Last year ATS: 112-112-2 (56-58 National, 56-54-2 B1G)
It feels so good to be back! Money, Cash, & Joe’s is back for a seventh full season, and hopefully this is the year that we really break the bank. The last couple of years have felt like the episode of Seinfeld where everything breaks even for George, as we went 112-112-2 last year, and 111-113-5 in 2017.
If you’re new to the program, MC&J picks the biggest national games of the week on Thursdays and then on Fridays we tackle Ohio State’s game and the rest of the Big Ten action. Follow along all the way through bowl season and we’ll have some fun.
UCLA v. Cincinnati (-3) - Thursday 8/29 7:00 PM EST - ESPN
Technically college football is already back after a couple of Week 0 games, but none of those were the Mick Cronin Bowl. UCLA already stole Cincinnati’s basketball coach, now the Bruins will head to the Queen City to try and send the Bearcats into next week’s clash with Ohio State on a loss.
It seemed like a given that Luke Fickell would do good things at Cincinnati, but I’m not sure I expected him to go 11-2 in his second season with the Bearcats, and beat Virginia Tech in a bowl game. Cincinnati found success with quarterback Desmond Ridder and running back Michael Warren II. Both return in 2019 and should make the Bearcats tough to stop on offense again.
UCLA has their own quarterback/running back combination that is looking to make some waves in 2019. Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson should be better this year in his second season in Chip Kelly’s system. Running back Joshua Kelley essentially only played in nine games in 2018, but still ran for 1,243 yards and 12 touchdowns.
I would be a little worried about the Bearcats looking ahead to Ohio State if tonight’s game against the Bruins wasn’t the season opener. UCLA is going to be better this year, but they’ll be missing three of their linebackers due to suspension or injury. The Bruins put up a valiant effort, but Cincinnati ends up winning by 10 points.
Cincinnati 31, UCLA 21
No. 14 Utah (-6.5) v. BYU - Thursday 8/29 10:15 PM EST - ESPN
For all of the history of The Holy War, Thursday night’s game marks the first time that the rivalry has been a season opener for the two schools. The Utes have owned this series of late, winning the last eight meetings against the Cougars.
Looking for a College Football Playoff sleeper? Utah could very well be that team. After they both were hurt in the latter part of the season, both quarterback Tyler Huntley and running back Zack Moss return for Utah. The Utes, who finished fifth in the country against the run last year, will likely again be tough to move the football against this year.
You can’t end a season any better than Zach Wilson did last year. The BYU quarterback completed all 18 passes he attempted in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, racking up 307 yards and four touchdown passes against Western Michigan. Wilson also put together a strong effort in a 35-27 loss at Utah in BYU’s regular season finale, throwing for 204 yards and a of couple touchdowns.
Utah will make it nine wins in a row against BYU, but they are going to be pushed to the limit by the Cougars. A win in The Holy War is never easy, and a win on the road is even tougher. This one isn’t decided until late in the fourth quarter, and I certainly don’t think it’s going to be decided by more than a touchdown.
Utah 27, BYU 24
Duke v. No. 2 Alabama (-34) - Saturday 8/31 3:30 PM EST - ABC
You don’t think Nick Saban isn’t going to have his team ready to open a can after having all season to stew over the 44-16 beatdown Clemson put on them in the national title game? Alabama could put the backups in and they’d probably still hit this number. Duke could still have Daniel Jones and it wouldn’t matter. Duke is going to get thumped on Saturday afternoon in Atlanta.
Alabama 49, Duke 10
No. 11 Oregon v. No. 16 Auburn (-3.5) - Saturday 8/31 7:30 PM EST - ABC
Almost 10 years after the fact, we get a rematch of the 2011 BCS National Championship Game. Remember, the one where Michael Dyer was ruled not down even though he was really down?
Flash forward to now: The BCS is a thing of the past, Oregon is now just starting to make some noise again after a few years of struggling, and Auburn is still Auburn. It feels like Gus Malzahn has been on the hot seat for half a decade, but somehow Auburn can’t pull the trigger on firing him. I guess Gus really wants to test the waters this year, since he named true freshman Bo Nix as Auburn’s starting quarterback.
Oregon didn’t have to worry about naming a starting quarterback, since Justin Herbert’s name was written in pen at the position when it was announced that he was returning to school and delaying his entry into the NFL Draft. The Ducks have a chance to restore a little pride to the Pac-12 this year, since they could be a part of the playoff if they are able to take care of business.
Auburn has a scary defensive line, but Oregon has an experienced offensive line that can at least check the Tigers. I’m not sold on Auburn’s offense, and I think that they can get in trouble if Herbert can stay calm in the pocket and put some points on the board early for Oregon. I might even be on the Ducks if they were favored by three, so I’ll gladly take the points here.
Oregon 30, Auburn 24
Houston v. No. 4 Oklahoma (-23.5) - Sunday 9/1 7:30 PM EST - ABC
Oklahoma looks primed for another run at the College Football Playoff, but the Sooners are still winless in the playoff despite making three appearances. If Lincoln Riley’s team has designs on finding that first playoff win, they are going to need to tighten up their defense. The Sooners think former Ohio State assistant Alex Grinch can help them find the answers, as Riley hired Grinch to be Oklahoma’s new defensive coordinator.
Houston made an even bigger splash this offseason, sending Major Applewhite to the moon and bringing in West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen. Last year, Holgo’s West Virginia squad put up 56 points against the Sooners, but the Mountaineers still lost by a field goal. You have to imagine that Holgo is licking his chops with what he can do with D’Eriq King against the Oklahoma defense.
I don’t see Houston beating Oklahoma, especially now that Ed Oliver has moved on to the NFL. But I also don’t see Jalen Hurts and the Sooners completely blowing the Cougars off the map. This should be a fun game where we see Oklahoma pull away by a couple touchdowns later in the second half.
Oklahoma 44, Houston 28
No. 9 Notre Dame (-18.5) v. Louisville - Monday 9/2 8:00 PM EST - ESPN
If we were just judging this game on the results of both teams from last year, then you’d think Notre Dame should wax Louisville. Good thing for the Cardinals that this isn’t last year. Scott Satterfield is the new Louisville head coach, and there should be a lot more enthusiasm and effort than during the last days of Bobby Petrino.
I don’t see Notre Dame making it back to the playoff this year, but I also don’t see them falling off the map. Quarterback Ian Book should be in line for another solid season, but the Fighting Irish did lose a number of key players on both sides of the football. Notre Dame’s big game is against Georgia in a few weeks, and I feel like they’ll use this week’s game and next week’s contest against New Mexico to build up to the game in Athens.
Louisville will give the home fans a spirited effort in Scott Satterfield’s first game as head coach. The Cardinals won’t win, but they’ll show early that they made the right hire. Louisville returns nine of their top 11 tacklers from last year, so they’ll give the Fighting Irish some resistance in moving the football. More than two touchdowns feels like a little too much for Notre Dame to be laying in primetime right now on the road in a season opener.
Notre Dame 33, Louisville 21