HN Staff’s Six-Pack of College Football Games – Week 2
IOWA CITY, Iowa – The Hawkeye Nation staff returns for another season of picking the outcome of six college football games against the Las Vegas line. These are for entertainment purposes only:
Iowa (-2.5) at Iowa State
Rob Howe: The guys from out east against the guys from out west shapes up as a good game on paper. This guy from out east thinks the guys from out east are better in the trenches, where football games are won. Take the guys from out east and throw the points. Guys from out east win, 23-17.
Last Week/Season – 2-4/2-4
Jon Miller: Obviously, I want Iowa to win this game. That said, in my preseason ‘predictions’, I gave Iowa a four in ten chance in this game. I think Iowa State’s offense is very dangerous and while I do believe Iowa will keep improving into possibly a better team than I thought they would be, I don’t like the location for this game, or the timing. I’ll take the 2.5 and pick Iowa State to win, though I hope I am wrong.
Last Week/Season: 3-3/3-3
David Schwartz: Understandably, some Hawkeye fans struggle to discuss this game rationally. So in a year like this one, when the game is Ames, the Hawkeyes are undergoing transitions at key positions both on and off the field, and the Cyclones appear improved over the last few seasons, it’s going to rub people the wrong way when someone – in this case me— picks ISU to not only cover but win outright. I’ll be in Jack Trice on Saturday, and I hope that my pick is wrong, but Iowa faces a legit challenge this season in the Cyclones.
Last Week/Season: 1-5/1-5
Sean Neugent: Can the Hawkeyes offense afford to put the ball on the ground as much as they did against Wyoming? No. But, I loved what I saw out of QB Nate Stanley who has a tremendous touch pass. The offense should whoop up on an awful ISU defense that allowed UNI’s QB Eli Dunne to throw for 259 yards and two TDs. The Panthers also averaged 5.4 yards per play on the ground on the Cyclones last week. On the other side, I saw a hungry and quick defensive attack against Wyoming. The Hawkeyes unit will need to bring it again on Saturday against a dangerous Cyclones offense. It will be tough to stop QB Jacob Park (271 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT) and his favorite target WR Allen Lazard (108 yards), in addition to a good RB tandem in David Montgomery and Mike Warren (115 combined rushing yards). It will be an interesting test for both the Cyclones offense and Hawkeyes defense. I believe ISU is on their way to being an improved program, but the defense is not quite there. Iowa wins big 40-17.
Last Week/Season: 2-4/2-4
Mitch Smith: The Hawkeye offense sputtered a little bit last week against Wyoming, but the defense looked like it has the potential to be one of the best in the Ferentz era. It may not be a blowout, but Iowa will win this game by more than a field goal.
Last Week/Season: 4-2/4-2
Nebraska (+13) at Oregon
Rob: Bobby Diaco’s defense looked a lot like that of former Husker defensive coordinator Mark Banker, who was fired after last season’s meltdown. Arkansas State put up 36 on them in Week 1. Meanwhile, the Ducks dropped 77 on Southern Utah. I can’t see Nebraska winning in Eugene but I think it will cover the number in a shootout. I’ll take the points.
Jon: This is a huge line for an Oregon team that was not good last year. Nebraska’s offense finally looks like what Mike Riley wants it to look like, while the defense still looks more like BINO’s Blackshirts in Name Only. Still, this is a big line. If it was a night game I might be tempted to go with Oregon, but I will take the Huskers to cover in a track meet.
David: The question is whether Oregon’s 2016 struggles have any relevance to 2017. It’s too soon to tell. However, what we do know is that 13 points is a large spread, and Huskers coach Mike Riley, who came from Oregon State, will not be overwhelmed by the spectacle in Eugene. I’ll take Nebraska plus the points.
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Sean: Despite it being new Oregon head coach Willie Taggert’s first big test at the helm, this one seems like a no-brainer. The Ducks have a high-flying offensive attack that can score on teams quickly and often. This does not bode well for a Nebraska defense that allowed 36 points against Arkansas State last week, including 415 passing yards. They now face Oregon QB Justin Herbert who threw for 355 yards last week. The Ducks can also hurt you in the running game with backs Royce Freeman (150 yards, 4 TDs) and Kani Benoit (107 yards, 3 TDs). Nebraska QB Tanner Lee is going to need to play out of his mind in this one if they want to compete. Oregon gets off to a fast start and never looks back, winning 55-32.
Mitch: All spring and summer we heard from Nebraska fans how great new defensive coordinator Bob Diaco is going to be. The honeymoon phase ended last week when the Huskers gave up 32 first downs and nearly 500 yards against Arkansas State. It won’t be much better for Diaco after this week. Oregon wins this one by more than two scores in Eugene.
Auburn (+4.5) at Clemson
Rob: These teams are coming off lopsided wins in Week 1 against overmatched opponents. Translation – We learned very little about them. That said, I’m buying Clemson more than I am Auburn. I’ll throw the points and take the home team.
