Last season ATS: 112-112-2 (56-58 National, 56-54-2 B1G)
Still out of practice from the long offseason and miss MC&J’s national picks from yesterday? Have no fear, you can find them here.
Tulsa v. No. 18 Michigan State (-23) - Friday 8/30 7:00 PM EST - FS1
It seems like every year Michigan State plays on the Friday of opening weekend, and every year they win ugly. Last year the Spartans snuck by Utah State 38-31, and aside from when they played Jacksonville State a number of years ago, usually the Spartans end up winning by a touchdown or two.
Tulsa is bad. The Golden Hurricanes only won three games last year, beating Central Arkansas, UConn, and SMU. It’s not known who is going to starting at quarterback for Tulsa, but it’s hard to see any of their quarterbacks having much success against a Michigan State defense that includes Kenny Willekes and Joe Bachie.
Michigan State has Brian Lewerke back this year, but I don’t know if that’s a positive thing if he plays like he did last year. The Spartans win this pretty comfortably, but given Michigan State’s recent track record on offense, I don’t trust them to win by more than three touchdowns. Tulsa messes around and finds just enough points to cover.
Michigan State 33 Tulsa 13
No. 19 Wisconsin (-11) v. South Florida - Friday 8/30 7:00 PM EST - ESPN
I’m not used to a world in which Wisconsin isn’t coming off of a 10-win season. Last year the Badgers finished 8-5, failing to win 10 games for the first time since 2013. Things are a little different in Madison, but they are largely the same. The Badgers are going to hand the football off to Jonathan Taylor a billion times this year, but instead of Alex Hornibrook doing it, Jack Coan will get the early nod from Paul Chryst, beating out Graham Mertz in the quarterback competition.
Charlie Strong’s team started out hot last season, winning their first seven games. Then the wheels came off. Blake Barnett was terrible the second half of the year, and the defense couldn’t stop anybody. Barnett is back for his 19th season of college football, but this one will be his last.
I normally like the double-digit unranked home underdog hosting a ranked team, but I don’t like it here. Even though the Bulls are used to the Florida heat, I can’t imagine having to continually go up against the massive Wisconsin offensive line and not be totally exhausted by the end of the game. South Florida puts some points on the board, but Wisconsin pulls away late in the game to win by two touchdowns.
Wisconsin 34, South Florida 20
UMass v. Rutgers (-16) - Friday 8/30 7:15 PM EST - Big Ten Network
I don’t want to live in a world where Rutgers is a 16-point favorite over anyone. Really though, are you going to wager actual currency on Rutgers to beat somebody by more than two touchdowns? That just sounds terrible.
Rutgers 24, UMass 10
Purdue (-11) v. Nevada - Friday 8/30 9:30 PM EST - CBS Sports Network
How drunk was Purdue when they agreed to play at Nevada? Did someone at Purdue have some outstanding gambling debts in Reno and was this looked at as payment for them? The Boilermakers started last year 0-3 and finished the year by losing to Auburn 63-14 in the Music City Bowl. Nothing at all of consequence happened in the middle of the season. Nope, there wasn’t a Saturday night in October where Purdue humbled a top-ranked team in West Lafayette. Nothing like that is ringing a bell.
I don’t know a ton about Nevada, but I do know they’ll be starting a redshirt freshman quarterback. Carson Strong will take the snaps early for the Wolfpack, but if he falters, we could see former Florida State quarterback Malik Henry under center. Nevada does have some depth at their skill positions, but I’m not confident in Strong to move the offense consistently.
Purdue does have Elijah Sindelar back at quarterback, but more importantly Rondale Moore is back. Even though the Boilermakers are young on defense, I feel like the offense will create some momentum that carries over to the other side of the football. In the end Purdue will be too much for Nevada to keep up with.
Purdue 41, Nevada 24
South Alabama v. No. 24 Nebraska (-36) - Saturday 8/31 12:00 PM EST - ESPN
I just want South Alabama to cover, because they have a quarterback named Cephus. Not only is his name Cephus, but he is a monster at 6-5, 255 pounds. There honestly isn’t much else to be excited about when it comes to South Alabama.
Nebraska looks primed to finally re-enter the conversation in college football this year. After being mediocre since joining the Big Ten, Scott Frost has the football program moving in the right direction. Adrian Martinez is the future at quarterback for the Cornhuskers, and the Blackshirts are as close to being back as they have been in a long time.
I know Nebraska is far and away the better team, but I think this is a few too many points. Even if South Alabama gets a couple touchdowns, that means Nebraska will have to score at least 50 points. I’m not saying they can’t do that, but I’m just not banking on it.
Nebraska 48, South Alabama 20
Akron v. Illinois (-18) - Saturday 8/31 12:00 PM EST - Big Ten Network
Yes, Akron is that bad. Illinois actually won’t be completely terrible this year. Lovie Smith shows he has the football program taking a few small steps in the right direction.
Illinois 37, Akron 14
Ball State v. Indiana (-17.5) - Saturday 8/31 12:00 PM EST - CBS Sports Network
This game will be at Lucas Oil Stadium, so the atmosphere will probably be terrible, which will be a step up from games in Bloomington. The Hoosiers are a team that plays football, and I don’t really know what else to say about Tom Allen’s team. Michael Penix Jr. will start at quarterback for the Hoosiers, but the redshirt freshman is coming off of a torn ACL, so who knows how effective he’ll be.
