Missouri -2.5 vs. South Carolina – The Tigers’ defense sleepwalked through the first half of their opener, giving up four big plays to FCS foe Missouri State to keep them in the game, but they turned it on in the second half and helped Missouri pull away. The Tigers don’t have to be good on defense to win games—just decent—and have some great individual talents like Terry Beckner Jr.
Josh Heupel might be the most underrated offensive coordinator in the country. Drew Lock isn’t the most accurate quarterback, but he was the leading passer in the SEC last season when you exclude bowl games. Heupel makes Lock look good with schemes that leave a lot of players open, so he just has to make the right read in order to succeed.
South Carolina is overvalued in this game because of a misleading performance against NC State. The Gamecocks made the most of their turnovers and got some big special teams plays, but they were largely listless on offense against the Wolfpack defense.
The Gamecocks only managed 12 first downs and 246 total yards against NC State last week and could only average 1.5 yards per carry. They should have lost to the Wolfpack, but now the narrative is that South Carolina finds ways to win games. Missouri should win this game by seven or more.
Florida State -32 vs. UL Monroe – This line has already come down drastically after the news of Deondre Francois’ season-ending injury. FSU will start true freshman James Blackman in this one, and although he has little experience, Jimbo Fisher knows how to coach quarterbacks. Virtually every quarterback that Fisher has ever started has succeeded, and he will come up with a game plan that will play to the youngster’s strengths.
The Seminoles have a solid one-two punch at running back in Cam Akers and Jacques Patrick, and they should find plenty of room to run against a Louisiana-Monroe defense that was gashed by Memphis last week. The Tigers averaged almost eight yards per carry against the Warhawks and pushed around their undersized defensive ends.
Don’t expect ULM to score more than twice against this defense. FSU once again has one of the best defenses in the nation. The line is deep, and Derwin James is one of the best players in the country.
Under 53.5 in Clemson vs. Auburn – These are two of the most talented defenses in the nation, and both quarterbacks are still learning how to run their offense. Clemson’s pair of defensive tackles, Dexter Lawrence and Christian Wilkins, make this team hard to run on. Both players are All-American talents and should find success against an Auburn offensive line that has its best players at the tackle position.
Auburn didn’t allow Georgia Southern to have any success running the ball last week, and while Clemson will do better, it will still have difficulty moving the chains on the ground. Auburn’s defense finally lived up to its potential in Kevin Steele’s first year on the job, and he should have success again this season.
Both quarterbacks lit up bad defenses in the opener, but each still has some kinks to work out. The defenses have the edge here.
New Mexico -7.5 vs. New Mexico State – This is one of the more underrated rivalries in football, and the Lobos spent last week’s game against FCS foe Abilene Christian showing something new. New Mexico has been able to run the ball well since Bob Davie has arrived on campus, but now it has a passing game, too. Lamar Jordan threw for 213 yards and a score and looked like a more natural passer than he did in the past.
The Lobos will be able to run the ball against the Aggies. Although New Mexico State bottled up Arizona State’s run game pretty well last week, the Sun Devils aren’t nearly as committed to the run as the Lobos are. They will pound a New Mexico State defensive line that doesn’t have much depth all game long.
Tyler Rogers padded his stats late against Arizona State last week and didn’t have the great performance that you might think from just looking at the box score. He was held in check by the Lobos defense last season and will be again this year.