Virginia plays a game on a real network this week! A network you can find at a bar and everything. You don’t even have to tell the bartender you want to watch the Virginia game, they never change it when you do that, just ask them to check out ESPN2 and act kind of surprised at who’s playing when they get there. Now the question is will they actually win against an FBS team.
Gametime: 12pm, ESPN2
Spread: Virginia -10.5
Breakdown: I just can’t believe the Hoos can lose to Indiana by 17 and be a double-digit favorite against an FBS team. Please understand that UConn is terrible, they needed a fourth quarter rally to beat Holy Cross, but after UVa let a true freshman complete 80% of his passes for two touchdowns in his first ever game how can they be favored by this much?? Through two weeks Virginia has shown no semblance of a running game and an inconsistent at best aerial attack, and if they can’t get on track this week maybe they never will. Somehow I think the Hoos pull it out, but I’m not laying 10.5.
The Pick: UConn +10.5
Gametime: 12pm, ESPN
Spread: Oklahoma State -12.5
Breakdown: Back to real football! As expected, Pitt was no match for Penn State last weekend (though they did cover), and their non-con doesn’t get any easier with Mike Gundy’s mullet coming to town. Oklahoma State is a dark-horse contender for the Playoff and through two games they’ve thrown for over 650 yards, six touchdowns, and put up 103 points. Pat Narduzzi is a defensive guru but the Panthers don’t stand a chance here.
The Pick: Oklahoma State -12.5
Gametime: 12:30pm, ACC Network
Spread: Duke -13
Breakdown: This may be the first time in Duke history that their football team is favored by more than their basketball team would be if they had to play the same school on the hardwood. I can’t tell if this line is a reflection of how far Duke has come under David Cutcliffe or how far Baylor has fallen since the Art Briles scandal. Either way this would’ve been unfathomable two years ago. Considering Baylor has already lost at home to Liberty and UT-San Antonio the crazy thing is this line should probably be even higher.
The Pick: Duke -13
Gametime: 3:30pm, CBS Sports
Spread: Virginia Tech -23.5
Breakdown: It may be in part because Miami hasn’t played in two weeks, but the Hokies are looking like the new favorites in the Coastal. After beating West Virginia in DC, the walking greyscales returned to Blacksburg and shutout Delaware last week. Meanwhile, true freshman QB Josh Jackson remains turnover free while doubling as a dynamic runner, leading the team with 120 yards and 6.3 yards per carry. Things have gone less well for ECU. They lost by 20 at home to James Madison and then got smoked by those same West Virginia Mountaineers, 56-20. Maybe they’ll rehire Ruffin McNeill after this year.
The Pick: Virginia Tech -23.5
Spread: North Carolina -10
Breakdown: Great job by Old Dominion getting a Power Five program to come play them in Norfolk. The Monarchs have probably been the third best team in Virginia these past few years, behind VT and JMU, and it’s great for their fans and program to get this game at home. Even better, they’re facing a UNC team in flux after back-to-back losses to Cal and Louisville. The Tar Heels are subscribing to the Mike London rotating QB philosophy, except both Brandon Harris and Chazz Surratt are playing pretty well for them. I think ODU comes out strong and hangs around for a while, but ultimately UNC is too talented and they need this to have any hopes of a bowl.
The Pick: North Carolina -10
Gametime: 3:30pm, ACC Network
Spread: Syracuse -10.5
Breakdown: Not again Syracuse. Last week I advocated for the Orange laying ~10 points at home against a mid-major, and they promptly lost to Middle Tennessee. I may never figure out the Orange and I really wish they’d just go back to the Big East so this column would be shorter, but until one of those things happen I’m not taking them as double-digit favorites against any FBS teams other than the Hoos.
The Pick: Central Michigan +10.5
Gametime: 3:30pm, ESPN
Spread: Notre Dame -13
Breakdown: Oh I really hope BC wins. It would be great to watch Brian Kelly blow up at a bunch of Boston sportswriters after yet another inexcusable loss for which he refuses to take any blame. Alas, I don’t think we’ll be entitled to that viewing pleasure. The Irish couldn’t pull out a win against the Dawgs in South Bend, but BC looked downright awful against Wake Forest. The Eagles still can’t figure out how to run an offense and they’ve thrown for more interceptions than touchdowns so far this year. That’s not great.
The Pick: Notre Dame -13
#3 Clemson Tigers @ #14 Louisville Cardinals
Gametime: 8pm, ABC
Spread: Clemson -3
Breakdown: It’s easy to forget because it happened so early in the calendar, but this was one of the best games of the year last season and it appears primed to produce another classic on Saturday. Deshaun Watson is gone but the Tiger defense has more than made up for his absence. Through two games they’ve allowed just 80 passing yards and nine points and they sacked Auburn QB Jarrett Stidham 11 times last Saturday. On the other side Lamar Jackson is hitting his Heisman stride just in time. Jackson accounted for all six Louisville touchdowns against North Carolina and he’s already racked up over 1,000 combined passing and rushing yards through just two games. This could really go either way but for as good as Jackson is, Clemson’s defensive line seems just an iota better.
The Pick: Clemson -3