Note: WagerBop apologizes to those who clicked looking specifically for moneyline picks earlier today. We’ll have a bunch of ML picks to offer on college football in Week 3, but Week 2’s predictions focus on OOC point spreads. The mislabeled headline has been corrected to reflect this week’s choice of markets.
There’s a classic Metallica tune I’m thinking of today, “The Thing That Should Not Be.” The proto-stoner metal track gives off the impression that it’s about a bubbling sea monster, but really it’s a metaphor of human irrationality – James Hetfield’s lyrics “the fearless wretch insanity” are right there in the chorus. Such as is the case with “Born in the USA” and a thousand other songs, America fails to get the rub but rocks and rolls anyway.
It’s too bad that “The Thing That Should Not Be” isn’t actually about a sea monster. It would make it a perfect 2021 sports anthem for obvious reasons (Seattle Kraken?) and in subtle ways too. Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski are lighting-up scoreboards like it’s the late 2000s, but as greybeards whom at least 16 more NFL defenses are firmly intent on punishing, each could also be 1 vicious tackle away from full-scale medical rehab and a new career off the gridiron. Lurking beneath the sea!
College football’s Group of 5 schools are another “Nessie” of 2021. We didn’t have any Week 1 upsets affect the national title picture, but the returning “Super Seniors” at humble programs are already starting to burst the Top 25’s bubble. Montana pulled off an “App State over Michigan” of the greater west in Week 1, upsetting the Washington Huskies 13-7.
The MAC looks stronger than usual, with NIU beating Georgia Tech and few of the Mid-American’s teams getting badly punished despite a killer OOC schedule. C-USA squads are looking pretty swell too. AAC and MWC champions will be a load to deal with in bowl season – Fresno State was already underrated by a P5 counterpart. Meanwhile, the Top 25 has been ravaged by the NFL Draft and the transfer portal.
A new best-25 teams will sort itself out, mostly among rosters with all kinds of 6th-year seniors and transfer stars. Meanwhile, don’t think that the G5 angle is lost on Las Vegas.
In fact, if WagerBop isn’t mistaken, Sin City’s oddsmakers (and a cooperative betting public) may have gone too far in adjusting moneylines and spreads against Power-5 also-rans and in favor of interesting, but unproven, Group of 5 teams in Week 2.
Starting with Friday night’s earliest FBS kickoff.
Week 2 College Football Odds, Lines, and Best Bets
Kansas Jayhawks at Coastal Carolina Chanticleers
Coastal Carolina reinvigorated the FBS landscape in December by beating #8 ranked BYU in a classic game played in front of a packed house of students. CCU’s elite starting lineup of upperclassmen could be called a fluke of Sun Belt recruiting, but that won’t matter for the time being, as the Chanticleers have returned almost the entire defense along with offensive standouts like QB Grayson McCall and TE Isaiah Likely.
Kansas is a 25-point Friday night underdog (no jokes about KU being a “Friday Night Lights” underdog vs prep teams, please) after nearly falling to South Dakota State in Week 1. KU students were mocked by college pigskin bloggers for storming the field after an FBS-over-FCS victory, and yet the Jayhawks may not be getting enough credit for defeating a strong FCS opponent.
South Dakota State would get along fine in Coastal’s conference or the MAC. CCU dominated an FCS opponent of its own in The Citadel last weekend, but the spring FCS season showed that SDSU is on another plane compared to The Citadel and other also-rans of the division. KU has lost to Coastal by 15 and 5 points respectively in the schools’ last 2 meetings.
Pick: Kansas ATS (+25.5)
Oregon Ducks at Ohio State Buckeyes
It’s no “Wichita State” shocker that OSU’s point spread has expanded to (-14.5) with betting action on a midday Saturday visit from the Oregon Ducks, given how excited pundits are getting about Buckeye skill players in 2021. The preseason angle showed up right away as WR Chris Olave had a monster Week 1 with 2 TD catches in a 45-31 defeat of Minnesota.
