College football Week 2 picks against the spread for every top-25 game
Week 2 of the college football season is here, and the schedule leaves much to be desired.
That won’t stop us from picking the games. There are only two matchups between teams ranked in the AP Top 25, but they’re good ones. The SEC East race gets its first marquee matchup when No. 3 Georgia travels to No. 24 South Carolina. Then, No. 10 Stanford travels to No. 17 USC in a Pac-12 crossover matchup with major Playoff implications. From there, seven top 25 teams play FCS opponents this weekend.
Here is a look at our record from last week’s Top 25 games:
Straight up: 18-3
Against the spread: 10-7
With that in mind, here are Sporting News’ picks against the spread for Week 2 (odds reflect VegasInsiders’ consensus picks as of Sept. 5):
No. 16 TCU (-22.5) at SMU
8 p.m., ESPN2
Shawn Robinson led a balanced TCU offense in Week 1, and that continues against an overmatched SMU defense that simply won’t be able to stop the Horned Frogs. This gives TCU momentum heading into Week 3 against Ohio State. TCU wins 56-27 and COVERS the spread.
New Mexico at No. 5 Wisconsin (-35)
New Mexico scored 62 points on Incarnate Word in Week 1, but the defense also allowed 566 yards. Expect Wisconsin to come out more focused after an uneven performance against Western Kentucky. Jonathan Taylor, who averaged 8.1 yards last week, could break 200 yards here. Wisconsin wins 55-14 and COVERS the spread.
Western Michigan at No. 21 Michigan (-27.5)
Noon, Fox Sports 1
The Wolverines’ offense sputtered at Notre Dame, but Michigan gets back on track against a defense that allowed 334 rushing yards last week. Western Michigan will keep it right on the line with a big-play offense that averaged 9.6 yards per play against Syracuse, but the Wolverines will limit those chances. Michigan wins 42-14 and COVERS the spread.
No. 18 Mississippi State (-8.5) at Kansas State
The Bulldogs dominated their opener, but it’s a trip to unfamiliar territory against the Wildcats, who survived an upset bid from FCS South Dakota last week. This is Joe Moorhead’s first big statement at the Bulldogs’ coach. Mississippi State wins 34-24 and COVERS the spread.
William & Mary at No. 12 Virginia Tech (No line)
12:20 p.m., ACC Network
The Hokies bounce back on a short week against the Tribe, which slipped past Bucknell 14-7 in Week 1. Figure in Josh Jackson for a big day in the home opener, which the Hokies make clean and quick. Virginia Tech wins 41-7 with no spread.
UCLA at No. 6 Oklahoma (-30.5)
1 p.m., Fox
It was a rough opener for UCLA in the loss to Cincinnati, and it won’t get any easier against a Sooners team that proved life after Baker Mayfield is doable with Kyler Murray and Rodney Anderson. Oklahoma averaged 10.0 yards per play in Week 1, and that’s something Chip Kelly can show the Bruins moving forward. Oklahoma wins 41-14 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
Portland State at No. 23 Oregon (No line)
2 p.m., Pac-12 Network
Justin Herbert completed just 10 passes in Week 1, but five went for touchdowns and the Ducks beat Bowling Green 58-24. Expect the Ducks to concentrate on efficiency in the passing game and improving the rushing attack in another tune-up before Pac-12 play. Oregon wins 55-13 with no spread.
Arkansas State at No. 1 Alabama (-37.5)
3:30 p.m., ESPN2
Justice Hansen is one of the best quarterbacks in the Sun Belt, and he’s coming off a six-touchdown performance against Southeast Missouri State. That’s a long way from Tuscaloosa. Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts account for six touchdowns in this one, and it doesn’t matter the order those come in. Alabama wins 51-10 and COVERS the spread.
No. 3 Georgia (-9.5) at No. 24 South Carolina
3:30 p.m., CBS
An upset here would throw off the entire SEC East race, and South Carolina knows it. This is the biggest spot of the season for Jake Bentley and Will Muschamp, and Williams-Brice Stadium will be rocking. The Bulldogs have won the last two meetings by two touchdowns. This one playa a little tighter. Georgia wins 31-24 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
Rutgers at No. 4 Ohio State (-35)
3:30 p.m., Big Ten Network
Dwayne Haskins threw five touchdowns in his debut as the Buckeyes’ starter, and Ohio State has beaten Rutgers by a total score 219-24 the last four years. Artur Sitkowski threw three interceptions last week. Look for more from Mike Weber and J.K. Dobbins. Ohio State wins 59-17 and COVERS the spread.
