Colorado State, home against the Cal Bears, and BYU, on the road at UCLA, are two dogs that should cash at the pay window this week on the college gridiron.
Buffalo at Temple (-3)
Saturday, Sep 8, 1:00 p.m. (ET)
[articleBanner]handicapper[/articleBanner]Popular second year head coach Al Golden has Temple going in the right direction. Most power ratings have Temple just a few points better than where they ended last season, but I am convinced they have improved by at least a touchdown. They showed many signs of life in season opener vs Navy, losing 30-19 after losing 42-7 to them at the end of last season. Owl junior QB Adam DiMichele completed 21 of 29 and showed good leadership qualities. Speedster Travis Shelton is one of the best all purpose talents in the MAC and may single handedly be the difference maker in this game.
Buffalo also has a second year coach in Turner Gill who is also trying to turn around a longtime doormat program. Gill has much less to work with in terms of location and facilities, and is taking more of a long term approach by mostly avoiding JC transfers. Buffalo did not show many positive signs in 45-3 loss to Rutgers in Week 1. Bulls top receiver Terrance Breaux (knee) missed the game and remains a reserve on the team depth chart as of this writing. Temple lost in overtime at Buffalo last season but has gained much more ground since then and gets to play host this time. Give the points.
Free Pick: Temple -3 (½ Unit)
California at Colorado State (+15)
Saturday, Sep 8, 2:00 p.m. (ET)
The Rams played very well vs Colorado in season opener but let a likely win slip away in the second half before losing in overtime. Despite the loss this is clearly going to be one of Sonny Lubick's better Colorado State teams.
Senior QB Caleb Hanie was very impressive in the opener going 20-of-27 with three touchdowns. Senior TE/HB Kory Sperry emerged as an impact player with 100+ receiving yards and three touchdown catches. Sperry's career has been disappointing but he appears ready for a break out season. RB Kyle Bell returned from a one year absence due to injury to rush for 135 yards. The Rams defense was very respectable allowing 330 total yards despite being caught off guard by some new formations early on.
Cal is coming off an emotional revenge win over Tennessee on national television. The Bears capitalized on fumble and punt returns for touchdowns in the first half of a 14-point win. Cal features a formidable offense but their defense is still very suspect. Expect Colorado State to move the ball consistently and score enough points to keep this game competitive. This will be CSU's biggest non-conference home game in years and they are 9-4 ATS as a home dog under Lubick. Take the points..
Free Pick: Colorado State +15 (½ Unit)
North Carolina at East Carolina (-3½)
Saturday, Sep 8, - 6:00 p.m. (ET)
East Carolina was so bad in 2003-04 that oddsmakers are still having a tough time catching up. The Pirates have come a long way under third year head coach Skip Holtz. They faced an almost unwinnable situation at Virginia Tech last week but if not for throwing an interception runback for a touchdown, they would have taken the Hokies down to the wire as a +28 dog. East Carolina actually outrushed Virginia Tech 142 to 33, demonstrating their much improved size and strength.
Junior QB Patrick Pinkney has been plagued by injuries throughout his career and was third string prior to the season opener, but was impressive off the bench vs an outstanding Hokie defense. He completed 56% of his passes for 115 yards with no turnovers while rushing for another 48. Holtz was so pleased with his play that on Sunday he named Pinkney the starter for next week over projected starter Rob Kaas who was suspended for the opener.
UNC is very young and in rebuilding mode under new head coach Butch Davis following a hapless 3-9 season (wins vs Furman, NC State, and Duke). The Tar Heels had 12 players (all underclassmen) make their first start in win over James Madison last week. UNC has a redshirt freshman at QB and was held to 2.9 ypc (no sacks) on the ground. Tar Heels center Scott Lenahan (calf) and starting LB Chase Rice (high ankle sprain) left the game with injuries. East Carolina cherishes the rare opportunity to host ACC rivals and went 2-0 SU and ATS vs Virginia and at NC State last season. The Pirates are 19-5 ATS overall under Holtz. Give the points.
Free Pick: East Carolina -3½ (½ Unit)
BYU (+8½) at UCLA
Saturday, Sep 8, - 6:30 p.m. (ET)
The Cougars are not getting due respect for the current run they are on. They have won 11 games in a row, with the last two being dominating wins over PAC-10 teams, 38-8 vs Oregon in the Las Vegas Bowl and 20-7 over Arizona to open the season last week.
The win over the Wildcats was much more impressive than the final score indicates. BYU had twice as many first downs and 140 more total yards despite finishing -1 in turnover ratio. Arizona's only points came with under a minute to play. BYU QB Max Hall had a solid debut (26 for 39, 288 yards, no INT) vs an excellent Arizona defense.
Meanwhile, BYU's unheralded defense has picked up right where they left off last year. They were physically dominant in holding Arizona to just 32 rushing yards and came just shy of a shutout.
This is a game that many people have overlooked on UCLA's schedule. The Bruins went 7-6 last year and did not have to do much in easy win over rebuilding Stanford last week. UCLA still has some question marks on offense. They will have their hands full here with a very good and underrated BYU team. The Rose Bowl is rarely an intimidating venue for visitors, and BYU is sure to bring plenty of their own fans. Take the points.
Free Pick: BYU +8½ (½ Unit)
Situational Notes - Week 1
Teams with "look ahead" potential:
- Maryland - The Terps host West Virginia in Week 3 after visiting FIU this week.
- Nebraska - Hosts much anticipated matchup with #1 USC in Week 3 after visiting Wake Forest this week.
- Wyoming - Will visit Boise State in Week 3 after hosting Utah State this week.
- Florida - Gators will host conference opponent Tennessee in Week 3 after hosting Troy this week.
- Kentucky - Wildcats will host instate rival Louisville in Week 3 after hosting Kent State this week.
- Tennessee - Vols will travel to Florida in Week 3 after hosting Southern Miss this week.
Teams with "letdown" potential:
- Clemson - Played FSU on Monday night and will have short week.
- Florida State - Will play at Clemson on Monday night then will have short week.
- Kansas State - Hard fought loss at Auburn on national television last week.
- Oklahoma State - Disappointing bad loss at Georgia last week.
- Wyoming - Big effort over ACC foe Virginia in Week 1.
- California - Big revenge victory over Tennessee on ABC in Week 1.
- Mississippi State - Disappointing bad loss vs LSU in Week 1.
- Utah State - Blew late lead in second half vs UNLV and was unable to break losing streak.
- Ball State - Disappointing home loss to Miami Ohio in final seconds.
- Kent State - Won big game at Big 12 foe Iowa State.
- Colorado - Big OT win over instate rival CSU with coach's son making QB debut.
- Minnesota - Disappointing overtime loss to MAC foe Bowling Green as 21-pt favorite.
- Michigan - Hugely disappointing loss to Appalachian State as a 35-pt favorite.