Don’t be surprised if Ball State moves the football in this game. Even with quarterback Riley Neal and running back James Gilbert transferring out of the program, the Cardinals still have some weapons on offense. Junior running back Caleb Huntley ran for 1,000 yards two years ago, while Riley Miller has 91 career catches.
Ball State has actually beaten Indiana twice in this decade. I don’t think the Cardinals will get their third win over Indiana since 2012, but they’ll give Indiana a bit of a test. Despite how awful college football games are in NFL stadiums, this one could actually end up being rather entertaining.
Indiana 38, Ball State 31
Northwestern v. No. 25 Stanford (-6) - Saturday 8/31 4:00 PM EST - FOX
This game feels like it has weird written all over it. Northwestern doesn’t know who their quarterback is going to be (or just knows and won’t tell anybody). Stanford pretty much only has their quarterback returning. Pat Fitzgerald is probably crafting a rant against another thing millennials can’t get enough of for his press conference after the Wildcats lose.
Clemson transfer quarterback Hunter Johnson couldn’t winning the starting job outright at Northwestern and will probably split time with TJ Green. The Wildcats at least have running back Isaiah Bowser and wide receiver Bennett Skowronek back on offense, along with linebacker Paddy Fisher on defense.
Since this game will likely see shenanigans, I’m going to take the points. This has all of the feeling of being decided by a late field goal or touchdown that gives the victor a three-point win. I’m going to guess it is K.J. Costello being the quarterback to lead the game-winning drive.
Stanford 24, Northwestern 21
Middle Tennessee State v. No. 7 Michigan (-35) - Saturday 8/31 7:30 PM EST - Big Ten Network
Michigan starts off the 2019 season with a big, frosty cupcake. I know it’d be fun to imagine the Wolverines starting off the season like 2007, when they lost at home to Appalachian State. I know Middle Tennessee State isn’t a FCS team, but it’s just fun to think about Michigan losing at home to Appalachian State.
Seriously though, Middle Tennessee State will be breaking in a new quarterback after Brent Stockstill, son of head coach Rick Stockstill, graduated following last season. The Wolverines aren’t a team that a quarterback wants to get his feet wet against. Michigan creates havoc on defense, giving Shea Patterson some short fields and easy points. The Wolverines roll before facing a scare next week against Army.
Michigan 51, Middle Tennessee State 10
Miami (OH) v, No. 20 Iowa (-22.5) - Saturday 8/31 7:30 PM EST - FS1
We might get to see stud defensive end A.J. Epenesa ending Brett Gabbert, who is the brother of Blaine Gabbert. Ok, Gabbert might not even play, but the other two Miami quarterbacks fighting for the starting quarterback job for the RedHawks also have a total of 0 career pass attempts in college.
Miami should be pretty good in the MAC this year, they just face a brutal non-conference schedule. After taking on Iowa, the RedHawks will travel to Columbus to take on Ohio State in a couple of weeks. I’d like the RedHawks to cover in this one if they weren’t so inexperienced at quarterback. Turnovers will be a problem for Miami, which should allow Nate Stanley and the Iowa offense to pull away.
Iowa 42, Miami (OH) 17
Florida Atlantic v. No. 5 Ohio State (-28) - Saturday 8/31 12:00 PM EST - FOX
We made it. After sifting through all of the Big Ten action this week, I saved the best for last. Ohio State will get to work this year with a new head coach and a new starting quarterback. The Buckeyes won’t really have a “new” head coach though, as Ryan Day filled in for Urban Meyer for the first three games of last season. It also doesn’t hurt that Justin Fields was one of the most sought-after quarterbacks coming out of high school a couple years ago. The rich really do get richer.
I could run down the list of incredible players Ohio State has on both sides of the football, but we know the cast of characters. Even though there are areas of concern for the Buckeyes, as the offensive line and linebackers still have some questions to answer, they are still on a different level than Florida Atlantic.
The Owls do have Lane Kiffin leading them, which always adds a little bit of fun to the equation, but history isn’t on their side. Even though Florida Atlantic has never played Ohio State, the Owls have lost 23 straight against Power 5 schools. Last year Florida Atlantic opened the season at Oklahoma and got shelled by the Sooners 63-14.
Sophomore quarterback Chris Robison returns as starter for the Owls, but he’ll have to try and keep from getting sacked by Chase Young, who is looking to join Mike Vrabel as the only Buckeyes to record two seasons of at least 10 sacks. Where Florida Atlantic could find some success against Ohio State is if they can get tight end Harrison Bryant matched up against Ohio State’s linebackers.
I thought last year that Florida Atlantic would at least hang around with Oklahoma for a bit, but was I ever wrong on that one? I’m not drinking the same Kool-Aid this year. The Owls allowed nearly 425 yards per game last year, and they have essentially a brand new defensive coaching staff this year. Florida Atlantic might be better on defense, but it doesn’t show against an Ohio State offense that has the potential to be explosive this year.
Ohio State 54, Florida Atlantic 21