On the second Saturday of the college football season the slate of games can best be described as lackluster, with most established programs penciling in and punishing overmatched squads from small schools.
Last week saw the Associated Press’ (AP) top three teams in the country – Alabama (1st), Florida State (2nd), and Ohio State (3rd) – destroy doormats Western Kentucky, Charleston Southern, and Tulsa by a combined score of 138-21.
Of course, that just means the conference competition cranks up in Week 3, and this Saturday will see no shortage of elite teams taking one another on with national title aspirations on the line.
Top-ranked Alabama brings their 2-0 record to Oxford for an SEC conference clash with Ole Miss (19th). The Crimson Tide (-10) opened as double-digit road favorites at online sportsbook Bovada.
Despite putting up 38 points in last week’s rout of Western Kentucky, Alabama head coach Nick Saban admitted to giving offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin an “ass-chewing” on the sidelines. So even considering the Rebels’ traditionally stout defense, bookmakers clearly expect the Crimson Tide to light up the scoreboard in an effort to appease their notoriously demanding leader.
And in light of Ole Miss surrendering 32 second-half points in an opening-week loss to Florida State, an offensive explosion by Alabama wouldn’t be all that surprising.
Second-ranked Florida State faces their new ACC rivals in Louisville (10th), with both teams sporting 2-0 records. Despite playing on the road, the Seminoles – who opened the season with that 45-34 comeback victory over Ole Miss (19th) – are pegged as 3-point favorites by Bovada.
In their third season of ACC play, the Cardinals are looking to finish better than their Atlantic Division rival from Tallahassee for the first time – and a win on Saturday marks the first stepping stone toward that goal.
Another battle of AP-ranked Top-15 teams pits the third-ranked Buckeyes against the Oklahoma Sooners (14th). Once again the road team will be favored, as Ohio State and its 2-0 record have been installed as 2-point favorites by Bovada.
Oklahoma dropped a stunner to the upstart Houston Cougars to open the year, but Bob Stoops’ boys rebounded last week with a 59-17 walkover of Louisiana-Monroe. Urban Meyer, meanwhile, has the Buckeyes running on all cylinders, outscoring opponents 125-13 so far this season.
Both teams have aspirations of reaching the four-team College Football Playoff this season – after Oklahoma earned the 4-seed last year, and Ohio State essentially “bubbled” with a 12-1 record and the only loss coming to 3-seed Michigan State.
A few other games of note featuring ranked teams include sixth-ranked Houston (-7.5) at Cincinnati, with both teams holding 2-0 records; 12th-ranked Michigan State at 18th-ranked Notre Dame (-7.5) in a battle of historical powerhouses; 16th-ranked Georgia (-7) at Missouri in an SEC East showdown; and USC at seventh-ranked Stanford (-8.5) in an intrastate Pac-12 matchup.
The Cardinal opened as 6.5-point favorites over the Trojans in the latter contest, but the line has already been bet upward by two full points – signaling that an inordinate amount of bettors are backing Stanford this weekend.