Pretty much every team in college football got their start on the 2013 season last week and there were a few surprises. Expect that to continue this weekend as several key matchups will help to shape the chase for the National Championship in January. (Home team in CAPS, choice for game in BOLD, lines from the Mirage in Las Vegas)
#14 Notre Dame (+4) vs. MICHIGAN
The marquee game of the weekend will be the matchup of the Fighting Irish as they head into the “Big House” to take on the Wolverines. Notre Dame is coming off a nice (but not overwhelming) victory over Temple last week, while Michigan whipped on the Central Michigan Chippewas to get their season started last week.
This one is going to be a bit tougher for both squads, but I don’t see how Michigan will take a victory here. Even though they will have a rabid crowd in support of them, the Irish D is outstanding and will clamp down on Wolverine QB Devin Gardner. Look for the Irish to win this one outright and, with the Over/Under (O/U) at 51.5, take the under.
#6 South Carolina (+3) vs. #11 GEORGIA
If there was ever a “must win” game in your second contest of the year, this would be the one for Georgia. After falling to #4 Clemson last week in a thriller (38-35), the Bulldogs are in that “must win” situation if they are to maintain hopes for the National Championship. Add into that the pressure of the first SEC tilt for both teams (the Gamecocks ably beat North Carolina last week) and the stakes are high for Georgia.
While they are at home, I don’t see where the oddsmakers are finding Georgia a three point favorite in this game. South Carolina looked deadly efficient against the Tar Heels in their game last week, even though Jadaveon Clowney was kept in check by UNC. Expect Clowney (who missed much of pre-season workouts) to break out this week, keep Bulldog QB Aaron Murray on the run and for South Carolina to win this while going over the 56 O/U.
#12 Florida (-3) vs. MIAMI (FL)
Both teams didn’t exactly have staunch opposition in their first week. The Gators beat up on the Toledo Rockets, while the Hurricanes throttled the powerhouse Florida Atlantic Owls in their game. This will be the crunch test for both teams as they look to establish themselves on the college football radar for 2013.
Although past games between these schools have been thrillers, Florida has had the best of it of late. Expect that trend to continue as they cover the spread in beating Miami and the teams go over the 48.5 O/U.
#15 Texas vs. BYU (+7)
With head coach Mack Brown’s seat a bit hot in Austin, the Longhorns battered a hapless New Mexico State team in their first game (56-7), while BYU fought hard in a road trip to Virginia before falling 19-16. This time, however, it is BYU in its friendly confines and an unproven Texas team that will have to try to impress.
While the offense looked outstanding for Texas in their opener, the Cougars of BYU and their defense are going to be a tougher test. Take BYU to keep the game closer than the seven point spread and to go under the 57 O/U.
West Virginia (+21) vs. OKLAHOMA
The first Big 12 tilt between these two teams should be a good fight. The Sooners didn’t exactly amaze anyone in beating Louisiana-Monroe in their opener, while the Mountaineers had a bit of a battle before putting down William & Mary in their first game.
There are just too many points being given to West Virginia to overlook this one. Although they will lose the game, West Virginia should be able to keep it respectable at the minimum. There won’t be a huge offensive show, though, so take the under on 57.5 points being scored.
UPSET SPECIAL: Wake Forest over Boston College (Friday night)
Neither team looked outstanding in their openers, with BC working hard to get by Villanova 24-14 and the Demon Deacons using a middling offense and an outstanding defensive effort in defeating college football powerhouse Presbyterian 31-7 (and I hope you caught the sarcasm there).
The first ACC meeting for these teams in 2013 will see Wake Forest’s defense control the night. Look for the Demon Deacons to take down the Eagles in this game (Boston College is favored by three points) and they won’t come close to going over the 49 point O/U set by the Mirage.
LAST WEEK: Let’s just say that it was the opening game of the season for oddsmakers, too. I went 1-4 in both the picks against the spread and the O/U, while missing the Upset Special when California couldn’t beat Northwestern. Even the Swami (ESPN announcer Chris Berman) isn’t right all the time! With a week under the belt, we should see some improvement from the handicapper as well as the teams.
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