The college football season is entering the one-month mark, and our perspective on teams and conferences around the country is rounding into shape.
Slowly but surely, we are sniffing out frauds, confirming suspicions, and learning who are genuine contenders. We are also finding out which preseason hunches were correct and which were misguided. Here’s to another week of education.
The Hipster Classic (A Game Only College Football Psychos Could Love) – UNLV Rebels vs. Fresno State Bulldogs
The Bulldogs boast a top 10 total offense and top 15 scoring offense. Commanding this high-powered offense is Jake Haener, the country’s leader in passing yards. Behind him, Fresno State beat UCLA and almost took down Oregon. Now, the Rebels are not a decent team or a frisky team. UNLV is just straight bad.
But investing time in watching Haener launch the pigskin is worth part of your Friday night. Haener and this offense demand you keep an eye on them.
The Pick – Fresno State -30.5
The Car Crash (A Disaster, But You Can’t Look Away) – Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Wisconsin Badgers
Notre Dame is scrapping past bad football teams. The Fighting Irish slipped past the Florida State Seminoles (remember, the team who lost to Jacksonville State). Then it took a very late drive and a fumble in the final minute to avoid an upset at the hands of Toledo.
This fraud of a top 15 team is still managing to score over 33 points each outing and facing the second-best total defense in college football. But behind that defense is a Badgers squad that struggles to score. It feels like a game of two teams dying to give the game to the other.
Because of that, it will be a frustrating but delightfully painful game.
The Pick – Notre Dame +6
A Pleasant Surprise (You Did Not Anticipate Enjoying This Game So Much) – Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. Michigan State Spartans
The Spartans put everyone on notice with a dominant win over the Miami Hurricanes. On the road, the 6.5-point dogs thoroughly handled the ACC opponent. Kenneth Walker III added to a resume that is quickly growing more impressive by the week. The Nebraska defense allows over 340 yards per game to opposing offenses and is dying to give Walker III another big day.
But, Michigan State allows even more yards per game (381) and surviving on a bend-but-don’t-break approach. MSU can control the ball but expect the Cornhuskers to hang around. The five points Michigan State is getting will be a tough cover.
The Pick – Michigan State -5
A Solid Second Horse (Missed First Place By Just That Much) – UCLA Bruins vs. Stanford Cardinal
Stanford started the year getting embarrassed by Kansas State. Since the opener, the Cardinal have blazed through USC and Vanderbilt, topping 40 points in each outing after a week one shutout.
UCLA is rolling the other way, flying high on the wings of an LSU thrashing, only to crash back to earth in a loss at the hands of Fresno State.
Because both teams seem to be ships passing in the night, the result of this game could leave one ascending and one descending. This clash has the makings of a turnkey moment for each program, with a win burying one team and launching the other into the PAC-12 title race.
The Pick – Stanford +4.5
The Title Fight (Aka The Game Of The Week) – Texas A&M Aggies vs. Arkansas Razorbacks
At the start of the season, people paired Texas A&M with Georgia as the few SEC teams capable of challenging Alabama for the conference. Parts of the Aggies squad are living up to that hype. A stingy defense is allowing just 5.7 points per game. The running back duo of Isaiah Spiller and Devon Achane looks electric. But Haynes King’s broken tibia is thrusting Zach Calzada into the starting quarterback role.
Now, the summer darling is up against a nasty Arkansas offense averaging nearly 500 yards per game. This hungry Razorbacks team is running full tilt, and if A&M is still not ready to go full speed, they will get pushed off the field.
The Pick – Arkansas +4.5