College Football Betting News and Notes Week 2

College Football Betting News and Notes Week 2

College Betting Recap - Week 1

College Football Week 1 Results

Wager Favorites-Underdogs
Straight Up 67-14
Against the Spread 38-42-1

Wager Home-Away
Straight Up 64-17
Against the Spread 41-39-1
Wager Totals (O/U)
Over-Under 20-23

The largest underdog to cash
Texas-El Paso (+10, ML +320) at New Mexico, 31-24

The largest favorite to cash
Stanford (-42.5) vs UC Davis, 45-0

Top 25 Notes

Eight of nine Top 10 teams won straight up, with South Carolina as the lone Top 10 team to face a setback. Top 10 teams also struggled against the spread, covering just three of nine games. Auburn, Michigan State and Ohio State were the three teams to not only win, but cover.

UCLA won 28-20 on the road, but looked ugly in doing so at Virginia, failing to cover as a 19-point road favorite.

Ohio State pulled away late to cover as 13 1/2-point favorites against Navy, 34-17.

No. 1 Florida State had its hands full in its 37-31 win against Oklahoma State, who was a solid 18-point underdog to cover.

Georgia erased a 21-14 deficit against Clemson, rattling off 31 unanswered points to easily win and cover at home at a nine-point favorite, 45-21.

Washington opened the Chris Petersen era with close shave win in Hawaii, 17-16. The Huskies were favored by 17 1/2 points, but they failed to even score that many.

Big Five Conference Report (ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC)

The Big Ten went 12-2 SU, and had a good weekend against the number, too. The Big Ten went 9-5 ATS in the opening weekend.

It was a high-scoring opening weekend for the SEC, with the 'over' going 9-3 (through Saturday)

In the SEC, the game between Idaho and Florida was terminated after a lengthy lightning delay. This game may  or may not be rescheduled.

The ACC went 9-3 SU, with Clemson, Virginia and Wake Forest as the losing squads. The ACC collectively went 4-7-1 ATS, too.

The Big 12 went 5-3 SU (through Saturday), with a 4-4 ATS mark. The 'over' also connected in six of eight games.

Mid-Major Report

The Mid-American Conference saw some low-scoring results, with the 'under' going 7-5. The MAC was also just 5-8 ATS.

In the Mountain West, the 'under' went 9-2 (through Saturday)

Sun Belt teams were a perfect 6-0 SU at home, including Thursday's opening night win and cover for Louisiana-Monroe over Wake Forest (17-10).

Conference USA teams were just 7-6 SU and ATS, and they had the only FBS team to lose straight-up to an FCS foe. Florida International was actually a 2 1/2-point home dog to Bethune-Cookman, who won 14-12 in Miami.

Georgia Southern played its first official game as a member of FBS, and nearly pulled off the upset as a 22-point underdog at North Carolina State. The Golden Eagles fell just short, 24-23, in Raleigh.

Bad Beats

UCF-Penn State had just 13 points at halftime, but saw 37 combined points to push the total 'over' (44).

From Thursday night, Tulane (+6.5) never trailed in regulation or the first overtime, but allowed a touchdown in double-overtime and then failed to score, turning what looked like a sure cover into a loss.

With :37 left, Louisiana Tech struck for a touchdown to cut Oklahoma's lead to 48-16, earning the backdoor cover as a 34-point underdog.

Wisconsin entered the fourth quarter with a 24-13 lead, but LSU outscored the Badgers 15-0 to not only win and cover, but also push the total 'over' (49.5).

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Week One Review

College football is mostly about two things. Quarterbacks. And the Southeastern Conference.

Nowhere did those two themes intersect better than in the first game of the season -- Texas A&M at South Carolina.

College football moved on from the Johnny Manziel era, leaving his every off-field move and on-field gesture as a concern for the NFL. But he still had the gravitational pull of a black hole in the offseason, pulling every question about Texas A&M into this singularity: How could the Aggies possibly replace Johnny Football and still be relevant?

It was the wrong question.

Give Manziel his due, but the immediate success of Texas A&M in the SEC had less to do with his improvisational skills and more to do with the man in charge of it all -- coach Kevin Sumlin. The question should have been: Have SEC foes figured out how to stop Sumlin?

