The College football season is starting to get into full swing, as we might not have some of the marquee matchups from the first two weeks but are starting to see lots more competitive games across the board.
On our end, after taking a break from the numbers we’ve gone back to the drawing board by applying 2017 stats to our projected metrics - which are still precocious and don’t take into account non-FBS games played, but still, always nice to have in your back pocket. As the 2017 stats aren't yet reliable we're still messing around with preseason figures that we applied some in Week 1.
Last week we went 2-and-3 in our picks of the week but got it all back with some big game hunting to salvage things by going 4-and-4. That’s now two weeks in a row of .500 picks, and it's felt like the college football season's been lacking in upsets so far. That won't last long, and this week seems primed for some good old fashioned fun.
With that, here are our picks!
Picks of the week
Illinois +17 at South Florida
This is a Friday evening game so get your bets in while you still can. What makes this pick appealing is that Illinois is coming off an impressive win against Western Kentucky’s high octane spread passing attack, winning 20-7, and shutting down quarterback Mike White in the process.
While the Bulls remain ranked 22nd in the AP and have Quinton Flowers, one of the best quarterbacks in college football, they’ve been somewhat unconvincing early this season. They’ve also dealt with scheduling issues and had their last game canceled against Connecticut, so there could be some rust.
Our two metrics do favor USF by slim margins but 17 is just too much. Give us the Illini to keep it close and make this a game on Friday night.
Oregon State +21 at Washington State
This is a risky pick, sure, but it feels a lot less so than betting on the Cougars to win by 21 after their game against Boise State.
Quarterback Luke Falk is expected to be back for Washington State after being benched, then injuring himself and subsequently watching his team come back from 21 points down to win in triple overtime. Bringing him back this early could be risky against a well coached Beavers team with some playmakers on offense who have always played better in their conference schedule.
WSU should still win this game but 21 points are way too many at this point. Last season with Falk playing at his best Oregon State only lost by four, a seemingly likelier outcome than a blowout. Give us the Beavers who both our metrics like to cover here, despite some tough losses already this year.
Mississippi State +7 vs. LSU
Both these teams have looked good early on even though they haven’t truly been tested. This'll be a great way to gauge these two SEC West contenders as they face off in what should be one of the better games of the week.
A year ago, LSU was able to barely win by a field goal at home with lots of NFL talent that have since left. The Bulldogs on their end have quarterback Nick Fitzgerald back and ready to ruffle some feathers in the SEC, all elements that make this home dog pick even more appealing.
LSU still has plenty of talent and have maybe found their quarterback in Danny Etling but this State team is no joke. Give us the Bulldogs not just to cover the spread but to pull off the big upset here and win outright, exactly how our numbers see it.
Big Game hunting
Louisville +3 vs. Clemson
This is a great game and one that could have major implications on the national football scene (like playoff implications). With Lamar Jackson playing on fire this season - basically picking up where he left off a season ago - and at home, this seems like another upset alert type of game.
Clemson just dominated Auburn with their defensive front a week ago totaling 11 sacks, meaning this will be the ultimate test for football’s version of Houdini. A season ago Louisville almost pulled off the upset if not for barely missing a late fourth down conversion. This year with no DeShaun Watson and the Cardinals playing at home it all seems that much more likely.
The pressure will be on Clemson’s offense to score points because Lamar will get his no matter what - Louisville scored 36 a season ago - and interestingly enough, our preseason numbers love Louisville in this game giving us that much more confidence.
Give us the reigning Heisman to pull off another little bit of magic this week, go Cards!