- Our writers and editors make Week 2 picks for LSU-Texas, Clemson-Texas A&M, Syracuse-Maryland, USC-Stanford and more.
Week 2 of the college football season is here, hoping to build on what turned into a more dramatic Week 1 than it looked on paper. Will SEC teams Tennessee and Missouri bounce back after unexpected losses? Can UNC and Mack Brown notch another underdog win? And who will be victorious in the season's first top-10 showdown: a battle between No. 6 LSU and No. 9 Texas in Austin? Our writers and editors' picks are in for a dozen of Week 2's biggest and most intriguing games. To see our picks for this week against the spread, click here.
Scooby Axson: 10–2 (83.3%)
Michael Shapiro: 10–2 (83.3%)
Max Meyer: 9–3 (75%)
Laken Litman: 8–4 (66.6%)
Tim Rohan: 8–4 (66.6%)
Molly Geary: 8–4 (66.6%)
Ross Dellenger: 7–5 (58.3%)
Joan Niesen: 6–6 (50%)
Cincinnati at Ohio State (12 p.m. ET, ABC)
Michael Shapiro picks Ohio State: The Bearcats shut down Chip Kelly and UCLA with a 24–14 win in Week 1, but there isn't an upset brewing in Columbus this weekend. Buckeyes' quarterback Justin Fields dazzled in his Horseshoe debut with four touchdown passes against Florida Atlantic, and Ohio State's pass rush remains as lethal as ever led by future top-ten pick Chase Young. Cincinnati is a legitimate threat for the AAC crown, and perhaps the nation's No. 9 defense in 2018 can keep things close in Columbus in the first half. But it's a touch premature to put Ohio State on upset alert after a resounding Week 1 win.
Army at Michigan (12 p.m. ET, FOX)
Joan Niesen picks Michigan: After an impressive 2018, Army looked lackluster in a Friday-evening win over Rice—by just one touchdown. Sure, the Black Knights showed signs of what they do best, executing a 9:21 drive in the fourth quarter to win the game, but they're going to have far more to contend with against Michigan, and if the Rice defense was a struggle, the Wolverines' will be close to impossible to crack.
Syracuse at Maryland (12 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Molly Geary picks Maryland: This matchup has long had "Trap Game" flashing in neon lights over it (though, at this point, the Vegas line actually favors Maryland). A ranked Syracuse team is a week away from hosting No. 1 Clemson, at night, during homecoming, with fans hoping a 2–0 start would produce a first-ever visit from College GameDay. But first, the Orange have a trip to College Park. The Terps are rebuilding under new coach Mike Locksley, but they have real offensive talent led by QB Josh Jackson and RB Anthony McFarland and some key transfers on defense. The main concerns for both sides: Maryland's O-line holding up against Syracuse's talented DL, and Cuse QB Tommy DeVito, who had a poor Week 1 showing vs. Liberty.
West Virginia at Missouri (12 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
Joan Niesen picks Missouri: The Tigers were 17-point favorites last Saturday and lost to Wyoming, but they're a better team than they showed in Week 1, when their defense didn't generate a turnover or a sack. Against a West Virginia team that's far weaker than it was a year ago (the Mountaineers needed 10 fourth-quarter points to take down James Madison, an FCS team, on Saturday), Missouri will win a close one in its home opener.
Texas A&M at Clemson (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)
Laken Litman picks Clemson: Aggies offensive lineman Jared Hocker wasn’t afraid this week to say “there will be an upset” in Death Valley. And he may rightfully be confident in an improved offense after QB Kellen Mond scored four touchdowns in Week 1. But can Texas A&M’s defense, which lost a number of star players from the SEC’s No. 2 ranked unit in 2018, keep up with Clemson? While QB Trevor Lawrence uncharacteristically struggled last week and tossed two interceptions, RB Travis Etienne was unstoppable with 205 rushing yards and three TDs.
Nebraska at Colorado (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX)
Scooby Axson picks Colorado: This a meeting of two old Big Eight/Big 12 rivals that have long since departed those respective conferences for greener pastures. Nebraska comes into the game still salty over last year’s loss to the Buffaloes, a game in which the Huskers think quarterback Adrian Martinez was injured intentionally. Colorado scored 52 points in its Week 1 win over in-state foe Colorado State, despite wide receiver Laviska Shenault catching only three passes for 48 yards. Look for his targets and production to increase significantly this week.
BYU at Tennessee (7 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Scooby Axson picks Tennessee: For two teams whose opening weekends couldn’t have gone worse, BYU and Tennessee will try to bounce back after each were dominated on their home fields. The winner of this game will silence hot seat chatter around its coach for one week, while the other can be prepared to get ripped for the foreseeable future. The Volunteers being at home is the only currency and advantage in this type of matchup, as their offensive skills players do have the talent to put up a ton of points against a vulnerable defense.
LSU at Texas (7:30 p.m. ET, ABC)
Ross Dellenger picks LSU: This feels like a toss up, and we usually lean toward the home team in that situation. However, while Texas QB Sam Ehlinger is one of the best nationally, the Tigers possess one of the most talented defenses in the nation. And they seem to have an offense this year to back it up. Their new no-huddle, spread scheme will get a test in a rowdy road environment. Expect a tight one the whole way. LSU's defense is the difference.
Miami at North Carolina (8 p.m. ET, ACC Network)
Tim Rohan picks Miami: This game features a grudge match between two coaches with history. Remember, in Mack Brown's final year coaching Texas in 2013, he fired defensive coordinator Manny Diaz midseason. Now, Brown is coaching North Carolina and Diaz is at Miami. Give Diaz the edge here. His quarterback Jarren Williams showed flashes in the ‘Canes’ season-opening loss to Florida, a top-10 team, and Diaz’s defense has lots of talent. Miami should be able to disrupt the rhythm of Sam Howell, North Carolina’s true freshman quarterback. Howell looked impressive bringing the Tar Heels back against South Carolina in Week 1, but he faces a stiffer challenge here against the 'Canes.
Cal at Washington (10:30 p.m. ET, FS1)
Max Meyer picks Washington: As much as I love Cal +14 this week, I still have to go with Washington win outright. Jacob Eason will not be lighting up one of the best secondaries in the country like he did with Eastern Washington last weekend. He also has two pass-catchers that did not play in Washington’s 12–10 loss to Cal in 2018—senior wideout Chico McClatcher and game-breaking tight end Hunter Bryant. I envision a physical game where points will be hard to come by, but I still think Washington gets its revenge over its fellow Pac-12 North team… barely.
Stanford at USC (10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Max Meyer picks Stanford: This game looks a lot different than it did a week ago. USC lost starting QB JT Daniels for the season, while Stanford may be without starting QB K.J. Costello and will have to replace injured star left tackle Walker Little. USC did just enough to beat Fresno State at the Coliseum to start its season, but only mustered seven points on offense in the second half with true freshman Kedon Slovis under center. Stanford’s defense had question marks heading into the season, however the Cardinal made both Northwestern quarterbacks look inept this past Saturday. In what should be an offensive struggle, I trust David Shaw a lot more in this type of game than Clay Helton.
Minnesota at Fresno State (10:30 p.m. ET, CBSSN)
Laken Litman picks Fresno State: Down 18 with less than 17 minutes to play, Fresno State scored twice in the fourth quarter of last week’s matchup vs. USC and nearly pulled off an upset. The Bulldogs may have run out of time, but with first-year starter QB Jorge Reyna gaining confidence from his 344-yard (this includes his 88 rushing yards), two-TD performance, Fresno State might have the momentum here against a Minnesota team that narrowly beat FCS team South Dakota State.