September 3, 2016
Three college football picks were released earlier in the week for Saturday!
In addition, a Sunday pick, bringing the total to 4 football plays for the weekend, was also posted yesterday.
#1: Take Tulsa -5 spread against San Jose State for 3% of the bankroll.
Tulsa managed to win 6 games last season in Phil Montgomery's first year as Head Coach. While that may not seem like a significant achievement, it's worth mentioning that that is 1 more win than his predecessor Bill Blankenship provided in the previous two years at the helm. Tulsa has made tremendous strides and could be a dark horse this season to make some noise and potentially contend for a BCS Bowl game.
The Golden Hurricanes have an explosive offense that averaged nearly 38 points and 507 yards per game and ranked 11th in the nation in passing yards a season ago. They also had 69 passing lays of more than 20 yards which ranked in the Top 10 in the country. Their offense should be just as, if not more explosive this season as they have numerous playmakers returning on the offensive front including QB Dane Evans. Evans went 305 of 485 last season for 4,332 yards and 25 touchdowns. With Zack Langer having moved on, the run game falls more on D'Angelo Brewer, who actually held a team high in yardage last season. He will likely be splitting carries with sophomore Ramadi Warren (71 carries, 475 yards, 6 TD) this season. Evans will have at least two experienced receivers downfield as Joshua Atkinson (76 grabs, 1071 yards, 5 TD) is back after a breakout season last year and Keevan Lucas will be back from injury and finally healthy. Sophomore Justin Hobbs also received plenty of experience and looks as a freshman and should continue to see his looks and production grow this season. Tulsa has the capability to score in bunches and will have a very scary offense this season.
A bit issue for the Golden Hurricane has been their lack of defense. Their defense was extremely porous last season and we expect that with another year under their belts, they will be more improved this season. Even though we don't expect their defense to be a driving force on this team, if they can at least provide some form of resistance and come up with a few stops here and there this season, their offense should do enough to carry this team.
San Jose State is bringing back 15 starters to their team this season and while that may see, like a lot, it's certainly worth mentioning that their best player, Tyler Ervin, has moved on which leaves a big hole in the SJSU offense. Kenny Potter returns under center and Potter is a duel-threat QB that will likely be the catalyst of the offense this season. The problem with the Spartans however is that they are not explosive of dynamic on either side of the ball, they are simply average. That is likely to spell disaster for this team in the season opener, on the road, against as offensive attack as prolific as Tulsa's.
We expect both teams to go through a feeling out process in the early going, but with this being a home game for Tulsa, we believe it will only be a matter of time before they find their rhythm and begin putting points on the board in bunched. The oddsmakers have listed a fairly high total for a season opener, which means they believe there will be plenty of offense seen. If that is the case, then you would have to believe that favors the Golden Hurricanes. SJSU should be able to hang with Tulsa in the early going but we believe the home team will turn on the offense in the second half and pull away on the scoreboard enroute to a convincing season opening win and cover.
#2: Take BYU -1 spread against Arizona for 3% of the bankroll.
The Bronco Mendenhall era in Provo is over and this will be new head coach Kalani Sitake's chance to make a statement and show that he is capable of picking up right where Mendenhall left off. He'll have a great chance to do so as he is inheriting a solid BYU team who are returning a plethora of talent. With this being Sitake's debut, we'll look for him to dig deep into his playbook and come out looking to make a statement in the season opener.
There were few teams last season that were more exciting to watch than the Cougars. Nearly each and every week, BYU was locked in a knockdown, drag out fight with whatever team they were playing and despite a ton of injuries, they found a way to win ballgames. That shows that this team has a ton of character and heart and will no doubt fight until the final whistle.
The Cougars will also be in an extremely advantageous position as they have two extremely capable QBs under center. Injury-prone, but dynamic Taysom Hill will be back under center this season. Hill is a remarkable player who has shown flashes of superstardom in his career at BYU, however injuries have plagued the star for much of his career. That being said, with this being Hill's last chance to prove himself and play a full season, we expect him to come into this contest extremely motivated to put on a show. Even if Hill has a less than stellar showing, Tanner Mangum is waiting in the wings to take over and has showed that he is capable of leading this team with an impressive showing in his rookie season.
