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 pick those five games against the spread and highlight some other matchups that caught our eye from a betting perspective.
The return of college football lived up to the hype. Not only were the games of Week 1 filled with action and storylines, but the stadiums were full. The pageantry of the sport was back, and it felt really good to see.
Now we turn the page to Week 2, where there aren’t as many quality matchups as there were in Week 1. Still, this is college football we’re talking about. Unexpected upsets pop up all the time. Where will they emerge in Week 2?
(Note: All times ET, odds from BetMGM)
No. 12 Oregon at No. 3 Ohio State
Time: Noon | TV: Fox | Line: Ohio State -14.5 | Total: 64
Things did not go well for the Pac-12 North in Week 1. Oregon was the only team from the division to win, and it wasn’t exactly a breeze. The Ducks trailed Fresno State 24-21 midway through the fourth quarter, but ended up scoring the game’s final 10 points to win 31-24. Oregon is going to have to play much better if it wants to go to Columbus and pull off an upset. The Ducks will also need the services of star defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux, who is considered day-to-day after hurting his foot vs. Fresno.
Ohio State also trailed in the second half of its opener, but stormed back from a 21-17 deficit to beat Minnesota 45-31. It was an excellent performance on offense from the Buckeyes, who put up 495 yards on just 48 plays. Minnesota was content to play ball control, but Ohio State continually gashed the Gophers with big plays. The average distance of OSU’s five offensive touchdowns in the game was 59.2 yards.
Sam Cooper: Ohio State -14.5, Nick Bromberg: Oregon +14.5
No. 10 Iowa at No. 9 Iowa State
Time: 4:30 p.m. | TV: ABC | Line: Iowa State -4.5 | Total: 46.5
This could be the biggest Cy-Hawk game ever. Iowa and Iowa State have met on the football field 67 times, but this is the first time that both programs are ranked. And both are ranked in the top 10.
Iowa opened its season by trouncing Indiana 34-6 at home. In the win, the Hawkeyes forced three turnovers, including returning two interceptions for touchdowns in the first half. By halftime the lead was 31-3, and the Iowa defense turned in an all-around dominant performance. Will that continue against Iowa State? The Cyclones entered the season with their best preseason ranking ever, but struggled in Week 1 in a 16-10 win over Northern Iowa. To break its five-game losing streak in the series, ISU must play a much sharper brand of football.
Sam: Iowa +4.5, Nick: Iowa +4.5
No. 15 Texas at Arkansas
Time: 7 p.m. | TV: ESPN | Line: Texas -7 | Total: 56
The first game of the Steve Sarkisian era was very positive for Texas. The Longhorns beat Sun Belt power Louisiana, 38-18. Texas’ young talent was quite impressive. QB Hudson Card threw for 224 yards and two TDs in his first career start while RB Bijan Robinson and WR Jordan Whittington were too much for the Ragin’ Cajuns to handle. Robinson rushed for 103 yards and a touchdown. He also caught four passes for 73 yards and a score. Whittington went for 113 yards and a score on seven receptions. Can they replicate that kind of performance on the road against an SEC opponent?
Some thought Arkansas could go winless in 2020, but Sam Pittman coached the Razorbacks to a 3-7 record with three one-score losses along the way. Is Arkansas in line for a breakthrough in Year 2? Or is there still plenty of building to do? In Week 1, it looked a bit more like the latter. Arkansas trailed Rice at halftime but ended up outscoring the Owls 31-7 in the second half. To beat Texas, Arkansas needs to do it for all four quarters.
Sam: Texas -7, Nick: Texas -7
Washington at Michigan
Time: 8 p.m. | TV: ABC | Line: Michigan -7 | Total: 48.5
This game lost a lot of its luster when Washington laid an egg and lost 13-7 to Montana in Week 1. It was a brutal performance for the Huskies on offense. Washington had three turnovers, turned it over on downs twice, missed a field goal and were just 4-of-14 on third down. There were already questions about UW’s offense entering the season, and now Jimmy Lake may be faced with some tough decisions about his staff if things don’t improve quickly.
Things were more positive on the Michigan side, especially on the heels of such a disastrous 2020 season. The Wolverines blew out Western Michigan 47-14 and were dominant on the ground. Michigan rushed for 335 yards in the win and got an efficient performance from QB Cade McNamara. However, Michigan lost top receiver Ronnie Bell to a season-ending knee injury and might need to lean on that ground game again against Washington.
Sam: Washington +7, Nick: Michigan -7
No. 21 Utah at BYU
Time: 10:15 p.m. | TV: ESPN | Line: Utah -7 | Total: 49
The Holy War between BYU and Utah is one of the more under-appreciated rivalries nationally. And in recent years, the rivalry has been owned by Utah. The Utes have won nine straight in the series, but seven of those nine victories have been decided by just one possession.
The game was wiped off the schedule by the pandemic last fall during a season that saw BYU go 11-1. Zach Wilson, the No. 2 pick of the New York Jets, was BYU’s QB then, but now the reins have been handed to Jaren Hall. He threw two touchdown passes in a 24-16 victory over Arizona last week. Utah, one of the favorites in the highly-competitive Pac-12 South, will present a much tougher test. The Utes took care of Weber State 40-17 in their opener.
Sam: Utah -7, Nick: Utah -7
Head-to-head ATS: Sam: 4-1, Nick: 1-4
Week 2 best bets
Nick Bromberg (Last week: 2-1, Overall: 2-1)
Pittsburgh at Tennessee: I think this line is inflated toward Tennessee because of name recognition. Pitt brought back eight starters on offense and has always had a solid defense under Pat Narduzzi. I wouldn’t be surprised if this game isn’t competitive. Pick: Pittsburgh -3
Tulsa at Oklahoma State: I’m counting on OSU QB Spencer Sanders to return for this one. He missed Week 1 because of COVID-19 protocols. Tulsa, meanwhile, lost by two at home to UC Davis. The Golden Hurricane gave OSU fits in 2020. I think this game isn’t nearly as close. Pick: Oklahoma State -12.5
Georgia State at No. 24 North Carolina: I don’t like lines this big but I think North Carolina is in for a big bounce back week. The Tar Heels should be able to win at the line of scrimmage on offense against a defense that was run over by Army’s triple-option offense and also gave up two passing touchdowns. Pick: North Carolina -25.5
Sam Cooper (Last week: 1-2, Overall: 1-2)
Air Force at Navy: This has been written about ad nauseam over the years. The under hits at an extremely high rate when service academies face off against one another. Since 2005, the record for the under is now 38-9-1. It’s two teams who know one another extremely well running the option. The clock keeps on moving and there aren’t many points scored. Pick: Under 41
California at TCU: Cal has played 43 games under Justin Wilcox and 21 of them have been decided by a possession. Under Wilcox, Cal is 16-8-1 ATS as an underdog, including a 9-4 ATS mark as a road underdog. This is a very experienced Cal team and the defense should be able to handle TCU QB Max Duggan enough to keep this thing close. Pick: Cal +11.5
No. 5 Texas A&M vs. Colorado: Colorado cannot throw the ball. New Buffs starter Brendon Lewis was just 10-of-15 for 102 yards in Week 1 vs. Northern Colorado. CU’s strength is running the ball, but that won’t be very effective against Texas A&M. I expect the Aggies to roll. Pick: Texas A&M -17
For other Week 2 picks from Sam Cooper, click here.
For Week 2 picks from Dan Wetzel, Pete Thamel and Pat Forde, subscribe to the College Football Enquirer podcast.