Quarterback J.T. Barrett makes his debut against Navy. Photo courtesy of AP Images
by Lisa Horne
Last week I hit three out of four picks in week 1 for a 75 percent success rate. Although I had made five selections, Idaho at Florida was canceled due to severe weather conditions.
This week there are six spreads that look enticing. If you are in a college football pool for entertainment purposes only, these picks are recommended by me. Good luck and have fun.
Obligatory reminder: PigskingGrind is not a tout service. Since odds can fluctuate during the week, these selections reflect the lines at the time this article was written.
Michigan State +13.5 at Oregon
Last year the Spartans' scoring defense allowed a stingy 13.2 points per game. This year I expect the same. Oregon has a high-octane offense but the Ducks tend to struggle against teams who have a strong power run defense or offense—see Oregon's two losses last year to Stanford and Arizona.
Can Michigan State keep up with Oregon's offense? The Spartans are ball hawks and rank fifth in time of possession. If the Ducks' offense is kept off the field by time-consuming drives, the Spartans should not only cover the spread, but win straight up. UPSET ALERT.
Take the Spartans and the points.
Maryland -12.5 at South Florida
The Terrapins did not exactly open their season with a powerhouse in James Madison but they did win, 52-7. Maryland did what it was supposed to do. Head coach Randy Edsall doesn't have a great record on the road (5-10) but his team will still be playing in the same time zone, albeit in Florida.
South Florida had to overcome a 14-3 deficit to beat Western Carolina in a nail biter. Western Carolina had five players suspended for this game including all-conference wide receiver Kannoris Benson, according to Keith Jarrett of the Citizen Times. Yet it still led South Florida 17-16 at the half? Hmmmm.
Lay the points and take Maryland
East Carolina +16.5 at South Carolina
I'm not sure how South Carolina's defense gets fixed in one week but I do expect the Gamecocks to play better. The last time South Carolina lost two in a row was in 2012 against No. 9 LSU and No. 3 Florida. East Carolina is not in the same league as those two teams but it is an excellent mid-tier football program.
Pirate quarterback Shane Carden went 26-of-37 for 283 yards and three touchdowns last week against North Carolina Central. After Texas A&M shredded the Gamecocks' vaunted defense, Carden's confidence must be building.
Perspective: if South Carolina beats ECU 33-17 and you laid the points, you would lose.
Take East Carolina and the points.
Hawai'i +11.5 v Oregon State
The Beavers did not exactly look overwhelming in their season opener against Portland State. Oregon State won 29-14. Hawai'i gave Washington a tough game before losing 17-16 last week. The Rainbow Warriors look much better this year, especially on defense.
So far, Oregon State has not impressed. A five-plus hour trip to the Hawai'ian Islands and all of the distractions that come with it makes me think the Beavers may come out flat. Last year Hawai'i played at Oregon State and lost 33-14 but it covered the 27-point spread. For the second straight week, I have Hawai'i covering.
Take Hawai'i and the points.
Pittsburgh -4.5 at Boston College
Boston College's run-oriented offense racked up 338 yards and two touchdowns against UMass. Pittsburgh has a heavy emphasis on the run too—the Panthers rushed for 409 yards and seven touchdowns against Delaware. Both teams limited their opponents to under 60 rushing yards but Pitt's total defense is nationally ranked first.
It's always difficult to compare two teams when both played extremely well against inferior opponents. But a 62-0 spanking is more impressive than a 30-7 spanking. Pitt is vastly more experienced than Boston College and despite playing on the road, a one-hour flight isn't that big of a deal. I really like this Pittsburgh team.
Lay the points and take Pittsburgh.
Virginia Tech +12.5 at Ohio State
The Buckeyes played a better-than-the-experts-thought Navy team and won 34-17. Ohio State's defense wasn't very impressive stopping Navy's triple option—it yielded a staggering 370 yards on the ground. The pass defense stats are irrelevant—Navy only attempted four passes.
Virginia Tech quarterback Michael Brewer carved up William and Mary's pass defense going 23-of-30 for 251 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. The Hokies also rushed for 222 yards. Virginia Tech has a very balanced offense and a nationally ranked No. 11 defense.
The Hokies sleep-walked through the first half of the game—they cannot do that against the Buckeyes. Virginia Tech must find a way to score touchdowns, not field goals, when it is in the red zone. Ohio State needs to tweak its inexperienced O-line. If the Hokies can run the option, there could be an upset in Columbus.
Too close to call—take the points and the Hokies.