Sitake will have flexibility to rotate at the QB position if need be, as both players bring something different to the game. Mangum threw a Hail Mary pass to hand Nebraska their first season opening loss in nearly 3 decades, while Hill ran for over 230+ yards against a tough Texas defense two seasons ago. With their different strengths, both players could be used to keep the Arizona defense off balance and could be a huge advantage for the Cougars.
The Cougars have always been a stout defensive team, especially against the run and this season should be no different. It's wildly known that the Pac-12 is known for their high flying offenses with very little regard for the defensive side of the ball. That being said, BYU should have a significant defensive edge in this contest and will likely be one of the top rated defenses that the Wildcats face all season long. BYU should have little issue moving the ball against Arizona and if this game comes down to which team can make those critical stops when needed then the advantage should surely side with the Cougars.
BYU has been a team that has proven their mettle time and time again and they are a team that does not shy away from adversity. Arizona on the other hand has been a team that has talent, but that talent has yet to manifest itself and we have seen them fall short of expectations time and time again. While they are expected to take a step forward this season, in the first game of the year, we believe they will still be ironing out some of the wrinkles on both sides of the ball. This is technically a neutral site game being played 2 hours away from Tucson, so while the Arizona fan base will likely be heavy, we expect there to be a ton of BYU fans in the stands as well. On paper, we believe that BYU is the more fundamentally sound team and with Sitake looking to cement his place at BYU, his team should come away with a closely contested victory.
#3: Take UCLA +3 spread against Texas A&M for 3% of the bankroll.
This is an extremely important matchup to begin the season as the UCLA Bruins travel to College Station to take on the Texas A&M Aggies. Both teams finished the season 8-5 last year and come into this season with extremely high expectations. That being said, one team's hopes are going to be dashed right out of the gate in Week 1.
A&M is a team that has been absolutely horrible to their backers. From early October to the end of last season they managed to cover the spread just a single time! While they will have a talented group of veteran receivers, they lost a ton of talent on the offensive side of the ball which includes their QB, All-Star RB Tre Carson and three starting players on the offensive line. The O-Line was already suspect last season as they allowed 37 sacks a year ago and will now have even more of a void to fill, especially against a UCLA defense that is bringing back nearly all of their players, including Eddie Vanderdoes. The Bruins are expected to have one of the best secondaries in the nation and could make things difficult for the Aggies to move the ball through the air.
In the battle of the Quarterbacks, the Aggies secured the rights to former Oklahoma Sooner's QB, Trevor Knight. Knight only received a handful of playing time last season as Baker Mayfield secured the starting role for the Sooners. Knight has shown to be a mediocre QB at best and comes with some questionable decision making. In his 2014 season he had 14 touchdowns to 12 interceptions. It will likely take some time for Knight to become accustomed to this style of offense and gain a comfort factor with his new team and while he does, we expect him to make a lot of mistakes in the process. Meanwhile, Josh Rosen is currently being dubbed as the best QB in the country. Rosen was thrown to the wolves last season as a freshman and showed a tremendous upside. He is quietly in the preseason Heisman talks and with the team now running a more Pro-Style offense, that should allow Rosen to stretch the field, dictate the pace and play more to his strengths. We expect to see him excel as the season goes on. Having already had experience last season, we expect him to have an edge over his counterpart in this contest.
A lot is being made about the Aggies defense that is supposed to be much improved this season. They have a dynamic pass rush in Myles Garrett and Daeshon Hall. There is no question that the UCLA coaching staff has taken notice and have come up with an offensive scheme to neutralize the rush of A&M. The new Pro-Style offense for UCLA will feature a TE as well as a FB which we expect to be used for different blocking assignments in order to give Rosen the time he needs to scan the field. If the pass rush does not get to Rosen quickly, we expect that he will be able to shred the Aggies somewhat suspect secondary with his arm.
Both teams come into this contest with a lot of questions, but with the Bruins having their major pieces in place, we expect that they are the more complete team at this point in the season. Their Heisman hopeful QB is much more proven than Knight and if their defense truly is a dynamic as everyone expects it to be this season, then UCLA should be able to come out with a win. Even if the Bruins fall short of picking up the outright victory, we expect that this will be a close game with the points likely coming into play. The value is on UCLA in this contest.
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