If you don’t do well in gambling week one, try, try again . . . . until you end up broke, alone, and running from bookie enforcers.
Week One came and went in a flash with near-historic upsets (App. State, you feisty devil, you), early season flops by teams with lofty expectations (looking at you two, Miami and Michigan), and solid wins that should pay dividends towards the end of the season (Notre Dame, LSU, and Virginia Tech). Although Saturday’s schedule of games isn’t as sexy as last week’s opening act, intrigue abounds with matchups between like two upstart teams looking to knock off perennial powers.
If you trusted @BarnBurnerSlim’s picks for week one, you finished the holiday weekend with a satisfied feeling. On the flip side, you likely have already sent someone to break @barnburnerziggy’s kneecaps.
After Week One, @thebarnBurner staff’s records are:
Georgia (-10) at South Carolina
Both teams opened their 2018 campaigns with cakewalk victories over Austin Peay and Coastal Carolina. With play time now over, the SEC East foes face off in a game with huge ramifications for the division title.
Kirby Smart and Will Muschamp have both done stellar jobs in taking their respective teams to the next level. After last year’s title game appearance and back-to-back monster recruiting classes, Georgia looks to keep the momentum rolling in the ever-competitive SEC. Led by sophomore quarterback Jake Fromme, the Bulldogs feature a collection of offensive weapons with sparkplug wideout and return man Mecole Hardman, California transfer Demetris Robertson at wide receiver, and the continued tradition of stellar running back play by way of D’Andre Swift. Not to mention true freshman and Cam Newton look-alike Justin Fields gives the Bulldogs a different look at quarterback when needed. On the other side, South Carolina’s offense goes as quarterback Jake Bently goes. The now-veteran Junior has arguably one of the best playmakers in the country back in Deebo Samuel, who missed almost all of last season with a broken leg. South Carolina’s offense also features two physical, downhill runners in Rico Dowdle and Ty’Son Williams. At home against one of the premier teams in the country, South Carolina has a great opportunity to make a national splash and get a leg up in the race for the East division.
@FarmerBarn: Tough game to call. I think Georgia and South Carolina are probably the best two teams in the less-competitive-than-usual SEC East. I like both quarterbacks, but I think Fromme ultimately proves unflappable down the stretch and D’Andre Swift’s big day inserts him into the conversation as one of the nation’s best running backs. Georgia wins but South Carolina covers.
@BarnBurnerSlim: I like what Bently and Dowdle bring to the table for the Gamecocks, but I like Georgia’s offensive weapons more and think their defense will grow into their own right before our eyes in this game. Give me the Bulldogs even with the 10-point spot South Carolina is getting.
@barnburnerziggy: Let me first apologize for last weeks showing. It was like if Michael Phelps came out of retirement, jumped in the pool, bellyflopped, and drowned. I’ll be better. Give me South Carolina to cover at home.
@barnburnerbaker: Last year’s 24-10 win for Georgia, could’ve been a lot closer had South Carolina been aggressive instead of settling for two field goals early. I expect them to try and slow the game down to avoid giving Georgia too many possessions. I think Georgia is too strong though and will win by another 14 point margin.
Clemson (-12) at Texas A&M
Similar to the Gamecocks, Texas A&M has a chance to make an early splash in Jimbo Fisher’s new tenure with the Tigers in town. The ouster of Kevin Sumlin ultimately led to A&M’s $75 million investment in Fisher. Before a disastrous last season in Tallahassee, Fisher won 10 or more games in 5 straight seasons at FSU. He inherited a roster in relatively decent shape, particularly on offense. Sophomore dual-threat quarterback Kellen Mond and Trayveon Williams form a formidable one-two punch. Williams opened up his junior season with a bang, rushing for 240 yards and 3 TDs in last week’s romp over Northwestern State.
