Will the Oklahoma Sooners cover the massive spread against the decimated roster of the Kansas State Wildcats? Will the Oklahoma State Cowboys have Spencer Sanders to lead the offense against the Brothers Stills, or will this turn into a wire-to-wire defensive slugfest? Will the SEC provide us with any drama in its first week of action? I have no idea. Take gambling advice from Allen Kenney. He’s much better at this than I am. But hell, here goes nothing!
Kansas State at Oklahoma (-28) - In 2019, Chris Klieman’s K-State team stunned the Sooners with a physical rushing attack that enabled them to control the clock. Fortunately for OU, the 2020 Wildcat offensive line is unrecognizable in comparison to last season’s unit, so don’t expect history to repeat itself.
Furthermore, this week’s positive test/contact tracing group in question is believed to be the KSU secondary, which is what one might call ‘less than ideal’ in this particular matchup. Long story short — Purple Kansas might be in a bit of trouble this week. Gambling pick: Oklahoma covers, perhaps even comfortably. Over 61
Florida (-14) at Ole Miss - Ole Miss is solid at the skill positions. However, both the offensive and defensive lines are a concern entering 2020, so Lane Kiffin’s time in Oxford is likely headed for an inauspicious start. Meanwhile, Florida is replacing six starters on defense, but defensive recruiting has never been a problem for the Gators.
What has been an issue in Gainesville for the past decade-plus has been the QB position, and UF finally has a reliable starter in Kyle Trask, which will make life easier for a talented, yet relatively inexperienced crop of skill-position talent. Basically, Florida’s potential areas of deficiency are far less dire than those of Ole Miss. Gambling pick: Florida pulls away late and covers in the Jorts vs. Pleated Khakis Classic. Over 57
Kentucky at Auburn (-7.5) - The Wildcats return four starting offensive linemen from a year ago, but Auburn has a defensive end named Big Kat Bryant. We’ll call that matchup a push in spite of the Auburn defensive line’s losses of Derrick Brown, Nick Coe and Marlon Davidson (but seriously, War Eagle’s DL should still be solid). Add in the fact that Auburn returns K.J. Britt and Owen Pappoe at linebacker, and this really is a good-on-good matchup.
That leaves one question — can OKC native and Del City HS product Terry Wilson do enough with his arm to lift UK over the top if things don’t work out as planned on the ground? Unfortunately, he hasn’t provided much justification for confidence in that regard. Also, Auburn has a safety named Smoke Monday. Too many incredible names on this team. (Note: Kentucky’s Octavious Oxendine and Kavosiey Smoke make strong cases, as well) Gambling pick: Auburn covers by a hair. Under 49
Iowa State (-2.5) at TCU - Folks, this is a weird one. Iowa State was a near-consensus pick to at least finish in the top half of the Big 12 standings, but the mass exodus for both the offensive and defensive lines was always going to be tough to overcome. This proved true in a loss to the Artist Formerly Known As Louisiana-Lafayette.
On the other side, the fleet-footed Max Duggan is cleared to practice, but this week’s starter will be sophomore Matthew Downing. Having said that, Duggan is still listed as a co-starter, which I assume means we’ll see plenty of him on Saturday. At any rate, expect TCU to lean on the ground game with Emari Demercado, Darwin Barlow and five-star freshman Zack Evans carrying the load. Gambling pick: TCU beats the spread and also pulls out a win. Under 44.5
Texas (-17.5) at Texas Tech - Something called “Houston Baptist” threw for 572 yards against this Texas Tech defense two weeks ago. While Sam Ehlinger isn’t necessarily a world-beater with his arm, he and his talented group of receivers aren’t going to receive much resistance this week. Gambling pick: Texas covers. Under 70.5
West Virginia at Oklahoma State (-7) - 2020 is an especially bad year to have an inexperienced offensive line, and OSU faced that ugly truth when it failed to have its way with Tulsa’s defensive front. WVU’s family tandem of Darius and Dante Stills might just have a fun afternoon against whichever QB they face.
Speaking of which, we still don’t know if Spencer Sanders will be good to go in this one. If he is, his presence will help to cover up some of his offensive line’s deficiencies. If not, we’re in for a low scoring affair. Gambling pick: West Virginia beats the spread and narrowly misses out on an upset. Under 51.5
Florida State at Miami (-11): D’Eriq King is off to a strong start at his new school, as he’s completed 63 percent of his passes for 469 yards and four TDs against a pair of halfway-decent football teams. He’s aided by the fact that Miami’s run game is averaging 6.1 yards per carry, but the U will be facing by far the best run defense it’s seen this season — a Florida State defensive front anchored by former super-recruit Marvin Wilson. While that’s certainly a good-on-good matchup, Miami should have the advantage in just about every other facet of the game.
As an FSU grad (yes, yes, laugh it up), it sucks to see the ‘Noles stuck in the mud like this. Make no mistake — they’re in this spot because of Jimbo Fisher, not Willie Taggart. I also hate to see Miami experience any kind of success, as their fans are quite possibly my least favorite in college football. And no, I’m not overlooking LSU fans. Gambling pick: I’m hesitant to pick a blowout in a rivalry game like this, so I’m going with Florida State to beat the spread. Under 54