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Berger’s Bold Predictions for Week 2

Photo Credit: Dale Zanine/ USA TODAY Sports

Week 1 brought us the small hor-d’oeuvres of the 2018 season. Week 2 ushers in the small plate appetizers. We get a little conference play mixed in with mostly non-conference matchups. Our hunger for football gets fulfilled thoroughly this weekend as the NFL also fully kicks off on Sunday.

In keeping with transparency, I will keep track of my records throughout the season of the games I predict every week.

ATS (Against The Spread) record last week: 4-6

SU (Straight Up) record last week: 6-4

Without further ado, here’s the outlook for Week 2:

Mississippi State vs Kansas State (Noon on ESPN): Taking a page from college basketball, this SEC vs Big 12 (Challenge) game could come down to defense. MSU QB Nick Fitzgerald will get his first start of the season after serving a one game suspension last week. The Little Apple of Manhattan, KS will be rocking, but that shouldn’t phase the Bulldogs. Last week the Wildcats barely escaped their FCS opponent in South Dakota. This game may get out of hand early if KSU isn’t careful. SEC beats the Big 12 in this one. Take the Bulldogs and the points. Bulldogs 35-20.  (MSU -7.5)

UCLA vs Oklahoma (1:00 on FOX): Two classic programs whose QBs last season were first round draft picks meet in Norman for what could be a high scoring game. Oklahoma should dominate throughout, but don’t be surprised if the Bruins make this a close one…in the first half. They’ve proven in recent history that they can comeback from large deficits, but the speed and power of this Sooner squad may be too much for the Bruins in the end. Look for Boomer to win, and win big. Sooners win and cover 48-13. (OU -30.5)

Georgia vs South Carolina (3:30 on CBS): This game looms insanely large for the SEC East standings. A lot is riding on the line for both teams very early in this young season. A potential berth in the SEC Championship Game is on the line, along with plenty of other postseason implications. Columbia has always been a tricky place to play for past Georgia teams, and this year has all the potential to have history repeat itself. Look for this game to be a grind throughout and look for the Dawgs to make enough plays on offense in the passing game to wear down the Gamecocks’ defense. Take Georgia and the points. Dawgs 34-23. (UGA -9.5)

Memphis vs Navy (3:30 on CBSSN): The American Athletic Conference is pretty wide open this year, and this Western Division matchup could potentially decide the winner of the division. With completely different offenses, Memphis and Navy truly only match up comparatively on defense, where defensive line play could mean the difference between winning and losing for either squad. If Memphis’ defensive line can shut down Navy’s triple option it will be a long day for the Midshipmen. On the other hand, if Navy can put pressure on Memphis QB Brady White, then the Tigers could find themselves struggling to find offensive rhythm. If this games does come down to defense, which it will, look for Memphis to win that battle, and the game. Take the Tigers and the points, 41-27. (MEM -4.5)

Colorado vs Nebraska (3:30 on ABC): An old Big 12 rivalry renews itself with both teams not in the Big 12 anymore. Now set up as a PAC 12 vs Big Ten matchup, this game is a must-watch option for any college football aficionado. These programs may not be at the level they once were in the McIntyre and Osborne days, but a win in this game is a major stepping stone forward in building momentum through the rest of the season. Personally, I like Nebraska in a close one. The Sea of Red in Lincoln coupled with a new Scott Frost team playing its first game gives Nebraska a minor advantage going into Saturday. Colorado covers, but Nebraska wins 27-24. (NEB -4.5)

Clemson vs Texas A&M (7:00 on ESPN): What some people would view as a “trap game” may just turn into a bloodbath. Clemson’s defense may just be too good to stop this early in the year. Texas A&M will have to play a perfect game in order to beat Clemson, and for the Tigers, it doesn’t matter who starts at QB. Dabo’s defense will make enough plays and put the offense in position to win this one outright. It may be close early on, but by the end of the third quarter, this one should be wrapped up. Take the Tigers and the points, 38-17. (CLEM -13.0)

Kentucky vs Florida (7:30 on SEC Network): The SEC East will mostly be focused on the aforementioned Georgia vs South Carolina matchup, but this battle between the Wildcats and Gators could provide just as much drama, if not more. The past two meetings between these teams have been great games with epic endings. Saturday’s game could provide just the same outcome. With this game being in The Swamp, and seeing how Kentucky struggled last week with Central Michigan, I have to go with Florida. Take the Gators to win, but the Wildcats to cover. Gators 34-20. (UF -14.5)

Penn State vs Pitt (8:00 on ABC): The Battle of Pennsylvania puts two teams against each other going in opposite directions. Penn State has been on the rise since James Franklin has taken over as head coach, while Pitt has struggled to find consistency for the past five years. Penn State is clearly the better team going into this game, but Pitt has always played the Nittany Lions tough, especially at home. Penn State needed overtime to beat Appalachian State last week. This week may be just as close, but look for PSU QB Trace McSorely to lead the Lions to a close win in this primetime matchup. Take Penn State to win, but not to cover. PSU 27-23. (PSU -7.5)

Southern Cal vs Stanford (8:30 on FOX): A clash of interdivisional PAC 12 titans puts the Trojans against the Cardinal. Both teams will be tested in similar ways. USC will be tested along their defensive line as they go up against Bryce Love while the Cardinal will be tested on their defensive front 7 as they combat a veteran running back corps. Both teams have a reasonably tough PAC 12 schedule later this season, but this early matchup makes for great early season drama in what should be a low scoring shootout. Take Stanford and points in this one. Cardinal 28-20. (STAN -3.5)

Michigan State vs Arizona State (10:45 on ESPN): The Spartans take their ground and pound offense to the desert to face an Arizona State team that may just finish last in their division. New ASU head coach Herm Edwards has left ESPN to take on a new venture in life, coaching at the college level for the first time since the late 1980s. With this being his first major test of the season, the only true advantage he has in this one is the Arizona climate in early September. With temperatures most likely in the low 100s at kickoff, Michigan State will have to get acclimated days before. Honestly, if they don’t take more than 36 hours to get acclimated to the heat, this could be a close game, and given how they played against Utah State, it just might be. If, however, the Spartans do take the necessary precautions leading up to the game and fix the drastic mistakes from this past Friday, look for Sparty to steamroll the Sun Devils. I’ll take the average of the two. Sparty wins and barely covers. Michigan State 31-24. (MSU -6.5)

With the Week 2 outlook set, here’s a look at my updated Top 25 going into Saturday.

  1. Alabama
  2. Clemson
  3. Georgia
  4. Oklahoma
  5. Ohio State
  6. Auburn
  7. Notre Dame
  8. Wisconsin
  9. Stanford
  10. West Virginia
  11. Virginia Tech
  12. Washington
  13. LSU
  14. Penn State
  15. TCU
  16. Mississippi State
  17. Michigan State
  18. USC
  19. Boise State
  20. UCF
  21. Michigan
  22. South Carolina
  23. Oregon
  24. Miami
  25. Oklahoma State

Enjoy the weekend, and especially enjoy a full weekend of football as the rest of the NFL kicks off this Sunday.

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