Anybody can pick a game straight up, here at the grueling truth we are looking for more of a challenge. So every week this year we will try to pick the games taking the point spread into consideration.
Appalachian State vs. No. 9 Tennessee
When: Thursday, Sept. 1, 7:30 p.m. ET (SEC Network)
The Line: Tennessee (-20)
Former ASU quarterback Scott Satterfield has turned into a whale of a hot young coaching candidate – he’ll turn 44 this December – and now he has the team in place to keep the fun going. QB Taylor Lamb and RB Marcus Cox are among the Sun Belt’s best at their respective positions, and while most of the top receivers are gone, the line should be outstanding.The defense that finished 11th in the nation and was so consistently strong welcomes back nine starters and more than enough depth to fill in any gaps.
Tennessee, which is the favorite to win the SEC East Division. Head coach Butch Jones’ squad also holds a 20-point advantage over Appalachian State in the opener.The Vols will attempt to establish the running game with a three-headed monster of Joshua Dobbs, Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara, but the Mountaineers shouldn’t get steamrolled.
I think Tennessee will win the game, but this is a very dangerous opponent for the Volunteers.
Prediction: Appalachian State (+20)
No. 5 LSU vs. Wisconsin
When: Saturday, Sept. 3, 3:30 p.m. ET (ABC)
The Line: LSU (-10)
The Tigers defense is stacked with talent, but coaching is the biggest difference. LSU added former Badgers defensive coordinator Dave Aranda during the offseason. His game plan will be a nightmare for Wisconsin’s mediocre attack.
The Badgers lost a ton of talent off last year’s team and LSU has maybe the deepest and most talented roster in College Football.
I think this early in the season the Badgers are going to have a tough time coming together to play a team as talented as LSU. Tigers should dominate.
Prediction: LSU (-10)
No. 3 Oklahoma vs. No. 15 Houston
When: Saturday, Sept. 3, noon ET (ABC)
The Line: Oklahoma (-11)
Dual-threat quarterbacks gave the Sooners trouble last season, and Houston’s Greg Ward Jr.’s is one of college football’s best. He’ll consistently test Oklahoma’s inexperience at outside linebacker, and the Cougars’ skill-position talent is solid.
Oklahoma made it to the final four last year and return heisman candidate Baker Mayfield at QB. Oklahoma returns most of its team from last year, and will be tough for anyone to handle.
I really think this will be a high scoring close win for Oklahoma, but I wouldn’t be shocked if Houston pulls the upset here. I think the key to the upset is the Cougars get in front early and get the crowd into the game, otherwise the Soones superior talent could overwhelm the Cougars.
No. 18 Georgia vs. No. 22 North Carolina
When: Saturday, Sept. 3, 5:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)
The Line: Georgia (-2.5)
Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart said Nick Chubb is fully cleared and won’t have limited touches against the Tar Heels. That’s terrible news for UNC, which had the sixth-worst rush defense last year and lost its top two linebackers.
The Bulldogs lost a lot on the defensive side of the ball as wee, but should have a terrific secondary.
Even matchup as the point spread indicates, game is a toss up and I give a slight edge to Georgia.
Prediction: Georgia (-2.5)
No. 16 UCLA vs. Texas A&M
When: Saturday, Sept. 3, 3:30 p.m. ET (CBS)
The Line: Texas A&M (-3.5)
The Aggies were just 2-4 against the spread at home last year. On Saturday, Texas A&M needs to worry about the Bruins stopping the spread offense of Noel Mazzone, who was UCLA’s offensive coordinator from 2012-2015.
Josh Rosen will lead the Bruins, trying to follow a great freshman season. The Bruins lost a lot of talent last year, but maybe better than last year.
I like UCLA in a slight upset, I think Rosen is the real deal.
Prediction: UCLA (+2.5)
No. 10 Notre Dame vs. Texas
When: Sunday, Sept. 4, 7:30 p.m. ET (ABC)
The Line: Notre Dame (-3.5)
Both offenses will use two quarterbacks. Typically, that disrupts a team’s ability to establish a rhythm. I think this will be a close game throughout.
I believe coming into this season Notre Dame is slightly overrated and Texas is underrated.
Prediction: Texas (+3.5)
No. 11 Ole Miss vs. No. 4 Florida State
When: Monday, Sept. 5, 8 p.m. ET (ABC)
The Line: Florida State (-4)
This matchup comes down to OLE Miss QB Chad Kelly v.s a dominating Florida,State defense.
Overall the Seminoles have the much deeper roster and in the end that will be the deciding factor in this game.
Prediction: Florida State (-4)
No. 20 USC vs. No. 1 Alabama
When: Saturday, Sept. 3, 8 p.m. ET (ABC)
The Line: Alabama (-11.5)
Alabama will pound the football with Bo Scarbrough and Damien Harris. USC defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast is excellent, but the unit itself is thin on depth and will be overmatched in Arlington, Texas.
USC is very good on offense, but Alabama is big physical and dominating on defense.
Look for the Trojans too keep it close for a half, then Bama will slowly impose their will and pull away at the end.
Prediction: Alabama (-11.5)
No. 2 Clemson vs. Auburn
When: Saturday, Sept. 3, 9 p.m. ET (ESPN)
The Line: Clemson (-7.5)
Deshaun Watson runs one of the best offenses in college football. Auburn will counter with a very good defense.
The difference in the end will be Auburn’s lack of offensive production. The line to me is a shocker at only 7.5 points, take Clemson all day in this one.
Prediction: Clemson (-7.5)