It’s time to get serious. The last two weeks were merely an appetizer. The clock is past midnight on Saturday morning here in Vegas, officially marking the first full weekend of NCAA and NFL football in tandem. Sportsbooks across the city will be buzzing all weekend with the influx of football tourists, many of whom are scrambling to submit last second entries into one of the many famous football contests in town. This season will be especially noteworthy here in Vegas, as it will conclude with the first Super Bowl to be played in the desert jewel.
All lines are courtesy of Circa Sports.
Youngstown State at No. 5 Ohio State (-42): Saturday, 9 a.m. PDT, Big Ten Network
Pick: Ohio State -42
The Buckeyes are gonna be looking for some style points in this one. After an uninspiring showing in last week’s win over Indiana, Ryan Day’s squad will use this as a tune up game and should come through with a massive performance.
FCS opponents are rare for the Buckeyes. According to the Columbus Post Dispatch, Ohio State has only faced an FCS opponent three times in program history, winning each time. Two of these wins happened to come at the expense of Youngstown State in 2007 and 2008, which OSU won 38-6 and 43-0 respectively. The Buckeyes have outscored their three FCS opponents 157-6 overall.
The only risk here is Ohio State taking their foot off the gas pedal too early, but I think the line being set at 42 gives us some wiggle room.
Prediction: Ohio State 56, Youngstown State 7
No 11. Texas at No. 2 Alabama (-7): Saturday, 4 p.m. PDT, ESPN
Pick: Alabama -7
Saturday’s big kahuna. Last year Texas had their shot to take down Nick Saban and Alabama and missed in heartbreaking fashion. While Saban may no longer be college football’s king, he remains one of it’s gods and when you come at a god you still can’t miss. Quinn Ewers and Texas will hang late into the second half, but Jalen Milroe will announce his presence to America in a 4th-quarter coming out party to put this one out of reach.
Pick: Alabama 35, Texas 23
UC Davis at No. 16 Oregon State (-23) : Saturday, 6:30 p.m. PDT, PAC-12 Network
Pick: Oregon State -23
It’s a good time to be a Beaver. Albeit against an abysmal San Jose State defense, Clemson transfer DJ Uiagalelei had the Oregon State offense looking like it can hang with any of its high-powered PAC-12 foes. This adds on to an already stout defense that dominated the PAC-12 last season and again ranks at the top of the conference. While UC Davis is ranked 14th in the FCS and is certainly no pushover, this isn’t the Oregon State of old either. I don’t expect Oregon State to give up much ground on defense and scoring shouldn’t be an issue for the burgeoning Uiagalelei and the rest of the Beaver offense. Even if this game is competitive early, Oregon State should pull away with ease in the second half.
Prediction: Oregon State 45, UC Davis 10
Packers (+110) at Bears: Sunday, 1:25 p.m., CBS
We all know what the story is here. I think the Jordan Love experiment starts off on the right foot. The Packers still have one of the league’s most reliable safety valves in the backfield with Aaron Jones to go along with emerging wide receivers Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs. These options will prove invaluable to Love. Chicago’s been a popular pick with bettors this this off-season but I still have a lot of questions about Justin Fields proficiency in the passing game. This Packers defense is still too good to come at with a one dimensional attack. It will be close but I got the Pack by a field goal.
Prediction: Packers 20, Bears 17
Season prop: Anthony Richardson, most interceptions thrown (+2000)
Let’s look at the facts. In Peyton Manning’s rookie season, he started all 16 games and threw a league-leading 28 interceptions. Andrew Luck, while not quite reaching Peyton territory, tallied 18 interceptions his rookie year which was good for the second highest total that season.
When the Colts say they’re starting a rookie at Quarterback, they stick to it. They will absolutely let Anthony Richardson stack up as many interceptions as he needs to in the progress of his development, and I’d be shocked if they pulled him even in the most dire of circumstances.
This is all without mentioning that interceptions, decision making with the football, and ball security were three of Richardson’s glaring weaknesses entering the draft. While I’m very high on his physical tools, he is the textbook example of a guy who should be sat and developed behind a veteran for a few seasons.
I expect Richardson to throw between 23-25 interceptions, comfortably leading the league.
Happy Football Season. Good luck to all.