September 1, 2018
There are 7 college football picks today.
#1: Take UMass +17.5 spread against Boston College for 3% of the bankroll.
Boston College is returning 16 starters and has high expectations this year after finishing each of the last two seasons at 7-6. Defense used to be the strength of this team, but they struggled mightily against the run last season and they lost five starters including All-ACC defensive end Harold Landy. We expect that their defense is going to take a step back this season and that could spell trouble against a very potent and efficient UMass offense.
The UMass Minutemen are coming off their best season since joining the FBS. While they were just 4-8, it was considered a successful season. 6 of their 8 losses were by 10 points or less and they managed to go 4-2 over their last 6 games and even gave SEC powerhouse Mississippi State all they could handle. Like BC, UMass returns 16 starters, including all their playmakers on offense, including dynamic QB Andrew Ford who threw for 2,924 yards with 22 touchdowns and just four picks.
The X-factor in this game and what we believe is going to be troublesome for the Eagle is that quarterback Anthony Brown is recovering from a serious knee injury and only returned to live action recently. Boston College will likely turn to their ground game, which will shorten the game. UMass meanwhile has a quick strike style offense and given the clash of styles, we believe it will be tough to the Eagles to create a lot of separation on the scoreboard. While BC will likely get the win, UMass should keep things competitive and stay within this generous number.
#2: Take Washington +3 spread (buy the half point) against Auburn for 3% of the bankroll.
This is an extremely important game for Washington. The PAC-12 has long been criticized as being the weakest of the Power 5 conferences and have routinely been held out of the conversation in terms of housing a potential National Title contender. Washington has seemingly failed to show up each time they have been placed in a contest matchup up against a high-caliber out of conference opponent. This is their opportunity to silence all doubters.
This Washington team is slated to be the very best that head coach Chris Petersen has coached. Jake Browning returns for his season and has dynamic running back Myles Gaskin in the backfield. Their defense is supposed to be one of the best in the country, both against the run and in the secondary.
We believe there is a lot of bias in this matchup, simply because Auburn is part of the SEC and will likely have a bit of the public's attention considering they beat Alabama a season ago and faced Georgia in the SEC Title game. Once you cut through that bias however, this is a pretty bad matchup for Auburn. Auburn likes to run the football and Washington was ranked as they best team in the country at stopping the run. Jared Stidham also struggled against elite level opponents / defenses last season and we expect that he will struggle in this game.
This game will likely come down to QB play and we believe Browning is the better signal caller on the field. Getting a field goal in this matchup has a lot of value, but we don't believe the points will be needed. Washington will find a way win this game and, at least for the moment, silence all their critics.
#3: Take Northern Illinois +10 spread against Iowa for 3% of the bankroll.
This is a very tough matchup for Iowa. Northern Illinois has been the best team in the MAC for the better part of the last decade and are no strangers to pulling off upsets of Power 5 teams. They beat Iowa on the road back in 2013. They won at Northwestern in 2014. They only lost by 7 as 34-point dogs at Ohio State in 2015. And they pulled the upset as 11-point underdogs at Nebraska in 2017.
The Huskies return 14 starters this season, including eight on offense. Sophomore QB Marcus Childers will take the next step forward after earning MAC Freshman of the Year honors last season and will have a great chance to progress as the offensive line is returning all 5 starters from a season ago. As good as we believe their offense will be, their defense has been what the huskies have hung their hats on. A season ago they gave up just 22.0 points per game. They have 6 starters back on defense this year, including 2017 MAC Defensive Player of the Year, Sutton Smith at defensive end. Smith had 14 sacks plus another 15.5 tackles for loss last season and is a one-man wrecking crew.
Iowan also has issues of their own to deal with. The offensive line will be missing its two starting offensive tackles in RT Tristan Wirfs & LT Alaric Jackson due to suspension. The Hawkeyes also lack playmakers at receiver again this season and they lost their best playmaker from last season in RB Akrum Wadley, who accounted for 1,462 yards and 13 touchdowns from scrimmage in 2017. On defense, Iowa lost six of their top eight tacklers defensively and must break in three new starters at linebacker. Their depth along the defensive line is also in question because both Brady Reiff and Cedrick Lattimore are out with suspensions.
Northern Illinois will be ready for this contest and Iowa is currently ripe for the picking given all their question marks and holes to fill in Week 1. We wouldn't be surprised if Northern Illinois pulled off the outright win, but even if they don't, they should be able to stay within this number.
#4: Take SMU +4 spread against North Texas for 3% of the bankroll.
Even though it’s only the first game of the season, this matchup with North Texas could have serious bowl implications for SMU. Given their early season schedule, if they were to lose the games where they are listed as underdogs, they could realistically start the season 1-5, meaning they would almost need to win out if they want to have any shot at the postseason.
There has been a lot of talk about the North Texas offense and Mason Fine. Fine set a school record for passing yards last season and increased his average passing yards per game number by over 100. He can accurately throw the deep ball and has his top three top targets back this season in Jalen Guyton, Michael Lawrence and Rico Bussey. The North Texas defense was terrible a season ago and doesn't figure to be much better this season.
SMU are no slouches on offense as Ben Hicks returns under center. They have an extremely balances offense both on the ground and through the air. The biggest improvement however, is likely to be on the defensive side of the ball. All their playmakers return and that is going to be their biggest advantage in this matchup. We expect points will be scored on both sides of the ball, however, SMU will get a critical stop by their defense to allow them to hold on for the win.
#5: Take Vanderbilt -2.5 spread against Middle Tennessee for 3% of the bankroll.
On paper, this game really shouldn't be close. Vanderbilt has owned the recent meetings between these two teams and will likely be motivated to improve on what could only be considered a disappointing season. The Commodores started the year off 3-0 and then got completely destroyed once conference play began. They are one of the bottom teams in the SEC and essentially need to win these types of game to save any kind of semblance of a respectable season.
Middle Tennessee is certainly a program that is trending in the right direction and their offense could give the Vanderbilt defense problems, however, the Commodores are the bigger, stronger, faster overall team and should be able to create some separation on the scoreboard as the game wears on. The oddsmakers opened this spread up at Vanderbilt -6 and we believe that was much more realistic to how this game is going to play out.
#6: Take Wyoming +3 spread against Washington State for 3% of bankroll
Washington State may be the bigger name program in this matchup, but they have a lot of holes to fill, especially at QB with the departure of Luke Falk. Wyoming on the other hand appears to be improved from last season, even with the departure of Josh Allen. The Wyoming defnese is legit and their ground game will be too potent for the porous Washington State defense to contain. At home, Wyoming wins this one outright.
#7: Take Michigan -1 spread against Notre Dame for 3% of the bankroll.
There is something special about this Michigan team this season. They will have arguably the nation's best defense this season, but they also recevied a major upgrade on the offensive end with the acquisition of Shea Patterson under center. Patterson is a gamechanger and will be the difference in this contest.
This is big game not only because of the rivalry, but Jim Harbaugh is undoubtedly on the hot seat this season. His past inability to win the big-time games will likely come to a boil this season and it will start if Big Blue doesn't win tonight. Michigan will acert their dominance tonight and win this game fairly easily.
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