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College Capper: Handicapping Week 2

Greg Vara

Vara is the lead golf writer at RotoWire. He was named the 2013 FSWA Golf Writer of the Year. In addition to producing the weekly preview and the bulk of the draft kit content, Vara participates in Yahoo!'s "Experts Picks" where he routinely dominates. He also picks college football games against the spread in his "College Capper" article.

Week one is in the books and can you believe all the chatter? The BCS discussion usually takes a while to heat up, but that's not the case this season as Boise State's win on Monday sparked the conversation before week two.

The conversation will shift to the classic powerhouse teams this week as some big names are up against each other. Ohio State faces a tough test in visiting Miami. If the Buckeyes fail this early season test, their national championship aspirations could be lost. Same goes for Penn State and Alabama who face each other this Saturday.

The avoid list:

Too early to place a team here, although Boise State could be here eventually. More on that later.

On the radar:

USC: Is the Trojan defense really that bad, or can they make adjustments. I can't imagine every game will be around 100 points.

Michigan: Are the Wolverines as good as they looked last Saturday. I am going to withhold judgment until I see another couple games.

Weekly recap: In this section I will recap my ATS record from the previous week. I will include the previous weeks' record and units won/lost along with season to date record and units won/lost.

Record: 6-6

Record YTD: 6-6

Units: + 0.5

Units YTD: + 0.5

Best Win: Kansas State. Most of the wins were fairly comfortable but this one came down to the wire. It started out well, but UCLA took the second half lead only to fall apart late. A very late UCLA score put the game in jeopardy until Kansas State scored late as well.

Worst Loss: Virginia Tech. Even though I didn't have any units on this game, I still took the loss and it shouldn't have happened. Questionable clock management on their drive likely cost the Hokies a chance at the win. Add some poor kick coverage and Virginia Tech could not have played worse in the final two minutes.

Take a Note:
Boise State is legit. Sure, it seems obvious now, but you can now add me to the list of believers. However, the Broncos schedule is so weak, I mean historically weak, that it will be hard to keep this momentum throughout the year. The Broncos must, I mean must beat down every opponent outside of Oregon State the rest of the way. A seven-point win in any conference game will do major damage. This team has to be on every week, not just to win, but to blow out their opponent.

Here's the problem though, Vegas knows this, the public knows this and Vegas knows the public knows this. The lines are going to be outrageous and you have to consider the fact that Boise State will only be concerned with comfortable wins, not necessarily 50-point blowouts. Three touchdowns is the generally acceptable benchmark for a blowout, which is the goal for the Broncos each week. Although, keeping the betting public happy can only help their cause as well.

Week Two:


Auburn at Mississippi State: After a couple blowout wins by these two teams last week, you would think that this game would be high-scoring. With that said, you know I am going to lean the other way. Both teams looked impressive on the offensive side last week, but you have to factor in the competition. The line suggests that these two teams are capable of scoring points within the conference and while Auburn probably is, Mississippi State is not. A reality check is in store for the Bulldogs this week as they face a real defense. Notice I didn't go as far as to say real good defense.

Total: under 54 (1)


UTEP at Houston: One of these two teams scored 68 points last week and the other scored 31. Would it surprise you to learn that Houston was the team that scored only 31? Would it surprise you even further that Houston is favored by 20 this week? I was a little shocked myself, but it just goes to show that you can't put too much stock into week one of a college football season. Houston is clearly the better team, but is it 20 points better than UTEP which just put up 68 points? Instead of trying to figure that out, let's just look at the total. As expected the total is north of 70, which is always hard to get on top of, but considering you have two high-powered offenses and little in the way of defense, I think the game will end up in the 80s.

Total: Over 72.5 (1)


Memphis at East Carolina: Perhaps I'm falling into the trap here, after all, East Carolina was part of a 100-point game last Sunday which was nationally televised, but I still think there will be tons of points scored in this match-up. Memphis showed no defense last week either and I doubt one week will be enough time for either of these teams to fix the numerous holes in their defenses.

Total: Over -57 (1)

Hawaii at Army: Hawaii sure looked pretty good on offense last week, just like the old days, uh, the June Jones days anyway. Here's the problem though, Hawaii has always played better on the island and once off the island the Rainbow Warriors usually struggle. Just think about the change in scenery for them this week. They go from a nationally televised game against a big name opponent in a nice tropical environment to playing on the road, against Army, at West Point. Throw in the travel aspect and the fact that Army needs this game if they want to go bowling this year and I think the Cadets come out on top.

