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College Football Week 1: Picks Against The Spread For Top-25 Teams

Photo Credit: Thegamehaus.com

College football season is finally here! Every week, I’m going to pick each Top-25 game against the spread. I’ll be keeping track of my record throughout the season as well. With any questions about the picks, tweet at us @Sports_Burd, or tweet at me personally @Dylan_Burd. Here we go!

*Note: We omitted the UCF vs. UCONN game from our predictions as they played on Thursday night*

Friday, August 31st

#11 Michigan State vs. Utah State, 7:00 PM (Spread: Michigan State -23.5)

Outlook: Michigan State is going to be legitimate contenders in the Big Ten this season, as they return 21 starters from 2017. Brian Lewerke is an underrated QB, and Felton Davis III is going to be a huge threat at wide out. The Spartans also had a top defense in the nation in 2017 as they were 9th in the FBS is yards allowed per game. Utah State was actually decent last year, as they qualified for a bowl game. However, every time they faced a Power-5 opponent, they got rocked. Utah State also has 16 returning starters, so they will likely improve on their 6-7 record from 2017. While Utah State may keep this close for a quarter, I anticipate Michigan State pulling away big in this game. They’re too good for the likes of Utah State.

The Pick: Michigan State

#4 Wisconsin vs. Western Kentucky, 9:00 PM (Wisconsin -36.5)

Outlook: Wisconsin has three offensive linemen that have made all-america teams, and return their Heisman-caliber running back Jonathan Taylor. They’re also a very good defensive team. Western Kentucky made a bowl game last year and lost, finishing the season 6-7. The bowl game they lost was to Georgia State, which makes me extremely concerned for them in this game vs. Wisconsin. This may be the best team Wisconsin has had in years, and a team that has a decent chance at making the College Football Playoff. Expect Wisconsin to cover this spread.

The Pick: Wisconsin

#13 Stanford vs. San Diego State, 9:00 PM (Stanford -14.0)

Outlook: San Diego State was a ten-win team last season, and actually beat Stanford 20-17 at home. Stanford returns 2017 Heisman candidate running back Bryce Love, while San Diego State lost Rashaad Penny, who finish fifth in the Heisman voting. However, both teams are returning a lot of talent as San Diego State is returning 14/22 offensive/defensive starters, and Stanford is 18/22 offensive/defensive starters. I think Stanford gets the job done at home this year, but expect San Diego State to put up a fight and only lose by one possession. That’s why I’m picking San Diego State against the spread; they always seem to be a problem.

The Pick: San Diego State

 

Saturday, September 1st

#5 Ohio State vs. Oregon State, 12:00 PM (Ohio State -38.5)

Outlook: This game is probably my lock of the week. It’s is going to be an absolute mauling. While Oregon State is a PAC-12 team, they only won one game in 2017, and got demolished in nearly every single game they played. Ohio State is a clear top-ten team, and they’re playing at home, so expect this to be a 40-50 point win for the Buckeyes.

The Pick: Ohio State

#23 Texas @ Maryland, 12:00 PM (Texas -13.5)

Outlook: Maryland is coming off an offseason of disastrous distractions, while Texas is trying to finally return to their old form, which we’ve been waiting for forever. The Terapins beat Texas in Austin last season, but finished the season terribly after they’re top-two quarterbacks, Tyrrell Pigrome and Kasim Hill were injured. The Longhorns also return their two best quarterbacks, Shane Buechele and Sam Ehlinger, as well as many other starters. I except a close game, with Maryland losing, but covering the spread.

The Pick: Maryland

#7 Oklahoma vs. FAU, 12:00 PM (Oklahoma -21.0)

Outlook: This game is one of the most intriguing of week one, as Kyler Murray will look to live up to high expectations in his one year of college football before heading to the MLB. Murray was an outstanding high school quarterback, but will have big shoes to fill after Baker Mayfield won the Heisman trophy in 2017. Rodney Anderson will return in 2018 as the Sooners’ starting running back after he ran for over 1,100 yards and 13 touchdowns last season. On the other side, Lane Kiffin and Florida Atlantic are riding a 10-game winning streak dating back to last season. FAU averaged 40.6 points per game in 2017, which was 8th in the FBS (Oklahoma scored 45.1, 3rd in FBS). Expect a good old fashion shootout in this one, with Oklahoma winning by 14-17. FAU will cover the spread and be competitive for most of this game though.

