Lock$ of Saturday: Week 2
It's finally here! We have actually big time college football games to preview!
Okay, it may not be the most invigorating slate of games this weekend. But hey, it's something!
This week we'll be picking each of the four ACC only matchups as well as the Alabama-Birmingham vs Miami and Western Kentucky vs Louisville games. Somehow, the Blazers and Hurricanes have maybe the most intriguing matchup of the weekend, but I think we're past the point of complaining now.
As I'm sure you saw with the Brigham Young vs Navy game Monday night, nobody knows how teams will look to start the season. The spread at kickoff was BYU -1.5, and still, Navy was a popular pick among fans. However, the faith in the Midshipmen quickly vanished after the kickoff, when it was announced that Navy somehow prepared this offseason without actually tackling...not a great battle strategy there, Captain.
So even with some big spreads this week, the uncertainty of how teams have prepared this offseason adds an unprecedented level of intrigue and ambiguity to each game. With that in mind, please don't take our picks too seriously, because we truly have no idea what's about to happen.
Clemson -33.0 @ Wake Forest
Sam - Clemson -33.0
That's an astronomical spread, but Clemson is an out-of-this-world team. I don't think Wake Forest is a bad team by any means, but they just don't have the weapons around Sam Hartman, a very talented QB, to put up points. The offense has only two returning starters, and although the defense is loaded with veteran talent, I just don't think it matters. Tigers big.
Robert - Clemson -33.0
I normally hate huge spreads like this, especially for the first game of the season. But hey, it's Clemson, and Wake's players haven't tackled anyone since December. Welcome to big boy football.
Ed - Clemson -33.0
33.5 is a huge number, but Clemson is that talented. We all know what they have on the offensive side of the ball with Trevor Lawrence, and I have no doubt he will be locked in right out of the gate. This Tigers defense is scary as well, with reports out of camp being extremely high for true freshman defensive end and top-ranked recruit, Bryan Bresee.
Chris - Clemson -33.0
Over the last two seasons with Trevor Lawrence at the helm, the Clemson Tigers played 18 games against ACC opponents. In those games, Clemson was 18-0 and won 11 of them by more than 33.5 points.
In the 7 “losses”, Clemson still outscored the competition by an average margin of victory of almost 21 points. If you eliminate the two fluke close games against Cuse in 2018 and UNC in 2019, the average margin of victory jumps back to 31 points.
The lesson? Trevor Lawrence and the Clemson Tigers usually beat ACC opponents… badly, except in the two close games against better competition.
Wake Forest is not what you would consider, better competition. Clemson covers, easily.
Brett- Clemson -33.0
I originally had Wake covering this massive spread, but after learning they STILL haven’t held a live scrimmage in practice... this is not gonna end well. See: Navy against BYU.
Duke +20.0 @ Notre Dame
Sam - Notre Dame -20.0
Notre Dame is so boring but somehow so good. They have no glaring weakness other than some depth issues on the defensive line. They should hold Duke to under 20 points and Ian Book will start his Heisman campaign.
Robert - Notre Dame -20.0
I'm excited to see Chase Brice make his debut for the Blue Devils, especially since I think he'll surprise a lot of people this year. But sadly, the rest of his team his hot garbage, and Notre Dame should win by at least three touchdowns.
Ed - Notre Dame -20.0
Notre Dame is usually in the “prove it” category for me, but I think they cover against the Blue Devils. Duke just is not very good across the board, and until Chase Brice proves himself, I like the more talented team in this one.
Chris - Notre Dame -20.0
Notre Dame returns slightly over half of its 2019 team production (59%) which includes a dark horse Heisman candidate in QB Ian Book, a tremendous offensive line, and Brian Kelly’s mauve blotched screaming face.
Duke also returns over half of its 2019 team production (65%) but has a new QB playing at a new school in a new system with no offseason.
While David Cutcliffe is commonly referred to as a “QB whisperer” and will be calling plays for Duke this season, the last time he assumed those duties was in 2007.
Life lesson… It’s true when they say if you don’t use it, you lose it. It’s also true that you usually don’t find it during the first game of the season on the road against a national title contender while starting a new QB with a coach who hasn’t called plays in 13 years. Lay the points. Take the Irish.
Brett- Notre Dame -20.0
Like in my preview, I think Notre Dame is going FINALLY to live up to their hype. Irish are going to have their way offensively and Duke will have a tough time moving the ball even with Chase Brice.
