Wilson’s Favorite Week 2 College Football Bets: Picks for Texas vs. LSU, 7 Other Games
Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports.
- College football handicapper Collin Wilson picks out his eight favorite bets for Saturday's college football betting card.
- The games he covers below includes Army at Michigan (noon ET), LSU at Texas (7:30 p.m. ET) and Cal at Washington (10:30 p.m. ET)
A wild Week 1 came crashing down mid-afternoon on Saturday. Arkansas State, Georgia Southern, Pitt, Louisiana Tech all failed to cover. The turnover ratio was a combined 10:2 for those of us who backed them. It completed a tough weekend of betting after Texas State and BYU also badly lost the turnover battle.
While I love the “feedback” we get on the Action Network Podcast voicemails, the process for picking games does not change. Fraudulent box scores lead to inefficient markets, and shopping for the best number will aways lead the list of gambling best practices.
With a week of game action under our belts we may be able to detect an identity for most of the FBS teams. Our Power Ratings will be updated before Sunday morning, so be sure to follow me in The Action Network App for Week 3 openers.
All odds below are as of 7 a.m. ET on Friday and via PointsBet.
Ohio v. Pitt
- Spread: Pitt -4
- Over/Under: 54
- Time: 11:00 a.m. ET
- TV: ACC Network
The initial opener under a touchdown was a surprise, as our power ratings projected Pitt to win by more than a score. The money came in on Ohio after openers and has moved the spread down to just -4. The line indicates that a team that just won the ACC Coastal would be close to a pick against a team from the MAC on a neutral field.
During Week 1, Pitt led Virginia at halftime 14-13. UVA made second-half adjustments, and the Cavaliers stingy defense from 2018 returned.
Virginia was 17th overall in defense havoc last season, and Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett was running a new passing offense under coordinator Mark Whipple.
— Virginia Football (@UVAFootball) September 1, 2019
Mendenhall went on to call a blitz on every down from any angle against Pitt’s offensive line, which had four new starters. A deeper dive into the box score shows Virginia had three touchdowns that came from drives with starting field position at the Pitt 29, 27 and 19.
Head coach Pat Narduzzi said Pickett cannot take that many hits and that the offensive staff just didn’t have an answer for the Virginia blitz.
Offensive coordinator Mark Whipple now gets a very familiar opponent in Ohio. Although UMass lost to Ohio the past two seasons, the Minutemen put up total points of 42 and 50 in those contests. Ohio head coach Frank Solich has mentioned this week how much of a challenge the former UMass head coach has been for the Bobcats.
As for the other side of the ball, Pat Narduzzi said game planning for UVA’s Bryce Perkins to Ohio’s Nathan Rourke has not required much change. Both quarterbacks rely on zone-read and use 3-by-1 routes for the passing game.
Even with Penn State on deck, Pitt should use this game to get a win and have an offense recovery after the terrible second half against Virginia.
The Pick: Pitt -4
Army at Michigan
- Spread: Michigan -22
- Time: 12:00 p.m. ET
- TV: FOX
Is the fullback dive broken at Army? The Black Knights first drive of the game started with a fourth-and-1 against Rice, with the result ending in a stuff on the Army 15-yard line. The Army offense has been dominate in stuff rate over the past few seasons, but 9 for 15 on third down against a lifeless Rice defense may signal changes for Army.
The Black Knights needed a touchdown late to take the lead on Rice, which had missed two prior field goal attempts. The Owls drove the ball to the Army 26 and failed on a fourth-and-1 attempt to end the game. Army was that close to losing as a 3-touchdown favorite.
Nahshon Ellerbe was out for @ricefootball
All tied up pic.twitter.com/GqCFpJVvnU
— CBS Sports Network (@CBSSportsNet) August 30, 2019
As for the Wolverines, Middle Tennessee State was limited to 2.4 yards per rush on 28 attempts. Michigan still has one of the top front 7 units in football, but the offense tinkered with a new look scheme led by offensive coordinator Josh Gattis. Nine different players caught a pass as Tarik Black, Nico Collins and Sean McKeon each had explosive plays.
