Each week throughout the NCAA and NFL seasons I’ll be giving you ten picks for your degenerate gambling pleasure! All lines are based off of Bovada.com.
Texas A&M @ South Carolina (-11)
Two SEC powerhouses will kick off the college season tomorrow night – both with new quarterbacks as A&M loses Johnny Manziel and USC loses Connor Shaw to the NFL. The Gamecocks have won seven-straight home openers and 18-straight overall at home. Meanwhile A&M is 4-7 in road or neutral opening games. It’s a tough spread for SC to cover (-11) but they’ve won their last seven openers by an average of 22 points.
The pick: South Carolina -11
Penn State V.S. Central Florida (-2)
This game comes to us all the way from Dublin, Ireland. Penn State is 2-1 against the Knights but lost to them 34-31 last year. The Nittany Lions come into 2014 with a new head coach in James Franklin but will trot out experienced QB Christian Hackenberg. The Knights lost their QB Blake Bortles to the NFL and are starting sophomore Justin Holman for the first time. Also, Penn State nearly won this game last year.
The pick: Penn State +2
Ohio State (-16) @ Navy
Trust me, if Braxton Miller was starting this game that -16 would be more like -30. The sharks took two touchdowns away from Ohio State after Miller’s injury was announced. JT Barrett’s first start is going to be rocky, but the Buckeyes are too loaded everywhere to not blow out Navy. Take the -16 and run.
The pick: Ohio State -16
UCLA (-21) @ Virginia
Virginia is 9-2 in home openers but unfortunately they’re three-touchdown dogs in this one against the Bruins. If this Brett Hundley Heisman talk is for real, he should be able to guide UCLA to a convincing victory on opening night.
The pick: UCLA -21
Cal @ Northwestern (-11)
The Wildcats have had a rough off-season. They lost RB Venric Mark to transfer and WR Christian Jones to injury, but they return eight starters on defense. Northwestern is 2-0 against Cal but these two were tied 27-27 in the fourth quarter last year before the Wildcats pulled out a 44-30 win. Despite Northwestern’s lack of offensive talent (at least early in the season), I think Cal just isn’t good.
The pick: Northwestern -11
Alabama (-21) V.S. West Virginia
This game will be played in the Georgia Dome. Alabama is far and away better than West Virginia across the board. I think a three-touchdown spot is right where ‘Bama should be here. I would be comfortable even if this was -24 Alabama, so -21 is almost a bargain (if there ever were such as thing as a 21-point dog being a bargain).
The pick: Alabama -21
Clemson @ Georgia (-7.5)
Clemson took this game last year 38-35, but that was with Tahj Boyd at QB and Sammy Watkins at WR. Clemson returned only five offensive starters and seven defensive starters while Georgia returned six on offense and eight on defense – including RB Todd Gurley and offensive senior WRs Malcolm Mitchell, Chris Conley and Michael Bennett. The 7.5-point spread is tough and tricky to navigate. This could be one of those games where it’ll be tied late before Georgia rips off 14 unanswered points then Clemson gets 7 in garbage time to kill your spread. I’m going to go with Georgia at 7.5 but I’d like it even better if it was 6.
The pick: Georgia -7.5
Florida State (-18) V.S. Oklahoma State
The defending champs open with a trip to Jerry World (AT&T Stadium in Dallas) to face the Oklahoma State Cowboys. This game may very well be one of FSU’s toughest games on the schedule (Clemson, Notre Dame, Miami, and Florida are the only other lookers) but keep this in mind – defending National Champions are 15-0 on opening days the following season. However, for what it’s worth, Oklahoma State is 9-4 in non-coference road openers. I like the Cowboys to hang around here.
The pick: Oklahoma State +18
LSU (-5) V.S. Wisconsin
The Badgers play like an SEC team. They consistently have great power run teams and play good defense – which matches up perfectly with LSU’s style. The Badgers are an astonishing 31-2 in regular season non-conference games with their only two losses against Oregon in 2012 and Arizona State in that weird “kneel down” finish last season. I think the Badgers at +5 here is a steal. They won’t win the game but they should be well-within a touchdown. I’d say this is a 24-23 game.
The pick: Wisconsin +5
Miami @ Louisville (-4.5)
Like Wisconsin, Miami is a bargain at +4.5 with one of the best running games in the ACC. Granted, the Hurricanes will start a freshman QB in Brad Kaaya. This is Louisville’s first-ever ACC game and head coach Bobby Petrino’s first game back with the university. Louisville, to me, has too many question marks. And remember, Miami did start 7-0 last year before finishing 2-3 and losing 36-9 to … who else … Louisville in the Russell Athletic Bowl. But that was another lifetime ago for Louisville when some guy named Teddy Bridgewater was still their QB.
The pick: Miami +4.5
ALL TEN PICKS
South Carolina -11
Penn State +2
Ohio State -16
Oklahoma State +18
Miami (FL) +4.5