- Which teams appear to be undervalued in Week 2? Two of them are home underdogs in the ACC and C-USA.
The first part of Week 2’s best bets (Pac-12 edition) went up earlier in the week, and now SI Gambling will highlight the rest of our favorite plays in college football. SI Gambling will be using current odds from New Jersey sportsbooks (FanDuel, DraftKings, William Hill, PointsBet) for best bets every week.
Tulane at No. 10 Auburn: Tulane +10 1H (-110) at PointsBet
This is a very tricky spot for Auburn. Not only are the Tigers coming off an emotional, comeback win to start their season over Oregon, but they also only have one week to prepare for a unique Tulane offense coming into town.
Willie Fritz’s guys were quietly one of the most impressive teams this past weekend, thrashing an experienced and well-coached FIU 42–14. The Green Wave averaged 8.01 yards per play, which was the fifth-highest mark in college football in Week 1. The offense can beat you with the option, zone reads and by throwing the ball down field. Former LSU transfer Justin McMillan looked great at quarterback in his second season in the system. He has two legitimate wideouts in Darnell Mooney (48-993-8 line last season) and Oklahoma State transfer Jalen McCleskey. Tulane has nice depth at running back too, as three different RBs had at least seven carries and a fourth, Corey Dauphine (a former Texas Tech transfer), racked up 76 yards and two touchdowns on just three carries in Week 1.
I actually think Tulane’s wideouts present a tougher challenge for Auburn than Oregon’s, as the Ducks had a depleted corps because of all of the injuries at the position. As a result, there weren’t that many deep shots taken by Justin Herbert. Tulane is more creative with play-calling and has talented receivers, so Auburn will have to defend a lot more of the field this weekend.
Bo Nix didn’t look great for a lot of the Oregon game, and it didn’t help that he was frequently facing pressure. Per ESPN’s David Hale, Nix faced pressure on 44.1% of dropbacks (sixth-highest rate out of all Power 5 QBs in Week 0/1), as Auburn’s offensive line had trouble blocking a talented Oregon defensive line. Tulane has one of the best defensive lines among all Group of 5 teams, with preseason AAC Defensive Player of the Year Patrick Johnson (10 sacks in 2018) leading the way.
Even though it’s Auburn’s first home game of the season (and it’s at night), this is still a tough game to get up for after all the excitement that transpired in Week 1. I just think Tulane could surprise the Tigers on both sides of the ball to start. I’m a little nervous about the more talented team adjusting at the half after seeing a new offense for the game’s first 30 minutes, especially a team that has one of the best defensive lines in the country. So I’ll go with the first half here instead of full game.
No. 18 UCF at Florida Atlantic: Florida Atlantic +11 (-110) at DraftKings
This is a very dangerous spot for the road favorite. UCF hosts a Power 5 team in Stanford next week, and the Knights are obviously amped for that game. Sure, they played Pitt at home last season, but getting a West Coast power like Stanford to come to Orlando is an enormous deal for this program.
But the week before, UCF goes to Boca to play an FAU team that lost 45–21 to Ohio State in Week 1. The Buckeyes raced out to a 28–0 lead in the first quarter, but give the Owls credit, they put up a good fight the rest of the way and even pulled off the cover. It certainly felt different than last year’s season opener at Oklahoma, where FAU trailed 28–0 after the first quarter, and then went on to lose 63–14.
FAU’s offense looked lost after Alabama transfer BJ Emmons broke his ankle one carry into the game, and it didn’t help that the offensive line looked overmatched against Ohio State’s defensive front. But at least the Owls will have some confidence on offense after scoring two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, and UCF’s defensive personnel obviously can’t compare to Ohio State’s. UCF had to replace five starters in its front seven, and starting cornerback Brandon Moore will be out after injuring his leg against Florida A&M.
Speaking of FAMU, it’s hard to take away much from UCF’s 62–0 Week 1 win, but it is interesting to note that Notre Dame transfer Brandon Wimbush only completed 12 of his 23 throws for 168 yards (7.3 YPA). Granted, UCF did gain 338 yards on the ground (6.0 YPC), but the Knights’ offense won’t be nearly as dangerous if there’s a major drop-off between injured McKenzie Milton and Wimbush under center.
This is FAU’s biggest home game of the season and since it’s at 7 p.m. EST, the stadium will be rocking. This is a major statement opportunity for the Owls, going up against the Group of 5 Florida team that has hogged the spotlight. I think Lane Kiffin will dial up some creative play calls, and that the Owls will keep it close in a game that means much more to them compared to UCF, given its biggest home game of the season next week vs. Stanford.
Miami (FL) at North Carolina: North Carolina +5 (-110) at PointsBet
It’s easy to fall into the trap of betting Miami here if you use the mindset of “There’s no way the Hurricanes can fall to 0–2 this season, especially when they’re facing North Carolina!” I think this will be a scary game for Miami, however, because of UNC’s improved coaching staff and intriguing defensive personnel.
Mack Brown’s return was a major success after UNC’s upset win over South Carolina, but I was really impressed with the new coordinators—Phil Longo and Jay Bateman.