Lesson No. 1 from the opening weekend of college football: Never doubt Sumlin's scheme.

He created a just-add-water Heisman candidate in sophomore Kenny Hill, who completed 44 of 60 passes for 511 yards, breaking the school single-game passing record of Johnny ... uh, what was that guy's name again?

Hill also threw for three touchdowns as he and the Aggies carved up the No. 9 Gamecocks 52-28.

Now, the opening weekend of the season always comes with a caveat -- avoid drawing too many conclusions based off one game. But the first impression screams that A&M's impressive performance wasn't a fluke.

Hill showed poise in the face of South Carolina's blitz. He is working behind an experienced offensive line, led by the team's next first-round left tackle -- Cedric Ogbuehi. Hill worked fast in the hurry-up offense and got the ball out quickly to an array of talented wideouts, including senior Malcome Kennedy and fab freshmen Ricky Seals-Jones and Speedy Noil. What we're saying is that the first-game numbers are sustainable.

Get used to the Aggies being back in the discussion in the wild SEC West and beyond. Their next four games are against Lamar, Rice, at SMU, and Arkansas. A&M should be 5-0 heading into an Oct. 4 game at Mississippi State, which is most definitely a team you don't want to sleep on.

Until then, just don't call the new quarterback Kenny Football. Perhaps Heis-Ken will do.

Five things we learned in week one

1. This is a corollary to the Kevin Sumlin clause: Never, ever, underestimate a Rich Rodriguez offense. He lost All-American running back Ka'Deem Carey and quarterback B.J. Denker, returning a Pac-12-low 23.6 percent of his offense. In Arizona's first game, a 58-13 win over UNLV, the Wildcats rolled up a school-record 787 total yards, 425 coming off the arm of redshirt freshman Anu Solomon. This Thursday's game at UTSA, which opened with a 27-7 win at Houston, could be better than you think.

2. Oklahoma State's defensive front is not good, it's great. Going against Florida State's best-in-the-nation offensive line, the Cowboys allowed just 106 rushing yards and had five tackles for loss, including two sacks from emerging sophomore star lineman Emmanuel Ogbah. After its close-call loss to No. 1 Florida State, young Oklahoma State has time to build before taking on a back-loaded schedule.

3. UCLA's 2014 potential problem is its 2013 Achilles' heel. Playing without two injured starters on the offensive line, the Bruins scored only one offensive touchdown in a 28-20 win at Virginia. The Cavs overwhelmed UCLA with their blitzes, coming up with 11 tackles for loss, including five sacks. Good news: UCLA might get back center Jake Brendel (knee) and left tackle Simon Goines (ankle) very soon. "I know that there is going to be a lot of concern about our offensive line, and it's warranted at this point," coach Jim Mora said. "Those of us that know we have a good group know that we just need to play better."

4. Senior quarterback Blake Sims got more than a courtesy start at Alabama. Everyone expected Florida State transfer Jacob Coker to win the job, but Sims' four years in the system trumped Coker's three months on campus. Sims was 24-for-33 for 250 yards, with no touchdowns and one interception, in a 33-23 win over West Virginia. It was a respectable effort that should earn encores in the next two games against weaklings Florida Atlantic and Southern Miss.

5. It's going to be a wild ride in 2014. OK, we already knew that. But when the two teams most favored to get to the first title game of the College Football Playoff era -- Florida State and Alabama -- each struggle in openers against unranked opponents ... it's a clear sign that crazy twists and turns, and breathtaking freefalls, await.

Five important returns

1. Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson. Returning from academic exile, Golson looked as good as the new FieldTurf in Notre Dame Stadium, passing for 295 yards and running for 41. He had two long on-the-mark touchdown passes that each traveled about 60 yards in the air. It's in the DNA of coach Brian Kelly to fling the ball all over the yard, and Golson's arm and experience give him a chance to get back to those roots.

2. Texas quarterback David Ash. Last season's concussion problems, followed by a spring foot injury, put Ash on the long road back. If the Longhorns are to have any success in coach Charlie Strong's debut, Ash has to stay healthy and be effective. He was sporadic in a 38-7 win over North Texas, completing 19 of 34 passes for 190 yards, and taking a couple of big hits that had Burnt Orange Nation holding its breath. Honorable mention: Texas linebacker Jordan Hicks, coming off an Achilles injury, made his first career interception. He is the glue guy of the defense.

