Saturday’s college football action is almost here, which bettors must be itching for after being forced to watch what was apparently football between the Eagles and Falcons on Thursday night.
As we will do every week during the season, we asked several of our staffers to give us their favorite college football side or total for this upcoming Week 2 Saturday.
We will start with five underdogs and five favorites our experts see value in — before finishing with a few totals and a couple quick grabs.
Let’s jump in with a noon kick.
*All odds for the picks pulled overnight from 5Dimes on Sep. 7
Collin Wilson: Duke +3 (at Northwestern)
Noon ET on ESPNU
Northwestern pulled out the victory against Purdue thanks in part to three turnovers, as the Boilermakers actually outgained the Wildcats.
Wildcats head coach Pat Fitzgerald’s group left that game with a net yards-per-play differential of -1.57.
It’s hard to sustain success over the long run with a negative net YPP differential, especially when you convert only 6 of 18 third downs.
Duke was a different story in Week 1, avenging a 2017 loss to Army. The Blue Devils sold out to stop the run, which did leave them vulnerable to a few pass plays. However, Duke still finished with a net yards-per-play advantage of almost two yards.
The offense should have an easier time up front, as Northwestern will be without two defensive tackles.
Duke quarterback Daniel Jones should have a field day against the Northwestern secondary, as he did last year in a 41-17 blowout win. Take the points with the Dukies and add them to your round-robin moneyline parlay.
Brad Senkiw: Virginia +6.5 (at Indiana)
7:30 p.m. ET on BTN
Head coach Bronco Mendenhall may have been sandbagging a little this offseason when he told Virginia’s administration that only one third of his players are ACC-caliber.
I’m starting to think the Cavaliers are better than many thought — especially after seeing them handle FCS team Richmond 42-13 last week.
UVA will have the best playmaker on the field Saturday in running back Olamide Zaccheaus, while JUCO transfer quarterback Bryce Perkins looked pretty good in his debut. The dual-threat quarterback finished with nearly 300 total yards.
The Hoos can pull off the upset against an Indiana squad still searching for an identity and short on a running game. If not, I think they can certainly keep it close.
Ken Barkley: Arkansas State +36 (at Alabama)
3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2
Alabama sandwich games (as in, games between those against meaningful opponents) are typically very attractive, but even more so when they precede the conference opener.
The Tide generally play a very good team in Week 1, but then have one or two “easy” games before their conference opener, which has been against Ole Miss in recent years.
In the past five years, Alabama is 0-4-1 ATS the week before its conference opener.
I’m sure Nick Saban is infinitely more concerned about avoiding injury and running the clock in these games than he is about making a statement.
Arkansas State isn’t just some patsy such as Furman or Western Carolina, either. The Red Wolves can actually move the ball a little, and they’re more than capable of scoring a few touchdowns late.
This feels a lot like the Fresno State game last year, which Alabama dominated but ultimately won 41-10, failing to cover as a 43-point favorite.