College Football Week 2 Best Bets: Gators Keep Rolling Vs. Kentucky

Week 1 of the college football season has come and gone, and we’re ramping up towards an exciting slate of games in Week 2. The following article contains my favorite bets for college football in Week 2.

The beginning of the season always provides an excellent opportunity to learn more about the roster and coaching staff changes across the country, but we want to be careful not to overreact. You’ll notice with some of my picks that I’m attacking what I believe to be a market over-correction. Let’s get into it.

Louisville Cardinals at UCF Golden Knights

Game Info: September 9, 2022, 7:30 PM EST; Coverage: ESPN2

I was incredibly disappointed by Louisville last week as I bet them to cover the four-point spread against Syracuse and they lost by 27. Malik Cunningham threw two interceptions, the defense allowed over 200 rushing yards, and not much went right overall. However, I’m perfectly comfortable going back to the Cardinals this week.

According to College Football Data, both Louisville and Syracuse had five scoring opportunities in that game. The Orange came away with 24 points from those chances while the Cardinals came away with just seven points. Louisville still averaged 6.2 yards per play in the game, but they struggled mightily to finish drives.

Luckily for them, they face a UCF defense that ranked just 64th in defensive EPA last season. The Golden Knights struggled to contain Cunningham last year as he ran for 99 yards and two touchdowns, and they lost three starters on the defensive line, including All-AAC defensive end Big Kat Bryant.

Cunningham should also have much more success passing the ball in this matchup. I underestimated how difficult life would be for Cunningham against a very good secondary featuring future NFL draft pick Garrett Williams, but the Golden Knights don’t have nearly the same level of talent on the back end.

The Golden Knights are rolling out John Rhys Plumlee as their new starting quarterback after Dillon Gabriel transferred to Oklahoma. Plumlee played well last week, throwing for four touchdowns against South Carolina State, but this is a significant jump in competition to facing a Power Five defense.

More importantly, UCF simply doesn’t have nearly the level of rushing offense that Syracuse does. Even in a blowout scenario last week against an FCS team, UCF’s Isaiah Bowser averaged just 3.4 yards per attempt.

I know backing a team that looked as lifeless as Louisville did last week isn’t the most exciting proposition, but we’re looking for value here and I’d make this game closer to a pick ‘em. I expect this to be a fun, high-scoring, one-possession contest, and I’ll take the points.

Best Bet: Louisville +7 (bet to +4.5)

Alabama Crimson Tide at Texas Longhorns

Game Info: September 10, 2022, 12:00 PM EST; Coverage: FOX

The Texas hype is out of control to start this season, per usual. Quinn Ewers played his first game since the tail end of his 2019-20 high school season last week, and he struggled despite facing a beatable Louisiana Monroe defense. Ewers finished the game with a PFF grade of just 50.8, the fifth-lowest of all Power Five quarterbacks with 20+ dropbacks.

We weren’t going to have our questions about Texas’s defense answered after Week 1, and there are massive concerns – the Longhorns ranked 74th in the country in defensive EPA and were 103rd against the run. With Bryce Young, Jahmyr Gibbs, and Jermaine Burton coming to town, the Texas defense is in trouble.

In addition, I have no idea how the Longhorns are going to block against Will Anderson and company. Texas ranked 90th in the country in sack rate allowed last year, and while they have an elite bunch of wide receivers, it won’t matter if Ewers is under heavy fire in this game.

In the Nick Saban era, Alabama is 34-25-1 as a road favorite, covering at a 57.6% rate and by an average of 4.2 points per game. That includes a bunch of matchups against SEC teams I’d rate much more highly than this Texas squad. The Longhorns have a long way to go before they’re making a team like the Crimson Tide sweat, and I’ll be laying the points here.

Best Bet: Alabama -17 (bet to -21)

Appalachian State Mountaineers at Texas A&M Aggies

Game Info: September 10, 2022, 3:30 PM EST; Coverage: ESPN2

The game last week between App State and UNC was an early contender for the game of the year. The Mountaineers lost by just two points to their cross-state rival, but they scored 40 points in the fourth quarter. However, falling short in the fashion that they did with two late failed two-point conversions sets App State up for a letdown spot in Week 2.

The Aggies had an uneven effort last week against an FCS team, particularly as Haynes King threw two interceptions and Devon Achane averaged just 2.3 yards per carry. King is a player I have my eyes on as someone I want to consider fading in the future, but not in this matchup against an App State defense that let Drake Maye throw for 352 yards and four touchdowns without Josh Downs, his best receiver.

Chase Brice was lights out for App State last week with 361 passing yards and six touchdowns, but it came against a UNC defense that has looked terrible to start the year. Texas A&M was the fourth-ranked defense in the country last year by EPA, and they have a significant edge over an App State offense that lost its top three receivers from 2021.

Most of all, I’m targeting this game on account of the massive situational advantage for Texas A&M. App State will be running on fumes after that fourth quarter effort against UNC while the Aggies are coasting after an easy win over Sam Houston State. To make matters worse for App State, the early weather forecast shows that it will be in the mid 90s by kickoff.

