Welcome to another year of Picks Against the Spread. This is a weekly tradition, trying to make money for you who are stupid enough to take gambling advice from sportswriters. If the California ballot initiative passes in November, we’ll be able to join you all in time for Week 10.
Note: You can legally win prizes against me and Bruce Feldman by entering The Audible’s Run Your Pool pick ’em contest.
(All point spreads are sourced from BetMGM. Click here for live odds. All kickoff times are Eastern.)
West Virginia in the pits (-7.5) Thursday 7pm ESPN
It’s great that Backyard Brawl is back. It’s also interesting that the first edition of the transfer portal era features two former USC starting quarterbacks, Kedon Slovis (Pitt) and his JT Daniels (West Virginia). It’s tough to match his reigning ACC Champion, but the down-to-earth game feels right for the occasion.
Pitt 34, West Virginia 30
Choose: West Virginia +7.5
Pennsylvania State University (-3.5) Purdue, Thursday, 8pm, Fox
How do you resist home underdogs who had a better season than the visitors? Perhaps Purdue is a step back from his 9-4 record, but QB Aidan O’Connell should be able to beat Penn State’s Shawn Clifford. The question is which team can run the ball more effectively.
Purdue 24, Pennsylvania 21
Choose: Purdue +3.5
North Carolina (-11.5) East Carolina, Saturday, Noon, ESPN
I’m a Wolfpack fanatic, but I feel safe saying this, considering the program hasn’t won an ACC title since 1979. If QB Devin Leary and their loaded defense perform as expected, they should cruise with this one. But East Carolina is decent enough to sneak up on someone.
North Carolina 28, East Carolina 16
Choose: NC state -11.5
North Carolina (-1) Appalachia, Saturday noon, ESPNU
Mountaineers QB Chase Bryce lost 56-24 to the Tar Heels in 2020, but that was when he played for Duke. Last season, he led Appalachian State to his 10-win season. He was here on the road under Mack Brown, where he went 5-11 in his games, and started QB Drake in his first season against his team at UNC, where he started well. It’s in position.
Appalachia 42, North Carolina 38
Choose: Appalachia +1
Cincinnati vs. Arkansas (-6.5), Saturday, 3:30 p.m., ESPN
I hate to go back to doubting Cincinnati so soon after their playoff run, but man. Arkansas still has outstanding QB KJ Jefferson, not to mention famous defensive coordinator Barry Odom. Picking a bearcat in Fayetteville is tough.
Arkansas 31, Cincinnati 20
Choose: Arkansas -6.5
Oregon v Georgia (-17.5), Saturday, 3:30pm, ABC
It’s Bo Nix vs. Georgia Part 4. Only this time, he wears green and white (or neon, or black, or…) instead of blue and orange. Both teams have a lot of unknowns, but Mario Cristobal has stocked Oregon with a number of big-name athletes in the trenches where it’s hard for Georgia to escape the field.
Georgia 34, Oregon 26
Choose: Oregon +17
Utah (-3) Florida, Saturday, 7pm, ESPN
First of all, kudos to Florida for finally booking a home and a home with an out-of-state school. The Gators are said to be traveling to Salt Lake next season. Billy Napier may completely reorganize the Florida roster to his liking by then, but having his veteran QB (Cam Rising) on Kyle Whittingham’s team is Not his ideal first year opener.
Utah 26, Florida 17
Choose: Utah -2.5
Notre Dame, OH (-17), Saturday, 7:30 PM, ABC
The Buckeyes offense should be unstoppable in 80% of their games, but I don’t think CJ Stroud and Co. are running wild against Marcus Freeman’s defense, which allowed 19.7 points in 2021 . Dame will not be able to make enough explosive plays on its own.
Ohio 30, Notre Dame 20
Choose: Notre Dame +17
Oregon v. Boise (-2.5), Saturday, 10:30 p.m., ESPN
Oregon State University is fast becoming an American team – part of America, staying up late watching football. Jonathan Smith’s offense is always interesting. Boise State coach Andy Avalos’ veteran defense could pose a problem for the Beavers, but legendary Lizard he just isn’t good enough to win at the stadium.
Oregon 24, Boise 20
Choose: Oregon -3
Florida vs. LSU (-3), Sunday, 7:30 PM, ABC
The only thing we learned from Duquesne’s loss in FSU’s Week 0 was that Duquesne has a football team. But all through the offseason, it felt like Mike Nobel’s offense was going to take a big step forward this season, he got some weapons and finally got his O-line that works . FSU can handle Brian Kelly’s his LSU team in transition.
Florida 34, LSU 30
Choose: Florida +4
Mandel’s Upset Special: Arizona vs. San Diego State (-6.5), Saturday, 3:30 PM (CBS)
San Diego has been in the news lately for all the wrong reasons.It’s time to show off the brand new Snapdragon Stadium on CBS. But Arizona coach Jed Fish upgraded the Wildcats’ offense with transfer QB Jaden De Lola and wide receivers Jacob Cowing and Tetairoa McMillan. They can pull off an impact.
Arizona 30, San Diego 27
Choose: Arizona +6.5
(Top photo: Rob Kinnan/USA Today)