This week’s quartet of college football picks includes a pair of hot teams outperforming expectations. We also expect a rebound performance from a Big 12 squad that squeaked by in its opener and will fade an ACC team in Week 3. All games Saturday.
New coach Mike Locksley has changed the culture, and high-scoring Maryland is for real. The schedule sets up favorably—the Terrapins must beat Penn State at home in Week 4 and then they have a chance to be 8-0 heading into a November slate that includes Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State—and Maryland is 4-0 ATS in its last four games at Temple.
Formerly the offensive coordinator at Alabama, Locksley has gotten the most out of Virginia Tech transfer quarterback Josh Jackson. Maryland is blistering teams through the air and on ground. Jackson has tossed seven touchdowns and only one interception in two games, while a committee of running backs thrashed a well-regarded Syracuse defense with 354 rushing yards in a 43-point blowout last week. The Terps have scored 142 points entering Week 3, while an inspired defense held Syracuse to 6-for-15 on third downs and stopped all three fourth-down attempts.
Carlos Carriere with his first career touchdown.
Maryland’s offense cannot be stopped right now.
35-13 Terps with under five to go in the half. pic.twitter.com/n1eiDaKXqj
— Sean Montiel (@SeanMMontiel) September 7, 2019
Temple will play its second game under new coach Rod Carey after it put up 695 yards of offense in a dominant win over Bucknell in Week 1. We respect quarterback Anthony Russo, but questions surround the Owls defense, which lost its top two players from last year (defensive end Michael Dogbe and Rock Ya-Sin) to the NFL Draft. It’s a revenge setting for Maryland, which was embarrassed 35-14 by Temple at home last year, and the Terps will be motivated to return the favor.
Pick: Maryland -7
BYU salvaged its bowl hopes with a dramatic, comeback win at Tennessee, but opponents have pushed them around the last two weeks, with 262 rushing yards surrendered to Utah and 242 to Tennessee. USC heads to Provo with momentum, as the Trojans overcame a slow start to pile up nearly 500 yards of offense and outscored Stanford 35-0 over the final 2 1/2 quarters, and we love how the Trojans defense held run-heavy Stanford to 98 yards rushing.
Freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis grabbed the reins impressively, with for 377 yards and three TDs passing in his first start, and a USC program that entered 2019 with doom and gloom after a 5-7 season is suddenly trending in the right direction. Slovis looks like a star in the making and has solid weapons on the outside and in the backfield.
The Kedon Slovis era begins
389 total yards
USC dominates No. 23 Stanford 45-20 pic.twitter.com/4QHvdfk7Gi
— Bleacher Report CFB (@BR_CFB) September 8, 2019
BYU will put up a fight. The Cougars only trailed Utah 9-6 at the half before they wore down and we respect how they came back to force OT on the road last week. However, the offense remains limited and the Cougars were outgained in both games. USC will prove too big and strong up front, and BYU won’t be able to match points as the game gets away from them.
Pick: USC -4
Look for Iowa State to bounce back with a vastly improved showing in its second game. The Cyclones brought back 16 starters, including Brock Purdy, whose 169.9 passing efficiency rating ranked sixth nationally and was the best ever for a true freshman. They also feature a talented defensive front that is led by stud lineman JaQuan Bailey. The defense held up its end in the opener, but the offense struggled. Purdy missed departed receiver Hakeem Butler and running back David Montgomery, and Iowa State scored just 13 points in regulation and needed three overtimes to defeat 23.5-point underdog Northern Iowa.
Matt Campbell will show why he’s one of the brightest up-and-coming coaches in college football and a soon-to-be coveted prospect for major programs seeking a turnaround. Iowa State is better up front on the offensive and defensive lines, and the offense will get back on track behind its superb quarterback.
Look at the fake here by ISU QB Brock Purdy on that last TD. pic.twitter.com/zeblJ6wJmA
— Derek Duke (@DerekDuke25) October 6, 2018
Iowa hits the road for the first time after it easily dispatched Miami-Ohio and Rutgers, but remember the defense did lose every defensive-line starter from last year. Nate Stanley has put up good numbers, with nearly 500 yards through the air and six TDs, and Ihmir Smith-Marsette has emerged as a legitimate target for an offense that lost its top two receivers from last year. But things won’t come so easily against a formidable Iowa St. defense.
After narrowly losing to its in-state rival the last two years, Iowa St. will reclaim the Cy-Hawk Trophy.
Pick: Iowa St. +2
Don’t overreact to NC State after a pair of easy wins over doormat teams. After a 9-4 season, the Wolfpack lost every key offensive player, including Ryan Finley, Kelvin Harmon, Reggie Gallaspy and Garrett Bradbury, and defensive stud Germaine Pratt is now playing for the Cincinnati Bengals. NC State also hired four new assistant coaches for this year’s rebuild.
It’s a ridiculous number to be laying in NC State’s first road test, and don’t be surprised to see West Virginia win straight up.
NC State isn’t as good as it looked beating down Western Carolina last week, and West Virginia isn’t as bad as it looked getting drubbed by Missouri on the road. The transition has been slow for Oklahoma transfer quarterback Austin Kendall, but he’s getting used to coach Neal Brown’s new system and can make plays with a strong arm. The Mountaineers feature a nice stable of running backs and count on them running the ball effectively at home behind a veteran offensive line. While still coming together as a unit, West Virginia’s defense remains athletic, with a promising secondary.
Trends favor West Virginia, which is 5-2-1 ATS in its last eight home games, and NC State is always a risky proposition against non-conference foes, with a 4-6 ATS mark under coach Dave Doeren.