The Pick: FAU

#16 TCU vs. Sourthern, 12:00 PM (TCU -44.0)

Outlook: TCU lost a ton of players from last season and will only return two offensive starters and six defensive starters. However, former four star quarterback Shawn Robinson will take over for Kenny Hill at quarterback, so it shouldn’t be much of a loss. TCU will also return their best running back and one of their top wide receivers. I still expect TCU to be competitive this season despite the loss of talent. Expect them to roll over Southern and cover the spread too.

The Pick: TCU

#2 Clemson vs. Furman, 12:20 PM (Clemson: -44.5)

Outlook: Clemson is my pick to win the national championship this year. They’re defensive line is comprised of future first round picks, and their quarterback is either going to be Kelly Bryant or Trevor Lawrence (#1 in ESPN300). This game is going to be a rout, the question is just will Clemson win by 45 points or not, and I think they will.

The Pick: Clemson

#10 Penn State vs. Appalachian State, 3:30 PM (Penn State -24.0)

Outlook: Penn State lost a lot of talent on offense after Saquon Barkley and Mike Gesicki moved on to the NFL. However, they retained their most important piece, Trace McSorely. McSorely could be a Heisman candidate this year. Former five-star running back Miles Sanders will also have the opportunity to show what he’s got, as he’ll finally be starting. App State isn’t a bad team by any means, and they may even keep the game close in the first quarter, but I expect Penn State to pull away and win this by around four touchdowns.

The Pick: Penn State

#6 Washington vs. #9 Auburn (in Atlanta), 3:30 PM (Auburn -2.0)

Outlook: In my opinion, this is the best game of the weekend by far. The best team in the Pac-12 vs. a top-three team in the SEC to help kick off college football. There’s nothing better than a week one matchup like this. Each team returns a decent amount from last year, where each team played in a New Years Six bowl. At a neutral site, I really think that the difference is going to come down to the quarterback play. Jared Stidham is a guy that I think is a dark horse to win the 2018 Heisman Trophy. He’s a top-three quarterback in college football, and Auburn is going to go as far as Stidham leads them this year. Give me Auburn in a close one, but enough to cover the spread.

The Pick: Auburn

#3 Georgia vs. Austin Peay, 3:30 PM (Georgia 42.5)

Outlook: Georgia is going to be ridiculous again this season. Jake Fromm returns as starting quarterback and running back DeAndre Swift could be a dark horse for Heisman. As long as Kirby Smart keeps recruiting like he is, Georgia is going to be a powerhouse for years to come. They’ll cover 42.5 Saturday.

The Pick: Georgia

#17 West Virginia vs. Tennessee, 3:30 PM (WVU -9.5)

Outlook: Will Grier is going to be the reason why West Virginia is on the map this year. He threw for over 3,400 yards and 34 TDs in 2017 for the Mountaineers, and will look to improve on that this season. Solely because of him, West Virginia is my pick to win the Big 12. Tennessee only won four games last season, but have 13 retuning starters in 2018, and a new head coach in Jeremy Pruitt. I expect Tennessee to win 7 or 8 games in 2018, but not this one. West Virginia will win by at least two scores at home.

The Pick: West Virginia

#15 USC vs. UNLV, 4:00 PM (USC -26.5)

Outlook: USC will be starting true freshman quarterback JT Daniels in this game, as he will be Sam Darnold’s replacement. Daniels is going to have a great college career as he was the best quarterback in the 2019 class before reclassifying to 2018. However, I can’t trust a true freshman quarterback to cover a 26.5 point spread in his first career game, even if it’s against UNLV, who won five games in 2017. Give me USC by 17-21 points, and UNLV on the spread.