Side: Army -2.5 (1)

Florida State at Oklahoma: The Sooners are better than they looked last week and the Seminoles probably aren't as good as they looked last week. Now that we've got that out of the way, I do like the Seminoles here for one reason, Christian Ponder. By my estimation, Ponder is the best QB in the country. There are certainly more hyped QBs, but I'll take Ponder who has a certain presence, which will be key this week when they travel to Norman. I don't think the Seminoles have enough to pull out a win here, but as long as the line stays above seven, they are the pick.

Side: Florida State +7.5 (1)

Michigan at Notre Dame: Is Michigan as good as it looked last week? Is Robinson? How about Notre Dame, the Fighting Irish looked pretty good themselves. If both teams show their form from last week, the edge goes to Michigan, but can we expect the same production from Robinson on the road in a tough environment? A lot of questions surrounding this game, which will go a long way to showing which program is further ahead in the rebuilding process. With so many questions, I am focusing on the total. Notre Dame looked a bit rusty last week, but with Brian Kelly in charge, you can expect that offensive machine to become more efficient each week. On the other side, Michigan has a true play maker in Robinson and although he's not going to produce numbers like he did in week one throughout the entire year, he'll do enough to get this game over the number. The fact that Notre Dame was well under the total last week helps also as the number is sitting in the low-50s.

Total: Over 51.5 (1)

Eastern Michigan at Miami Ohio: This line is based on two factors. The first is Miami's better-than-expected result against Florida last week. The second is Eastern Michigan's record from last year, which included a zero in the win column. It's understandable that the odds-makers would try to suck the public in on this game, but I think they are way off. First off, Miami Ohio may in fact be the better team here, but are the Red Hawks capable of covering a 16-point spread? Second, their performance last week was more indicative of where Florida's offense is right now, not where their defense is. Third, Eastern Michigan put up one heck of a fight last week against Army, which is no powerhouse, but by the end of the year, could be a bowl team. Believe it or not, my first two-unit play of the year is on a team that hasn't won a game since 2008.

Side: Eastern Michigan +16 (2)

Miami at Ohio State: Each of these two teams has plenty of playmakers on offense, but this game will be won on the defensive side of the ball. The number is set a little too high for my liking, so I'm taking a look at the total. My steadfast rule about totals in the mid-40s in this; never go under unless one of the two teams has a dominant defense. In this case, OSU fits that bill, but as a bonus, Miami also has a solid defense. The story lines leading up to this game will focus on Terrelle Pryor and Jacory Harris, but defense will rule the day on Saturday.

Total: Under 45.5 (1)

Wyoming at Texas: The Longhorns did not impress last week. Yet when this line opened at 28 this week, it wasn't high enough for the public, and I agree. Texas did not come out the gate firing on all cylinders, but there were a couple reasons for that. First, the opener was played on a neutral field, sure the Longhorns had plenty of fans in attendance, but it's not the same as playing on your home turf. Second, Colt McCoy is gone and it's going to take a couple weeks to find a groove. Is week two too early to find that groove? Perhaps, but I think they worked out the kinks last week and they'll hit the ground running this week.

Side: Texas -29.5 (1)

Penn State at Alabama: Tough spot for Joe Paterno and the gang this week. The Nittany Lions have faced tough road tests before, but I don't think this current crop has faced anything like they'll face this Saturday night. I don't care about suspensions or injuries or anything that makes it seem like this might be a good game, the Tide will roll all night long. The advantage for Bama as always is in the trenches and once the Tide gets rolling, it will be hard to stop, In fact, it won't stop. To be honest, I expected this line to be around 18, but since it's sitting way down there at 12, I'll jump all over it.

Side: Alabama -12 (2)

Virginia at USC: Is this total a trap? 49? Really? After last week's performance by the Trojans, 49? Something about this doesn't seem right. After all, do you really think the Trojans can fix all the holes in their defense in one week? Maybe the Cavaliers aren't equipped to take advantage of the Trojan defense like Hawaii, but still, 49? USC is capable of putting that up on its own. I'll bite, I'm a little weary of the number, but I'll bite.

Total: Over 49 (1)