The Big 12 and ACC will kick off their 2020 campaigns this week, with a bigger -but still not completely full- College Football Saturday on the horizon compared to week one. Ranked squads Miami, Appalachian State, Iowa State, and Louisville will take on some of the very best teams out of the low G5. Individually, all the ranked teams will be favored, but odds say at least one of UAB, Charlotte, ULL, or Western Kentucky will pull the upset. Duke-Notre Dame, Georgia Tech-Florida State, North Carolina-Syracuse, and College Gameday host Clemson-Wake Forest give us our first P5 vs P5 games of the year. Let’s dig in!
Straight Up: 8-1 (89%)
ATS Best Bets: 1-1 (-.09 units)
Kansas State (-10) vs Arkansas State – 12 PM ET, FOX
Campbell (+34.5) @ Georgia Southern – 3:30 PM ET, ESPNU
#4 Oklahoma (-40.5) vs Missouri State – 7 PM ET, PPV
Louisville (-11.5) vs Western Kentucky – 8 PM ET, ACC Network
Note: All projected scores are based on 1,000 simulations of the CSD Prime computer model – with some leeway for tweaks in the event of circumstances the model can’t pick up (e.g. injury)
Thursday, September 10th
UAB (1-0) @ #19 Miami
8 PM ET, ACC Network
Vegas Line: Miami -14
UAB is a really good team that comes into 2020 as the clear favorites to win Conference-USA. The Blazers’ week one affair vs Central Arkansas was not as close as the ten-point final difference indicated, however, letting up 35 to an FCS team, even a good one like UCA, is inexcusable. Miami lost to a pair of Conference USA teams last year, but the ‘Canes bring in Houston transfer D’Eriq King for the 2020 year, and the offense should be much improved from 2019’s down year. This will be close for the first half, but Miami will end up winning by two touchdowns.
CSD Pick: Miami 30, UAB 17
Saturday, September 12th
Syracuse @ #12 North Carolina
12 PM ET, ACC Network
Vegas Line: North Carolina -22.5
The first P5 vs P5 matchup of 2020 comes out of the ACC, as offseason hype train machine North Carolina hosts Syracuse. I will admit, I am 100% on the Mack Brown bandwagon. This team, led by awesome QB Sam Howell, has a lot of potential. I think they could contend with Clemson for an ACC title.
Now, there is talent on this Syracuse team, especially in the secondary, but the offensive line struggled last year, and UNC should dominate the Orange in the trenches. Give me UNC at home.
CSD Pick: North Carolina 41, Syracuse 25
Louisiana @ #15 Iowa State
12 PM ET, ESPN
Vegas Line: Iowa State -11.5
The game of the week for week two will kick off at noon in Ames, as Louisiana takes on Iowa State in a battle of two dark horses in their respective conferences. ULL was overshadowed by Appalachian State last season, but the Ragin’ Cajuns were awesome under star coach Billy Napier. Trey Ragas and Elijah Mitchell make up one of the best 1-2 rushing attacks in the country, and the defense is excellent. The Cajuns are a legit borderline top 25 team, and they will keep this one a lot tighter than many think. I just think Brock Purdy is too good.
It’s a been a journey for Purdy over his career at ISU, but it will end with him being a legit top-five quarterback in the sport. The Cyclones also return much of an awesome secondary, and I think they’ll get the win here, but ISU has struggled with lower-rated teams in the non-conference before, and ULL is legit. This will be close and is the only true “must-watch” game of the day.
CSD Pick: Iowa State 34, Louisiana 26
Charlotte @ #21 Appalachian State
12 PM ET, ESPN2
Vegas Line: Appalachian State -17
Appalachian State, the highest-ranked team out of 2020’s “power four” (ACC, SEC, Big 12, AAC), kicks off their campaign with a test from Will Healy’s Charlotte 49ers. Healey is a rising star on the coaching scene, and the 49ers have already improved under his watch; I expect them to take another step forward this year. NIU transfer RB Tre Harbison is a name to watch, and the defense is solid, but…
Charlotte is a team on the upswing; App State is a machine. One of the most consistent G5 programs over the past few years, the Mountaineers have won back-to-back Sun Belt titles and are coming off of one of their best years ever. QB Zac Thomas is back after a deadly accurate 2019, and the defense is great. The Mountaineers should kick off new coach Shawn Clark’s tenure with a win, but it will be a little lower scoring than last year’s 56-41 affair thanks to both team’s defenses improving.
CSD Pick: Appalachian State 40, Charlotte 20
Arkansas State (0-1) @ Kansas State
12 PM ET, FOX
Vegas Line: Kansas State -10
Arkansas State looked solid in last week’s 37-24 loss to Memphis, easily covering a 19 point spread against a Tiger team that should threaten for New year’s Six bowl territory. As I predicted, Logan Bonner started the game, and also as I predicted, backup Layne Hatcher came in and was significantly better, throwing for more yards on fewer attempts, and never turning the ball over, while Bonner turned it over twice.
The Memphis matchup was a good one for ASU, the Tigers let Arkansas State play their game, something Chris Klieman’s Kansas State Wildcats will almost certainly not do. Expect K-State slow down the tempo in this one and never let the Red Wolves get comfortable.
