College Football Week 2 Predictions: Best Betting Picks of the Week
This 2014 National Championship rematch features two Top 15 teams and preseason projected conference champs. Both sides struggled at times in their openers, with Ohio State’s offense out-of-sync in the first half at Minnesota and Oregon unable to secure their early 15-point lead on Fresno State.
Give credit to Ryan Day for not only sticking with his first-time starter CJ Stroud but having him continue to throw vertical passes in the 2nd half. After a slow start, Stroud rounded into form. Their skill positions around him feature two All-America candidates at receiver (Chris Olave & Garrett Wilson) and a trio of game-breaking backs.
What also stood out was Ohio State’s offensive line giving Stroud a ton of time – that will be tested by Oregon’s potential #1 overall pick Kayvon Thibodeaux (assuming he’s ready by kickoff).
Oregon has an offensive skill stable of their own, and their defense is fast and veteran. I’d have liked to see them secure that early lead, and even extend it, but they allowed Fresno to hang around and even lead with 10 minutes left.
Ohio State is 9-0 all-time in this series. From a spread angle, Ohio State’s performance ATS is correlated to the strength of its defense. In 2019, with a top unit, OSU was 9-5 ATS. But in 2020 (3-4 ATS) and the end of 2018 (2-8 ATS), their poor defensive play allowed underdogs to cover. After a one-game glance at Ohio State’s 2021 defense, it appears more like 2018 & 2020. The half-point hook makes this even more enticing.
Prediction: Ohio State 37, Oregon 27
Pick: Oregon +14.5 @ -110
From BYU’s perspective, they, unfortunately, didn’t get a shot at this rivalry matchup in 2020, which would have been their best shot at ending the 9-game series drought. Instead, BYU must replace an all-time special quarterback Zach Wilson, an All-American offensive lineman Brady Christensen, and offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes. On top of that, BYU had the lowest returning production percentage in the nation.
In the season opener, BYU failed to pull away from Arizona, losers of 13 straight games.
Meanwhile, all of Utah’s youth of 2020 pays dividends as experienced starters in 2021. In the “transition” season, Utah’s defense was still strong enough to lead the Pac-12 in rushing, and finish 3rd in scoring. Defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley is one of the best in the game at player development, and reloading this attacking, physical defense.
This offseason, their offense hit the transfer portal and landed several blue-chip prospects at the skill positions.
Utah is my projected winner of the Pac-12 South, and they will make it 10 straight over BYU.
Prediction: Utah 27, BYU 17
Pick: Utah -7 @ -110
In Pick Six Previews’ preseason rankings, I placed NC State #26 and Mississippi State #41. Their opening games followed suit, as NC State rolled USF 45-0 while MSU needed their biggest comeback in school history (20 points) to beat Louisiana Tech.
NC State looked as expected – a complete team that looks strong at every position group. On offense, they showed balance with an efficient passing attack and explosive ground game. Ricky Person and Bam Knight combined for 268 rushing yards and 8.4-yards per carry.
While Mike Leach’s offense showed some expected second-year progress (Rogers 83% completion), this is a significant step up in opponent strength. This line opened with MSU as the home favorites, but has swung all the way over to NC State.
Prediction: NC State 35, Mississippi State 30
Pick: NC State -1 @ -110
Former Big East rivals face off in the Carrier Dome. Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano is reigniting what worked in New Jersey in the mid 2000s. He landed several wins from the transfer portal, started to lock down top in-state talent, and his team “kept chopping” all year in 2020. Now, an extremely veteran team gets a 2nd-year coach bonus. Meanwhile, Syracuse features one of the worst offensive lines in Power 5, and has struggled as a program since Eric Dungey left.
Prediction: Rutgers 28, Syracuse 20
Pick: Rutgers -2 @ -110
The 20th anniversary of 9/11 will be significant across the nation and on all college campuses, but none more than here in Annapolis with two Armed Forces facing off. Air Force took care of business in their opening win, while Navy was humbled 49-7 against Marshall.
Prediction: Air Force 23, Navy 14
Pick: Air Force -6 @ -110