Our Action Network projection makes this game north of four scores, giving value to the current line at -22.
Michigan will head into a bye week before facing Wisconsin so expect Gattis and Harbaugh to get the offense in rhythm, as the defense exposes an Army offense that is less efficient than previous years.
The Pick: Michigan -22
San Diego State at UCLA
- Spread: UCLA -8
- Over/Under: 46
- Time: 4:15 p.m. ET
- TV: Pac-12 Network
Our power rating sets this number at UCLA -6, giving plenty of value to the current number north of 7.
Neither the Bruins or Aztecs had a great box score in Week 1, as San Diego State needed a herculean defensive effort to stop a Weber State team that is top 10 in FCS. The Wildcats were in San Diego State territory just once. Plenty was made of the new-look Aztecs attack by Rocky Long — a traditional running attack was converted to the spread and generated no touchdowns.
UCLA struggled with Cincinnati, with most of the issues falling on the shoulders of quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson. The Bruins had four turnovers and a rushing attack that averaged just 1.7 yards per carry. There should be similar results against the stiff San Diego State defense.
— Kevin Boilard (@247KevinBoilard) August 29, 2019
Even with the questionable status of running back Juwan Washington, the Aztecs should have enough on the ground and in the 3-3-5 defense to cover the number against UCLA.
Pick: San Diego State +8
ULM at Florida State
- Spread: Florida State -22
- Over/Under: 65
- Time: 5 p.m. ET
- TV: ACC Network
There could be lookahead to Virginia for Florida State, but a second-half blank against Boise State may make the Noles approach this differently.
Willie Taggart went on to blame the team’s conditioning and hydration as a reason for the loss to the Broncos, who ran 108 plays. The Seminoles may want to start getting fluids in early, as the forecasted temperature is 97 degrees at kickoff.
Louisiana-Monroe had zero issues with fatigue. The Warhawks ran wild on Grambling State, creating a game log filled with explosive plays. Florida State had an issue with explosive plays, as Boise State connected on passes over 20 yards with at least 5 different receivers.
The Broncos ranked outside of the top 100 in offensive IsoPPP, but exposed the Seminole defense multiple times. The red zone defense also had its problems, as Boise State scored on each of the eight trips to the red zone.
While the game currently sits above three touchdowns, a second half and live bet may be warranted with conditioning concerns.
Even with proper hydration, Taggart may have his eyes on Virginia in the following week.
Pick: ULM +22
Central Florida at Florida Atlantic
- Spread: Florida Atlantic +10.5
- Over/Under: 67
- Time: 7 p.m. ET
- TV: CBS Sports Network
There is a huge discrepancy in our number and the rest of the market. Our projection makes Central Florida a 4-point favorite.
The contrasting numbers may come in which Florida Atlantic team is for real between the first and second half of the game with Ohio State.
The Owls offensive line will get a much easier task in Boca Raton, taking on a Central Florida defensive line that was 69th in sack rate last season. Quarterback Chris Robinson should have success throwing, as the Knights were 102nd in passing downs efficiency last season.
It is still early to know what Central Florida will be defensively, as Florida A&M completed just 14 passes and rushed for a total of four yards.
Expect Robinson to be very familiar with the UCF defense. Last season, the Owls lost by 20 due to three interceptions by the then-freshman quarterback.
Florida Atlantic will be looking for revenge and state pride, while Central Florida may have overlook to hosting Stanford next week.
Pick: Florida Atlantic +10.5
LSU at Texas
- Spread: Texas +6.5
- Over/Under: 56
- Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
- TV: ABC
The Longhorns did enough to impress against Louisiana Tech. Sam Ehlinger hit eight different receivers for double-digit yards, while running back Keaontay Ingram averaged 7.1 yards per carry.
Texas held Louisiana Tech scoreless through three quarters, but a few underlying statistics make me skeptical to back Texas.
310 total yards. 4 TDs.