3. Arizona receiver Austin Hill. The senior, who missed all of last season because of an ACL injury, came back in style with a 92-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown on the first play of the second half against UNLV. He stiff-armed a defender after the catch to gain the separation he needed to race in untouched the rest of the way. Hill leads one of the deepest groups of receivers in the country.

4. Maryland receivers Stefon Diggs/Deon Long. The Terps should have one of the best receiving corps in the conference -- that's now the Big Ten, remember -- led by Diggs and Long, who returned to the starting lineup in a rout of James Madison after rehabbing together from broken legs suffered at midseason last year. Diggs had five catches for 53 yards and returned a kickoff 59 yards. Long made two catches for 48 yards, including a 41-yard score.

5. Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin. Fired as USC's head coach during last season, Kiffin was back on the sideline, calling plays under the watchful eye of Nick Saban. The Tide gained 538 yards against West Virginia, which is good, but Bama can do better. Alabama must stop embracing the "Dinosaur Age" of offense -- Saban's words -- and use more of the fast-paced, no-huddle attack that sparked the Tide late in the second half and helped get quarterback Blake Sims in rhythm.

Five players to watch

1. Georgia running back Todd Gurley. The junior had 198 yards rushing and a 100-yard kickoff return in a win over 12th-ranked Clemson. He'll end the two-year drought of no running back in the first round of the NFL Draft.

2. Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg. The sophomore threw for 454 yards and directed the game-winning drive that ended in a field goal in a 26-24 win over UCF in Dublin. Your No. 1 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft ...

3. Michigan receiver Devin Funchess. Now wearing Michigan's famed No. 1 jersey and no longer mis-labeled as a tight end, Funchess (6-5, 230) is still a matchup nightmare. He caught seven passes for 95 yards and three scores vs. Appalachian State.

4. BYU quarterback Taysom Hill. He ran for 1,344 yards last season, the question being whether he could improve his 53.9 completion percentage. Well, he was 28-for-36 in the opening win over UConn. This week: At Texas.

5. Oklahoma State all-purpose back Tyreek Hill. It took one game to make the junior college transfer the nation's most exhilarating player. The fastest man in college football posted 278 all-purpose yards, and his value as a decoy made the Cowboys' offense all the more unpredictable.

Five best Week 2 games

1. Michigan State at Oregon, Saturday, 6:30 p.m. ET., FOX. Thanks to its backfield depth, Oregon moved Byron Marshall to an all-purpose role in the opener, and he responded with 89 yards rushing and 138 yards on eight receptions over South Dakota. His versatility is worth watching against the Spartans' stout defense in a game with major College Football Playoff implications.

2. USC at Stanford, USC at Stanford, Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC. Steve Sarkisian's new-to-USC up-tempo offense was an instant success, with the Trojans running a school-record 105 plays en route to 701 yards in a laugher against Fresno State. Stanford yawns. If the Cardinal can handle Oregon's attack, it won't be awed by USC's.

3. Michigan at Notre Dame, Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET., NBC. A night game in South Bend wraps up this historic series until at least 2020 -- probably much longer, given the rhetoric on both sides. Enjoy while you can.

4. Virginia Tech at Ohio State, Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN. The Buckeyes could end up being just fine with redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett at quarterback, although his inexperience and shaky play from the offensive line led to conservative play-calling against Navy. A fast, physical Hokies defense, led by defensive tackle Luther Maddy, cornerback Kendall Fuller and safety Kyshoen Jarrett, will require more creativity from Urban Meyer.

5. East Carolina at South Carolina, Saturday, 7 p.m. ET, ESPNU. The Gamecocks have to show resiliency after the humbling loss to A&M, while the Pirates are looking for big-bowl legitimacy, fueled by the prolific pass-catch combo of Shane Carden and Justin Hardy.

Film Room Review

Senior Analyst Rob Rang's five takeaways on how prospects performed in their season openers. Players listed chronologically by game time this week, including position, school, year (Height, weight and current overall rating and by position).

