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junkmansports
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College football odds: Week 2 opening line report

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On 09/05/2011 08:06 AM in NCAA Football
Week 1 of the college football season is nearly in the books, but people are still mourning in Eugene and Athens while others in Boise are still partying.

Time to take a look at next week's betting board. Every week during the college football season, we analyze how the pros set the lines.

Oklahoma State (-13) vs. Arizona

Two teams that went relatively untested vs. cupcakes at home battle on Thursday. But Arizona has never been one to shy away from scheduling up -- on the road -- and this is a perfect example.

Oklahoma State -- surprise, surprise -- has plenty of firepower and showed it vs. Louisiana Lafayette. Brandon Weeden threw for 390 yards and three scores, and Quinn Sharp nailed four field goals in a 61-34 win. And it’s that kind of firepower that has the important guys in Las Vegas leaning toward the Cowboys.

“Oklahoma State can put a lot of points on the board, but they can give up a few, too. That’s their game, and it works for them,” John Avello of the Wynn Hotel Sportsbook told Covers.com. “You have to go close to two touchdowns. OSU is at home, and with Arizona, I expect an average year.”

Arizona State (-5) vs. Missouri

A 17-6 win over Miami, Ohio at home isn’t exactly the way Missouri wanted to tune up for this lengthy road trip. The Tigers were sloppy and only gained 21 more yards than the RedHawks did.

So, there’s not a lot of confidence from the pros, as Missouri packs its bags for Tempe. Especially after the Sun Devils danced all over UC Davis, 48-14.

“Arizona State looked good in the opener, went 6-6 last year, and has everyone coming back,” Avello said. “I still expect Missouri to have a big season, and they usually play well in this type of a game. But they have to show it first.”

Wisconsin (-16) vs. Oregon State

It was a tough week for the Beaver State. But you can forgive Oregon for losing to LSU, 40-27. For Oregon State, a 29-28 loser to Sacramento State? Different story.

Listen, the Beavers have plenty of time to turn it around. It’s not like they were in the national title hunt, and needed to stay undefeated. And that’s a good thing, because a trip to Wisconsin is not what the doctor ordered. As such, the books have no choice but to inflate the Badgers.

“But you have to be careful,” Avello said. “Riley usually gets a bunch out of his team, and Oregon State has a way of playing their best ball on the road. So I went with 16, and then I’ll see where the players push me on this one.”

Mississippi State (-1) at Auburn

The Tigers pulled off a great escape vs. Utah State, 42-38, but don’t let it fool you. Auburn has serious issues on defense, and it’s only going to get tougher. On the other hand, Mississippi State couldn’t have done much more vs. Memphis, whipping the Tigers, 59-14.

So with two programs seemingly headed in different directions, the line is low, and it’s up to the midweek sharp players to see where it goes.

“If you want to look at history, Auburn plays well in SEC openers, but this will be tough,” Avello said. “Memphis was not a good indication, it wasn’t close. But Mississippi State was 9-4 last year, and they have a bunch coming back on defense.”

Alabama (-11) at Penn State

A few weeks from now, it’ll probably be clear that this is not a vintage Penn State team. Quarterback play is iffy, the offensive line is in flux, Joe Paterno’s coaching from the press box, and the schedule is a bear.

The Nittany Lions whacked Indiana State, 41-7, but the party’s over. The Crimson Tide will probably be the fastest, fiercest defense Paterno’s crew sees all year.

“Alabama has to be a heavy favorite,” Avello said. “They looked good on paper, they looked good on the field. Playing at Penn State is never an easy task. But Alabama looks too good.”

Oregon (-21.5) vs. Nevada

It figured to be a difficult opener for new-look Nevada anyway, without departed quarterback Colin Kaepernick. But now that the Ducks are 0-1 and have lost two in a row? Look out.

Oregon showed it can be had on defense, vs. LSU, so that might help the Wolf Pack. But, in the end, the speed and athleticism that the Ducks still have, plus the bounceback factor, made this a large one.

“The quarterback certainly made a difference, and that will be a very big loss for Nevada,” Avello said. “But the team is well coached and you have to beware. That said, they’re going to catch a team that’s going to be a little mad. And Oregon is just so tough at home anyway.”

South Carolina (-1.5) at Georgia

The talent, depth, and standings all say that South Carolina is the team to beat. The Gamecocks rallied to defeat East Carolina, 56-37, and showed the nation that maybe, just maybe, all the hype surrounding Steve Spurrier’s squad is deserved.

But home teams in the SEC always attract some value, and now it’s abundantly clear that the Bulldogs are playing for coach Mark Richt’s future, as well.

“South Carolina woke up in the second half vs. East Carolina,” Avello said. “But Georgia is a much-improved team, it may just take a while for you to see that. They just ran into a great Boise State team. I still expect them to be tough here.”

Texas (-5) vs. BYU

Hard to believe the Longhorns are under the radar. Unranked to begin, Texas hammered Rice, 34-9, and will welcome BYU to its second straight road game.

The Cougars, who seem comfortable as independents, rallied to dodge Ole Miss, 14-13, but the Longhorns are not the Rebels. There’s a ways to go in Austin, clearly, but Texas isn’t about to be an underdog at home just yet.

“BYU was lucky to get that win vs. Ole Miss, but they did play well on defense,” Avello said. “Texas is coming off a good outing, but they were supposed to. We’ll see how they play against a tougher opponent here.”

Southern Cal (-6.5) vs. Utah

As the Big Ten season rolls on -- and Minnesota struggles, as expected -- USC’s 19-17 escape vs. the Gophers will probably look less impressive. But as for now, it’s all the books have to go on. So, advantage USC.

And the Utes might find the sledding tough in the Pac-12 anyway, especially after a ho-hum win over Montana State, 27-10.

“Minnesota played USC so tough. I think Utah is OK, but it’s hard to say, so this one was tough,” Avello said. “Utah usually plays well on the road, so I can’t lay too much. USC is going to be a good team soon, just not this year.”

Notre Dame (-1.5) at Michigan

It looked like this patented, early-season matchup might have a little juice to it when the schedule first came out, didn’t it? Two still-new coaches -- one in his first year, the other in his second -- two programs on the way back, two fan bases that feel they’ve paid enough dues. It had all the makings.

Well, it still has intrigue. But that’s due to the public now waiting to see if the Irish fall to 0-2 in a season that had so much promise. But be careful. Notre Dame moved the ball well vs. South Florida. If they limit turnovers, this week could be a different story.

“They played awful. Coach (Brian Kelly) was really angry and I expect him to stay angry this week in practice,” Avello said. “That’s why I like Notre Dame here. I really think they can bounce back.”
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