Last week got off to a rather disturbing start, but a 2-1 Saturday make the weekend somewhat tolerable at 2-3 overall. For better or worse, I'm excited about this week's selections. There are 4 big games, 3 of which involve not only Big 10 brethren, but divisional foes.
All odds are as of Wednesday evening
USC at Stanford (-2.5)
Both teams come into Palo Alto with convincing week 1 wins against overmatched foes. In perhaps the stat of the week, USC ran an astounding 105 plays from scrimmage to open the Steve Sarkisian era with a 52-13 win over Fresno State. The Cardinal used their typically stout defense to grind out a 45-0 victory against UC Davis.
Figuring 3 points for home field, this game is about as even as they get. In past years, I usually end up doubting Stanford, but not this year. I think they win a tough game, and barely cover.
Virginia Tech at Ohio State (-11)
The debut of freshman QB J.T. Barrett played out about as you would have expected in the Buckeye's 34-17 win over Navy. It took awhile for OSU to find it's footing, but they eventually were able to wear down the Midshipmen. The Hokies knocked off William and Mary 34-9 in their opener.
Ohio State's biggest question going into this game will be whether their offensive line can improve enough against a better defensive group than they saw in Baltimore. The Midshipmen were able to disrupt the running game, and Barrett, especially early on. On the other side, we should get a better look at OSU's new look defense facing a more traditional offense.
I don't have a great read on this game either way, but I don't often go against home favorites in prime time. I'll go with OSU here.
Michigan at Notre Dame (-3.5)
It's hard to believe, but this is the last meeting of these two blue bloods. I know it's fashionable to hate on both programs, with good reason, but as a fan of college football, I hate to see another great rivalry go by the wayside. On the field, Michigan thumped Appalachian State 52-14 in Michigan Stadium, and the Irish blew out Rice in South Bend.
While both teams are getting plenty of applause for beating up on cupcakes in week 1, quite a few questions about each should be answered under the lights in Notre Dame Stadium. I do not believe either team is going to be a true playoff contender, but I do think Michigan is poised to take a nice step forward this year. That starts Saturday with a win.
BYU at Texas (-1)
A year ago, the Longhorns were run out of Provo, marking the beginning of the end for Mack Brown. The Cougars arrive in Austin this year for the first true test of the Charlie Strong era, and it would stand to reason there is a big bullseye on their chest after what they did to Texas last season. BYU ran away from UConn 35-10 a week ago in Hartford, and Texas knocked off North Texas 38-7 in Austin.
Another game I don't have a real good feel for, but I do love Texas giving just a single point at home (even with Strong cutting linemen by the hour). I'll take the Longhorns here.
Michigan State at Oregon (-12)
I cannot tell you how much I am looking forward to this one on Saturday evening. The speed and finesse of the Oregon offense, against the physical attacking Sparty defense. Both teams won handily in their week 1 games, but all eyes have been on this game long before either of those openers kicked off.
Traveling across the country, and playing in Autzen Stadium is never easy, but Mark Dantonio and his staff seem to have just the mindset you want when you take on the challenge. I have a hard time seeing MSU getting blown out of this, and Oregon has struggled, to some degree, against top level defenses. The Ducks may win, but it will be close. Give me Sparty and the points.
Around the B1G
Western Kentucky at Illinois (-6)
McNeese State at Nebraska (-35.5)
Central Michigan at Purdue (-3.5)
Howard at BTPR (-37)
Western Illinois at Wisconsin (-36.5)
Northern Illinois at Northwestern (-7)
Middle Tennessee State at Minnesota (-16)
Ball State at Iowa (-17.5)
Maryland (-12.5) at South Florida
Kansas State (-12) at Iowa State - This might be one of those "too good to be true" things, but I love K-State here.
Navy (+3) at Temple - I know the Owls went into Nashville and beat up on the SEC, but Vandy gifted them a lot of those points with foolish turnovers. Navy looked solid against OSU before being worn down. Combine that with just 1 week to prep for the option, and I'll take Navy.