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College Capper: Picking Games for 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.

Every week during the college football season holds some significance from a handicapping perspective, except Week 6, Week 6 means nothing.

Seriously, though, from a handicapping angle, the first few weeks can determine your entire season. Get off on the wrong foot with a certain team and you could be chasing your tail the entire year. Find a groove early on and you just might be able to call every game for a certain team correctly all year.

I mention this because Week 1 was all about discovery. Discovering which teams appear to be the real deal and which look to be frauds.

Week 2 is the testing ground. You've formed your opinions from what you saw in Week 1, and it's time to see whether your new assumptions are correct.

If your assumptions prove correct, well, then you've got something. Stick with it until it fails you. If not, then it's time to make some corrections, better known as Week 3, but we'll get to that next week.

For now let's focus on the slate of games this week. Let's look at the assumptions I've made after last week's action.


Cream of the Crop
(Week: 1-2-0/Season: 1-2-0)


Ball State at Clemson:
Ball State had no defense last season, and if Week 1 was any indication, it will have no defense this year. That doesn't bode well for the Cardinals this week as they face one of the best offenses in the land. And just like some other high-profile teams, they're going to find much less resistance this week than last. Clemson could have a bit of a hangover from the Auburn win, but not enough to keep this one close.

Side: Clemson -27

Michigan State at Central Michigan:
I'm not normally one to jump on a huge line move, but something stood out to me here. MSU opened as a 24-point favorite, but as of Wednesday night, the line has fallen below 21, which just so happens to be a key number. Considering MSU is coming off a huge win and has a history of letting down in these types of spots, I'm going to side with the move here.

Side: CMU +20.5

Fresno State at Oregon:
Did you see the Ducks offense last week? Absolutely unstoppable. The only thing that stopped Oregon last week was the coaching staff who took its foot off the pedal early in the second half. This week should be pretty similar, at least on the offensively, but I expect that the Oregon staff is not too happy about the defensive effort last week. Expect to see some improvement on that side of the ball and maybe a little more offensive effort deeper into the game.

Side: Oregon -35

Nebraska at UCLA:
UCLA looked impressive last week - on one side of the ball - against Rice. We really don't know how far the Bruins have come since last season, but one thing is for sure, if the defense doesn't improve, they'll be in for a long season. The Bruins have holes in their defense, and you can bet Nebraska is ready to take advantage. Taylor Martinez actually resembled a real QB last week, albeit against Southern Miss. But if he's improved, the Huskers will be hard to stop this year, and especially this week.

Side: Nebraska -5

Best of the Rest (Week: 2-3-0/Season: 2-3-0)


Air Force at Michigan:
It sure looks like the oddsmakers are expecting a bounce-back from the Wolverines, and I have to say I'm with them. Can you imagine how much easier everything will be for the Wolverines this week? It will feel like they've taken off ankle weights and can finally move freely.

Side: Michigan -21.5

Miami at Kansas State:
Was last week's offensive explosion indicative of what's to come from the Hurricanes this season or was it a one-week aberration? Considering that BC generally has a pretty solid defense, I assume the former. Kansas State has plenty of firepower on offense as well, and this game should be a tight back and forth game.

Over 53.5

Purdue at Notre Dame:
I have a hard time believing Notre Dame is as good as it looked last week in Ireland. Speaking of which, I find it a little odd that Notre Dame did not schedule a bye week after its return trip overseas. Considering both of those factors, expect the Fighting Irish to come back to Earth a bit this week and play a close one against a decent Purdue squad that's getting a hefty chunk here.

Side: Purdue +14.5

Wisconsin at Oregon State:
There's nothing better for a coaching staff than an underperforming team that still wins the game. That's exactly what the Badgers coaching staff had last week as Wisconsin barely squeaked out a bizarre home win against Northern Iowa. Could the close victory be a sign of things to come? Perhaps, but the Badgers are supposed to be pretty solid this year; if that is the case they should handle the Beavers this week.

Side: Wisconsin -7

Iowa State at Iowa:
The Hawkeyes were dreadful last week but managed to pull out the victory. Once again, the perfect scenario from a motivational perspective, as if they needed any extra motivation this week against their in-state rival. Iowa should get back on track this week, and the line is well below one touchdown, which should not be much of a problem in front of the home crowd.

Side: Iowa -5

PASSing thoughts:
(Week: 4-2-0/Season: 4-2-0)


Pittsburgh at Cincinnati: This game is almost impossible to gauge. On one side you have Cincinnati. which hasn't played yet this season, and on the other side there's Pittsburgh, which just lost to Youngtown State. Since there's bound to be plenty of focus on this game, from a betting perspective at least, I have to assume the oddsmakers factored in the public's opinion on Pittsburgh's horrible loss last week. That said, anything more than a FG looks like too much.

Side: Pittsburgh +4


Utah at Utah State:
Utah State proved to be quite the pest last season as it seemed to give every team it played a tough time. That was last year's team, though, and it looks like the Aggies lost a bit too much to match last year's effort. Utah, on the other hand, should be a little better this season, and it will show in this contest.

Side: Utah -7.5


Penn State at Virginia:
This one comes down to one simple question. Is Virginia good enough to cover a double-digit spread against a Big Ten team, albeit a poor Big Ten team? I doubt it.

Side: Penn State +10

Washington at LSU:
You never want to bet against a team from the SEC in inter-conference match-ups, but this number is pretty large and LSU looked a little vulnerable on defense last week. Washington has enough playmakers to put a scare into LSU ... for a half, but that should be enough to stay within the number.

Side: Washington +23.5