DraftKings (unless noted) as of Wednesday night. 

Season record: 1-5-1 

Alabama (-20, 65.5) at Texas 

Saturday, noon ET

Danny Burke: Both of these teams are feeling pretty good about themselves, considering they both hung a 50-burger (and then some) in Week 1. The only difference is one of the teams did so without scoring in the entire fourth quarter, oh, and they shut out their opponent. 

That team, of course, would be the Crimson Tide of Alabama. I’m not one for laying big spreads, nor am I someone who seeks to bet on a top team that everyone and their mothers are also wagering on, but this is a unique situation.

Coming into this season, we established that Alabama is far better than just about every team in college football (with the exception of maybe a few). 

The good news for Nick Saban is Texas is not one of the exceptions. 

Yes, the Longhorns’ expectations should be set higher. Yes, they have potentially a top QB in the country in Quinn Ewers, along with a star running back in Bijan Robinson. However, it’s only Week 2 and both of those guys will be put to the absolute test against what could be the most dominant defense in the land. Ewers may have a few good plays to cause some excitement, but ultimately he will fold against this lethal Crimson Tide defense. 

On the other side, Bryce Young should not have many hiccups against this Longhorns defense. Young’s offensive line will protect him, and the skill players will make the necessary moves to create space. 

Again, I don’t like laying big spreads, but getting the Crimson Tide as less than a three-touchdown favorite this season may come at a premium. So I’m going to take advantage while I can.

Pick: Alabama -20 

UTSA (-2.5, 56) at Army

Saturday, noon ET

Adam Burke: Situational spots should never be the sole justification for placing a bet, but I challenge you to find a worse spot in Week 2 than what UTSA faces on the road against Army. This is a noon kickoff in West Point for the boys from San Antonio, who just lost in triple overtime to Houston at home in a huge Big Brother versus Little Brother matchup.

UTSA has Texas on deck, so the Roadrunners will get a crack at an in-state Power 5 program in Week 3. Will Jeff Traylor be able to get his team focused enough to take on Army’s run-heavy scheme? UTSA is a better team now than back in 2020, but Army won that game 28-16 and rushed for 5.1 yards per carry on 60 attempts.

It isn’t just that UTSA lost in heartbreaking fashion, it’s also that the Roadrunners’ defense was on the field virtually the entire fourth quarter against Houston, including an 18-play, 77-yard drive that took 10:30 off the clock.

The Black Knights couldn’t stop Coastal Carolina’s extremely efficient offense in Week 1 but did rush for more than five yards per carry and generated a couple of explosive pass plays for touchdowns. My power ratings show Army -2.5, so I think the wrong team is favored here. The spot just adds to the handicap, as UTSA’s focus may be elsewhere in a game where discipline is the most important defensive characteristic.

Pick: Army + 2.5 plus a ML sprinkle

Tim Murray: When Adam Burke and I discussed this week’s situational spots on the “VSiN College Football Betting Podcast,” this was the first game I brought up. UTSA blew a two-touchdown lead in the fourth quarter against nationally ranked Houston at home and ultimately fell in triple overtime to the Cougars. The atmosphere at the Alamodome on Saturday was tremendous — 37,526 fans, the sixth-largest crowd in school history. And as Burke mentions above, the Roadrunners will travel to Austin next week to play Texas for the first time in school history. This week, UTSA will visit West Point to play the triple-option attack of Army. 

As Burke pointed out, Army struggled to slow down Coastal Carolina, allowing 5.0 yards per carry (253 yards on 53 carries). UTSA is led by QB Frank Harris, who rushed for a team-high 63 yards and threw for 337 yards last week. However, C-USA Offensive Player of the Year Sincere McCormick, who rushed for 1,479 yards last season, is gone. Outside of Harris, the Roadrunners rushed for just 41 yards on 20 carries against Houston. 

With just a week to prepare for the triple option and a rough situational spot for UTSA, I will ride with the short home dog at Michie Stadium.

Pick: Army + 2.5

North Carolina (-7.5, 64.5) at Georgia State

Saturday, noon ET

Tim Murray: Will anyone be able to slow down Drake Maye and North Carolina’s offense this season? Conversely, will North Carolina’s defense be able to stop anyone? 

Maye has been fantastic to start the season, throwing for 646 yards and nine touchdowns over the Tar Heels’ first two games. He also rushed for 76 yards and a touchdown in last week’s thrilling 63-61 win at Appalachian State. UNC’s defense has been another story. The Tar Heels allowed Appalachian State to score six touchdowns in the fourth quarter. The Mountaineers finished with 649 total yards and averaged 8.1 yards per play. In Week 0, as a 42-point favorite, North Carolina led FCS Florida A&M by just 11 points after three quarters. The Rattlers averaged 7.2 yards per pass play against the Tar Heels. The following week, Florida A&M lost to FCS Jackson State 59-3 and was held to just 3.6 yards per pass play.

