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Beating The Spread: Picking the Top Matchups in College Football’s Week 2

Shaking The Southland

*This is a new segment on Rotoden which appears every week until the end of the season.

Welcome to Week 2 of the college football season, everyone. It was refreshing to finally see football back on Saturdays again – albeit last week also featured Thursday, Friday, Sunday and Monday night games – but let’s not ruin a fun time. Anyways, like last week, I will select 10 intriguing matchups for this week and predict if each team covers, or fails to cover the projected spread.

Also, just a reminder, here is a look at all the Week 2 odds courtesy of VegasInsider. 

No. 2 Clemson Tigers (-12) at Texas A&M Aggies: Dabo vs. Jimbo, just like old times. Well, sort of. This year’s showdown offers a unique wrinkle compared to past years, in large part to Fisher’s new gig at Texas A&M. The line currently sitting next to Clemson’s name is mighty large, especially since they head into a likely amped-up Kyle Field for Fisher’s first big game as the Aggies’ head coach. However, these early season tests are nothing new for Swinney, who likely attacks Texas A&M’s defense with his two quarterbacks, senior Kelly Bryant, and true freshman Trevor Lawrence, intermittently. Clemson wins and covers the spread. 

No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs (-10) at No. 24 South Carolina Gamecocks: Similar to Clemson, Georgia is tasked in trying to distribute reps evenly to two quarterbacks (sophomore Jake Fromm and freshman Justin Fields), all while keeping up with an up-and-coming Gamecocks squad in their house.

It’s worth mentioning that South Carolina is 3-1 in their last four contests against the Dawgs in Columbia. Also, third-year coach Will Muschamp has the roster capable enough to hang with Kirby Smart’s first and second units, especially if electrifying wideout Deebo Samuel has a big game. However, there’s a reason why this Georgia team was lauded as one of the best in program history during the preseason. Look for their experience to win them over in this early season road test. Georgia wins but fails to cover the spread. 

No. 13 Penn State Nittany Lions (-9) at Pitt Panthers: Penn State faithful received quite a scare in their season opener against Appalachian State, holding on in overtime. This week, the Nittany Lions turn around and do it again under the lights of Heinz Field. While this Penn State team is still young and inexperienced, Trace McSorley is the steadying presence the Lions will lean on in their first true road game of the season. Penn State wins but fails to cover the spread. 

No. 17 USC Trojans at No. 10 Stanford Cardinal (-6): The matchup to keep an eye in this one is USC’s interior run defense vs. Stanford running back Bryce Love. Last week, the Trojans allowed 308 rushing yards (7.2 yards per carry) against UNLV. That’s not a good sign when going against Love. Even though he was held in check for 29 yards on 18 carries against San Diego State; Love is too elusive to be contained in back-to-back weeks. Plus, Love won’t be the only offensive weapon that USC must keep an eye on. Quarterback K.J. Costello, wide-out J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, and tight end Kaden Smith all can cause their own problems. Stanford wins and covers the spread. 

No. 15 Michigan State Spartans (-6) at Arizona State Sun Devils: There’s no sugarcoating it. Michigan State looked dreadful in their opener against Utah State last Friday night. However, if you’ve followed Mark D’Antoni over the years, you understand these are the types of games he loves. With that, it’s hard to imagine the Spartans, a team which brings back the most starters out of any team in the nation, to fold in a hostile environment such as Tempe, AZ. Michigan State wins and covers the spread. 

No. 18 Mississippi State Bulldogs (-8.5) at Kansas State Wildcats: Mississippi State could not have played any better in its 63-6 drubbing of Stephen F. Austin in Week 1. On the other hand, Kansas State could not have played any worse versus South Dakota, surviving 27-24 while committing four turnovers and 129 penalty yards. Chances are that the Wildcats were caught looking ahead to this week’s showdown against a big-name SEC school. Bill Snyder Family Stadium should be rocking in this one, but don’t expect it to deter Bulldogs’ quarterback Nick Fitzgerald and company. Mississippi State wins but fails to cover the spread. 9

Arizona Wildcats at Houston Cougars (-3.5): Kevin Sumlin suffered a perplexing setback to BYU in his Arizona debut last week. His most lethal offensive playmaker, quarterback Khalil Tate, was stymied for 211 yards of total offense, including eight carries for 14 rushing yards. Unfortunately for Sumlin, Tate faces what might be the best defensive player in college football this week in Houston’s DT Ed Oliver. The projected first-rounder put his fingerprints all over the box score last week, racking up 13 total tackles (5 solo), six run stops, and 3.5 TFL’s. Expect another sluggish offensive performance for the Wildcats. Houston wins and covers the spread. 

Iowa State Cyclones at Iowa Hawkeyes (-4): Iowa’s defense was dominant last week against Northern Illinois, allowing just 211 total yards and nearly pitching a shutout. The Hawkeyes face a more difficult task this week in trying to contain dynamic Iowa State tailback David Montgomery. If it matters, this will be the Cyclones’ first game of the season (last week’s season opener was canceled due to inclement weather), so a slow start is to be expected. Still, Matt Campbell has prepared his team well this off-season, and I will give him the nod here. Iowa State wins outright. 

Cal at BYU (-3): As mentioned above, BYU showed tremendous fight against Arizona. And fortunately for them, they won’t have to deal with an offense quite as dynamic as the Wildcats. Cal put up only 279 total yards of offense in their Week 1 contest versus North Carolina. BYU wins and covers the spread. 

Colorado Buffaloes vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers (-4.5): It’ll be refreshing to see the Buffs and Huskers reunite their rivalry on Saturday after seven years of going dormant. Also, isn’t it strange that this inadvertently turned into Scott Frost’s Nebraska debut? It could be tough sledding for the Huskers’ defense, especially if Colorado QB Steven Montez completes 88 percent of his passes like he did against Colorado State. On the other hand, it could be rough for Colorado’s defense as well: stopping Adrian Martinez and Greg Bell won’t be easy. Nebraska wins but fails to cover the spread. 

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