Season ATS: 9-9 (2-3 National, 7-6 B1G)
Last week’s start to the season could have been better, but it also could have been a lot worse. Maybe I should just avoid trying to pick games involving SEC teams, since I lost on three of the four games I picked involving the SEC. Apparently I didn’t learn my lesson though, as I have three more games this week involving SEC squads.
No. 23 TCU (-3) v. Arkansas - 3:30 p.m. EST - CBS
After Arkansas won a thrilling double-overtime game in Fort Worth last year, the Horned Frogs and Razorbacks will square off in the return affair in Fayetteville on Saturday afternoon. Arkansas jumped out to a 13-0 lead last year, but needed a late Austin Allen touchdown and two-point conversion to force overtime, where Arkansas was eventually able to put the game away.
Both squads had little trouble knocking some of the rust off in their season openers, beating Jackson State and Florida A&M by a combined score of 112-7. TCU running back Kyle Hicks, who rushed for over 1,000 yards last year, missed the season opener, but is expected to play on Saturday against the Razorbacks.
Kenny Hill and Allen squaring off at quarterback should make this a fun contest. It’s tempting to take the unranked home underdog against a ranked opponent, but I think TCU is just a little bit better than Arkansas right now and the Horned Frogs gain a bit of revenge for last year’s loss.
TCU 38, Arkansas 31
No. 13 Auburn v. No. 3 Clemson (-6) - 7:00 p.m. EST - ESPN
Clemson started off life after Deshaun Watson with an easy 56-3 win over Kent State last weekend, but the difficulty level is about to get turned up for quarterback Kelly Bryant. After accounting for 313 total yards and three touchdowns in his first start for the Tigers, the junior quarterback will have his hands full trying to solve an Auburn defense that held Georgia Southern to just 78 total yards in a 41-7 season opening win.
It’s not hard to figure out what Auburn will try to do on Saturday night. Run the football. Whether they’ll have any success doing so against the Clemson defensive line is another story. At least Auburn will get Kamryn Pettway, who led the SEC last year with 122.4 rushing yards per game, back from suspension for the trip to Death Valley.
This will be the sixth meeting in 10 years between the schools, and for the most part they’ve played each other very close, with four of the five previous meetings being decided by a touchdown or less. I can’t say I’m thrilled about laying nearly a touchdown with a quarterback making just his second start against a defense like Auburn’s, but I feel like in the end defense and Death Valley will be what powers Clemson to a 10-point win.
Clemson 27, Auburn 17
No. 15 Georgia v. No. 24 Notre Dame (-4) - 7:30 p.m. EST - NBC
This marks just the second time in history these two programs have met, with Georgia’s 17-10 win in the 1981 Sugar Bowl clinching a national title for the Bulldogs. Now both teams are trying to fight their way back into national prominence. Kirby Smart is looking to build on an 8-5 first season in Athens, while Notre Dame is trying to recover from a 2016 season that saw the Fighting Irish go 4-8. Yes, you read that right, Notre Dame went 4-8 in 2016.
Georgia was able to do something Michigan wasn’t able to do 10 years prior. Beat a visiting Appalachian State team in the home opener. It wasn’t all roses between the hedges though, as quarterback Jacob Eason was injured early on in the 31-10 victory. At least the Bulldogs didn’t need true freshman Jake Fromm too much, as he had running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel to rely on.
I still don’t know exactly what to think about Notre Dame this year. The Fighting Irish looked good in their 49-16 win over Temple last week, but I’m not sure that means much against the rebuilding Owls. One thing I do know, is the Fighting Irish aren’t going to rush for 422 yards against Georgia, like they did against Temple.
Honestly I’m only picking Georgia here because I’m hoping a close loss will turn Brian Kelly’s face into a new shade of purple.
Georgia 24, Notre Dame 21
No. 14 Stanford v. No. 6 USC (-6) - 8:30 p.m. EST - FOX
College football is pretty unpredictable, over the past five years one thing we see more often than not is Stanford dealing USC an early season blow. While it hasn’t happened in every one of those years, the Cardinals have taken down the Trojans in three of the four meetings between the schools in September.
Stanford had a different start to the season, opening the season two weeks ago over in Australia. Traveling to Sydney and back might have been tougher than the actual game for the Cardinal, as they had an easy time cooking Rice. Stanford racked up over 650 yards in the 62-7 blowout, with 180 yards coming from Bryce Love on the ground.
USC got more of a test from Western Michigan than they probably expected, but the Trojans scored 28 points in the fourth quarter to pull away from the Broncos. Sam Darnold put together a largely forgettable effort, throwing two interceptions and no touchdowns.
USC very well could show why many think the Trojans will play in the College Football Playoff, but David Shaw has USC’s number, with the Cardinals winning five of the seven matchups against the Trojans under Shaw. As if getting points wasn’t tasty enough in this one, Stanford had a little extra time to prepare for USC after having last weekend off following their season opening trip to Australia.
Stanford 28, USC 24
Boise State v. No. 20 Washington State (-10.5) - 10:30 p.m. EST - ESPN
Washington State has to be ecstatic that they didn’t lose to an FCS team to start the season for a third straight year. Luke Falk was perfect in the first half last week in a 31-0 win over Montana State, and now is just over 100 yards away from breaking Connor Halliday’s school record for most passing yards.
This year’s Boise State team isn’t quite the same Broncos team we have become accustomed to over the year. While Brett Rypien returns at quarterback for Boise State, there are still a lot of questions surrounding much of the of the offense for the Broncos. Last week Boise State didn’t impress all that much in a 24-13 win over Troy, and the Broncos will need a lot better performance if they want to leave Pullman with a victory.
Luckily for Boise State, they still have a strong defense, which they’ll definitely need if they want to hang with the Cougars. Picking Washington State here seems a little too easy. Even though Boise State didn’t look very good against Troy, somehow they’ll find a way to stay in this game until the end.
Washington State 31, Boise State 24