Longo, who was last the OC at Ole Miss, is an Air Raid disciple who is also incorporating a power run game into the mix. Longo’s offenses produce lots of big plays, and that was the case in Week 1 against South Carolina. The Tar Heels were tied for the second-most plays of 20+ yards after one game, just one behind Oklahoma’s 12. Given that true freshman quarterback Sam Howell was running the show and it came against an SEC defense like South Carolina’s, that’s rather encouraging.
Bateman, meanwhile, joined UNC after an impressive stint as DC at Army, and his unit looked sharp to start the season. South Carolina senior QB Jake Bentley had a miserable game, completing just 16 of his 30 throws (53.3%) to go along with 4.7 YPA and two interceptions. The Gamecocks scored only seven points in the second half after two key UNC starters returned following a one-half suspension: senior cornerback Patrice Rene and senior linebacker Dominique Ross. Per Pro Football Focus, Rene actually led the ACC in passer rating allowed in coverage and completion percentage allowed in 2018.
Defensive linemen Jason Strowbridge and Tomon Fox combined for eight sacks last season, and the line also got back senior nose guard Aaron Crawford, who played just eight snaps in 2018 due to a knee injury. Crawford had six tackles (three solo) and a sack in Week 1, and PFF gave him the third-highest run stopping grade in Week 1 among all interior linemen. There was also converted QB Chazz Surratt making an impact at linebacker, as he registered 12 tackles and a sack.
All of this talent in the front seven is important in this one because of how poor Miami’s offensive line looked against Florida. Per ESPN’s Hale, redshirt freshman Jarren Williams was pressured on 55.8% of dropbacks, which was the highest among any Power 5 QB. While I don’t expect UNC to generate as much pressure as Florida’s ferocious pass rush, Bateman’s defense can still muck things up in the trenches.
Williams did show some flashes in his debut, but he didn’t take a lot of shots down the field, which could be attributed to OC Dan Enos’s play calls. Enos then threw his quarterback under the bus after the game, saying, “He did not play well enough for us to win the football game. That’s first and foremost.” While UNC’s freshman QB Howell has to be coming in with confidence after his performance against South Carolina, I wonder if Williams is feeling the opposite way after he was ripped publicly following his first start.
Additionally, I think it’s pretty damning that Miami still lost to Florida despite notching a +3 turnover differential. Penalties still appear to be a big problem with this team, as the Hurricanes accumulated 14 flags for 118 penalty yards in Week 1.
There is a revenge angle for Manny Diaz here, as Brown fired Diaz as Texas’s DC in September back in 2013. Diaz is also coaching one of the best front sevens in the country. But UNC has the players on both sides of the ball and the coaching to make this game interesting. Give me the home dog here.
No. 23 Stanford at USC: UNDER 44 Points (-110) at William Hill
Our first total best bet of the college football season! I said in the Pac-12 edition of best bets earlier in the week that I was eyeing the injury situation in this game, and sure enough, Stanford quarterback K.J. Costello was ruled out after taking a dirty hit vs. Northwestern. On the other side, USC quarterback JT Daniels is out for the season after tearing his ACL and meniscus against Fresno State. It’s now a battle between junior signal-caller Davis Mills (two career collegiate throws before 14 in Week 1) and true freshman Kedon Slovis.
Stanford didn’t score a single point on offense after Costello exited on the final offensive play of the first half. USC only put up seven points on offense in the second half with Slovis under center. While USC’s talented, yet inexperienced secondary would have had major trouble against Costello, Mills only averaged 5.8 YPA vs. Northwestern. As talented as he is (Mills was a very highly touted recruit), his lack of game experience makes him a downgrade from Costello. Costello also emerged as one of the Pac-12's best QBs last season, and it'll be interesting to watch if Mills will be able to stretch the field like Costello can.
Stanford also lost star left tackle and projected first-round draft pick Walker Little against Northwestern, and he’ll be out several weeks. Stanford’s offensive line had a lot of trouble with Little last season, especially with run blocking, and now he’s being replaced by true freshman Walter Rouse. USC has one of the best defensive lines in the Pac-12, and that group must be salivating going up against a depleted Stanford OL. The Cardinal mustered only 3.4 YPC on the ground vs. Northwestern, and they don’t have a true game-breaker at the position like a Christian McCaffrey or Bryce Love on recent David Shaw teams. While Mills does have a safety blanket in Colby Parkinson at tight end, his supporting cast won't make things easy in his first start.
The Cardinal’s defense was very impressive, though, vs. the Wildcats. Northwestern was limited to 3.5 yards per play, including a dreadful performance from quarterback Hunter Johnson. The Clemson transfer and former five-star recruit went 6-for-17 for 55 yards and two interceptions. It certainly helps having all-world cornerback Paulson Adebo. USC has incredible skill-position talent, but the offensive line still has question marks and I think the offense’s ceiling is much lower with Slovis compared to Daniels.
I also like the under in two other Pac-12 games, Washington-Cal and UCLA-Stanford, but I’ll roll with the West Coast under god in Shaw, who punts in opponent’s territory more than anyone outside of possibly Kirk Ferentz. I think this is a really ugly game where the coaches play for field position given how raw both quarterbacks are.
Season record: 4–2