Time to reveal my plays of the week. These are the 10 games I would bet on if I were a degenerate gambler. For those who don’t know already, the first team listed is my pick, unless it’s an over/under selection. Odds provided by DocSports. If I were you, I’d bet on these games. You can thank me (or hate me) later.
North Carolina +13 at South Carolina
Everyone is sleeping on the Tar Heels but they are one of my surprise teams for this year. An explosive offense and an improving defense should make this game quite close. The Gamecocks are ranked sixth but I’m not impressed by their defensive line, outside of Clowney. I do love SC’s wide receivers, though. I think this one will be a barnburner with UNC having a good shot at an upset.
Score prediction: North Carolina 31, South Carolina 30
Mississippi -3.5 at Vanderbilt
The Rebel front seven is excellent and should keep the rather sluggish Vandy offense in check. Meanwhile, the Ole Miss offense led by Bo Wallace should be able to move the ball enough to get the cover.
Score prediction: Ole Miss 20, Vanderbilt 10
Alabama -20 vs. Virginia Tech
I think it’s going to be very difficult for Virginia Tech to have a legitimate offensive score in this game, meaning any type of score that isn’t the result of a turnover resulting in really advantageous field position. Alabama should be able to get 20 points just through inertia, but I expect the Tide offense to be clicking anyway. We should see big games for Amari Cooper and TJ Yeldon. This one won’t be close.
Score prediction: Alabama 35, Virginia Tech 6
Oklahoma -21 vs. Louisiana-Monroe
The perception of OU is that of a program in a bit of a decline, but the talent is there for another superb season. So much will depend on how freshman quarterback Trevor Knight performs. I like his receiving corps and think he’ll be excellent from the getgo. And if he’s not, there’s always Blake Bell, another talented player. I expect big production from the quarterback position in this game and for the Sooners to romp.
Score prediction: Oklahoma 45, Louisiana-Monroe 17
(OVER) 59.5 Total - Washington State at Auburn
Two offensive gurus go at it in this one — WSU’s Mike Leach and Auburn’s Gus Malzahn. Leach is in his second year at Wazzou so I expect the Cougars will be more proficient on offense than last season, while Auburn should also take a big step forward. Tigers quarterback Nick Marshall should have a good debut, at least running the ball. He’s a remarkable talent in the open field. I expect there will be lots of scoring, so go with the OVER.
Score prediction: Auburn 42, Washington State 31
(OVER) 65.6 Total – UCLA vs. Nevada
These are two good offensive teams who should have no problem putting up points against each other. Brett Hundley should have a field day against the Nevada defense while Cody Fajardo should be able to exploit UCLA’s young secondary. This’ll be an exciting shootout with UCLA coming out on top.
Score prediction: UCLA 49, Nevada 35
Northwestern -6 at California
I like what Sonny Dykes has done with Cal in the preseason, but hosting a very good Northwestern team with a freshman quarterback and a new offensive system could make this a rough debut. I expect the Bears will get some offense going eventually, but the dynamic duo of Kain Colter and Venric Mark will give Cal fits.
Score prediction: Northwestern 34, California 23
(OVER) 59.5 Total – Louisiana-Lafayette at Arkansas
I think the Arkansas offense has a chance to be pretty good. Running back Jonathan Williams is a potential star in the SEC and quarterback Brandon Allen is an accurate and efficient passer. Lafayette can also put up some points. Neither team should be getting much done on defense, however, which is why I think the play here is to take the over.
Score prediction: Arkansas 42, ULL 34
Northern Illinois +3 at Iowa
While I liked it better when this line was +6.5 a couple days ago, I’m still taking the Huskies. New Hawkeye quarterback Jake Rudock will have to come through, which may be too much to ask against a very good NIU team led by Heisman candidate Jordan Lynch.
Score prediction: Northern Illinois 28, Iowa 24
Minnesota -14 vs. UNLV
The Gophers struggled in a triple OT win over the Running Rebs in Vegas last year, but I expect they’ll overmatch them at home. Jerry Kill is in his third season and this could be his best team yet.
Score prediction: Minnesota 42, UNLV 24