But there are questions about OSU’s assets at QB and on defense. C.J. Stroud had a good overall debut in the Buckeye victory, but threw an INT and whiffed on 8 other pass attempts out of 22. Ohio State has lost key members of a 2020-21 linebacking corps that frustrated Trevor Lawrence in the College Football Playoff.
Oregon isn’t getting enough credit for beating Fresno State. Oregon isn’t a disappointment after its 31-24 win last week – the Ducks are already survivors in a season full of landmines.
Pick: Oregon ATS (+14.5)
Air Force Falcons at Navy Midshipmen
Expert picks include many underdog bets on Commander in Chief games. Military rivalries run so deep that upsets are possible that don’t even feel like upsets. For instance, Navy’s magic season of 2016-17 was marred by a dreadful blow-out loss to Air Force. The Falcons’ opening win over Lafayette does nothing to dispel the notion that something similar could happen to Saturday’s favorite in Annapolis.
Something’s wrong with the Navy Midshipmen. The Mids were impotent on offense and worn-down on defense in a 42-7 Week 1 loss to Marshall. While the athleticism of the Navy defensive backfield continues to improve, that won’t be a big factor as CKN’s squad tries to stop a fellow option-team this weekend. Navy isn’t itself, so the Midshipmen mustn’t be considered a high-% ATS pick in 2021 until proven otherwise.
Pick: Air Force ATS (-5.5)
Washington Huskies at Michigan Wolverines
What woe in Washington in Week 1! It shows just how far Michigan’s reputation has fallen that the Wolverines aren’t favored by 15+ points for Washington’s visit to the Big House this Saturday.
Husky QB Dylan Morris was a Week 1 turnover machine who couldn’t escape the pocket once the Grizzlies pierced the edge, giving Jim Harbaugh another chance to show UM’s defense can make mayhem vs the Power-5.
Handicappers can’t be historians. Michigan has been a flaky out-of-conference team under Harbaugh, but clobbered a superior opponent in Western Michigan last weekend.
Even if Michigan doesn’t improve on its form from the WMU game, the Wolverines should be able to beat a struggling Pac-12 side by a comfortable margin on home turf.
Pick: Michigan ATS (-6.5)
Stanford Cardinal at USC Trojans
NFL Hall-of-Fame passer (and Stanford product) Jim Plunkett had a rough experience in his maiden pro stint with the New England Patriots. “How did the fans treat you in Boston, Jim?” a friend once asked. “Yew stink, Plunkett!” the QB replied in a harsh Beantown accent. “Go back to Stan-faaahd!”
“Stan-faaahd” isn’t a place for stinky QBs, but neither is the Stanford Cardinal a favorite to beat talented USC this Saturday. In fact, Stanford is a fat (+680) and (+17.5) underdog for the kickoff in Pasadena, despite having gone 5-5 in its last 10 games vs Southern Cal.
The Cardinal was a mess in an opening 24-7 loss to Kansas State. Stanford’s traditionally strong ground game was unable to earn 1st downs, and QB Jack West threw 2 interceptions. Southern Cal had an excellent debut, beating 2020-21 Cinderella team San Jose State by 23 points while picking-off opposing QB Nick Starkel twice.
However, a rising (52.5) point O/U line for USC vs Stanford may reflect excitement over a potential blow-out Trojan win more than objective analysis. If USC gets even better in Week 2, the hosts won’t need to score 50 points. If Stanford’s offense improves from Week 1, the Cardinal will work to control the ball and slow the game down. USC is also dealing with early-season injury problems that could prompt slightly more-cautious tactics.
Pick: Under (52.5)
Kurt has authored close to 1000 stories covering football, soccer, basketball, baseball, ice hockey, prize-fighting and the Olympic Games. Kurt posted a 61% win rate on 200+ college and NFL gridiron picks last season. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.