The college football season kicks off tonight with a varied collection of games. How will this translate into high or low scores in various games? Let’s take a look at 3 over-under picks on the card.
Michigan Wolverines vs. Utah Utes
This is a game in which the defenses should have their day. Utah has struggled more on offense than on defense over the past several years, and Michigan’s problem under former head coach Brady Hoke was always on offense. The presence of defensive touchdowns or points set up by fumbles inside a team’s own red zone is very real. This could very obviously push the game over the number and create a higher score. However, if those kinds of high-impact plays do not occur, this really does set up as a game the defenses are primed to dominate. Michigan’s patchwork offense, playing on the road in Salt Lake City against a defense with an excellent pass rush last season, is likely to struggle. Maybe Utah’s offense will be a little bit better, but Michigan’s defense was solid last season, and was never really the problem with the Wolverines even when everything else was going so horribly wrong. Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham is a defensive specialist, and Michigan defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin is recognized across the nation as one of college football’s very best defensive minds. This game does feel like a 20-17 kind of game, one that’s going to be close and hard-fought, without the offenses ever really breaking through the defenses for any sustained period of time. Go with the under here.
Pick: Under 46.5 at The Greek
South Carolina Gamecocks vs. North Carolina Tar Heels (In Charlotte)
If you remember last year’s season opener for South Carolina, the Gamecocks were absolutely embarrassed by Texas A&M, giving up over 50 points and looking completely disorganized. There is no way to tell if South Carolina has grown up and improved defensively this season. We’ll have to find out here in this game. However, if you lack specific evidence in support of the claim that South Carolina is better, your default position should be that the Gamecocks’ defense will continue to struggle. The Gamecocks brought in Jon Hoke to be a co-defensive coordinator with Lorenzo Ward, who struggled a lot last year. This looks like a situation that might remain less than optimal for a few weeks.
North Carolina’s defenses have often hemorrhaged points under head coach Larry Fedora. There’s little reason to think the Tar Heels are going to be an advanced and sharp team on this side of the ball. Take the over in this game.
Pick: Over 64
TCU Horned Frogs vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers
While this game might be a struggle for TCU overall, the Horned Frogs are extremely explosive on offense. They might get held down for a quarter and a half, but they are likely to bust loose before too long and surge in the middle of this game. Minnesota’s offense is a balanced offense, one which uses the run to set up the play-action pass. It is very easy to see overeager defenses biting on fakes and being victimized a lot in this game. TCU should win the game, which should mean that the Horned Frogs will find their stride at some point. This feels like a 38-27 kind of game. That’s an over.
Pick: Over 57.5 at The Greek