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September 3, 2017

There are two college football picks today!

 

#1: Take West Virginia +5 spread against Virginia Tech for 3% of the bankroll.

This matchup is projected to be one of the most entertaining of the opening weekend of the college football season and we believe that is a true statement. There are a lot of unknowns in this matchup, especially considering that both teams lost a ton of talent from a season ago. Where we believe the difference is however, is that West Virginia has reloaded and upgraded on the offensive side of the ball and that should be the difference in this contest.

Despite losing two of their top 3 receivers from a season ago, the Mountaineers still boast a ton of talent on the outside with the likes of David Sills, Ka’Raun White and Gary Jennings, the team also returned return what is largely considered the deepest and most talented backfield in the country Senior Justin Crawford is back after rushing for 1,184 yards last fall, and he’s joined by talented sophomores Kennedy McKoy and Martell Pettaway. But in what is perhaps the biggest upgrade from a season ago is at the quarterback spot as former Florida Gator Will Grier is set to make his debut for the Mountaineers. For those who don't remember, Grier started his career at Florida and led the Gators to a 6-0 start that season before being suspended for an alleged PED violation. Grier is set to return to the college football world and we expect that he will be looking to make a statement in this contest.

The Mountaineer defense also lost a ton of talent from a season ago, but that is nothing new for this WVU team. In 2016, they had only 2 returning starters on defense and yet defensive coordinator Tony Gibson was able to turn that team into the second-best defense in the Big 12, surrendering just an average of 22 points per game. He will have more to work with this season and while we do expect some regression on the defensive side of the ball, we don't believe it will be a glaring weakness as many are making it out to be.

Like their opponents, the Virginia Tech Hokies have lost a ton of talent in the offseason, losing both Isaiah Ford and Bucky Rogers who were both number 1 and number 3 on Virginia Techs all-time receivers list. They also lost dynamic dual-threat QB Jerrod Evans to the NFL draft as well. Those are some glaring holes to fill for Justin Fuentes, and in his first start at the collegiate level, we're not sure Joshua Jackson will be able to shoulder such a heavy load. Lucky for Tech, Bud Foster remains at defensive coordinator and has proven to be one of the best in the country. The Hokies are a team that is built around their defense, however, they too have lost a ton of talent up front and could be hard pressed to stop the constant onslaught on the ground that the Mountaineers are likely to bring.

As we stated, there are a ton of unknowns for both teams on both sides of the ball, but we believe the Mountaineers are just a bit more loaded and ready for the start of the season. As long as Grier isn't over-zealous and doesn't force throws looking to prove himself, he should be able to rely on the rushing attack to set up the pass. This will likely be a back and forth contest between two very evenly matched teams, however we believe the better offense will prevail late as the Mountaineers come away with the outright victory. Even if they somehow fall short, they should keep things competitive enough to cover this rather inflated number.

 

#2: Take Texas A&M +5 spread against UCLA for 3% of the bankroll.

Bruins QB Josh Rosen has received quite a bit of hype of the last two seasons, however, since his debut, he has failed to live up to the lofty expectations put upon him. Coming off a season ending shoulder injury which sidelined him much of last season, Rosen is again slated to be under center and the much maligned QB is once again expected to shine this season. Rosen has been a quarterback who has made more headlines with his brash talk than with his play on the field. At times, he has showed flashes of greatness, but more often than not the hype has simply outshined his results and we're not buying into the hype this season either.

As much potential as Rosen seems to have, it has not been able to be fully developed due to UCLA's lack of a ground attack. Last season the Bruins ranked 127th in the nation in rushing and that was before Rosen went down with an injury. They are a completely one-dimensional offense that has placed a ball of the load onto their quarterback’s shoulders. As good as Rosen could possibly be, if opposing defenses concentrate just on making Rosen uncomfortable in the pocket, it will make it incredibly difficult for UCLA to move the ball downfield.

Rosen will also be making his first start after nearly 8 months on the sidelines and it has yet to be seen if his shoulder is completely healed to the level it once was. The Aggies usually post a stellar defense year in and year out and have a reputation of starting the season off fast. They have started 5-0 over the last couple of seasons, only to fizzle later on in conference play. Kevin Sumlin may be on the hot-seat if he cannot turn his team around and make a memorable mark this year. Much like in year's past in the post Johnny Manziel era, Sumlin will be looking to start another quarterback under center. He has been tight-lipped about who will take the starting job, but all signs point to Nick Starkle taking over duties under center.

We don't believe Kevin Sumlin will lean too heavily on his new quarterback to carry the offense as he has a deadly tandem of rushers in the backfield with both Keith Ford and Trayveon Williams. The Aggies also have a star wide receiver as Christian Kirk is once again back for his junior year. Kirk can be a game-changer for the Aggies, both as a receiver as well as a returner on special teams. There is no question that UCA has the advantage when it comes to the quarterback position, but we believe A&M is the more talented team overall.

This will likely be a closely contested battle as both teams and coaches will be looking to bounce back from last year's disappointing seasons. The losing coach of this matchup is also likely in the hot-seat for the remainder of the season and that will be added motivation for both teams to bring their best. This game is essentially a pick-em in our opinion and while playing in the Rose Bowl will give the Bruins a slight advantage, this one could come down to the wire, with A&M having a shot to win this matchup outright. The value is on A&M in this contest.




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