The Pick: UNLV

#22 Boise State @ Troy, 6:00 PM (Boise State -10.0)

Outlook: Boise State was one of Troy’s two losses in 2017. Troy isn’t a bad team at all, as they beat LSU last season and won 11 games. However, they did lose their starting quarterback. Boise State has nine 2017 defensive starters, four 2017 starting offensive linemen, their 2017 starting quarterback and 2017 starting running back all back for 2018. Expect Boise State to take this one handedly as Troy will be going through a transition from one quarterback to another.

The Pick: Boise State

#18 Mississippi State vs. S.F Austin, 7:30 PM (Miss. St. -41.0)

Outlook: I have very high expectations for Mississippi State in 2018, as they have a new head coach in Joe Moorhead and are returning their quarterback Nick Fitzgerald. However, Fitzgerald is suspended for the first game of the season which means backup quarterback Keytaon Thompson will get the start. Thompson led the Bulldogs to a bowl win vs. Louisville last season, and is a ridiculous rushing quarterback. He ran for three touchdowns and over 140 yards in that game. He’ll be more than capable of leading Mississippi State in this game. Give me the Bulldogs with the points in this one.

The Pick: Mississippi State

#12 Notre Dame vs. #14 Michigan, 7:30 PM (Notre Dame -1.0)

Outlook: Michigan is playing this game in South Bend, but they’re certainly a sneaky team to watch out for this year. They’re defense is stacked, and they finally have a legitimate starting quarterback in Shea Patterson. While Notre Dame is another team with a great defense and starting quarterback, I think Jim Harbaugh and Michigan start off 2018 with a huge win to propel them into the top ten of the AP Poll. The Big Ten is simply stacked this year.

The Pick: Michigan

#1 Alabama vs. Louisville, 8:00 PM (Spread: Alabama -24.5)

Outlook: We still don’t know who’s starting at quarterback for Alabama, but it doesn’t matter too much. The point is that Alabama is still Alabama, and Louisville no longer has Lamar Jackson. Louisville already has started talking smack towards Bama, probably a really bad idea. This game is over before it started. Bama by 35.

The Pick: Alabama

#24 Oregon vs. Bowling Green, 8:00 PM (Spread: Oregon -33.0)

Outlook: After a few down years, Oregon has a bit of hype this year with Justin Herbert starting at quarterback. However, the running back position could be a major issue for the Ducks as Royce Freeman is no longer in Eugene. While Oregon is a team that can really go either way this season, they are playing Bowling Green, who had 2 wins last season, at home. Give me Oregon.

The Pick: Oregon

Sunday, September 2nd

#8 Miami vs. #25 LSU, 7:30 PM (Miami -3.5)

Outlook: The U was back last season has they went 10-1 in the regular season before losing in the ACC Championship to Clemson and Orange Bowl to Wisconsin. They were carried by their defense who had 17 interceptions fueled by the turnover chain and allowed only 19.9 points per game last season. They return much of their secondary, and many of their weapons on the offensive side of the ball. While they’re definitely a better team than LSU, they will head to Death Valley, an extremely tough place to play. LSU lost their best player in Derrius Guice, and will be lead by Ohio State grad transfer quarterback Joe Burrow.  LSU is returning a decent amount of their defense, but their offense is having too much turnover for me to think they have much of a chance in this game.

The Pick: Miami

 

Monday, September 3rd

#19 Florida State vs. #20 Virginia Tech, 8:00 PM (Florida State -7.0)

Outlook: Florida State was an absolute disaster last season after their starting quarterback DeAndre Francois went down vs. Alabama in week one. However, Francois will be back out there week one, to go along with former five-star running back, Cam Akers. This team is going to be a lot better than people think in 2018. Virginia Tech is always a solid team, but they lost a lot of their defense from last season and only return four starters on that side of the ball. Luckily for them, they return their quarterback Josh Jackson. Florida State is going to benefit tremendously from home-field in this one, and I think they’ll prove to everyone that they’re back with a convincing win to open the season.

The Pick: Florida State

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