College Football Week 2 Best Bets: Predictions for NC State vs Notre Dame, Texas vs Alabama, & More

Week 2 of the college football season has arrived, and our crew is continuing to provide you with our favorite wagers on the board. In this article, you can find our team’s week 2 college football best bets. Check out our YouTube channel for further discussion of these games and more. With a loaded card full of action on Saturday, let’s get to work on finding some winners.

Jacob Wayne’s Record: 3-5 (-1.9 units)
Will Schwartz’s Record: 3-2 (+0.8 units)
Kody Malstrom’s Record: 1-2 (-1.2 units)

Jacob Wayne’s Best Bets

Find best bets from Jacob Wayne, lead NFL and college football writer at Lineups, for Week 2 of the college football season below.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish at NC State Wolfpack

I successfully faded NC State last week as a 14.5-point road favorite against UConn, but I’m not lower on the team as a result of that game. I expected them to keep things close to the vest on offense as they looked ahead to this game against Notre Dame.

The NC State defense was stout – outside of a 71-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, they surrendered just 202 total yards and 3.8 yards per play. Of course, things get much more difficult this week against Notre Dame, but there’s familiarity here for the defense.

While new Notre Dame quarterback Sam Hartman was at Wake Forest, he faced Tony Gibson’s defense three times and struggled. Most recently, he threw three interceptions and took four sacks in a road loss last season.

I had concerns about Notre Dame’s lack of proven wide receiver talent heading into the season, and I don’t believe those questions are answered despite blowout wins over an FCS team and a Navy team that looked lost under new head coach Brian Newberry.

The Wolfpack have a rest edge in this game as they haven’t played since last Thursday, and that gives quarterback Brennan Armstrong and offensive coordinator Robert Anae plenty of time to draw up a game plan for this Notre Dame defense.

When the OC-QB duo were last together at Virginia in 2021, Armstrong had 31 touchdowns to ten interceptions and a 105.1 passer rating. His receivers were better in Charlottesville than they are now, but I trust coaching to win out.

NC State arguably has the coaching edge at both coordinator spots while head coach Dave Doeren has more experience than Marcus Freeman. The Notre Dame hype is justifiably growing given what we’ve seen so far, but I expect NC State to give them a real challenge here.

Best Bet: NC State +7.5 (play to +7)

Oregon Ducks at Texas Tech Red Raiders

Texas Tech was a preseason darling by many to win the Big 12, but I didn’t join the hype train as I felt Texas was still a value at their number. However, I had intentions to bet Texas Tech in underdog spots throughout the year, and this certainly qualifies.

The Red Raiders suffered a tough loss at Wyoming last week, but Laramie is not an easy place to play with the elevation, and they likely overlooked that opponent as they prepped for Oregon. Even still, the Raiders had a postgame win expectancy of 83% per ESPN’s Bill Connelly.

Meanwhile, Oregon beat Portland State 81-7 and was up 50-7 at halftime. No, that’s not a typo, but I do think it’s fair to say plenty of Power Five teams would have given that Portland State team a similar beatdown. It didn’t change how I feel about the Ducks this season.

I had concerns about the offense regressing after offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham became the new head coach at Arizona State, especially with questions about a reshuffled offensive line after the Ducks lost their top five linemen in snaps from last season.

Questions also remain for me about Dan Lanning’s defense as they ranked 123rd in third down conversion rate allowed last season. That won’t be helped by the loss of Christian Gonzalez, the team’s best coverage player and an NFL first-round pick.

Tyler Shough, a former Oregon quarterback, is expected to make big strides in his second year in the Zack Kittley offense that set the college football world on fire when he coached Bailey Zappe to nearly 6,000 passing yards at Western Kentucky in 2021.

Texas Tech’s Joey McGuire, is a great coach to back ATS as he goes for it on fourth down more than anyone else. The Red Raiders led the FBS with 52 fourth-down attempts last season and converted 33 of them, resulting in a swing of over a touchdown per game according to ESPN’s Bill Connelly.

I was lucky enough to grab a +7 while they were briefly available in the market, but I’d still play this down to +6. I was prepared to play the Raiders +3.5 on the look-ahead line, so I’m thrilled to get the extra value in this line. I won’t be shocked if Shough exacts some revenge on his former team and leads Texas Tech to an outright win.