1. QB Jameis Winston, Florida State (6-4, 235, #6/#2)

Winston's stats in Saturday night's victory over Oklahoma State included two interceptions, but that doesn't tell the full story. Both picks were thrown into single coverage, with defenders making spectacular plays on the ball. While Winston did stare down his targets, he generally makes excellent decisions with the ball and did so throughout this game, peppering the Cowboys with well-thrown short and intermediate routes and driving strikes down the alleys. He showed good touch on traditional deep balls, including a pair of 50-plus-yard completions in the first half.

2. WR Kevin White, West Virginia (6-3, 209, #296/#36)

White matched Alabama's preseason All-American Amari Cooper catch for catch, showing impressive hand-eye coordination and leaping ability to haul in several contested throws. The 6-foot-3, 209 pound White possesses a legitimate NFL frame with broad shoulders and good overall musculature. White used his size to overpower defenders on occasion, breaking tackles to gain yardage after the catch. He also showed agility and strength to gain a free release, smooth acceleration to push corners deep and the burst out of his breaks to gain separation.

3. QB Brett Hundley, UCLA (6-3, 227, #19/#3)

Hundley was held without a touchdown pass against Virginia. He did score on a six-yard scamper and completed 20 of 33 passes for 242 yards and showed composure down the stretch, rifling deep passes to the sidelines. And when protected, Hundley generally threw the ball well. He showed improved poise in the pocket from a year ago, scanning the field and occasionally stepping up in the pocket before delivering confident passes. He failed to look off defenders, at times, which contributed to three of his passes being deflected at the line of scrimmage.

4. RB Paul James, Rutgers (6-0, 210, #16 RB in 2016)

James, a 6-foot, 210-pound junior, routinely ran through arm tackles in Rutgers' victory over Washington State in Seattle, showing impressive leg drive, forward lean and enough burst to gain yardage in chunks. He lowers his shoulders on contact and spins off hits, keeping his feet moving and eyes searching for daylight. He showed better acceleration than his frame would indicate, breaking free for a 56-yard gain.

5. LT Cedric Ogbuehi, Texas A&M (6-5, 300, #3/#1)

A boisterous crowd at South Carolina on Thursday seemed to contribute to Ogbuehi getting an occasional late start. Rather than panic and lunge at his opponent, Ogbuehi showed off his rare skill set, accelerating while turning his shoulders to remain square to the pass rusher before extending his vine-like arms to latch on. Ogbuehi's agility and reach make him reliable in pass protection. He also showed quickness and agility in the running game and drove his assignment off the ball to clear the lane for A&M's first touchdown of the season, a 1-yard plunge off left tackle by Tra Carson.

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College Footbal Betting Preview: Kansas St at Iowa St
By Rob Veno

CRIS Opener: Kansas State -12.5 O/U 60.5
CRIS Current: Kansas State -12 O/U 57
Rob Veno's Power Rating: Kansas State -10
Rob Veno's Recommendation: Over

Not an ideal start to the season for Iowa State who was slapped at home by defending FCS champion North Dakota State. They also lost premier offensive threat, wide receiver Quenton Bundrage (ACL) for the season. Suspended wide receiver D’avario Montgomery will be back from a one game suspension and they have enough depth at the position to ease the loss. But the health of starting center Tom Farniok, who left last week’s game with a knee injury, should be monitored. Farniok has been the lynchpin this offense the past two seasons and the unit struggles mightily when he’s not on the field. He is expected to play at less than 100% this week and the Cyclones will have their fingers crossed.
On the K-State side, things went very well in their season opening 39 point rout of FCS Stephen F. Austin. Nine freshman saw playing time and the Wildcats broke in a handful of offensive newcomers. The offensive line has a pair of new starters who head coach Bill Snyder praised after the game. That bodes well for a team that will look to ride their offensive front against Iowa State. Star receiver Tyler Lockett was held out of the final three quarters but he’s expected to 100% on Saturday. Final statistics say KSU totally dominated Stephen F. Austin but it’s difficult to tell how well the Wildcats actually played since SFA is in a rebuilding mode with a new head coach who admits as such.

