College Football Picks: Future Big 12 showdown, USC’s test
Week 2 is a quick turnaround for college football fans.
With the Labor Day Weekend games going through Monday night, you don’t have much time to recoup before it ramps back up.
The five most intriguing games of Week 2, with lines from FanDuel Sportsbook:
1) No. 9 Baylor at No. 21 BYU.
The Bears pulled away from the Cougars in their meeting last year in Texas, a big win in what turned out to be one of the best seasons in school history. The return trip is the first of five games against Power Five opponents for the Cougars. Baylor offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes came from BYU to turn around the Bears’ offense last season.
Line: BYU by 3 1/2. Pick: BYU 30-28.
2) No. 20 Kentucky at No. 12 Florida
Gators QB Anthony Richardson has a chance to be a season-changing player for Florida and the Southeastern Conference. Kentucky has split the last four meetings, which doesn’t sound like much, but the Gators had won 34 straight before that. For the second straight week, a big one in the Swamp.
Line: Florida by 5 1/2. Pick: Florida 28-24.
3) No. 10 Southern California at Stanford
Lincoln Riley’s debut at USC was the expected feel-good affair against Rice. Stanford has slipped from its 2010s peak, but the Cardinal still beat the Trojans badly enough last year to get Clay Helton fired. Stanford is not the measuring stick it once would have been for USC, but it is the first true test for Caleb Williams, Jordan Addison and team transfer portal.
Line: USC by 9 1/2. Pick: USC 35-28.
4) Mississippi State at Arizona
No team in the country looked better in Week 1 relative to its 2021 performance than Arizona, handily beating San Diego State after going 1-11 in coach Jedd Fisch’s debut season. This nonconference matchup against an experienced SEC team seemed as if it would be too much of a lift for the Wildcats in the offseason. Now, it’s intriguing.
Line: Mississippi State by 11 1/2. Pick: Mississippi State 31-23.
5) No. 1 Alabama at Texas.
Two storied programs getting together on campus is always interesting, but let’s be real: This is not so much about whether former Tide assistant Steve Sarkisian’s Longhorns can beat ’Bama as it is getting a gauge on where the rebuild stands in Year 2.
Line: Alabama by 20 1/2. Pick: Alabama 42-14.
The rest of the ranked teams facing FBS opponents:
Arkansas State at No. 2 Ohio State (minus 43 1/2)
Buckeyes expected to be without star WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba for a few games in which they won’t miss him ... OHIO STATE 59-10.
Marshall (plus 20 1/2) at No. 8 Notre Dame
Irish finally get Marcus Freeman that first victory as head coach ... NOTRE DAME 31-13.
Appalachian State at No. 6 Texas A&M (minus 18 1/2)
Mountaineers get at another shot at a P5 upset, but a much tougher task at College Station ... TEXAS A&M 38-17.
Hawaii (plus 51 1/2) at No. 4 Michigan
Will J.J. McCarthy’s first start at quarterback also signal Cade McNamara’s last? ... MICHIGAN 52-7.
Kent State at No. 7 Oklahoma (minus 32 1/2)
Another tuneup before the Sooners head to Nebraska ... OKLAHOMA 56-21.
Arizona State at No. 11 Oklahoma State (minus 10 1/2)
A future Big 12 game? Or Pac-12? Or ACC, maybe? ... OKLAHOMA STATE 34-26.
Akron at No. 14 Michigan State (minus 34 1/2)
Zips needed OT to beat St. Francis (Pa.) last week. Not great ... MICHIGAN STATE 48-7.
Southern Mississippi (plus 24 1/2) at No. 15 Miami
Eagles RB Frank Gore Jr. (178 yard rushing in USM’s opener) faces his dad’s former school ... MIAMI 35-14.
No. 24 Tennessee at No. 17 Pittsburgh (plus 6 1/2)
Return matchup after the Panthers won in Knoxville last year ... TENNESSEE 31-27.
Washington State at No. 19 Wisconsin (minus 16 1/2)
Wazzu QB Cameron Ward, a talented FCS transfer, gets stiff test against typically stingy Badgers ... WISCONSIN 41-20, BEST BET.
South Carolina (plus 8 1/2) at No. 16 Arkansas
First SEC game for former Oklahoma QB Spencer Rattler, now with the Gamecocks ... ARKANSAS 31-24.
No. 23 Wake Forest at Vanderbilt (plus 12 1/2)
Commodores (2-0) already have matched last season’s win total ... WAKE FOREST 38-27.
No. 25 Houston (plus 2 1/2) at Texas Tech
Red Raiders expected to be without QB Tyler Shough ... HOUSTON 42-41.
Louisville (plus 6 1/2) at UCF, Friday — @DanaBecker
Discouraging opener for the Cardinals, followed up by another tough road trip ... UCF 35-31.
Oregon State (plus 1/2) at Fresno State, Saturday
Beavers go for a mini-Mountain West title after beating Boise State last week ... OREGON STATE 28-24.
Missouri at Kansas State (minus 7 1/2), Saturday — @ChrisLTurner
Still, feels like a Big 12 game ... KANSAS STATE 31-21.
Duke (plus 10 1/2) at Northwestern, Saturday — @Evan_GoCats
Both opened with encouraging victories after miserable 2021 seasons ... NORTHWESTERN 23-14.
Iowa State (plus 3 1/2) at Iowa, Saturday — @thebenwhitehead
Hawkeyes are riding a six-game winning streak in the Cy-Hawk rivalry ... IOWA STATE 23-20, UPSET SPECIAL.
Last week: Straight-up — 18-3; Against spread — 10-11.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at http://www.appodcasts.com
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