Best Bet: Texas Tech +7 (play to +6)

Texas Longhorns at Alabama Crimson Tide

I’ve had this spot circled all offseason as a Texas play, and I didn’t see anything in Week 1 that would change my mind. The public discourse around Jalen Milroe is surprising to me given what we saw from him last season – he had a putrid 30.7 PFF passing grade and eight turnover-worthy plays on just 52 attempts.

Milroe looked great in Week 1 with three touchdowns and a 72.2% completion rate, but he was supposed to. Middle Tennessee allowed him to make a number of one-read throws and work with a simplified offense overall. Alabama’s run-blocking was also surprisingly not elite in that game – they generated just 1.9 yards before contact per attempt, which would have ranked 54th out of 69 qualified Power Five teams last season.

Texas’s defense is poised for another strong season after an enormous jump last year, going from the 106th-ranked defense in SP+ to 15th in just one year. The defense should only get better with high returning production marks, more blue-chip recruits in the mix, and the addition of safety Jalen Catalon in the transfer portal.

The Longhorns offense is led by a refocused, de-mulleted Quinn Ewers who was torching the Alabama defense in their matchup last year before being forced out with an injury. Ewers had an inconsistent freshman season overall, but he was dealing with injuries and should be much improved.

With former Georgia receiver AD Mitchell joining a healthy Xavier Worthy, this receiving corps should be outstanding. That creates problems for an Alabama secondary that lost three starters to the NFL and is dealing with injuries to key starters Malachi Moore and Jaylen Key. This is a perfect spot for Ewers to prove he can hit the deep ball.

This Alabama team was Nick Saban’s weakest in years last season, but future NFL first overall pick Bryce Young was able to help paper over many of the roster deficiencies. Now that he’s not around anymore, Alabama is vulnerable, and Texas is poised to give them all they can handle this week. I’d consider adding some Texas ML in addition to the spread.

Best Bet: Texas +7.5 (play to +7)

Auburn Tigers at California Golden Bears

I watched a lot of the Cal vs. North Texas game last week as I had a North Texas +8 ticket. The game closed at +5, and while my CLV didn’t come close to mattering in my losing bet, I kept watching as I was enamored by the product Cal was putting on the field.

The Golden Bears’ new offensive coordinator Jake Spavital had everything working for his new team. Cal’s run game was dominant as they totaled 357 yards and six touchdowns on a 6.4 YPC clip. Jaydn Ott led the way with 20 carries for 188 yards (9.4 YPC) and two touchdowns.

The competition level gets much stiffer this week, and I certainly wouldn’t expect Cal to put up 58 points on the Auburn defense. However, they’re well equipped to attack a highly suspect Tigers run defense.

Auburn allowed the fourth-most average yards before contact in the Power Five when facing other P5 teams last season, and they ranked outside the top 100 in both run defense EPA and success rate.

There were warning signs of that bad run defense continuing in Week 1 as the Tigers allowed UMass to run for 72 yards on an 89-yard scoring drive on their first possession. UMass had to go away from the run as they found themselves down by several scores, but the Minutemen averaged nearly 7 YPC before backups entered the game.

Cal’s defense looked lights out last week as they held North Texas without a single first down in the second half. Auburn’s offense hasn’t had much time to come together as quarterback Payton Thorne only transferred over in May. There were miscommunications and miscues on Saturday that caused frustration from head coach Hugh Freeze.

Head coach Justin Wilcox has an elite 26-10 ATS record (72.2%) as an underdog at Cal. I believe he makes that 27-10.

Best Bet: Cal +7 (play to +6)

Oklahoma State Cowboys at Arizona State Sun Devils

Both Oklahoma State and Arizona State had unconvincing wins over FCS teams they should have beaten by a lot more than they did, but context is needed for Arizona State’s game as it was delayed by over two hours due to a huge dust storm. The Sun Devils were battling the elements as much as they were their opponent.

It wasn’t a perfect debut for Arizona State’s true freshman quarterback Jaden Rashada, but he had two big-time throws per PFF including a 47-yard touchdown strike on 4th and 8 in the second quarter.

Rashada has the opportunity to continue to build on that debut against an Oklahoma State defense that allowed Central Arkansas multiple long touchdown drives last week. The Pokes are working through growing pains with new defensive coordinator Bryan Nardo, who comes over from DII Gannon University.

Oklahoma State’s quarterback situation is much less promising than Arizona State’s. All three of Garret Rangel, Alan Bowman, and Gunnar Gundy saw action last week, and none were impressive. Bowman played the most snaps and finished with a putrid QBR of 19.3.

