College football season is here. Here are the picks against the spread we like for Week 1. We’re high on some road (and de facto road) teams.
Kansas State (+15.5) at Stanford
With a new quarterback and a rebuilding offensive line, expect Stanford’s natural conservatism to kick in. Kansas State is healthy, has had ample time to prepare, and will work Stanford’s not very deep front seven. Both teams will be trying to work the clock and limit possessions. Stanford wins, but that’s too many points.
Western Michigan (+5) at Northwestern
It’s not clear Northwestern has an offense. The Wildcats lose three of their four best front seven playmakers on defense from 2015. Western Michigan has the proven quarterback and the better skill talent. Row the boat.
Appalachian State (+20) at Tennessee
Appalachian State has won 17 of their last 19 games. They return 17 starters and most of what was one of the best defenses (and perhaps the best red zone defense) in 2015. Win? Perhaps a stretch. Can App. State limit possessions, hold a pedestrian Tennessee offense to field goals, and keep under the spread. Bet on it. Who was the offensive coordinator for Michigan when App. State jumped them in 2007? Mike DeBord.
LSU (-10) vs. Wisconsin (Lambeau Field)
This is not your slightly older brother’s Wisconsin. Wisconsin has a new quarterback, no big play threats, and no upperclassmen on the offensive line. LSU has better talent and athleticism at every position on the field. That great defensive coordinator Wisconsin had last year who presumably has a solid grasp on Badger personnel is now coordinating LSU. Geaux Tigers.
San Jose State (+5.5) at Tulsa
Tulsa’s best F/+ win last season was…Florida Atlantic (No. 96). They have a potent up tempo passing offense and no defense. The most annoying type of team for them to play would be one with an efficient, slow pro-style offense that converts third downs, scores touchdowns in the red zone, and stays on the field and one with a really good pass defense you have to run on to beat. So…San Jose State.