Ball State at No. 8 Notre Dame (-33.5)
3:30 p.m., NBC
Is there a risk for the Irish coming off the big victory against Michigan? Possibly, but it’s also an opportunity to get Jafar Armstrong and other running backs more involved in the offense. The Cardinals are improved under coach Mike Neu, but they aren’t ready for this yet. Notre Dame wins 51-13 and COVERS the spread.
North Dakota at No. 9 Washington (No Line)
5:00 p.m., PAC12
The Huskies must bounce back after a tough loss against Auburn, and it’s a chance to get Myles Gaskin going in the run game. Aaron Fuller should add to the big plays in the receiving game. Big win here. The Fighting Hawks won their opener 35-7 against Mississippi Valley State. Washington wins 48-7 with no spread.
Savannah State at No. 22 Miami (No Line)
6:00 p.m., ACC Network
It’s a long road back to contention for the Hurricanes, but Malik Rosier will build on the downfield success he had late against LSU in this blowout. The “Turnover Chain” will return a few times, too. Miami wins 48-3 with no spread.
South Carolina State at No. 19 UCF (No line)
6:00 p.m., ESPN3
UCF can’t get caught peeking ahead at those nonconference games against Power 5 schools, and they won’t. McKenzie Milton, who totaled 396 yards of offense with five touchdowns last week, will pad those stats some more. UCF needs attention, and that means another big number on the scoreboard. UCF wins 59-7 with no spread.
Youngstown State at No. 14 West Virginia (No line)
6:00 p.m., ATTSN
Don’t get your hopes up for a Bo Pelini-inspired upset here. The Penguins lost to Butler last week. Will Grier threw five touchdowns to four different receivers in Week 1. He’ll spread the football around for another monster game. West Virginia wins 52-9 with no spread.
Southeast Louisiana at No. 11 LSU (no line)
7:00 p.m., ESPN2
The Tigers will be welcomed by a very appreciative crowd at Tiger Stadium after a big Week 1 victory, but they’ll be prepared for a Southeast Louisiana team that threw a scare into Louisiana-Monroe last week. This will be a chance for Joe Burrow to get more reps with that talented group of receivers in a dress rehearsal for the big matchup against Auburn the following week. LSU wins 48-7 with no spread.
No. 2 Clemson (-12.5) at Texas A&M
7:00 p.m., ESPN
The schools haven’t met since a home-and-home in 2004-05, and this will be Jimbo Fisher’s first big game in College Station. Unfortunately, it’s against a familiar opponent. Clemson has won five its last six games against ranked opponents, and that included three primetime wins last season. Clemson wins 34-19 and COVERS the spread.
Alabama State at No. 7 Auburn (no line)
7:30 p.m., SEC Network
Auburn is in a tough spot motivation-wise, given this game sandwiches Washington and LSU. But this is a chance to refine the rushing attack around Kam Martin, who will get on the board with a few quick touchdowns. Auburn wins 48-6 with no spread.
Kentucky at No. 25 Florida (-14.5)
7:30 p.m., SECN
Florida has defeated Kentucky 31 consecutive times, the longest active streak in the FBS. Dan Mullen puts on one more behind an improved Feleipe Franks, who tossed five touchdowns against Charleston Southern. It will be tight into the fourth quarter. Florida wins 33-24 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
No. 13 Penn State (-8.5) at Pitt
8 p.m., ABC
These in-state rivals have traded home victories the last two years, and Pitt gets the primetime spotlight at home. This is an opportunity for Kenny Pickett to get some national attention. The Nittany Lions avoid the upset for the second straight week, but it won’t be easy. Penn State wins 28-21 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
No. 17 USC at No. 10 Stanford (-3.5)
8:30 p.m., Fox
These teams have split 20 meetings this century, and it’s arguably the most meaningful Pac-12 game on that basis. Why do they play it so early? JT Daniels was efficient in his debut, and the Trojans will take advantage of a fast start and hold on for the victory. USC wins 31-28 in an UPSET.
Connecticut at No. 20 Boise State (-33.5)
10:15 p.m., ESPN2
UConn has the misfortune of playing UCF and Boise State — two Group of 5 schools trying to get more national attention — in consecutive weeks, and this one is on the road. Brett Rypien will have another big night on the “Smurf Turf” after averaging 10.9 yards per attempt last week. Boise State wins 52-14 and COVERS the spread.
No. 15 Michigan State (-6.5) at Arizona State
10:45 p.m., ESPN
It’s tempting to take the Sun Devils given the Spartans looked rough in a 38-31 victory against Utah State. Arizona State buried UTSA in Herm Edwards’ debut, and Manny Wilkins looked good doing it. The Spartans, however, recalibrate and win in a tough environment. Michigan State wins 37-24 and COVERS the spread.