Games to Watch - Week 2
September 8, 2011
Saturday - Oregon State at Wisconsin (ESPN, 12:00 p.m.)
Oregon St. vs. Wisconsin
The Wynn opened Wisconsin as a 16-point favorite Sunday night and I immediately noted (via twitter) that that number was way too short and that I had made the Badgers 21-point 'chalk.' When the other books chimed in over the next hour and change, most went with Wisconsin by 18 or 18 ½. By Monday afternoon, the number had settled at 21 and the total went out at 57 late Tuesday. Brett Bielema's team's team raced out to a 51-3 lead over UNLV in its opener last Thursday, but it failed to cover as a 35-point home favorite when UNLV got the backdoor cover thanks to a pair of fourth-quarter TDs against Wisconsin's back-ups. The jury is still out on Wisconsin's defense, but the offense looks like a juggernaut with its traditional power running game and a dynamic QB in Russell Wilson, who can make plays with his arm and his scrambling. Oregon St. got off to an awful start last week, losing outright at home to Sacramento St. The Beavers were playing without four starters, including star WR James Rodgers, and none of those four are expected to be in uniform at Camp Randall.
Saturday - Utah at USC (Versus, 7:30 p.m.)
Utah vs. USC
Utah will get its first taste of Pac-12 play when it comes to Southern California to face USC, which was barely able to hold off Minnesota by a 19-17 count in Week 1. Matt Barkley completed 34-of-45 passes for 304 yards and three touchdowns without an interception. Robert Woods hauled in 17 catches for 177 yards and all three TDs. Lane Kiffin's incompetence was evident when a pair of two-point conversions failed following first-half TDs. Those decisions had Minnesota in position to get into field-goal range for a game-winning kick in the final minute, but the Trojans intercepted a pass at midfield with 53 ticks remaining. Utah beat Montana St. 27-10 in its opener thanks to John White, who rushed for 150 yards and one TD and caught a TD pass from Jordan Wynn. As of Wednesday afternoon, most books were listing USC as a nine-point favorite with a total of 52 ½. Gamblers can take the Utes to win outright for a plus-290 payout (risk $100 to win $290). Kyle Whittingham's squad has compiled a 12-8 spread record in 20 underdog situations during his seven-year tenure.
Saturday - Notre Dame at Michigan (ESPN, 8:00 p.m.)
Notre Dame vs. Michigan
Most betting shops opened Notre Dame as a short favorite Sunday night and the early money came in on the Irish. By Monday afternoon, most books had Brian Kelly’s team favored by 4 ½, but that number was down to 3 ½ by Wednesday. The total opened at 55 or 55 ½ at most spots. I called Notre Dame an overrated squad all summer and it lived up to my expectations in its 23-20 season-opening home loss to South Florida as an 11-point home ‘chalk.’ Tommy Rees threw for 296 yards in relief of Dayne Crist and Kelly has named Rees as the starting QB this week. As for Michigan, it won a 34-10 decision over Western Michigan in Brady Hoke’s debut at The Big House. Unfortunately for Michigan backers, it was unable to cash tickets laying 14 points because the game was called due to weather before 55 minutes was played. When these bitter rivals met last year, the Wolverines went into South Bend and emerged with a 28-24 victory as 3 ½-point road underdogs. They have beaten the Irish in four of the last five head-to-head encounters.
Other Games to Watch
BYU at Texas - BYU rallied from a 13-0 deficit with a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns to nip Ole Miss 14-13 in Oxford. However, the Cougars failed to cover the number as two-point road 'chalk.' Meanwhile, Texas took the cash in its 34-9 Week 1 win over Rice as a 23 ½-point home favorite. As of Wednesday, most books were listing the Longhorns as seven-point favorites with a total of 48 ½.
TCU at Air Force - During a six-game stretch last season, TCU's nasty defense allowed only 23 combined points. But in last Friday's opener, Baylor more than doubled that scoring output in just 60 minutes, capturing a thrilling 50-48 win as a four-point home underdog. The Horned Frogs better put that loss in the rearview mirror with a trip to Air Force looming. Most spots have TCU as a two-point favorite with a total of 49.
Cincinnati at Tennessee - Tyler Bray threw for 293 yards and three TDs to lead UT to a 42-16 win over Montana. Zach Collaros threw four TD passes as Cincy cruised to a 72-10 win over Austin Peay. Most spots have made the Vols six-point favorites with a total of 53. They are 3-0 ATS as single-digit home favorites on Derek Dooley's watch, while the Bearcats are 0-4 as road 'dogs under Butch Jones.