The fundamentals in this contest provide concern for Iowa State which defensively doesn’t not match up well with the Wildcats' option running game nor do they match up well size-wise in the trenches. KSU’s offensive line could bulldoze the smaller Cyclone defensive front especially after seeing North Dakota State run for 299 yards on 7.0 per carry last week. Offensively, Iowa State is now in their second game running first-year offensive coordinator Mark Mangino’s newly implemented one back, spread attack which relies on the short passing game. The execution should be better this week and the Cyclones even minus Bundrage do have viable playmaking options in the passing game along with running back Aaron Wimberly.

Last season, Kansas State outgained Iowa State 447-248 en route to a 41-7 blowout. Power ratings suggest the current number of KSU -12 is a bit high since they show -10 but not enough to automatically jump to the home dog. Snyder showed zero last week where the playbook is concerned and indications are that it will be opened up entirely for this initial Big XII tilt. Haven’t seen enough to instill any trust in the K-State defense yet and with an inspired Cyclones effort likely the offenses figure to be the best units on the field. Going to recommend a small piece of the over in this contest.

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Michigan State vs. Oregon Odds and Pick
By: Craig Williams

The No. 4 Oregon Ducks, one of the favorites to battle it out in college football's first playoff tournament, host the No. 6 Michigan State Spartans in a high-profile early-season matchup (6:30 pm, ET, Fox).

Line: Oregon -13, Total: 58

Line movement: Bettors were happy to lay the Wynn's opening spread of Ducks -10.5, and the number had been bet all the way up to -13.5 by Monday.  Midweek, the line ranged from 12.5 to 13.5 around Las Vegas.  For updated spreads and totals from around Las Vegas, visit our live odds page .

Trends that matter: The last time Oregon played an opponent the caliber of Michigan State early in the season was in 2011, when they lost to LSU as a 3-point favorite by a score of 40-27. The Spartans opened against No. 24 Boise State in 2012, winning 17-13 but failing to cover the 8.5-point spread.

Offense vs. defense: It will be a classic clash of high-octane offense against dominant defense when the Spartans and Ducks meet. The Spartans were No. 4 in the nation in points allowed (12.7) per game and tops in yards allowed (248.2) last season. And according to Big Ten Network analyst Gerry DiNardo , the Spartans' defense may be better in 2014 (The Linemakers on Sporting News' Kenny White disagrees). “This is our eighth year covering Mark Dantonio, this is by far his most talented team -- especially at the line of scrimmage,” DiNardo said.

Michigan State's style of play -- a tough, physical, blitz-heavy defense with a strong running game -- is similar to Stanford's, a program that has grounded the Ducks' high-octane offense in each of the last two seasons (to be fair, a knee injury hampered Oregon's Marcus Mariota in last season's 26-20 loss.)

That Oregon offense accounted for 46.8 points (3rd in FBS) and 573 yards (2nd) per game in 2014. Nobody is expecting much to change offensively, but according to Andrew Greif , Ducks beat writer of The Oregonian, Mariota and Co. are still waiting to see which wide receiver steps up to become the top target.

Eleven different receivers caught passes for the Ducks in their blowout win over South Dakota in Week 1, but running back Byron Marshall was the most targeted. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, but not something that we expect to continue as the receiving corps continues to develop.

Injuries that matter: Michigan State QB Connor Cook, RB Jeremy Langford, LG Travis Jackson and WR Macgarrett Kings Jr. suffered injuries in Week 1, but it is unknown at this point how severe, but Dantonio expects them to practice and play . Oregon's preseason All-American cornerback, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu declared himself "fine" after injuring his ankle in Saturday's game.

The Linemakers' lean:  We have a split-opinion among The Linemakers crew.  Kenny White offers a small lean to Oregon, who he thinks actually has a better defense Michigan State. Sparty's D, says Kenny, will take a step back this year.  Kenny made this game Oregon -15.5.

Richie Baccellieri, though, is on the dog.  MSU QB Connor Cook is on his way to becoming a household name and has some athletic receivers to throw to.  Also, the Ducks aren't used to facing defenses of this calber, and the Spartans' big offensive line should be able to create room for their rushing attack.

