Last week ATS: 8-7-1 (4-1 National, 4-6-1 B1G)
Season ATS: 18-14-1 (8-3 National, 10-11-1 B1G)
It’s hard to be angry with a week that ended on the plus side. Sure, it would have been nice to see Texas cover against LSU, but MC&J used up a lot of luck getting the late Texas A&M cover over Clemson.
No. 20 Washington State (-9) v. Houston - Friday 9/13 9:15 PM EST - ESPN
After two different stints over the years in which they have worked together, Mike Leach and Dana Holgorsen will finally square off as head coaches. The two first were on the same staff in the early 1990s, when they were offensive assistants at Valdosta State. After Leach took the Texas Tech head coaching job, Holgorsen was part of his staff as offensive coordinator from 2005-07.
After two easy wins at home to open up the season, Washington State will travel down to NRG Stadium in Houston for the battle of the Cougars. Normally by this time of the year, Washington State has already suffered an inexplicable loss to a team that they should have handily beaten, so this is a bit of a new position for Leach’s team. Washington State has looked good as they have transferred from the graduated Gardner Minshew II at quarterback to Anthony Gordon, who has thrown for 884 yards and nine touchdowns through two games.
Holgorsen has his hands full trying to clean up the mess that Major Applewhite made in Houston, but the former West Virginia head coach does have a few pieces to make his job easier. Quarterback D’Eriq King has the ability to beat teams with both his arm and his legs, which should keep the Washington State defense on their toes.
Even though Gordon has looked good at quarterback for Washington State, it’ll be a new experience for him to hit the road. Houston showed that they could at least hang with a national power when they kept Oklahoma within shouting distance in the first game of the season. King has his best game of the year as Houston springs the upset on Washington State.
Houston 37, Washington State 34
Stanford v. No. 17 UCF (-8) - 3:30 PM EST - ESPN
Good for UCF since they finally were able to get one of the better Power 5 teams in the country to come down to Orlando. The Golden Knights have been on fire this season, despite having already started two different quarterbacks. Notre Dame transfer Brandon Wimbush started the season opener against Florida A&M, but freshman Dillon Gabriel was forced to start last week against Florida Atlantic while Wimbush nursed some injuries. Making the quarterback picture even more complicated for UCF, Darriel Mack Jr., who started the last couple games for the Golden Knights last season when McKenzie Milton went down, is cleared to play this week.
After Davis Mills started last week because K.J. Costello wasn’t cleared to play after he was injured against Northwestern, Costello will return at quarterback for the Cardinal. Stanford could definitely use Costello’s veteran leadership since the Cardinal are still trying to find their identity on offense after an ugly win against Northwestern in the season opener, followed by the pasting USC put on them last week in Los Angeles.
I was hoping this line would be a little lower, but even with it being more than a touchdown I still like the Golden Knights. Stanford is going to have trouble keeping pace with UCF on offense, and things are even tougher with the Cardinal missing their best offensive lineman. If Stanford still had a Bryce Love or J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, I might take the Cardinal, but it’s hard to have any confidence in them with what they’ve shown on offense so far this year.
UCF 38, Stanford 24
No. 24 USC (-4) v. BYU - 3:30 PM EST - ABC
Clay Helton’s seat has cooled off just a little bit with the 2-0 start by the Trojans, but we know the temperature could get turned right back up with just one subpar performance. USC looked like they would be in big trouble this year when they lost quarterback J.T. Daniels for the year in the season opener due to a knee injury, but freshman Kedon Slovis has stepped in and thrown for 434 yards and three touchdowns so far.
BYU really needed last week’s game against Tennessee. If the Cougars hadn’t been able to beat the Volunteers in double overtime, BYU might have possibly been looking at an 0-4 start to the season. The Cougars have shown they have a tough defense, but they need a little more firepower on offense. Zach Wilson has been alright this year, but the quarterback would greatly benefit from a little help from the ground game.
Provo isn’t the ideal environment for Slovis to have to make his first road start, but the Trojans do have plenty of talent surrounding him on the offense. I’m probably going to feel like a sucker for taking the short line with USC on the road, but I’m not sold on BYU right now. I could see them giving USC a game for about a half, but the Trojans will end up winning by at least a touchdown when it is all said and done.
USC 31, BYU 21
No. 1 Clemson (-28) v. Syracuse - 7:30 PM EST - ABC
Who has played Clemson the toughest over the last two years, you ask? The team that has given Clemson fits lately has been Syracuse. After beating the Tigers in Syracuse two years ago, the Orange were on a verge of an upset after Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence was knocked out of the game, but the Tigers were able to pull of a miraculous comeback in Death Valley.
Clemson has rolled in their first two games, having little trouble with Georgia Tech and Texas A&M. Lawrence hasn’t been all that great, but the Tigers haven’t need him to be since their defense has been very stingy. Running back Travis Etienne has rushed for 258 yards and three touchdowns through two games.
The same can’t be said for Syracuse. After shutting out Liberty in their season opener, the Orange looked awful while getting routed by Maryland 63-20. Quarterback Tommy DeVito has struggled to fill the shoes of Eric Dungey so far, and that task won’t get any easier against the Clemson defense.
As bad as Syracuse looked last week, I think they look better this week since they are playing their home opener against the top-ranked team in the country. I don’t think the Orange threaten to upset Clemson like they have the past two years, but I think Dino Babers’ team scores just enough points to stay inside the number.
Clemson 44, Syracuse 20
No. 5 Oklahoma (-24) v. UCLA - 8:00 PM EST - FOX
It feels like the only team that can stop Oklahoma this year is Oklahoma. If the Sooners can get some consistent play out of their defense, there is no reason Oklahoma shouldn’t make it back to the College Football Playoff for the third consecutive season.
The Oklahoma offense looks like they have a real shot at seeing their quarterback with the Heisman Trophy for the third consecutive season. Alabama transfer Jalen Hurts has flourished in his first two games with the Sooners, accounting for nine touchdowns so far. Add in talented running backs like Trey Sermon and Kennedy Brooks, and the Sooners cause fits for opponents both through the air and on the ground.
As good as Oklahoma has been this year, that’s how bad UCLA has been. Chip Kelly is really struggling 14 games into his time at UCLA. After losing to Cincinnati in the season opener, the Bruins returned home last week and lost to San Diego State. UCLA has had real trouble getting any offense going, scoring just 14 points in each of the first two games.
Even though Oklahoma is still working on improving their defense, it won’t matter here. The Bruins don’t look close to putting much together on offense, which is a big problem against Oklahoma. Hurts will be at the top of his game in primetime as the Sooners roll by at least 30 points.
Oklahoma 54, UCLA 24