Cover 4: Claiming Columbus
Three wins and three losses is nothing special, but the week two slate demands that we live dangerously. If you're looking for a trend, there's not one. We've got dogs and favorites. We've got home teams and guests.
Let's make some money.
Oklahoma (+7) over OHIO STATESaturday, Sept. 9 | 7:30 PM ET | Columbus, Ohio (Ohio Stadium)
I don't have to ask anyone how long and pathetic the walk from Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium to the parking lot was a year ago. I was there. It was long. It was muddy. And it was real pathetic. The Buckeyes dominated OU 45-24 in Norman -- and that Oklahoma team had, at least as far as we know, better backs and wide receiver Dede Westbrook.
Having said that, contrary to ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit's assessment, the Sooners are far superior at quarterback and wide receiver than the Indiana team that Ohio State beat 49-21 last Thursday.
…and Greg Schiano's defense struggled to get the Hoosiers off of the field. Is Oklahoma, on the road, against a team like Ohio State, a sure thing? Far from it. But, like I said, we're living dangerously.
North Texas (+13) over SOUTHERN METHODISTSaturday, Sept. 9 | 6 PM CT | Dallas, Texas (Gerald J. Ford Stadium)
A year ago in this matchup, Vegas placed too much faith in North Texas as a byproduct of its ignorance relative to then-SMU quarterback Matt Davis. The Mustangs' star senior was one of the most underrated players in the country heading into the 2016 season opener against UNT, but a knee injury suffered in SMU's 34-21 win ended his career. A year later, it's North Texas' Mason Fine -- not to mention running back Jeff Wilson -- who's about to swing things in the opposite direction.
Fine, a C-USA All-Freshman selection at the conclusion of 2016, protects the football and manages the game -- but he makes too many plays to be called a "game manager." The sophomore threw for 224 yards and three touchdowns in less than three quarters during the Mean Green's 59-14 season-opening win against Lamar.
SOUTHERN CAL (-6) over StanfordSaturday, Sept. 9 | 5:30 PM PT | Los Angeles, CA (Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum)
Stanford looked phenomenal in Australia -- but the Cardinal weren't exactly up against a powerhouse in Rice. Meanwhile, USC struggled at home against Western Michigan.
So, um, why the conviction here?
Well, for starters, WMU returned eight starters from an undefeated Cotton Bowl team and was grossly underrated heading into the opener in Los Angeles. Furthermore, Stanford running back Bryce Love isn't going to find the enormous, gaping, "drive the damn Grave Digger through them" holes that he found against the Owls.
Trojans quarterback Sam Darnold just weathered his first week one college football start -- and led a fourth-quarter surge to put the nail in the coffin. The eventual first-round NFL Draft pick is going to let his hair down in this one.
Louisville (-10) over NORTH CAROLINASaturday, Sept. 9 | 12 PM ET | Chapel Hill, NC (Kenan Memorial Stadium)
North Carolina came into the season overrated, lost to Cal at home, and they're still a little overrated. The Lamar Jackson show is going be turned all the way up on Saturday and staying within 10 points just isn't something this Tar Heel offense is going to be capable of doing.
It'll be close early, but the Cardinals will run away late. Close your eyes and swing for the fence.
Last week in a GIF:
Season Record: 5-3 -- C'mon, Lane.
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