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College Football Betting Preview: Michigan at Notre Dame
By Teddy Covers

CRIS Opener: Notre Dame -4.5 O/U 54.5
CRIS Current: Notre Dame -3.5 O/U 56
Rob Veno's Power Rating: Notre Dame -4
Teddy Covers' Recommendation: Over

Michigan has won and covered four of the last five meetings between these two teams, taking control of what had been a very competitive series in recent seasons.   In fact, prior to the Wolverines recent success, the taking the underdog plus the points had been the prevailing theme, winning outright in nine of the previous 12 meetings.   And, of course, with Michigan catching points in South Bend on Saturday, the trends clearly point towards the Wolverines as live underdogs here.

The Wolverines went through an ugly 0-5 SU and ATS run as an underdog heading into last November, but they covered three straight in that role down the stretch last year, finally showing success when catching points in hostile environments.  And with an experienced senior signal caller in Devin Gardner, there’s little reason to expect Michigan to have any sort of dramatic home/road dichotomy in 2014.

Gardner was certainly dynamic in the Wolverines opener last weekend, although the level of competition wasn’t particularly high – Appalachian State in 2014 is a long, long way down from the App State team that upset the Wolverines in the Big House back in 2007.  Michigan’s offense was nearly unstoppable in that contest, producing touchdowns on six of their first eight drives.

Reports out of Ann Arbor have made it clear that the Wolverines have no shortage of quality skill position talent surrounding their senior QB.  Running backs De’Veon Smith and Derrick Green both ripped off 60+ yard touchdown scampers last week , while Devin Funchess caught three TD passes.  And despite losing a pair of offensive line starters to the NFL draft this past offseason, the Wolverines continue to stockpile blue chip recruits on that OL; a unit that still looks strong.

Notre Dame spent the offseason installing a new defensive scheme under new coordinator Brian VanGorder, and their stop unit had to replace five starters from their front seven, including a handful of NFL draft choices.  The defense performed well against Rice last week, but Michigan is a much tougher test for a somewhat suspect stop unit.

But Notre Dame’s offense looked extremely impressive in their blowout over Rice last weekend, a tougher foe than the Wolverines faced.  After punting on their first two drives, the Irish started to click, producing touchdowns or field goal tries on nine of their final ten possessions.

In particular, QB Everett Golson looked brilliant in his return to South Bend; the same QB who guided the Irish to the national championship game as a freshman two years ago.  Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly following the game in which his QB averaged more than 13 yards per pass ATTEMPT: “There's a lot of things that he will tell you that he's got to continue to improve on, but there's a confidence that he carries with him that is starting to emanate.”

Notre Dame certainly isn’t short on skill position talent surrounding Golson; loaded with playmaking weapons.  And the Wolverines defense is coming off their worst season of the Brady Hoke era, with concerns both on the defensive line and in the secondary.

Last year’s game was a 41-30 shootout won by the Wolverines; the fourth time in the last five meetings that the losing team has scored 24 or more.  No surprise here if BOTH teams get into the 30’s again this year, sending this game flying Over the total.

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Re: College Football Betting News and Notes Week 2

College Football Betting Preveiw: Michigan State at Oregon
By Andrew Lange

Michigan State at Oregon
Saturday, 3:30 pm PT - FOX
CRIS Opener: Oregon -12.5 O/U 58.5
CRIS Current: Oregon -12 O/U 56
Rob Veno's Power Rating: Oregon -6
Andrew Lange's Recommendation: Oregon 1st half

Fascinating matchup with Michigan State headed to Eugene to take on Oregon. Obviously the theme of this handicap is contrasting styles. The Ducks want to go as fast as possible whereas Michigan State is happy to grind and have the game determined in the trenches. To compare, last season Oregon ran nearly 77 plays per game in PAC-12 play. Michigan State faced an average of 63 plays per game vs. the Big Ten. The Spartans have the benefit of health and extra time to prepare but this is a new class of game speed that coupled with the wild confines of Autzen will take MSU time to adjust.

While these two teams are different in many respects, they do have one thing in common and that's last year's game vs. Stanford. The Cardinal and Spartans battled in the Rose Bowl with Sparty prevailing 24-20. Stanford meanwhile beat Oregon in Palo Alto, 26-20. And in 2012, the Cardinal did the unthinkable and won in Eugene, 17-14 in overtime. Do you think Michigan State watched film of those two games? But while it's easy to compare Stanford and MSU, the Cardinal has the benefit of seeing the Ducks each and every year. And it took time for them to "figure things out" with Oregon outscoring Stanford 105-61 in 2011 and 2012. As mentioned, Michigan State has nearly zero experience against a truly up-tempo, spread offense. The closest thing to Oregon is Indiana, and to the Hoosiers' credit, they notched 27 and 28 points, respectively, in the last two meetings. That's a lot of production against one of the best defenses in the country and despite it being just a two-game sample, I think the stark difference in Oregon's offense style vs. that of the Big Ten “norm” without question helps the Ducks.

