Preseason Picks, Previews, Packages, Etc.
Published on Thursday, 8/26/21, at 1:05 p.m. Eastern.
Updated on Thursday, 9/2/21, at 2:20 p.m. Eastern.
What’s up everybody?! College football season is about 48 hours away.
Let’s get you up to date on all my content containing previews, picks and more.
–On Sept. 2, I chatted Week 1 with Kevin Rogers on VegasInsider’s YouTube channel. You can check out that convo here.
–Stanford will be without three starters — WR Michael Thomas, safety Jonathan McGill and CB Salim Turner-Muhammad — Saturday against Kansas St. at Jerry World in Arlington, TX. Thomas is going to be out until sometime in October, while David Shaw said earlier this week that Turner-Muhammad and McGill are going to miss most of the season. The Cardinal hope to get those two back at some point in November.
–Tulane’s home opener vs. Oklahoma has been moved to Norman. The Sooners have been adjusted from 27-point road favorites to 31.5-point home ‘chalk.’ Due to the damage caused to New Orleans by Hurricane Ida, the Green Wave is relocating its football team to Birmingham for at least the next 4-6 weeks.
–Temple at Rutgers that was supposed to be played on Sept. 2 has been moved to Saturday (9/4) due to flooding in the New Jersey area.
—I’m on Fresno St. -27.5 vs. UConn on Saturday in what’s really the only game I’m feeling in Week Zero. I have a small opinion on the Nebraska at Illinois game.
–Speaking of the Cornhuskers, here’s my preview of their showdown with the Illini in the opener of the Bret Bielema Era in Champaign-Urbana.
–(After thumping Hawaii 44-10 in Week Zero…) The Bruins are (now) 11-21 straight up and 15-17 against the spread on Chip Kelly’s watch. Thirteen of those 21 defeats have been by margins of nine points or more.
–Nebraska is 12-21 SU and 14-19 ATS (after losing 30-22 at Illinois in Week Zero…) during Scott Frost’s tenure. Only nine of those 12 wins have come against Big Ten opponents. The Cornhuskers are 0-7 against ranked foes.
–Remember how Frost and Kelly were discussed as the leading candidates to replace Jim McElwain (another horrendous hire by former Florida AD Jeremy Fooley) at UF? I’d say Scott Stricklin made the right call on Dan Mullen, who is 29-9 SU and 21-16-1 ATS for the Gators. Mullen finished in the Top 10 nationally in his first two seasons and spent seven of 10 weeks during last year’s regular season ranked sixth or better.
–Most books have moved Texas down to -8 for its opener vs. UL-Lafayette. I got the Ragin’ Cajuns at +10 earlier this summer. BetMGM still has the Longhorns at -9.5, so that’s where you want to go if you like Billy Napier’s team. I explained why I like Levi Lewis and Co. in this piece.
–Keep an eye on Western Kentucky this season. Tyson Helton had an interesting strategy for bolstering his program’s talent level with his 2021 recruiting class. He only signed four players out of high school. Instead of inking 20-plus freshmen, Helton decided to simply raid the transfer portal. He landed 19 transfers, including nine from Power Five programs. He also took Houston Baptist’s offensive coordinator, its QB and three of his favorite WRs. You may remember how Houston Baptist only lost 35-33 at Texas Tech last season. QB Bailey Zappe threw for 567 yards against the Red Raiders.
–Zappe has started 36 games at the FCS level for Houston Baptist, throwing for 10,004 yards and 78 TDs in 36 starts for the Huskies. The new OC Zach Kittley was the Houston Baptist OC the last three years after working under Kliff Kingsbury and coaching Patrick Mahomes at Texas Tech beforehand. The Hilltoppers’ defense was outstanding last year, giving up only 25.3 points per game despite only getting 19.0 PPG of production out of the offense. Phil Steele’s National Unit Rankings have the Tops’ d-line at No. 24 and their special teams at No. 20. The punter and kicker were both All-C-USA performers in 2020. If you can get Western Ky. at +800 (DraftKings) odds or better to win C-USA, it’s probably worth a shot in this weak league that’s wide open for the taking. Also, WKU catches Indiana in a vintage sandwich spot one week after the Hoosiers host Cincinnati and one week before they go to Happy Valley to face Penn St. Even better, the Tops have two weeks to prepare for IU. DraftKings currently had Tom Allen’s club listed as a 20.5-point road favorite. WKU is +14.5 at Michigan St. the following week.
—Kyle Hunter and I joined K-Rog for some preseason college football convo last week that you can check out here on VegasInsider’s YouTube page.
–I’m on the Steelers to go ‘over’ 8.5 for a +112 return and I have some more at ‘over’ 9 for a +160 payout. Why, you ask? Have people forgot that the Steelers started last season 11-0? The demise of Ben Roethlisberger has been greatly exaggerated. He had a 33/10 TD-INT ratio last year and threw for more than 3,800 yards. Those numbers would’ve been better if not for WR Dionate Johnson’s insane case of ‘The Drops’ in December. Yes, I’m concerned about the offensive line, which lost four starters, but Pittsburgh has landed a major upgrade at the RB position with Najee Harris. Yes, the defense lost LB Bud Dupree and CB Mike Hilton, but this unit is still loaded and one of the NFL’s best. Minkah Fitzpatrick is the NFL’s premier safety, T.J. Watt is one of the best OLB’s and Cam Heyward is one of the best pass rushers. It doesn’t matter if you think more of the Ravens and Browns (for the record, I don’t). Cleveland and Baltimore can both have better seasons than Pittsburgh and the Steelers can still win 10 games and all three teams can go to the playoffs. Another thing to remember with NFL season win totals this year: We have 17 regular-season games now.
–Another NFL season win total I like — the Jags to go ‘under’ 6.5 at a -125 price. I’m okay with ‘under’ 6 for a +105 return, too. They have the worst coach in the NFL and I’m here to watch him fail miserably. Loyal readers know how I’ve been accurately predicting every move by this clown for more than a decade. My next guarantee for Oscar (in case you missed it) is that he’ll quit (again) before the end of November in Year 2 (if he makes it that far).
–I’m also on Kyle Pitts to win Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. I got some at 10/1, some at 11/1 and some more at +1150. I think Harris and DeVonta Smith are his toughest competitors, but Smith has been out injured for the last few weeks (and I’m not sure about the Eagles’ offense as a whole). The rookie QBs are in bad situations and I think they’re going to struggle.