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UTSA at No. 22 Arizona (-31.5)
UTSA is starting from scratch after the first full class of seniors in program history, which made up most of last year's depth chart, graduated this offseason. Arizona struggled to a three-point win at UTSA in 2014 but should find the going easier in Tucson. It honestly might cover the spread by halftime.
The Pick: Arizona (-31.5)
No. 4 Baylor (-35.5) at SMU
What am I missing? Seriously…why is this spread so low? Baylor has won its past six regular-season nonconference games by 42, 64, 45, 63, 57 and 66 points, respectively. That's an average of 56.2 points per win. Is it because SMU head coach Chad Morris is a "Texas Guy," and so Art Briles won't run up the score on him? That's honestly all I can think of. But whatever. I never say no to Baylor at a discount.
The Pick: Baylor (-35.5)
No. 5 Michigan State (-18.5) at Western Michigan
Michigan State needed two defensive touchdowns to beat Western Michigan, 26-13, in Week 1 two years ago. That game was played in East Lansing against a WMU team that finished 1-11; this game will be played on the road against a WMU that just went 9-4 and returns 16 starters. Sparty has grown up since then too, but PJ Fleck's team does enough things well to put a scare in them. It also helps that Michigan State might look ahead to Oregon next weekend.
The Pick: Western Michigan (+18.5)
Louisiana-Monroe at No. 9 Georgia (-35.5)
Georgia is more than five touchdowns better than Louisiana-Monroe. Spreads like this are all about incentive. If the Bulldogs get to garbage time (which they should), backup quarterbacks Brice Ramsey and Faton Bauta have incentive to lead scoring drives—and not just scoring drives but touchdown drives—in order to pressure starting QB Greyson Lambert. That's when these scores get ugly.
The Pick: Georgia (-35.5)
UTEP at No. 18 Arkansas (-33)
I loved what Arkansas' offense did in nonconference play last season. The Razorbacks know who they are and take sadistic pleasure in running through—not around—smaller teams. They hung 438 rushing yards and 49 points on Texas Tech, and then 52 points on Northern Illinois the following week. Assuming they hit 50 against UTEP, I'll take my chances on the Miners scoring fewer than 17 points.
The Pick: Arkansas (-33)
Akron at No. 19 Oklahoma (-31)
People remember how Akron hung close at Penn State last season, which might compel them to back the underdog. I'll admit I almost fell for it too. But then I remembered how bad Penn State's offense was, and that Akron lost by 31 points at Buffalo. Oklahoma has the same backup quarterback situation as Georgia and will keep its foot on the gas during offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley's debut. That sounds like a recipe for a five-touchdown win.
The Pick: Oklahoma (-31)
Texas State at No. 10 Florida State (-30)
I ranked Florida State No. 7 on my preseason ballot, which I later learned was higher than the other 20 voters for the B/R Preseason Poll. I found that a little interesting—especially since I was so hard on the 'Noles last season—but stand by it 100 percent. With Everett Golson starting and Dalvin Cook eligible, Florida State has my favorite group of skill players in the country. I think they make a statement after a long and stressful offseason by grinding Texas State (which is not a bad football team) into powder.
The Pick: Florida State (-30)
Arkansas State at No. 8 USC (-28)
Arkansas State covered a 16-point spread at Tennessee last season, and although it failed to cover against Miami, it only lost by 21 points. USC's roster is dripping with talent, but an offense led by All-Sun Belt quarterback Fredi Knighten can stay within four touchdowns. According to Fremeau's projections, the Red Wolves stand a 60.8 percent chance of losing by fewer than 25 points. In a week in which I took so many big favorites, I'll happily play that number.
The Pick: Arkansas State (+28)