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Black Shoe Degenerates: Week two

The biggest improvement comes in between Week 1 and Week 2, right?

NCAA Football: Stephen F. Austin at Mississippi State Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to Week 2 of Black Shoe Degenerates, your weekly gambling expert column.

Just as a refresher from last week and for those who missed it, I wanted to explain how things are going to work this season. This year, I plan to give my picks based on the time of the game. I’ll make sure I pick 2-3 games in each time slot every week, so you can ridicule me all day instead of just early or late. One of the picks will always be the Penn State game, and Patrick Koerbler will also be making a guest pick every week.

Last week’s picks:

ARob’s Week 1: 3-4 (3-4 this season)

  • Utah State +23.5 (win)
  • Texas -13.5 (loss)
  • FAU +21 (loss)
  • West Virginia -9.5 (win)
  • Penn State -24 (loss)
  • Notre Dame pick’em (win)
  • Miami +3.5 (loss)

Pat’s pick: Washington +2 (loss, 0-1 this season)

So, we didn’t start out super hot in Week 1. That’s okay though! The biggest improvement comes in between Week 1 and Week 2, right?

The FAU pick looks absolutely terrible, but I think I made up for it with the Utah State cover — the Aggies came damn close to winning outright. West Virginia dominated as expected, and the Harbaugh experiment looked bad yet again as Notre Dame jumped to an early lead and didn’t give it up. Also, how hilarious is it that Texas scheduled a home-and-home with Maryland and got swept? I don’t even care about my pick, I think that’s the funniest thing ever. Anyway...

This week’s picks:

Mississippi State at Kansas State, 12 p.m.
My pick: Mississippi State -9

Joe Moorhead’s first road test as a Bulldog comes against one of the most legendary coaches of all time, but I don’t think it will be a huge problem. The offense was clicking on all cylinders in Week 1 for Mississippi State, even with a backup quarterback. Nick Fitzgerald is back for this game, and should hypothetically make the offense even better. Couple that with a Kansas State team that needed 15 points in the fourth quarter to beat South Dakota at home, and we have a recipe for a big Clanga win.

Duke at Northwestern, 12 p.m.
My pick: Northwestern -2.5

Northwestern won a big conference game at Purdue last week with an absolutely epic 14-play 8-minute drive to close it, but the main reason it won is it capitalized off turnovers. Purdue threw 3 picks, and the Wildcats scored a touchdown after each one of them. My gut tells me that Duke will have a turnover or two in one of the low-key toughest home-field advantages in the Big Ten, and the home team will capitalize again. Honestly though, is there a more underestimated place to play than a dreary noon (11 a.m. local) kickoff at Ryan Field in front of like 8,000 people? I’m falling asleep just typing this and thinking about it.

Western Michigan at Michigan, 12 p.m.
My pick: Western Michigan +28

This is just a gut feeling more than anything. Michigan’s offense looked better to me under backup QB Dylan McCaffrey than it did under starter Shea Patterson, while Western put up 42 points and 621 yards at home in a losing effort against Syracuse last week. I don’t anticipate the Broncos looking that dynamic in the Big House, but they’ll score more than the Wolverine faithful will like. Give me the points.

UCLA at Oklahoma, 1 p.m.
My pick: over 64

We know Oklahoma can score points — that was proven last week during the absolute demolition of FAU — with Kyler Murray at QB, and UCLA’s defense won’t be able to stop it. Honestly, Murray and Co. might put up 64 on their own. But I anticipate Chip Kelly throwing a few curveballs at the Sooner defense and putting up a few points too. This seems like a safe bet.

Kansas at Central Michigan, 3 p.m.
My pick: Central Michigan -5

A list of reasons Central Michigan will cover:

  • The Jayhawks are coming off a home overtime loss to FCS opponent Nicholls State in their season opener.
  • They haven’t won on the road in literally almost 10 seasons (Sept. 12, 2009 was Kansas’ last road win — a 34-7 win at UTEP).
  • Antonio Brown went to Central Michigan.
  • My aunt went to Central Michigan.
  • Yes, Central Michigan lost to Kentucky on the road last week, but Kentucky is better than Kansas.
  • This is mainly just a bet against Kansas. I think I’d pick pretty much any team this year over Kansas.

Rutgers at Ohio State, 3:30 p.m.
My pick: Ohio State -35.5

It’s Ohio State, it’s Rutgers, it’s in Columbus. The Buckeyes will try to flex their muscles without Urban Meyer before next week’s trip to Jerryworld to play TCU, and also, it’s Rutgers. I know 35.5 points is a LOT to give, but if you’re ever going to do it, now’s the time. This could be a 35-point lead at halftime. Don’t overthink this.

Clemson at Texas A&M, 7 p.m.
My pick: Clemson -12

Texas A&M rushed for 503 yards last week against FCS opponent Northwestern State, but I doubt that Clemson’s All-Americans up front on the defensive line will let that happen again. Dabo Swinney has won three straight against Jimbo Fisher dating back to when Fisher was at Florida State, and I think it will be four straight by the end of the day. Yes, A&M has a great home-field advantage with its 12th man, but Clemson has Christian Wilkins. I’m giving the points and taking the Tigers.

Penn State at Pitt, 8 p.m.
My picks: Penn State -8.5 AND over 56

I think Penn State will use last week as a wakeup call. I don’t really anticipate Pitt being a factor late. Despite all the rivalry talk this week and Pat Narduzzi rambling about whatever, and James Franklin publicly ignoring it, he knows Pitt will come out fired up and ready to go. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Panthers put up 24 points or more. But I do think Penn State will put up at least five touchdowns. The home crowd (Penn State fans, lol am I doing this rivalry thing right?) will leave happy after the Nittany Lions pull out a double-digit victory.

Pat’s Lock of the Week: Maryland at Bowling Green
Pat’s pick: Maryland -16

I don’t really get why a Big Ten team is playing at a MAC school, but as is tradition, Maryland beats Texas and I jump firmly on the Terrapin Train. Bowling Green has gone 6-19 the last 25 games since Mike Jinks took over so Maryland should be able to win like 45-24...right?