Georgia Tech +12.5 @ Florida State
Sam - Florida State -12.5
I want to pick the Yellow Jackets but I just can't. The 'Noles are just too talented. I could easily see this being a close, competitive game that sees a late score at the end to cover the spread. Things are looking up for the Yellow Jackets and coach Geoff Collins, it just won't show up in the win column for another year.
Robert - Georgia Tech +12.5
This is a tough one since Geoff Collins refuses to name a starting QB. The consensus is that it will be either James Graham or true freshman (and former FSU commit) Jeff Sims. I think Sims is the better QB because he knows how to throw a football, and Collins is a good coach, so he has to make the right choice here, right? If for some reason he does choose Graham, I like the Noles. But assuming he doesn't, GT is my pick.
Ed - Florida State -12.5
Is FSU back? I doubt it, but I know Georgia Tech isn’t any good. FSU covers in Norvell’s debut.
Chris - Georgia Tech +12.5
If you set aside the 45-0 utter evisceration late in the 2019 season (compliments of your very own Virginia Tech Hokies), Georgia Tech finished a respectable 2-2 in the second half of ACC play with a scoring margin of 94-100 in those 4 games. Not bad for one of the worst teams in the ACC.
On the other hand, Florida State fired its coach mid-season after a lackluster performance against a reeling Miami team and eventually hired Mike Norvell to turn things around in Tallahassee.
If you want an angle to start the 2020 season, it’s shorting teams with the least amount of offseason continuity coming off a bad 2019 season. Florida State fits this description perfectly and that doesn’t even include the laundry list of negative headlines surrounding the Seminole program this summer.
Georgia Tech will continue to improve under second-year coach Geoff Collins and the Noles are an unknown commodity with no proof they should be double-digit favorites against a conference opponent. At least not yet. Take the points with Georgia Tech.
Brett- Florida State -12.5
No one knows what in the world is happening down in Tallahassee, but it doesn't seem good. However, I think it's good enough for returning QB Justin Blackman and NFL-bound receiver Tamorrion Terry to cover this one on their own. I think if this was in the three-score range for the spread, I'd be giving it more thought as the Hornets will be surprising lots of teams in the ACC.
Syracuse +22.5 @ North Carolina
Sam - UNC -22.5
UNC should win this game pretty easily and Sam Howell should get 300+ through the air if he's allowed 30 or so pass attempts (his average last season.) If UNC is playing any other ACC bottom feeder, I'm taking the points. But Syracuse has had more COVID related issues than most this offseason, and nothing feels good about that program right now. I can't imagine they go down to Chapel Hill prepared in the slightest. This is more of a "Syracuse is really bad" than a "UNC is that good" pick. I would also look at the under for this game which is set at 65. UNC scored over 40 points in regulation against Power 5 competition only once last season, and Syracuse averaged just 24 points per game against Power 5 competition.
Robert - UNC -22.5
Man, that's a lot of points. But man...Syracuse is bad. I mean, really bad. I expect Howell to have an emphatic start to the season and the Heels to score a lot of points. I'm sure UNC's lackluster defense will give up a few big throws to Tommy DeVito, but that doesn't make me feel safe enough to take Syracuse in the points here. Heels big.
Ed - Syracuse +22.5
This pick has nothing to do with Syracuse being good. I'm just not that high on UNC. Maybe in 2 weeks, I’ll feel differently, but until the Tar Heels show me something, I can’t justify picking them to win by 3 scores.
Chris - Syracuse +22.5
Last season, UNC had one game against NC State where they won convincingly, 41-10. In all other ACC games, the Heels went 3-5 which included two close wins by a field goal and a 16 point victory against Georgia Tech.
This isn’t to say UNC won’t be good in 2020, but rather it takes time as a program to win consistently, and more time to learn how to win convincingly.
Let’s just say with UNC, I’m starting the season unconvinced.
QB Sam Howell was near perfect in 2019 and the result didn’t necessarily translate to wins, considering the UNC defense relied on a lot of young starters with limited or no college experience. After a year of attrition and new additions, the story of UNC’s defense didn’t change much as they are still relying on a lot of young starters.
UNC still wins, but take Cuse and the points.
Brett- Syracuse +22.5
This game is going to have a Big 12 kind of scoring night. This to me will easily hit o63, just due to the lack of defense on both teams. UNC is losing secondary players left and right and the Orange will take advantage of that. DeVito is a solid QB and can make the throws necessary to get the Heels on their....heels. As for UNC, Howell and his offense will be able to keep control of the game and have a comfortable two-ish touchdown win.
