We’re still another week away from the kickoff of SEC play and Big 12 conference games, so the college football schedule is still a bit lacking compared to what we’re used to in mid-September in a typical year.
Not only that, a few of the best matchups slated for this weekend — Army vs. BYU, Houston vs. Memphis and Virginia vs. Virginia Tech — have been postponed due to COVID-19 cases.
Here’s what I like this week.
(Note: All times ET, odds from BetMGM)
Tulsa at No. 11 Oklahoma State
Time: Noon | TV: ESPN | Line: Oklahoma State -22 | Total: 65.5
Oklahoma State has finally made it to the other side of a tumultuous offseason and is ready to prove it is a legitimate contender for the Big 12 championship. The Cowboys return three of the conference’s top players in RB Chuba Hubbard, WR Tylan Wallace and QB Spencer Sanders, plus 10 starters are back on defense.
This game was supposed to be played last Saturday, but was delayed a week because of COVID issues within the Tulsa program. Oklahoma State covered the spread when it beat Tulsa 40-21 on the road in 2019, and that was just the third career start for Sanders. Oklahoma State’s passing game is much improved since then. Couple that with Hubbard, the nation’s leading rusher last year, and I think the Cowboys will be able to cover the big number.
Oklahoma State has been terrific against the spread in non-conference games under Mike Gundy, including a 15-5 mark in its last 20. Let’s make it 16-5.
Pick: Oklahoma State -22
Boston College at Duke
Time: Noon | TV: ESPN3 | Line: Duke -5.5 | Total: 51.5
Duke had one of the ACC’s worst passing offenses in 2019, but I liked what I saw last week against a tough Notre Dame defense with Clemson transfer Chase Brice under center. Brice and the Blue Devils should have a lot more success at home against Boston College. BC had the worst defense in the ACC by a significant margin last fall and is playing its first game under new head coach Jeff Hafley.
While the defense was terrible, BC boasted the ACC’s top rushing offense. And even though AJ Dillon has moved on to the NFL, I don’t expect much of a drop-off. David Bailey, Dillon’s backup, rushed for 844 yards and seven TDs last year and now will assume lead duties behind an excellent line that returns four starters. BC also has an upgrade at QB with Notre Dame transfer Phil Jurkovec in the fold.
Those factors, plus the fact that the over was a combined 16-8-1 for these teams in 2019 makes me really like the over in this one.
Pick: Over 51.5
South Florida at No. 7 Notre Dame
Time: 2:30 p.m. | TV: USA | Line: Notre Dame -24.5 | Total: 51.5
Entering 2020, the biggest question I had about Notre Dame was the offense’s skill position talent. The Irish’s Week 1 performance eased some concerns about that group. Kyren Williams, a redshirt freshman, started at running back and turned in a huge performance against Duke: 19 carries, 112 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught two passes for 93 yards. Two other freshmen — RB Chris Tyree and TE Michael Mayer — also caught my eye on the ND offense.
While the Irish are still looking for some wide receivers to step up, I expect them to move the ball with ease against South Florida. I would also be surprised if USF scored more than 10 points against a strong Irish defense. USF beat The Citadel, an FCS team, 27-6 in its opener but managed to only pass for 102 yards on 25 attempts as a team. That won’t get the job done on the road in South Bend.
Pick: Notre Dame -24.5
No. 14 UCF at Georgia Tech
Time: 3:30 p.m. | TV: ABC | Line: UCF -7.5 | Total: 60.5
Georgia Tech deserves a lot of credit for beating Florida State in its opener, but I thought this spread would be closer to 10 points in favor of UCF. UCF had the nation’s No. 2 offense in 2019 and returns a ton of its skill talent, namely quarterback Dillon Gabriel, who had a huge year as a freshman. UCF is a sizable step up in offensive cohesiveness compared to an FSU team with a patchwork offensive line and subpar quarterback playing in a new scheme.
UCF is 12-6 against the spread in its last 18 non-conference games and I expect the Knights to win this game by double digits, even if it takes a little while for them to pull away.
Pick: UCF -7.5
More from Yahoo Sports: