Last week ATS: 10-7 (4-2 National, 6-5 B1G)
It’s hard to complain about a start to the season like we had, but I’m going to! While I know I was completely off on the Utah-BYU game, the ending of Oregon-Auburn was really hard to stomach. The Ducks were in position to cover, but in true Oregon fashion they blew it. Even if Oregon had held Auburn to a game-winning field goal, MC&J still would have covered. Hopefully bad beats like that won’t become a trend.
No. 12 Texas A&M v. No. 1 Clemson (-17) - 3:30 PM EST - ABC
Last year’s contest between these two teams was a thriller, with Clemson surviving a comeback by Texas A&M after the Aggies couldn’t convert a two-point conversion with less than a minute left that would have tied the game. Clemson was still rotating Kelly Bryant and Trevor Lawrence at quarterback, while Texas A&M’s Kellen Mond threw for 430 yards and three touchdowns in a losing effort.
About the only thing we learned from these two teams in the first week of the season is Travis Etienne is really good. The Clemson running back rushed for 205 yards and three touchdowns on just 12 carries. Other than that, I feel like both teams weren’t trying to show much against the lesser foes they played in anticipation of this week’s showdown.
Seventeen points feels like a lot here. Jimbo Fisher is very familiar with trips to Clemson from his time at Florida State, so I’d be shocked if he didn’t have his team ready to compete on Saturday afternoon. The Tigers stay on top of the rankings, but Texas A&M has the talent and firepower to at least put a little bit of a scare into Clemson and keep this game within two touchdowns.
Clemson 38, Texas A&M 27
No. 18 UCF (-10.5) v. Florida Atlantic - 7:00 PM EST - CBS Sports Network
In a regular week I probably wouldn’t be picking this game, but this week’s national schedule is pretty weak, so it was a struggle to get to five games. It also helps that I got to see the Owls last week against Ohio State, so I at least have a little bit of a feel for Lane Kiffin’s team.
New year, same UCF. The Golden Knights rolled in their season opener, dominating Florida A&M 62-0. Notre Dame transfer Brandon Wimbush is now taking snaps for UCF after McKenzie Milton suffered a gruesome leg injury late last season. Wimbush passed for 168 yards and two touchdowns in the blowout, while running back Adrian Killings Jr. ran for 106 yards and a touchdown.
Even though Wimbush is still working on getting a handle on UCF’s offense, I think the Golden Knights are too talented for Florida Atlantic in this one. The Owls have quarterback Chris Robison, but they are still working on replacing key players like Devin Singletary and Kerrith Whyte Jr., who are now in the NFL. Florida Atlantic won’t be able to keep pace with what the Golden Knights will throw at them. UCF winning by two or three touchdowns seems about right.
UCF 45, Florida Atlantic 28
No. 6 LSU (-6.5) v. No. 9 Texas - 7:30 PM EST - ABC
What a showdown we have on tap in Austin on Saturday night. LSU and Texas have met just one time since 1963, with the Longhorns beating the Tigers 35-20 in the 2003 Cotton Bowl. The last time these teams played in Austin was all the way back in 1954.
Both LSU and Texas dipped their toes into the 2019 season with easy wins, but they’ll definitely have to dive into the pool on Saturday night. Former Ohio State quarterback Joe Burrow started off his senior season with a bang, completing 23-of-27 passes for 278 yards and five touchdowns in a 55-3 win over Georgia Southern. Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger almost matched that performance with 276 yards passing and four touchdowns against Louisiana Tech.
I think LSU is the better team, but I definitely don’t trust them to go on the road and beat the Longhorns by at least seven points. The Tigers lost the heart of their defense in linebacker Devin White to the NFL after last season, and they’ll face a very tough test in slowing down the Longhorns. Much like last week’s primetime game, I think this game isn’t decided until late, so I’ll gladly take the points with the home team.
LSU 27, Texas 24
California v. No. 14 Washington (-14) - 10:30 PM EST - FS1
Slowly but surely, Justin Wilcox is turning Cal around. After a 5-7 first year in Berkeley in 2017, the Golden Bears went 7-6 last year. Cal gets a little continuity at quarterback with Chase Garbers returning. As a freshman, Garbers passed for 1,506 yards and 14 touchdowns. This year Garbers will get some help from running back Christopher Brown Jr., who rushed 36 times for 197 yards and a touchdown in the season opener against UC-Davis.
Washington was able to start life without quarterback Jake Browning and running back Myles Gaskin, as the Huskies had no problem dispatching Eastern Washington last week. At least Washington does have a talented replacement for Browning, with Jacob Eason transferring into the program from Georgia. Eason impressed in his first start in Seattle, throwing for 349 yards and four touchdowns.
Justin Wilcox cut his chops as a defensive assistant before finally getting an opportunity as a head coach, including a stop at Washington as the defensive coordinator in 2012 and 2013. I don’t think the Golden Bears are quite ready to pull an upset on a ranked team on the road, but they will be a thorn in the side of the Huskies on Saturday night.
Washington 31, California 23
No. 23 Stanford v. USC (-1) - 10:30 PM EST - ESPN
Even though both the Cardinal and Trojans won their season openers, their seasons couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start. Stanford quarterback K.J. Costello took a nasty hit near the end of the first half, which led to him leaving the game with a concussion. Costello is questionable for Saturday night’s game against the Trojans, which makes this game even harder to pick than it already was.
USC got even worse news at quarterback after J.T. Daniels was lost for the season due to a torn ACL. Kedon Slovis will take Daniels’ place at quarterback, and even though Slovis is young, he was coached by Kurt Warner, who was Slovis’ offensive coordinator in high school. The freshman will have running back Vavae Malepeai and wide receiver Tyler Vaughns to lean on as the Trojans try to crack the Stanford defense.
This game is the definition of a coin flip. Things would be a little easier if we knew the status of Costello, but I’m going to assume Stanford will be cautious with his concussion and hold him out this week. I’m not convinced Clay Helton makes it to next year as head coach at USC, but I think somehow the Trojans pull out a victory at home against the Cardinal in a tight game.
USC 34, Stanford 30