It appears that the market has recognized the significant letdown spot here for App State, and the line has moved from a 16.5-point open to 19 points at many books. I’d bet this all the way to 20 points, though, and I’m expecting Texas A&M to dominate here.

Best Bet: Texas A&M -17.5 (bet to -20)

Virginia Cavaliers at Illinois Fighting Illini

Game Info: September 10, 2022, 4:00 PM EST; Coverage: ESPNU

Last week, Illinois was a classic case of a team getting overrated in the market after a win over a subpar opponent, and I fell for it. Granted, if the officials correctly called that touchdown where the receiver caught it twice they would have won, but that’s besides the point here. I was surprised by how poor the Illini defense was.

Virginia beat Illinois last year by a score of 42-14 as Brennan Armstrong took over with 405 passing yards and five touchdowns. That Illini defense ranked 38th in pass defense EPA per attempt, and they only returned two starters from the secondary. This year’s version proved to be significantly worse as they allowed Connor Bazalek to throw for 330 yards last week.

Armstrong is joined by three outstanding wide receivers in Keytaon Thompson, Dontayvion Wicks, and Billy Kemp who combined for just under 3,000 yards and 16 touchdowns last year, and the Illini will struggle to contain them, particularly without a consistent pass rush to challenge the Virginia offensive line that replaced four starters.

The Virginia defense has a ways to go before it’s competing with the big boys – they ranked 111th in the FBS in Football Outsiders’ DFEI metric – but Tommy DeVito has proven to be a middling quarterback as he’s averaged just 6.0 yards per attempt across his first two games against similarly beatable defenses.

While the Cavaliers are on the road, I believe they should be favored or at least a pick ‘em in this game, and I’m excited to have the opportunity to back Armstrong and his elite passing offense here. I’ll take every one of the points and likely sprinkle a bit on the Virginia moneyline as well.

Best Bet: Virginia +6 (bet to +4.5)

Iowa State Cyclones at Iowa Hawkeyes

Game Info: September 10, 2022, 4:00 PM EST; Coverage: BTN

Nobody wants to hear it after the Hawkeyes generated just seven points (no, not a touchdown) against an FCS team last week, but they’re being undervalued here. The sportsbooks that had lines open for future games over the summer made this closer to Iowa -13, and while I wouldn’t bet that number, this is too much of an overreaction.

Iowa State is tied for last in the FBS in TARP rating on both offense and defense. The offense lost its starting quarterback, running back, tight end, and two offensive linemen, while eight starters on defense are gone, including the team’s top four leading tacklers. Hunter Dekkers showed well in his start last week, but the jump in competition level here is immense.

Iowa still has one of the best defenses in the FBS after ranking fifth in Football Outsiders’ DFEI ratings and 12th in defensive EPA last year. Jack Campbell and Seth Benson make up one of the best linebacker tandems in the country, and the secondary features Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year Riley Moss and five-star freshman safety Xavier Nwankpa.

Iowa also features all-star punter Tory Taylor who broke the single season program record for punting yards in 2021. The Hawkeyes will consistently win the field position battle in this game thanks to their elite special teams and defense.

Betting on Spencer Petras after that clunker last week isn’t fun, but they should be due for some positive regression after scoring just three points on six opportunities past the South Dakota State 40-yard line last week. Let’s buck the public overreaction here and take Iowa to continue its six-game win streak against its cross-state rival.

Best Bet: Iowa -3.5 (bet to -4.5)

Kentucky Wildcats at Florida Gators

Game Info: September 10, 2022, 7:00 PM EST; Coverage: ESPN

Florida’s win over reigning Pac 12 champions Utah may have been the most impressive result of Week 1, and it hasn’t taken long for the entire country to buy in on Anthony Richardson. His skill set is special as he ran for over 100 yards and three touchdowns, and while he didn’t show it last week, he has a rocket arm when it comes to passing the ball.

Kentucky also got a Week 1 win despite the absences of running back Chris Rodriguez and linebacker Jordan Wright due to suspensions, but that won’t be as easy this week. Kavosiey Smoke was serviceable as the leading rusher against Miami (OH), but the Wildcats only generated 50 rushing yards on 20 carries against a MAC team.

The absence of Jordan Wright might be more important in this game against a Florida run game that gashed Utah repeatedly last week to the tune of 7.7 YPC. Wright was one of Kentucky’s best run defenders last season, and he was expected to take on an even larger role after the loss of Josh Paschal to the NFL draft.

I went into this season with significant questions about the Kentucky offensive line, and this will be a telling game on that front. The Wildcats lost three starters – Dare Rosenthal, Darian Kinnard, and Luke Fortner – to the NFL draft. Florida can throw a wave of pass-rushers at Will Levis in this game, including Brenton Cox Jr. who was the SEC’s co-Defensive Lineman of the Week.

By the time this article gets published, I would expect the Florida line to have blown through the key numbers. Don’t feel pressured to bet this game simply because of the hype around Anthony Richardson. However, if you can find a -3.5 or -4, I see value in the Gators at home.