Alabama Birmingham +14.0 @ Miami
Sam - Alabama Birmingham +14.0
If you're feeling frisky, the Blazers are around +400 to win. Miami has a new OC, a new QB, and a not so great offensive line. Yeah, I know that QB is D'Eriq King who had that one good year at Houston a while back but he's still new to the system. UAB has a stout defense that will challenge everyone they play this year. I think they can keep the score down and stay within firing range throughout the game. They also have to go up against QB Tyler Johnston III, who impressed in his sophomore season. I'm not sure I'm feeling frisky enough to take the Blazers but this game will be close. The Blazers have already played a game this season so they should be in a much better groove than the Canes. I'm not sold on anyone wearing Orange and Green this season.
Robert - Alabama Birmingham +14.0
Give me those UAB points, and while you're at it, give me that UAB Moneyline. What coach Bill Clark has done since UAB reinstated its program is nothing short of spectacular, as he's won 28 games over the last three seasons after literally not having a team in 2016. The Blazers will be much better coached than the U, who is probably already looking ahead to its ACC slate.
Ed - Miami -14.0
The D’Eriq King show begins down in Miami. The Canes will look good and cover against a less talented UAB team.
Chris - Miami -14.0
The 2019 Miami season was a roller coaster, to say the least. At times, the defense looked dominant as it held ACC opponents Florida State, Virginia, and Pitt to less than 14 points. Then again, the same team gave up 30 to Florida International, not to mention the highest total of the year to yours truly, Virginia Tech.
As for Miami’s offense, it’s a fresh start with new QB D’Eriq King coming in to provide a much-needed game ready experienced starter with some mobility to help offset an inconsistent offensive line.
While I realize fresh faces in new places during a limited offseason is a reason to short the favorite, the addition of King, Miami’s returning production, and the same coaching staff going against an average UAB team, that just surrendered 5 TDs to Central Arkansas, maybe just what the doctor ordered to get Miami’s offense finally going. Besides, under any other circumstance, this spread would normally be 28+ points.
Brett - Alabama Birmingham +14.0
I'm hammering the Blazers for a few reasons. The glaring one is that I am still not convinced the "U is Bak". Secondly, UAB has a game under their belt and already has a season in motion. Lastly, this is a horrific trap game for the Canes with a new QB. UAB was 9th in the country last year in total defense and didn't lose much on that side of the ball. Blazers have stand-up DE Jordan Smith and LB Kristopher Moll who are both quality NFL prospects returning. Expect the Blazers to blitz King all night and most likely will get plenty of hits on him against a young Miami OL. If it's enough hits, the Canes are in serious trouble.
Western Kentucky +11.5 @ Louisville
Sam - Louisville -11.5
Western Kentucky is a pretty good team this year, so a smaller line doesn't surprise me. This, however, is way too close. A two-touchdown game would be a bad showing from Louisville. The over is set at 57.5 which I think should easily hit considering how lackluster the Cardinals can be on defense. A game that's 40 something to 20 something seems most plausible.
Robert - Louisville -11.5
God bless that WKU mascot. The Hilltoppers, much like UAB have put together a really solid run in recent years, but this is way too few points to pick them. I have Louisville making it to the ACC Championship, so out of principle, I must pick them to beat a C-USA team by at least 12.
Ed - Louisville -11.5
I'm high on Louisville this year, and they will have no issue covering in week one. Watch out for the Cardinals.
Chris - Louisville -11.5
For years, Scott Satterfield fielded teams at Appalachian State that learned how to run up the score on inferior opponents and were only outmatched against elite programs.
In year two after a dramatic year one improvement, all signs point in the direction of an elevated Louisville program under Satterfield continuing to build that same type of identity, albeit with even better talent and resources.
As for the Hilltoppers, they already lost to a rebuilding Louisville last season by 17, so I’m confused as to why this was the closest spread out of all the Week 1 ACC games.
Not much analysis needed here. Lay the points.
Brett- Louisville -11.5
I swear people are not giving Satterfield and this team any credit. Do people not know how good (QB) Micale Cunningham, (RB) Javian Hawkins, and (WR) Tutu Atwell are together? They are going to cause lots of issues for the Hilltoppers....and the ACC all season. This is my cashed-in lock for the week.