Georgia State lost to South Carolina 35-14 last week but outgained the Gamecocks 311-306. The Panthers led 14-12 in the third quarter before South Carolina’s special teams carried the team to victory. The Gamecocks returned a pair of blocked punts for touchdowns, made two 50+ yard field goals and kept a touchdown drive alive thanks to a converted fake field goal. Georgia State rushed for 200 yards on 40 carries — and held South Carolina to 79 rushing yards — but QB Darren Grainger completed just 7-of-29 passes. 

Last year, North Carolina smashed Georgia State 59-17 at home. This time, the Panthers will be hosting a Power 5 team for the first time in school history. Also of note: After an off week, the Tar Heels host No. 8 Notre Dame on Sept. 24. 

The Panthers have a veteran offensive line and a backfield that averaged over 225 yards per game last season. Additionally, UNC All-American WR Josh Downs missed last week’s game and is a game-time decision this week. We’ll see if Georgia State can slow down UNC, but it seems likely that the Tar Heels will struggle to keep the Panthers out of the end zone. 

Pick: Georgia State + 7.5

Akron at Michigan State (-34.5, 56)

Saturday, 4 p.m. ET 

Jeff Parles: Going with a 34.5-point favorite may seem daunting, but look for Mel Tucker’s team to run it up on their second straight MAC opponent. Michigan State put up nearly eight yards per play last week against Western Michigan and covered most numbers (pushed a few closing -22s). The Spartans’ defense was on the field for 73 plays and held the Broncos to an average of 4.6 yards per play. 

Akron is coming off of an overtime victory against the football powerhouse of St. Francis (Pa.). Former Mississippi State and current Zips coach Joe Moorhead has a long way to go with one of the worst programs in FBS. The Zips were outgained overall and by yards per play against St. Francis and have a track record of getting destroyed by Power 5 competition in recent years.

Last season, Akron couldn’t cover as 37.5-point underdogs at Auburn (60-10 loss) and as 48.5-point underdogs at Ohio State (59-7 loss). The last time the Zips covered against a Power 5 team was in 2018 against South Carolina as 28.5-point underdogs (28-3 loss). 

Akron’s roster is still not ready to compete against FBS competition, especially high-end Power 5 teams. Expect more misery for the Zips against the Spartans, and I’m laying the 34.5 points with the home team. 

Pick: Michigan State -34.5 (good to -35)

Iowa State at Iowa (-3.5, 40)

Saturday, 4 p.m. ET

Wes Reynolds: One of the big stories coming out of Week 1 was Iowa’s 7-3 win over South Dakota State. Iowa only scored seven points and managed to do so sans an offensive touchdown. Hawkeyes QB Spencer Petras had the lowest total QBR (1.1) of any QB in a win in the last 10 years. Petras was 11-for-25 for 109 yards and an interception. Iowa only mustered 166 yards of total offense. 

However, there is some good news. The Hawkeyes’ defense held South Dakota State, the No. 2 team in FCS, to just 120 yards (2.1 yards per play) and only 33 on the ground. Iowa’s defense posted two safeties and punter Tory Taylor is the new “punt god” after seven of his 10 punts were downed inside the 20-yard line. 

Iowa State fell short of covering the closing number of -33.5 with a 42-10 victory over FCS SE Missouri State. The Cyclones are a tough team to get an early read on considering how much they lost from last season. Four-year starting quarterback Brock Purdy, two-time Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year Breece Hall and tight end Charlie Kolar are now in the NFL. The Cyclones also lost two starters on the offensive line, eight starters on defense, their top four tacklers and their entire secondary. 

The Cyclones went 7-6 last year and are only getting 3.5 points (would be close to a pick’em on a neutral field)? This looks to be at least a slight overreaction to Iowa’s lack of production last week, even though the defense lived up to expectations. Nevertheless, Iowa brings back a third-year starter at quarterback, its top three receivers and three starters on the offensive line. 

Oh, and there is the fact that Iowa has won six straight against Iowa State. Despite the great job Matt Campbell has done in Ames, he has never beaten Kirk Ferentz (0-5). The lukewarm favorite is worth a look this week, especially on the moneyline. 

Pick: Iowa -175 ML

Kansas at West Virginia (-13.5, 59.5)

Saturday, 6 p.m. ET

Wes Reynolds: As is true against every Big 12 opponent, the Jayhawks have been dominated in this series. West Virginia has won nine of the last 10 versus Kansas, but the Jayhawks have covered in four of the last six meetings, including last year’s 34-28 defeat in their home finale as 15.5-point underdogs. 

Last season was another rough one for Kansas in Lance Leipold’s first year in Lawrence. Nevertheless, Leipold, a six-time national championship winning coach at Division III Wisconsin-Whitewater, has a proven record that includes two MAC East titles and two bowl games in his last three seasons at Buffalo. He inherits 17 returning starters this year, and teams often make their biggest leap in the second season under a new staff. 