This is a bit of a petty pick; I’ve been pounding the Hatcher train all offseason, but the fact that Arkansas State is being stubborn and continuing to use a two-quarterback system makes me not only want to take Kansas State but also lay the points.
CSD Pick: Kansas State 35, Arkansas State 20
☆Crazy Sports Dude Best Bet Alert☆ – Kansas State -10
Eastern Kentucky (0-1) @ West Virginia
12 PM ET, FS1
Vegas Line: West Virginia -40.5
CSD Pick: West Virginia 38, Eastern Kentucky 7
UL Monroe @ Army (1-0)
1:30 PM ET, CBSSN
Vegas Line: Army -19
CSD Pick: Army 38, UL Monroe 19
Duke @ #7 Notre Dame
2:30 PM ET, NBC
Vegas Line: Notre Dame -20
Clemson transfer QB Chase Brice gets thrown into the deep end with a week one road test against the excellent Notre Dame defense. Duke should be all right this year, but the talent gap is massive, and I don’t see much else that’s changed since the Fighting Irish’s 38-7 win over the Blue Devils last year. Ian Book will make plays with his arm and feet again, and the Irish should roll in their ACC debut.
CSD Pick: Notre Dame 37, Duke 13
Georgia Tech @ Florida State
3:30 PM ET, ABC
Vegas Line: Florida State -12.5
I’ve made no bones about it, I’m high on this Florida State team, and facing a Georgia Tech team that still is incredibly miscast, I don’t have a lot of worries. James Blackman should step up to the next level this year after being solid the past few seasons. This game will have none of the drama of the crazy 2016 upset. Mike Norvell will get his first win with the Noles, and FSU fans around the country will breathe a sigh of relief.
CSD Pick: Florida State 30, Georgia Tech 15
UTSA @ Texas State (0-1)
3:30 PM ET, ESPN2
Vegas Line: Texas State -8
CSD Pick: Texas State 25, UTSA 21
Campbell @ Georgia Southern
3:30 PM ET, ESPNU
Vegas Line: Georgia Southern -34.5
Campbell quarterback Hajj-Malik Williams is up there with the best FCS players playing this fall. Williams led the team in both rushing and passing last year, and the Camels’ rushing attack gave their rivals fits last year. Georgia Southern will win -Campbell has almost no defense to speak of and Georgia Southern QB Shai Wertz is next-level good- but Williams is good enough to keep the Camels in this game. I think they’ll cover.
CSD Pick: Georgia Southern 38, Campbell 12
☆Crazy Sports Dude Best Bet Alert☆ – Campbell +34.5
Austin Peay @ Pittsburgh
4 PM ET, ACC Network
Vegas Line: Pittsburgh -27
CSD Pick: Pittsburgh 35, Austin Peay 9
Missouri State @ #4 Oklahoma
7 PM ET, PPV
Vegas Line: Oklahoma -40.5
In 1,000 simulations of this game on the CSD Prime computer model, Missouri State averaged one point. One. Spencer Rattler will be out to prove he’s as good as the hype, and the Sooners will destroy the 40.5 point spread.
CSD Pick: Oklahoma 64, Missouri State 1
☆Crazy Sports Dude Best Bet Alert☆ – Oklahoma -40.5
The Citadel @ USF
7 PM ET, ESPN+
Vegas Line: USF -20
CSD Pick: USF 32, The Citadel 16
#1 Clemson @ Wake Forest
7:30 PM ET, ABC
Vegas Line: Clemson -33
College Gameday will be in town in Winston Salem as Wake Forest looks to get their revenge for a 52-3 loss to 2019 ACC champs Clemson last year. Wake loses a lot, including QB Jamie Newman and WR Sage Surratt, from that team, but there is some talent, including awesome edge rusher Carlos Basham and LB Ja’Cquez Williams. However, the talent gap is just too big. Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne will light up the scoreboard, and the Tigers should roll.
CSD Pick: Clemson 47, Wake Forest 19
Tulane @ South Alabama (1-0)
7:30 PM ET, ESPN2
Vegas Line: Tulane -8
CSD Pick: Tulane 34, South Alabama 23
UTEP (1-0) @ #10 Texas
8 PM ET, Longhorn Network
Vegas Line: Texas -43
CSD Pick: Texas 54, UTEP 4
Western Kentucky @ #20 Louisville
8 PM ET, ACC Network
Vegas Line: Louisville -11.5
In a day filled with very good G5 teams taking on P5 competition, WKU-Louisville will be the nightcap. The Hilltoppers of Western Kentucky are co-favorites in Conference USA’s East division with Marshall, but they run into a Louisville team that was way ahead of schedule last year, at least on offense.
This will be a clash of styles, but UL’s offense, powered by stud QB Micale Cunningham, should be able to score even on what is a very good WKU defense, and I don’t have faith in Western Kentucky’s offense to keep pace on their end. Give me Louisville minus the points.
CSD Pick: Louisville 37, Western Kentucky 20
☆Crazy Sports Dude Best Bet Alert☆ – Louisville -11.5
Houston Baptist (0-1) @ Texas Tech
8 PM ET, ESPN+
Vegas Line: Texas Tech -39.5
CSD Pick: Texas Tech 53, Houston Baptist 12
Coastal Carolina @ Kansas
10 PM ET, FS1
Vegas Line: Kansas -7
CSD Pick: Kansas 28, Coastal Carolina 22