Jon: Hurricane Irma will still be far to the south. Clemson is at home, and I will take them to win it by a touchdown.
David: There’s a rule when following SEC football: Never take Auburn seriously until there is enough evidence that you absolutely have to. This game is at Clemson and the spread is less than a touchdown, so Clemson seems like the right play.
Sean: It was a close game last year between the two Tigers squads as Clemson won 19-13. Auburn is a better team now than then and Clemson will need to rely on QB Kelly Bryant in the biggest game of his career to date. Bryant looked good in his first game replacing Deshaun Watson, but I believe Auburn wins it in a low-scoring battle, 21-17.
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Mitch: One thing is certain — the Tigers will win. I’ll take Clemson minus the 4.5.
Georgia (+4) at Notre Dame
Rob: The Bulldogs managed to beat Appy State last weekend but lost their starting quarterback Jacob Eason for this week. That means freshman Jake Fromm will be behind center in South Bend. I don’t think the Irish are any great shakes but I think they win and cover in this one.
Jon: This is the first time Georgia has played a football game, any game, north of the Mason-Dixon line since the 1960’s. That is insane, and has nothing to do with anything. I’ll take Notre Dame to cover and win.
David: Either this is the year the wheels come completely off Notre Dame and Brian Kelly gets the boot, or he finds a way to will Notre Dame back into the 10-win range. Only one thing is for certain: Nothing bad is Kelly’s fault and he’ll throw Pope Francis under the bus if he thinks it’ll buy him another year in South Bend. Whatever.
Take Notre Dame and lay the points.
Sean: Georgia QB Jacob Eason has a sprained ligament in his left knee and is out against Notre Dame, so they will lean even more on RB Nick Chubb in this game. The Fighting Irish did shut down Temple’s running game last week (2.3 yards per carry), but allowed 245 yards and two touchdowns through the air. Still, I like what Georgia brings to the table even without Eason. I will take the Bulldogs to win a close one, 27-24.
Mitch: Picking the Bulldogs in this one. No method or analysis other than I can’t stand Brian Kelly.
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Oklahoma (+7) at Ohio State
Rob: Part of the reason Bob Stoops retired was that he knew a trip to Columbus was looming. I kid. The Sooners are fully capable of winning at The Shoe. Baker Mayfield will get his. A touchdown seems like a lot to lay in a game like this one. So, naturally, I will.
Jon: You will have to run to win on Ohio State, and few teams will be able to run on them. Oklahoma’s running game in their season opener was not impressive. Their passing attack is also not up to speed after some key losses from last year. I think Ohio State wins this by double-digits.
David: One way or another, Ohio State will win this game. If the Buckeyes find their offense, the seven-point spread will look like a joke. If they struggle on offense, winning by a touchdown still doesn’t seem like a stretch. This seems like the easiest pick of the week. Buckeyes all the way.
Sean: This should be an awesome game to watch. Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield was on fire against UTEP last week, going 19/20 for 329 yards and three TDs in limited action after being pulled in a blowout. I think he will shine against Ohio State, but OSU QB J.T. Barrett will be even better this week. The Buckeyes had a much bigger test against a rising Indiana squad who gave them all they could handle for a half. Whichever team wins is positioned very well for a run at the National Championship. The Buckeyes crushed Oklahoma last year, 45-24 and I believe they will win again, albeit closer than last year. I will take OSU to narrowly cover the spread, 38-30.
Mitch: The Buckeyes laid the boom on the Sooners last year, and Oklahoma is going to get revenge in the Horseshoe this year with a huge road win.
Stanford (+6.5) at USC
Rob: The Cardinal comes off a bye week after hammering Rice in Australia. USC struggled against Western Michigan at home. I think Stanford is better than USC. Give me the road team and the points.
Jon: Western Kentucky gave USC a decent game. Stanford’s style is such a departure from what USC plays. I like USC to win this one, and so did the early money, pushing this line up from +4. I will follow the squares and take USC to cover.
David: USC’s pattern the last several years has been to struggle early in the season and rally late. Stanford is the opposite. I’ll go with the Cardinal plus the points.
Sean: The Trojans had all they could handle from Western Michigan last week before really putting on a show in the fourth quarter with 28 points. QB Sam Darnold struggled in the game with zero TDs and two picks, but RB Ronald Jones II carried the team on his shoulders with 159 yards rushing and three TDs. Stanford enjoyed a bye week after playing the prior weekend in Australia. The Cardinal will look to RB Bryce Love to handle the workload in this one after averaging nearly 14 yards per carry in week one. USC was favored by the same amount last year and lost this game by 17. I would be tempted to go with Stanford if it was at their house, but I think USC has too much explosion and wins this one, just covering 27-20.
Mitch: I like the Trojans to win this game, but 6.5 seems like a really high number. I’ll take the Cardinal to keep it close, and maybe even pull off the win.