West Virginia looked to have Pitt beaten on the road last week in the return of the “Backyard Brawl,” leading by a touchdown with just under six minutes to play. However, the Mountaineers allowed a seven-play, 92-yard touchdown drive in just 2:29, and then J.T. Daniels threw a pick-six (that went through the hands of receiver Bryce Ford-Wheaton) just two plays later. 

This could prove to be a difficult bounce-back spot for the Mountaineers after blowing a game against a rival and facing a Kansas team that comes in with some optimism. The Jayhawks scored 56 points last week, albeit against FCS Tennessee Tech, for the school’s most points scored in a season opener since 1912. 

Pick: Kansas + 13.5 

Northern Illinois at Tulsa (-6, 62)

Saturday, 7 p.m. ET

Adam Burke: After how bad Wyoming looked in Week 0 against Illinois, you can understand why Tulsa’s Week 1 performance wouldn’t inspire a whole lot of confidence. The Golden Hurricane allowed 40 points to the Cowboys, but two of the touchdowns came on defense or special teams. Meanwhile, Tulsa racked up 460 passing yards, more than 500 yards of total offense and found a way to lose the game.

I pay close attention to short field goals in high-scoring games, and Tulsa had two of them in regulation to go along with another in overtime. A loss is always going to grab more attention than a win, but Tulsa, which did get bet up last week, was the right side against Wyoming based on the box score.

Northern Illinois, meanwhile, was very lucky to beat Eastern Illinois — an Eastern Illinois team that went 1-10 last season and lost five of six games in Ohio Valley play. NIU managed 6.8 yards per play but was also + 2 in turnovers and struggled to put away a weak FCS opponent. This is not a team I was high on coming into the season, as NIU won five regular-season games by six points or fewer, including three by one point. The Huskies were 6-2 in MAC play with a -1 point differential.

I’d expect Tulsa to bounce back here. Its passing game looks like a weapon against an NIU squad that ranked 108th in passing yards per attempt last season and only mustered three interceptions. My line is -8, so anything under the key number of 7 is a decent play.

Pick: Tulsa -6

Kentucky at Florida (-6, 52.5)

Saturday, 7 p.m. ET

Jeff Parles: Anthony Richardson’s Heisman campaign got off to a rip-roaring start last week with a dominant performance in Florida’s upset victory over Utah. Richardson was able to do whatever he wanted with his legs and his arm against an elite defense. His Heisman odds were cut all the way down to 22-1 at DraftKings, a proper move off of a big-time showing. 

Meanwhile, Kentucky was methodical in its Week 1 win and cover over MAC foe Miami (Ohio). Will Levis threw for more than 300 yards and the Wildcats’ defense took over after the Redhawks’ first-quarter touchdown drive .

This line feels like an overreaction to Florida’s impressive victory over Utah. Before the season I was expecting this to be Florida -3, and those who bet the openers at Circa seem to agree with my thought process (Circa opened this game Florida -7).

I picked Kentucky to win this game in my season predictions. After the Wildcats looked the part in Week 1, there’s no reason to back off of that just because Florida won a coin-flip game against a good team. Even without getting the best of the number, this is still very much a buy on Kentucky.

Pick: Kentucky + 6

Arizona State at Oklahoma State (-11, 57.5)

Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET

Adam Burke: The level of dominance Oklahoma State showed against Central Michigan was obscured by an offensive flurry from the Chippewas in the fourth quarter, when backups were on the field and the game was already decided. The Cowboys led 44-15 at halftime in their 58-44 Week 1 win and Spencer Sanders threw for more than 400 yards and four touchdowns.

The Cowboys scored 58 points despite having the ball for less than 24 minutes, racking up 531 yards on 73 plays. Central Michigan outgained Oklahoma State but had 311 of its 546 yards in the second half while trailing by a mountain of points. It looks as though Mike Gundy’s team may shift from the ground-and-pound style — winning with running plays and defense — to focus more on throwing the ball, as the Cowboys did in the days of Brandon Weeden, Zac Robinson and Mason Rudolph.

Arizona State is a team I was down on coming into the season because I don’t believe in what Herm Edwards is doing. Jayden Daniels transferred out and Emory Jones came in from Florida, but there are a lot of issues with the program, including an inquiry into recruiting violations that led to the resignations of several assistant coaches and talk of letting Edwards go. One of the coaches was defensive coordinator Antonio Pierce, once thought to be Edwards’ successor in Tempe.

Xazavian Valladay ran all over Northern Arizona last week, but the Lumberjacks aren’t a very good team out of the Big Sky. Nothing happened last week that made me change my perspective on Arizona State, but Oklahoma State’s performance was eye-opening. My line on this game is Oklahoma State -17, so it’s my biggest overlay and my favorite play of Week 2.

Pick: Oklahoma State -11

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