New coach Matt Wells is an upgrade for Texas Tech, which does not miss Kliff Kingsbury. Only in a bizarre world could a college coach get fired after three consecutive losing seasons and land on his feet with a head coaching job in the NFL.
The Red Raiders rolled over Montana State and Texas-El Paso, with each win by 35 points, as Alan Bowman completed 71.4 percent of his passes with five touchdowns. Bowman is not Patrick Mahomes, but he’s pretty good. Wells, formerly at Utah State, has a sharp offensive mind and he’ll field better defensive teams than Kingsbury, who was all about offense.
Arizona might soon start to search for a coaching upgrade from Kevin Sumlin, who’s on a hot seat after losing the season opener at Hawaii. The Wildcats’ 65-41 victory over Northern Arizona last week proved nothing. Khalil Tate is the key to this matchup due to his ability to take over a game. Tate has passed for 499 yards and rushed for 109 while totaling six touchdowns.
Before the season, Arizona projected as the favorite in this game in Tucson, but the secrets are now out — the Wildcats are still a disappointment, and the Red Raiders are improved. This late kickoff on ESPN will be one of the more interesting matchups of the weekend. I’ll go with the better coach and play Texas Tech -2.
Seven more plays for Saturday (Home team in CAPS):
111-Kansas State (plus-7) over MISSISSIPPI STATE:
Bulldogs senior quarterback Tommy Stevens left last week’s game with a shoulder injury but is expected to start against the Wildcats, another vastly improved team with a new coach. Chris Klieman, who left North Dakota State to replace Bill Snyder in Manhattan, is 2-0 after Kansas State’s 52-0 victory over Bowling Green. Klieman took over a team that returned eight starters on each side of the ball. His offense, led by quarterback Skylar Thompson, tops the nation in rushing (347 yards per game).
116-TEMPLE (plus-7) over Maryland:
A new look is not always an improvement, but there is a lot more to like about Maryland because of two fresh faces — coach Mike Locksley and quarterback Josh Jackson — and a fast-paced offense that is putting up mind-boggling numbers. Jackson, a transfer from Virginia Tech, totaled seven touchdown passes in victories over Howard and Syracuse. The Terrapins won those games by a combined score of 142-20 while rolling up 636.5 yards and 71 points per game to rank No. 1 in the nation in scoring. The 63-20 knockout of the Orange was the most lopsided win by an unranked team over a ranked team since 1999.
Locksley was the offensive coordinator at Alabama last year and must have learned something under Nick Saban. Locksley was an incompetent head coach during his brief stay at New Mexico (2009 to 2011) that resulted in a 2-26 record. Is Maryland’s sudden emergence a mirage? The Terrapins are 7-point favorites at Temple, which opened by blasting Bucknell 56-12 and is off a bye. A year ago, the Owls were 16-point underdogs in a 35-14 win at Maryland.
Rod Carey, Temple’s new coach, had a highly successful run at Northern Illinois. Carey inherited a tough, veteran defense and junior quarterback Anthony Russo, who passed for 409 yards and four TDs two weeks ago. Take the points in Philadelphia, where the ‘dog will put up a fight.
125-Air Force (plus-3½) over COLORADO:
This is a bad spot for the Buffaloes after their emotional comeback victory over Nebraska. Colorado has been outgained in both games and will see a new look from Air Force’s option offense. The Falcons, off a bye week, are 10-3-1 ATS in coach Troy Calhoun’s past 14 games as a road ‘dog.
136-CENTRAL FLORIDA (-9) over Stanford:
K.J. Costello is returning from a head injury, but the Stanford quarterback will be behind a banged-up offensive line. Another problem is a Stanford defense that was shredded last week at USC. The Knights, who probably will rotate quarterbacks Brandon Wimbush and freshman Dillon Gabriel, scored 110 points in their first two games. It should be a tough trip to Orlando for David Shaw.
144-BRIGHAM YOUNG (plus-4½) over Southern California:
The Trojans’ season did not end when quarterback JT Daniels went down with a season-ending knee injury. True freshman Kedon Slovis passed for 377 yards and three touchdowns as USC made it look easy in a 45-20 victory over Stanford. But Slovis now makes his first road start. The Cougars, who stunned Tennessee 29-26 in two overtimes last week, are 6-1 against the spread in their past seven games. USC is 9-20 ATS in its past 29 games under coach Clay Helton. The main concern is the Trojans’ speed advantage in coordinator Graham Harrell’s new “Air Raid” offense.
158-Louisville (-10) over Western Kentucky:
This is a totally different Cardinals team with Scott Satterfield taking over as coach. Louisville has significant coaching and talent advantages over the Hilltoppers, who were upset by Central Arkansas in their season opener. Satterfield covered against Notre Dame and should do so again in this game in Nashville.
185-Texas Christian (-2) over PURDUE:
Elijah Sindelar has put up big numbers in two games, passing for 932 yards and nine touchdowns, but the Purdue quarterback seems doubtful to play after suffering a concussion late in a 42-24 victory over Vanderbilt. If Sindelar is indeed out, coach Jeff Brohm will go with freshman Jack Plummer, who has not attempted a pass in his college career. The Boilermakers can spread the field with a variety of fast wideouts, but the lack of a running attack would put a lot of pressure on Plummer. A young QB facing a Gary Patterson-coached defense could be a problem. The Horned Frogs get the edge because Patterson had two weeks to prepare for Jeff Brohm’s offense.
Last week: 2-4 against the spread