Last week ATS: 9-6-1 (4-3 National, 5-3-1 B1G)
MC&J saved their best for last in Week 1. The slate didn’t start too hot with misses on North Carolina and Miami, but things got better with correct calls on Georgia, UCLA, Florida State, and Ole Miss to close out the week. While no week is ever easy to pick, the first week is always the toughest since you are flying blind. Hopefully a solid opening weekend breeds more winning the rest of the season.
Pittsburgh (-3) v. Tennessee - 12:00 PM EST - ESPN
On Saturday we get the Johnny Majors Bowl in Knoxville. 16th year quarterback Kenny Pickett leads Pitt into Neyland Stadium to take on Josh Heupel’s Tennessee Volunteers. Even before it starts, this feels like it is going to be one of the weirdest games of the season. There’s no way that it can’t be, right???
So in looking at this game, just remember that Joe Milton is Tennessee’s quarterback. Milton may have led the Volunteers to a win last week against Bowling Green, but judging by his performance he still has that losing stink from Michigan on him. I don’t see how a solid Panther defense doesn’t force him into some mistakes and take a win back to Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh 28, Tennessee 20
No. 5 Texas A&M (-17) v. Colorado - 3:30 PM EST - FOX
It’s pretty tough to be unimpressive in a 41-10 win, but Texas A&M accomplished that feat. The Aggies led Kent State 10-3 at halftime, and turned the football over five times in the win. Four of those turnovers were interceptions, with three of them being thrown by new quarterback Haynes King. One thing the Aggies were able to count on with consistency in their opener was the running game, as Devon Achane and Isaiah Spiller each ran for over 100 yards in the victory.
While this game will be in the state of Colorado, the Buffaloes won’t get the benefit of home-field advantage since this game is being played in Denver and not Boulder. It’s hard to gather much information on the Buffaloes after they beat Northern Colorado in their season opener. Returning for Colorado this year is running back Jarek Broussard, who ran for 895 yards and five touchdowns last year.
I don’t think the Aggies are the fifth-best team in the country. While it’s something I’ll have to deal with for now, I’m sure it’ll clear itself up later in the year. Colorado isn’t going to spring the upset on their former conference foe, but they’ll at least stay inside the number. King makes a few mistakes that Colorado capitalizes on to stay within two touchdowns.
Texas A&M 41, Colorado 28
UAB v. No. 2 Georgia (-24.5) - 3:30 PM EST - ESPN2
This is the true definition of a “sandwich game”. Georgia is coming off a tough, physical win over Clemson, and plays rival South Carolina next week. On top of that, Georgia head coach Kirby Smart says his team is dealing with some COVID-19 issues. This just feels like the perfect recipe for a bit of a letdown performance from the Bulldogs.
UAB is no slouch. The Blazers have won two of the last three Conference USA titles, and were slated to play South Carolina last year in the Gasparilla Bowl before it was cancelled. In the season opener against Jacksonville State, Tyler Johnston III threw for 320 yards and two touchdowns. Don’t expect Johnston to have as much luck against this Georgia defense, though.
I wouldn’t say to expect UAB to put Georgia on upset alert. But, don’t expect UAB just to roll over, either. After seeing the Georgia offense last week, I’m not convinced they can score 24 points, let alone win by more than 24. The Bulldogs will move the football a little easier against UAB, it just won’t be some big blowout, as Kirby Smart will play things a little closer to the vest with their conference opener up next.
Georgia 31, UAB 13
No. 15 Texas (-7) v. Arkansas - 7:00 PM EST - ESPN
Either I overestimated Louisiana or underestimated Texas last week. The Longhorns looked really good in the 38-18 win over the Ragin’ Cajuns. Hudson Card was solid in his first start at quarterback for Texas, throwing for 224 yards and two touchdowns last week’s win. But let’s just pump the brakes on Texas being back until they win a few more games. That was only the first game in the Steve Sarkisian era, after all.
Even though Arkansas ended up beating Rice 38-17 last week, the Razorbacks were trailing the Owls 17-7 in the third quarter. While it is obvious that Arkansas is making strides under Sam Pittman, I’m still not sure what their identity is. The Razorbacks will put forth a solid effort against Texas, but at some point the talent differences are going to become obvious.
I can’t say that I’m thrilled about laying points on the road in Arkansas, I just don’t think Arkansas can keep pace with Texas. The Razorbacks will feed off some early adrenaline to at least keep the Longhorns in check, it just won’t be something they can sustain for 60 minutes. Bijan Robinson wears down Arkansas and Texas puts a little distance on the Razorbacks in the second half.
Texas 38, Arkansas 24
No. 21 Utah (-7) v. BYU - 10:15 PM EST - ESPN
Utah will be looking to continue their recent dominance in the “Holy War”. The Utes will be looking for their 10th straight win over the Cougars, with BYU’s last win coming back in 2009. The last time the teams met saw Utah win 30-12 in 2019, snapping a six-game streak that saw the rivalry battle decided by less than 10 points.
BYU started life after Zach Wilson with a 24-16 win over Arizona. Jaren Hall was solid at quarterback for the Cougars, throwing for 198 yards and two touchdowns, as well as adding 36 yards on the ground. That isn’t going to get it done against Utah, though. The Utes usually have one of the nastiest defenses in the country, and I don’t see that changing this year.
Utah makes it 10 wins in a row against their in-state rival. Baylor transfer Charlie Brewer has some experience in intense games, which should help the Utes keep their wits about them even though they’ll be on the road. Utah will just be a little too much for a BYU team that is replacing a lot from last year.
Utah 27, BYU 17
Stanford v. No. 14 USC (-14) - 10:30 PM EST - FOX
How far the Stanford has fallen. The Cardinal used to be one of the top teams in the country. Now they are an afterthought in the Pac-12. Stanford was dominated by Kansas State in their season opener, needing a touchdown with under four minutes left in the game to avoid the shutout. After Jack West started the game, Tanner McKee replaced West and completed 15 of 18 passes in the loss. Because of his performance, McKee has been named starter for this week against the Trojans.
Not like USC was crazy impressive against San Jose State last week. The Trojans led the Spartans 13-7 in the fourth quarter before scoring 17 points in the final quarter to make the score look more lopsided than it really was. Get ready to hear “Slovis to London” a lot in this game. The quarterback and wide receiver connected 12 times against San Jose State, so it’s obvious who is Slovis’ favorite target.
Of course it would be so Stanford for the Cardinal to upset USC here. I know after what I said about Stanford earlier that you’d be banking on me taking USC. Just remember that USC is coached by Clay Helton, who I think is a terrible head coach. USC may win, but David Shaw will at least have the Cardinal playing better this week than they did in the season opener.
USC 34, Stanford 27