Meanwhile, the Tigers near decade of excellence marches on in Dabo Swinney’s tenth year as head coach. With three playoff and two national title game appearances all within the last four years, many pundits project Clemson to be one of the last four standing once again at season’s end. For Clemson, it all starts up front. Clelin Ferrell, Austin Bryant, Dexter Lawrence and Christian Wilkins form the best defensive line in the nation. The line is so deep that five star Xavier Thomas, the #1 ranked player in the class of 2017 according to Rivals.com, sees limited snaps at defensive end. The Tigers are also in the enviable position of boasting two excellent quarterbacks each with unique skillsets. Senior quarterback Kelly Bryant can make plays with his legs, and true freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence already has what looks to be one of the best arms of any QB in all of CFB. The Tigers have a pick-your-poison cast of offensive weapons in running back Travis Etienne and wideouts Amari Rodgers, Tee Higgins and Hunter Renfrow.
@FarmerBarn: I think long-term Jimbo Fisher can do some big things in College Station, but this team isn’t ready to win these kinds of games just yet. Clemson’s defensive line will stifle Williams running lanes and repeatedly frustrate Mond into poor decisions. I got Clemson with a cover.
@BarnBurnerSlim: Two coaches who are very familiar with each other from Jimbo’s Florida State days, but that’s about the only good storyline I’m seeing. Clemson goes into College Station and handles the Aggies.
@barnburnerziggy: I’m not sure I think Jimbo is a great fit in College Station long-term and he definitely is not ready to win games like this yet. Plus, Dabo has owned Jimbo as of late. Clemson might be the best team in the country this year and I’d be surprised if the Aggies can keep up. Clemson to cover.
@barnburnerbaker: I’m going with Ziggy here, even though he showed last week that he might not know what he’s talking about. I think Clemson is at worst the second best team in the country. I’m giving A&M no shot here. I would consider Clemson covering my lock of the week.
Southern California at Stanford (-5.5)
Going into last year, Stanford had turned the tide in head-to-head matchups with USC having won six of the last eight. That all changed in 2017 with USC’s regular season and Pac-12 Championship victories over the Cardinal. The big news for the Trojans is true freshman quarterback JT Daniels. The 18-year old should still be a senior in high school, but opted to forgo his last year of eligibility and enroll early at USC. The 2017-2018 Gatorade Football Player of the Year started his career off right with last week’s efficient 282-yard, one TD performance in an up-and-down win over UNLV. The competition ramps up with his first true road test at Stanford Stadium – a night game, no less. David Shaw and staff hope to get Heisman-hopeful running back Bryce Love untracked after last week’s puzzling 18 carry, 29-yard dud. San Diego State dominated what’s normally a vaunted Cardinal offensive line. Luckily for Stanford, running lanes could prove easier to find against a USC defense that surrendered 308 yards on the ground in week one.
@FarmerBarn: JT Daniels is not your typical freshman. I just have a sneaking suspicion a primetime night game in his first start on the road will prove to be his coming out party to the rest of the nation. USC upsets Stanford.
@BarnBurnerSlim: Bryce Love and Stanford owe USC for ruining their season last year, and Love needs to put up big numbers to remain in the Heisman Race. Stanford.
@barnburnerziggy: JT Daniels may have a bright future but I don’t think he’s ready to win a night game on the road against a big conference opponent. Especially when the opponent has a Heisman caliber tailback. Stanford covers at home.
@barnburnerbaker: I think USC’s defense will be just what the doctor ordered for Stanford and Bryce Love. I think he’ll get it going and Stanford will win handily. Stanford covers and is on a collision course for their week five game at Notre Dame.
Kentucky at Florida (-14)
Kentucky looks to end a thirty-one year (indeed, you read that correctly) losing streak to the Florida Gators. A 32nd consecutive loss to Florida would move Kentucky solely into fourth place of most consecutive NCAA losses to one team. On the flip side, a Cats’ win would end the nation’s longest active losing streak. At 3-0 and with a double digit lead, the Cats’ couldn’t close the deal last year, losing in heartbreaking fashion after Florida scored a touchdown with less than a minute to go for a 28-27 victory. UK will look to lean heavily on senior running back Benny Snell, Jr., who loudly proclaimed himself the “best running back in the SEC” in the offseason. The Cats’ took the conservative route and rarely used Snell in a week one victory, so expect for him to get plenty of touches against the Gators. Florida returns 20 starters from last year’s team, tied for third most among FBS teams. A nightmare of a 4-7 season is firmly in the Gators’ rearview mirror, especially in light of the fact that Dan Mullen returns to Gainesville as the coach of the Gators after a previous stint as offensive coordinator. Many expect Mullen to pull a rabbit out of a hat with Florida’s recently anemic offense. Mullen plans to use signal-caller Feleipe Franks heavily in the run game, similar to what he did with Tim Tebow as offensive coordinator and with Dak Prescott as coach of Mississippi State.
