After a tumultuous opening week of the college football season, one in which seven of the Associated Press’ preseason Top 25-ranked teams and two of the top five fell to upset-minded underdogs, Week 2 is set to further separate the contenders from the pretenders.
When it comes to contenders, no team in the nation deserves that title more than top-ranked Alabama. After handily defeating the previously 20th-ranked USC Trojans, in a 52-6 neutral site demolition, the Crimson Tide look to be well on their way to a defense of last year’s national championship.
Alabama plays its first game at Bryant-Denny Stadium, and Nick Saban’s finely tuned machine will look to get the home fans in a frenzy against Western Kentucky. The Hilltoppers also blew out their Week 1 opponent in a 46-14 rollover of Rice, but facing Alabama is a different story altogether.
The linemakers at the Bovada sportsbook agree, and they’ve pegged Western Kentucky as 30-point underdogs ahead of Saturday’s tilt in Tuscaloosa.
While Week 2 of the college football campaign is typically reserved for “cupcake” contests, pitting powerhouses against representatives of non-Power Five conferences, the Saturday slate does feature a few close matchups between evenly matched opponents.
In a clash of unranked SEC squads, South Carolina (1-0) takes on Mississippi State (0-1) with the Bulldogs desperate to avoid the dreaded two-loss tumble to start their season. Despite a disappointing opening week loss to the University of Southern Alabama, Mississippi State is favored by 7 points according to Bovada.
Pittsburgh breaks in Heinz Field a week before the Steelers do the honors, facing Penn State in a heated intrastate rivalry game. Both the Panthers and the Nittany Lions notched victories last week, but Bovada gives a 5-point edge to the home team here.
Another intense intrastate battle takes place in Utah, as the Utes host the Cougars of Brigham Young University. Once again, both teams come in boasting 1-0 records, and once again Bovada leans towards the home team with Utah installed as 3.5-point favorites.
One of the more interesting games on the schedule pits the 17th-ranked Tennessee Volunteers against the unranked Virginia Tech Hokies. The game will be played at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee – marking the first time football has been played at the famous racetrack in its 56-year history. In another matchup of 1-0 teams, Bovada tabs the “home” team as 11.5-point favorites.
As for the aforementioned preseason Top Five teams to lose last week, both Oklahoma (14th) and LSU (21st), which entered the year ranked 3rd and 5th respectively, hope to avenge surprising opening week upsets.
After falling to the Houston Cougars in a 33-22 stunner, the Sooners face a much easier test in their contest with Louisiana Monroe. The game will be played in Norman, and despite coming in at 1-0, the Warhawks are getting the benefit of 46.5 points according to Bovada’s most current line.
For LSU, the Tigers’ narrow 16-14 defeat at the hands of the 10th-ranked Wisconsin Badgers puts them in a big hole within the highly competitive SEC West. With overmatched Jacksonville State next up, LSU should have no trouble getting back in the win column in a game that isn’t currently offered on Bovada due to the enormously large likely spread.