Best Bet: Florida -3.5 (bet to -4.5)

USC Trojans at Stanford Cardinal

Game Info: September 10, 2022, 7:30 PM EST; Coverage: ABC

Get ready for a West Coast shootout this week. With two future NFL draft picks at quarterback in Caleb Williams and Tanner McKee, there should be fireworks in this game. The Lincoln Riley era got off to a strong start in Los Angeles as they beat Rice 66-14, and Williams threw for 249 yards and two touchdowns on just 23 attempts.

Surprisingly, however, it was the USC defense that generated a ton of points as they came up with a whopping three pick-sixes in the game. That won’t happen against Tanner McKee, whose incredible processing and accuracy help him make great decisions with the football. McKee threw for 308 yards and two touchdowns on just 27 attempts last week.

While the Stanford defense is weak overall, Kyu Blu Kelly is a future NFL draft pick who can make life more difficult for Jordan Addison, at the very least. The Stanford run defense will be a liability this season, but USC lacks a truly elite presence in the backfield who can take over this game.

This is a surprisingly simple game to handicap. You’re looking at two high-end quarterbacks with plenty of offensive skill talent to work with against defenses that are likely to be overmatched. The Cardinal are the side to target given USC’s lack of defensive consistency carrying over to this season, and I love the over in this game as I’m expecting a true shootout.

Best Bet: Stanford +9.5 (bet to +7.5), over 63.5 (bet to 65)

Baylor Bears at BYU Cougars

Game Info: September 10, 2022, 10:15 PM EST; Coverage: ESPN

After blowing out Albany 69-10 in Week 1, Baylor landed at #9 in the AP Poll. Meanwhile, BYU sits at #21 after a blowout of its own over South Florida. With BYU set to join the Big 12 next season, these teams could be seeing a lot more of each other in the coming years.

BYU has one of the best offensive lines in the country. Tackle Blake Freeland and guard Clark Barrington are top-ten players at their respective positions while the other starters aren’t far behind. However, that was the case last season, and Baylor still held them to 2.8 yards per carry and generated five sacks.

Since that game, BYU has lost leading rusher Tyler Allgeier, its most valuable player from last season. Meanwhile, Baylor returns two elite players in defensive tackle Siaki Ika and linebacker Dillon Doyle. Jaxon Player, a transfer from Tulsa, joins them as a versatile defensive lineman.

Baylor’s offensive line also returns several key players from a unit that ranked top-five in the Power Five in both pass-blocking and run-blocking per PFF. Tackles Connor Galvin and Khalil Keith and center Jacob Gall are elite players at their respective positions. BYU lacks a consistent pass rush to push the pocket, and that’s a problem in this game.

Blake Shapen was excellent in his first start as he was PFF’s highest-graded quarterback on throws of 10+ yards downfield. He earned the starting job over Gerry Bohanon, and Shapen has tremendous potential as a passer as this season goes on. Jaren Hall is very good in his own right, but his life will be more difficult given the matchup.

This could end up being the game of the day in college football, and I expect it to be a gritty affair between two teams who rely on their play in the trenches. Ultimately, I believe Baylor has the better overall line play, and I’m very high on Blake Shapen moving forward. I’ll take the points with the Bears and would contemplate getting in on their Moneyline as the week progresses.

Best Bet: Baylor +3.5 (bet to +3)

Mississippi State Bulldogs at Arizona Wildcats

Game Info: September 10, 2022, 11:00 PM EST; Coverage: FS1

Arizona secured one of the most impressive performances of Week 1 as they not only covered, but won outright and dominated San Diego State as they opened their new Snapdragon Stadium. Jayden de Laura was excellent with 299 passing yards and four touchdowns, three of which went to Jacob Cowing along with his eight catches for 152 yards.

However, the defense was able to take advantage of an Aztecs team that got virtually no passing production as both Braxton Burmeister and William Haskell finished with QBRs under 20.Meanwhile, Mississippi State’s Will Rogers was excellent in Week 1. He threw for 450 yards and five touchdowns in a dominant showing for the Bulldogs’ offense.

Rodgers isn’t a dynamic runner or a lethal downfield passer, but he’s very accurate and is a perfect fit for the Mike Leach offense. He also plays behind a very solid offensive line. One of my biggest questions for Arizona entering this season was their ability to generate a pass rush, and the Bulldogs will have the advantage in the trenches on both sides of the ball.

Arizona overhauled its roster in the transfer portal and it has talent, but it had the luxury of meeting a San Diego State team that is in the midst of some troubling off-field issues concerning former punter Matt Araiza. Mississippi State is a well-oiled machine at this point, and the physicality and efficiency of the Bulldogs is worlds ahead of where the Aztecs play.

If that’s not enough for you, this game is the biggest discrepancy between the consensus spread and the SP+ projection, as Bill Connelly’s model has the line set at Mississippi State -22.5. I believe the Week 1 Arizona performance is more of an aberration than a harbinger of things to come for a program that has struggled mightily in recent years, and I’m backing the SEC team to take care of business here.

Best Bet: Mississippi State -10 (bet to -13)

I've been writing about sports for Lineups since the beginning of 2020 and on my own website since 2018. In May 2021, I graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in sport management. As the United States embarks on an exciting journey towards the legalization of sports betting, I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to cover industry news, NFL and NBA odds, and more.

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