This Saturday is the official beginning of the college football season. While there are only a handful of games, these early season tilts can bring huge profits if you find an advantage.
Every week, I will be bringing you NCAA picks focusing mostly on the five in-state teams: Michigan, Michigan State, Eastern Michigan, Central Michigan, and Western Michigan. I will also focus on a handful of national games.
I have 26 years of experience in picking games and my formula has been very effective over time. I am not a volume gambler. Instead, I like to take a few games where I think the line is incorrect and hammer them. I like to rank games from 1-5. Each number is a unit. The higher the number, the larger the wager and confidence I have that the game will be a winner. I will be keeping track throughout the season on the number of units I am either up or down.
We have five games this weekend, but only four of them have a line out (Portland State at BYU is off the board). Only two ranked teams are in play and those are the only ones we will focus on this week.
No. 14 Stanford (-31) vs. Rice – [Over/Under: 51]
[Played in Sydney, Australia]
Stanford is coming off a 10-3 season with a bowl win over North Carolina 25-23 in its last game, capping off the season on a six-game win streak.
The Cardinal only averaged 26 points a game in 2016, yet they are predicted to score 41 versus Rice. The loss of Christian McCaffrey will be huge for them, but Bryce Love should be able to succeed. Top wideout Trent Irwin also returns and senior Keller Chryst will be under center. Stanford was 32nd in total defense in 2016 and has eight seniors and three juniors in the starting lineup so there is room for improvement.
Rice closed out 2016 with a loss, ironically at Stanford, 41-17 to complete a disappointing 3-9 season. They scored 25 points a game while giving up 37 on defense. No player on offense rushed for 500 yards individually. Samuel Stewart goes into 2017 as the starter at RB after going down with an injury early in the 2016 season. The team returns all five starters on the offensive line which will help the new redshirt freshman quarterback Sam Glaesmann. On defense, a new coordinator was brought in after a dismal 2016 as Chris Thurmond retired.
I think this line is a bit high and I am leaning strongly towards Rice. I do not think this will be a high-scoring game, but Rice will do enough to stay competitive and cover the spread.
- PREDICTION: STAN 34, RICE 14
- LINE: Three units
- O/U: One unit
No. 19 South Florida (-22) at San Jose State – [O/U: 68.5]
This is expected to be a high-scoring affair as both South Florida and San Jose State ranked towards the bottom third in scoring defense last season. They combined to give up over 65 points a game.
Offensively, however, South Florida put up over 43 points a contest, part of their No. 13 overall offense in 2016. The Spartans were not nearly as efficient only scoring 24 points a game, ranking 103rd in total offense.
Charlie Strong takes his new team on the field for the first time after a tumultuous reign at Texas. I think he will have this team ready to make a statement. The new depth chart just came out and there were some surprises. Senior Quinton Flowers is the QB with another senior De’Ernest Johnson in the backfield. There are a lot of upperclassmen on defense, so another year of experience may be helpful in turning them around. Strong brought Brian Jean-Mary with him from Texas to be the defensive coordinator after success as a Linebackers coach the last 14 years.
San Jose State is coming off a 4-8 season and has a new head coach in Brent Brennan, who spent the last six years as the receivers coach at Oregon State. He served as an assistant at SJSU from 2005-10. They also have a new 29-year-old offensive coordinator in Andrew Sowder. In addition, Derrick Odum came with Brennan from Oregon State where he was a defensive backs coach to be the Defensive Coordinator.
I think South Florida has far too much firepower for San Jose State and should easily be able to carve up their defense. I also think the coaching is a mismatch with the Bulls having a decided advantage. Much depends on whether South Florida can improve on defense.
- PREDICTION: USF 52, SJSU 24
- LINE: Three units
- O/U: Two unit
This is almost like a soft opening for the huge Week 2 of football that starts next weekend. Stay tuned for when we break down the spreads of all five Michigan-based schools and their opening week matchups.