@FarmerBarn: *CASH OUT YOUR 401(K). Florida absolutely owns Kentucky. A 31-game winning streak speaks for itself. Three things never change: death, taxes, and Florida beating Kentucky in football. Cats’ keep it close like they have in years past, but Florida covers.
@BarnBurnerSlim: I really want the streak to end. But seeing both QB’s from Kentucky struggle to complete passes and seeing how this is Mullen’s first big game in the Swamp…this always sucks to say…Gators cover.
@barnburnerziggy: Florida looks to be much better this year and won’t lose a conference game at home to an inferior opponent this early in the season. I want to say Kentucky keeps it close enough to cover but that is based more on emotion than logic. 14 points is a decent chunk, but Florida still covers.
@barnburnerbaker: I don’t think Kentucky can move the ball against the Gators enough to keep them close. I also don’t think they’re capable of going to The Swamp and giving Florida much of any trouble. I know this is the SEC, but this is a snoozer. Florida.
Michigan State (-7.5) at Arizona State
Good storylines abound in this one. The Spartans narrowly survived in week one against Utah State. MSU slid four spots in the AP poll from 11 to 15. This week will help determine if the Spartans were overranked to start the season. Former Jets and Chiefs coach Herm Edwards shocked everyone when he bolted the comfy confines of NFL studio work to take the Arizona State job. Many rightfully wondered if a longtime NFL guy could quickly adjust to the college ranks. Based off very early (I repeat, one game kind of early) returns, he seems to be doing just fine. Bolstered by third-year starter Manny Wilkins at QB, Arizona State has some nice toys to tinker with on offense. N’Keal Harry is the best wideout you’ve never heard of, in large part due to the fact that the Sun Devils’ play almost all of their games at around midnight on the east coast. Harry is projected by many to be the first wideout taken in next year’s NFL draft. Regardless of who wins, we will learn something about two teams with a lot of unknowns.
@FarmerBarn: I think MSU rebounds from a disappointing week one performance, winning in convincing fashion on the road. The Spartans, led by senior running back LJ Scott, will play smash-mouth football and churn out a lot of yards on the ground.
@BarnBurnerSlim: Michigan State looked like shit last week while Arizona State handled their business. Specifically, MSU’s offense struggled and ASU’s defense was wreaking havoc all over the field (against UTSA!). I’ll roll with ASU as a thank you for sending Brady White to Memphis.
@barnburnerziggy: I thought that Michigan State’s 11 overall pre-season ranking seemed awfully high (as did the whole Big 10’s after that great bowl season), and they did nothing to defend it Week One. Still, this game is only a story because of Herm Edwards. MSU is much better than ASU and anything but a comfortable MSU win will be a surprise to me. MSU covers on the road.
@barnburnerbaker: I think that both of these teams are overrated currently. MSU was lucky to survive last week and I think they’ll be much more awake this week. I think 7.5 points is hefty here, but I’m going to say that Sparty will squeak the cover out just barely.
Just for the Hell of It Game: Memphis (-7) at Navy
For an outstanding preview on what to expect from the Tigers and Midshipmen matchup, look no further than @BarnBurnerSlim’s coverage.
@FarmerBarn: Navy’s D got shredded to the tune of 522 yards of total offense by Hawaii. That does not bode well for a high-powered Tigers attack that nearly set a school record with 752 yards of total offense in a week one win over Mercer. Although Navy tries to play keep-away and run the clock of offense, Tigers keep on rolling.
@barnburnerziggy: Navy throws a different look offensively than Memphis is used to. Still, with Memphis opening with a cupcake in Mercer they were able to spend a good chunk of the offseason scheming for the option. Navy will be tougher defensively than Mercer, too, but 7 points is too low. I’ll take Memphis to cover this one.
@barnburnerbaker: I don’t know a whole lot about this game. I’m just here so I won’t get fined. I’ve taken all the favorites this week and it’d be a shame to not finish that off here. I’m taking Memphis as well.