In the end, the venue to me becomes the x-factor. Some may feel the -12 seems high but Oregon's lowest pointspread last year in Eugene was -23.5 and that came against a 10-win UCLA squad. I expect Michigan State to show up and compete but I really think there is going to be an adjustment period to the venue, pace of play, and first game of the season.  Best play is going to be on the Ducks in the first half.

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College Football Week 2 Preview

No. 14 USC @ No. 13 Stanford

It’s an early season Pac-12 rivalry game featuring the Cardinal, who own the nation’s longest home win streak, and the Trojans, with new head coach Steve Sarkisian. USC had little problem with FCS UC-Davis a week ago. QB Cody Kessler looked good, throwing for 394 yards and 4 TDs, good enough to earn him Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week. Kessler did, however, suffer a toe injury, that kept him out of practice early in the week. He should be ready by Saturday. Stanford, which has won 18 straight at Stanford Stadium, has the dominating defense and powerful running game that can make it 19. Kevin Hogan is back at QB and head coach David Shaw’s defense has an array of talent that should lead them to contend for the Pac-12 North once again.

No. 7 Michigan State @ No. 3 Oregon

If there is a defense that can slow down the high-octane offense of Oregon, it is that of the Michigan State Spartans. Last year’s Big Ten champions have one of the stoutest defensive units in the country. In last week’s 45-7 win over Jacksonville State, the Spartans gave up just 22 rushing yards. If Mark D’Antonio’s defense can pull the same at Oregon on Saturday, good things will happen. The problem for MSU begins with Ducks QB Marcus Mariota. Regarded by many as the nation’s best, Mariota is a much improved passer and can run all day if allowed. Oregon has plenty of weapons in Byron Marshall and Royce Freeman. Marshall rushed for 90 yards and caught eight passes for 138 more in the Ducks win over South Dakota last week.

Florida Atlantic @ No. 2 Alabama

After a somewhat lackluster performance against West Virginia a week ago, second-ranked Alabama entertains Florida Atlantic. The Tide should have no problem against FAU, a 55-7 loser to Nebraska last week. The Cornhuskers set a Big Ten record for total offense in the win. The Tide might do the same. The game will give head coach Nick Saban some time to evaluate Jake Coker, the Florida State transfer who is expected to see some time this Saturday. Blake Sims started and played the entire game in the victory over West Virginia. The Tide should win easily this week and next when they face Southern Miss before getting into the SEC schedule.

Michigan @ No. 16 Notre Dame

It will be the final matchup, at least for a while, of two of college football’s most respected programs. Both teams were impressive in their openers facing inferior teams. Michigan took care of Appalachian State, the school it lost to in 2007, rather easily winning 52 14. QB Devin Gardner threw three TD passes to WR Devin Funchess in the first half alone and had two running backs (Derrick Green and De’Veon Smith) go over 100 yards. The Irish welcomed back QB Everett Golson in their 48-17 win over Rice. Golson threw for 295 yards and two TDs in the victory and gives the Irish a slight edge at home.

Virginia Tech @ No. 8 Ohio State

Ohio State had its troubles defending the triple option of Navy in last week’s opener, and the offense is still trying to overcome the loss of star QB Braxton Miller, who is out for the season. J.T. Barrett, a freshman from Texas, stepped in for Miller and played admirably in his first start. He completed 12-of-15 passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed nine times for 50 yards. Barrett will have to continue to improve and will face a much better defense against Virginia Tech. The Hokies are perennially one of the nation’s top defensive units. In last week’s win over William & Mary, the Hokies gave up just 193 total yards. The question for Virginia Tech is, “Can QB Michael Brewer move the Hokies offense against a very good Ohio State defense?” The Buckeyes gave up some yardage to Navy last, but all things considered, have one of the top defensive units in the nation this year.

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