What a week to bring back upset alerts. You know by now that Tennessee (-24.5) was stunned by Georgia State 38-30 in Week 1 while SEC East comrade Missouri lost at Wyoming 37-31. There were near upsets, too, with teams like Iowa State needing three overtimes to hold off Northern Iowa. But looking ahead to Week 2? The opportunities to gamble against Vegas oddsmakers are ... let's just say they're rarer. Oh well, that only makes them sweeter (and more lucrative).
Each week, I'll give you the top five upset alert games based on matchups, injuries/suspensions and other factors. But in the spirit of the upset, I generally avoid games where lines are within a touchdown -- though there will be some exceptions throughout the year. Similarly, I'll only go with moneyline picks when the payout is around 2:1. Maybe a little less, definitely when it's more.
Finally, I like to go on the record with my picks by keeping tabs. The scoring system is exactly the same as it is for our weekly expert picks with season-long tallies against the spread (ATS) and straight-up (SU). Since there were no upset alerts in Week 1, we're starting from scratch.
Important disclaimer: "upset" is defined first and foremost by the point spread or moneyline, not rankings.
Army at No. 7 Michigan
When: Saturday, noon ET | Where: Ann Arbor, Michigan | Line: Michigan -23
Why it's listed: That pounding sound you hear? It's me hammering Army at +23. Neither team was great against the spread in Week 1; in fact, they both were amongst the worst performers as heavy favorites. But if you're going to give me a 20-plus line against a triple option -- nay, good triple option -- team, I'm going to take it.
Army's key to the game: You know the drill by now. The Black Knights have to play one big ol' game of keep away while holding on to the ball. That's not as easy as it sounds, especially against a stout defensive front.
Michigan's key to the game: Play cleaner on offense. The Wolverines were 5 of 13 on third downs against Middle Tennessee. They also fumbled twice including once on special teams which led to two of Middle Tennessee's three touchdowns. That's how you keep the other team hanging around.
Pick: Look, Michigan is clearly better, but this could get interesting if Army keeps it within single digits in the second half. The Wolverines should have enough beef to grind this one out, though. ATS: Army, SU: Michigan
West Virginia at Missouri
When: Saturday, noon ET | Where: Columbia, Missouri | Line: Missouri -14
Why it's listed: If there's one SEC team that may not recover from its opening week loss, it's Missouri. Neither team is very good here, but West Virginia played the more disciplined game in Week 1. If Mizzou is still shell-shocked from losing at Wyoming, a noon kickoff against a team that has some confidence in itself might make for a slow start.
West Virginia's key to the game: This is not Dana Holgorsen's 'Eers. They're not a big-play offense, but finding even a little more running room for this stable of backs could go a long way in slowing the game down to their preferred pace. Averaging 1.4 yards per rush again isn't going to get it done.
Missouri's key to the game: The Tigers can't beat themselves. That's not to say Wyoming didn't earn its "W," but three turnovers is a surefire way to lose most games. Otherwise, there are some matchup problems in the receiving game that'll benefit this team.
Pick: The Mountaineers are well-coached -- Neal Brown made good second-half adjustments vs. James Madison -- but this is still a rebuilding group. The first road game of the year is probably too much for them to win, but their defense gives the Tigers a legitimate scare. ATS: West Virginia, SU: Missouri
No. 6 LSU at No. 9 Texas
When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET | Where: Austin, Texas | Moneyline: Texas +182
Why it's listed: Even casual bettors know Longhorns coach Tom Herman is aces as a dog: 13-2-1 against the spread (8-2-1 at Texas) with 10 outright wins. He's also 2-0 against the SEC at Texas. It's not the largest payout for a moneyline, but if you want to earn an extra 75-80 cents on the dollar for an outright pick, the math says Herman is a solid bet.
Texas' key to the game: The Longhorns offensive line holds the key to everything. LSU's defense is fast and aggressive. Texas is also down to about 1.5 running backs. Life for the Horns is either going to be OK or hellish based on the blocking up front by this new-look group.
LSU's key to the game: Was Joe Burrow's five passing touchdowns against Georgia Southern a product of talent disparity or a sign of real, long-promised changes to the offense? Either way, he was doing it at 10.3 yards per attempt with only four incompletions. Texas' pass defense was fine against Louisiana Tech but could be more susceptible with some questions remaining in the defensive backfield.
Pick: Texas +182
Miami at North Carolina
When: Saturday, 8 p.m. ET | Where: Chapel Hill, North Carolina | Moneyline: North Carolina + 170
Why it's listed: The opening moneyline was +200 or more in some books, so it had a nice potential payout if you took it right away. It's down to about +170 for the Heels now, but that might change again before Saturday's kickoff. Coming off of the big win against South Carolina, Mack Brown's team might have something cooking.
North Carolina's key to the game: Freshman quarterback Sam Howell is a little uneven, but goodness was he fun to watch against the Gamecocks. Miami's defense poses a bigger threat, but there's no denying the kid's arm talent and moxie.
Miami's key to the game: Block somebody. This was a big issue against Florida in Week 0. Freshman quarterback Jarren Williams definitely stepped up and delivered when he had some time, though. His future looks bright, he just needs a good enough pocket to see it.
Pick: North Carolina +170
Cal at No. 14 Washington
When: Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET | Where: Seattle, Washington | Line: Washington -14
Why it's listed: You may recall that Cal completely bewildered Washington a season ago in a 12-10 victory. Well, Golden Bears linebacker Evan Weaver, an All-American candidate, is back. The Huskies looked great against Eastern Washington in Week 1, but this a much stiffer defense.
Cal's key to the game: It has to generate some offense. The Bears were pretty putrid on third down a week ago against UC-Davis, and I doubt they can win another 12-10-like game vs. the Huskies this time around. Good news is running back Christopher Brown Jr. is the type of dude who can get stronger as the game goes on.
Washington's key to the game: How do the pass-catchers fare? Wide receivers like Aaron Fuller and Andre Baccellia have speed but lack ideal size against big, physical corners. Tight end Hunter Bryant may need to have a huge day. But, again, Cal's pass defense is solid across the board.
Pick: Jacob Eason gives Washington something his predecessor, Jake Browning, did not: a reliable deep ball. A few big plays to stretch the field might be the difference here. But Cal is a tough out. ATS: Cal, SU: Washington
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