— Stadium (@Stadium) September 1, 2019
The key to beating LSU will be pressure from the defensive line. That unit was 91st in sack rate during 2018 and needed to establish itself against an inferior offensive line. In Week 1, Texas had one sack and zero quarterback hurries. Of the five tackles for loss, only one came from the defensive line.
This was not the box score I expected to read in a covering effort from the Longhorns. Louisiana Tech had three turnovers and punted only twice in the game.
LSU passing game coordinator Joe Brady called the plays to start against Georgia Southern. The Tigers scored five touchdowns in their first five drives.
Joe Burrow hit 10 different targets for double-digit yards. At some point, head coach Ed Orgeron relieved Brady of his play calling duties to not expose anything else out of the playbook.
The offensive scheme was simple — hit running backs in the flats and take a shot downfield when blitzed. Both the LSU offense and defense could not have had a better box score.
— Robert Cardona (@CARDONAFAM29) September 1, 2019
The key to this game is in the trenches. Both the Longhorns and Tigers are considered to have young and inexperienced offensive lineman. The LSU defense should have the advantage in every unit, with Grant Delpit and K’Lavon Chaisson.
Ehlinger will be under pressure and his top targets will have suffocating coverage. The stable of running backs is thin, leaving LSU to drop plenty back while keeping a spy on Ehlinger.
Take LSU at any number less than 7.
Pick: LSU -6.5
UTEP at Texas Tech
- Spread: Texas Tech -34.5
- Over/Under: 65
- Time: 8 p.m. ET
- TV: Fox Sports Network
Oh Miner Nation, look how far we have come?! The last time I went #PicksUp, UTEP got blanked by UAB. While there is always the possibility the Miners do not score, we can always hope the Red Raiders keep it within five touchdowns.
Reviewing Matt Wells’ debut as Texas Tech head coach in a 45-10 win led to some interesting observations. Montana State had just eight first downs, going 2 of 16 on third down with 289 total yards. Eight first downs and almost 300 yards could only mean the explosive play came in bunches for the Bobcats.
Four different Montana State players had explosive plays against the Texas Tech defense. The Red Raiders certainly did their job in getting points up on the board, but the defense will need work in stopping chunk yardage by opponents.
Reviewing the box score for UTEP found a number of delightful IsoPPP events. Three rushers, including quarterback Brandon Jones, and four different receivers all had plays over 20 yards in Week 1. Sure it was Houston Baptist, but the Texas Tech defense didn’t have much to offer Montana State.
The other factor in this game is the relationship between Wells and the UTEP staff. Chico Canales and Mike Cox are both former Utah State coaches that are personal friends and respected colleagues of Wells.
The Texas Tech coach mentioned his personal relationship along with his concern over the size of the UTEP interior offensive lineman in his weekly presser.
Get your #PicksUp gamblers, shop for the best number and depend on the kindness of Matt Wells heart to take his foot off the pedal on Miner Nation.
Pick: UTEP +34.5
Cal at Washington
- Spread: Washington -14
- Over/Under: 43.5
- Time: 10:30 p.m. ET
- TV: Fox Sports 1
In a span of just a couple of years, Justin Wilcox has turned Cal into a defensive juggernaut. The Bears finished 2018 ranked 13th in defensive S&P+ and had a tough test against UC Davis from the FCS in Week 1.
After a fumble early by the Cal offense, UC Davis led 10-0 before the defense shut Aggies down for the remainder of the game. The key in that previous sentence is fumble, as Cal has consistently had issues with turnovers.
That was not a problem in last year’s 12-10 victory over Washington. Wilcox has a long history with Washington head coach Chris Petersen. The former defensive coordinator spent 2006 through 2009 at Boise State producing some of the Broncos best defenses in program history.
Our Action Network projections have this game at Washington -8.5, giving value to the current number at two touchdowns. This game coms down to quarterback Chase Garbers and ball protection.
The Bears were 126th in offensive IsoPPP last season, but Garbers hit explosive plays in the passing game in Week 1.
Pick: Cal +14