I had some concerns about Arizona State’s ability to replace some of the havoc-minded players they lost over the offseason, but B.J. Green II looks like a potential star talent. The former walk-on linebacker bulked up to 270 lbs and is now playing three-tech. He came through with four pressures and two quarterback hits last week.

Arizona State brought in 31 total transfers over the offseason, the second-most in the country, to help Kenny Dillingham in his first year as head coach. We saw Colorado and Texas State ride big transfer numbers to big upsets in Week 1, and I like Arizona State to pull off an outright upset on the back of their transfers here in Week 2.

Best Bet: Arizona State +3.5 (play to +3)

Kody Malstrom’s Best Bets

Find best bets from Lineups college football and NFL analyst Kody Malstrom below.

Texas A&M Aggies at Miami Hurricanes

Revenge is on the Hurricanes minds after losing to the Aggies last year 9-17. Finishing out the rest of the year in underwhelming fashion, the Hurricanes shaked up their coaching staff by letting go of Josh Gattis and brought in Shannon Dawson.

Under Dawson, the Hurricanes offense put an added emphasis on efficiency and flashed that in their season opener against the Miami Redhawks. Quarterback Tyler Van Dyke’s stat line exuded the new offensive identity, finishing the game throwing for 201 yards and one touchdown while completing 17 of 22 passes.

The issue in this new look offense is that it limits explosiveness and allows opposing secondaries to creep up in an effort to throw more coverage across the middle and give them a head start at plugging gaps against the run.

The Aggies defense is more than capable of creeping up while simultaneously not allowing anyone behind them as they excel at Def Pass Explosiveness. This will stall out the Hurricanes drives down the field, resulting in them punting or attempting field goals within range. Both outcomes greatly benefit our under ticket.

As for the Aggies offense, they are going through an identity change as well as they brought in new OC Bobby Petrino. Under their new identity, the Aggies will look to capitalize on explosiveness and aggression as they routinely scheme up ways to free up their playmakers in the open field.

What’s intriguing is that his offenses thrive with a dual threat quarterback, now having to find that same success with pocket passer Conner Weigman.

With Weigman under center, the Aggies will need to rely more on the run in order to open up the pass. This allows the Miami defense to stack the box throughout the contest, slowing down the Aggies ground game.

With both units emphasizing the run to potentially limited success, the under is in play at no lower than 49. Especially with the new clock rules as we get the added benefit of a running clock until the final two minutes of both halves.

Best Bet: Under 51.5 (play to 49)

Will Schwartz’s Best Bets

Find best bet from Lineups’ college football and NFL analyst Will Schwartz for Week 2 of the college football season below.

Stanford Cardinal at USC Trojans

If there’s one constant in the last decade-plus of Pac-12 football, it’s highly-touted USC teams underestimating overmatched Stanford teams, and paying the price. That’s not to say that the Cardinal will come out and pull off an iconic road upset as an unranked squad, as they did in 2007, 2009, 2015 and 2021. The Trojans were a top-10 squad in each of those instances except for 2021, when they were #14.

I’m not suggesting that Stanford will win outright; this is a worse team than any of the aforementioned ones except perhaps 2007. But the potential exists for something somewhat similar to happen this year, as USC has seemed to treat the first few games of the campaign as an extended scrimmage, surrendering 28 points to San Jose State and 14 to Nevada.

USC’s offense is as good as any in the country with superstar Heisman winner Caleb Williams at the helm, but the defense continues to be a real problem. Specifically, they are going to have issues covering big Stanford tight end Benjamin Yurosek, who had a big season opener with a real “men against boys” performance in which he picked up 138 yards on nine catches.

This number has already come down from 31 or 30.5, and has made it down to 29 on some platforms, so it would have been better to get involved a bit earlier. Still, since no particularly significant football numbers have been crossed, this is still an excellent bet, as you’re just betting on Stanford to keep it within four scores.

Best Bet: Stanford +29.5 (play to 28.5)

UCLA Bruins at San Diego State Aztecs

In the Pac-12’s final season, the conference’s members are really putting on a show, as none has lost a game yet. The 13 wins are the most wins for a single conference without a single loss since at least 1980, setting up a seriously entertaining swan song season. So, we’re going to take this opportunity to back the Pac and invest in UCLA to thoroughly defeat a tremendously overrated San Diego State team.

This number was previously 13.5, which is of course a much better spot to bet for a favorite cover, but it really shouldn’t matter; San Diego State doesn’t have any business playing on the same field as UCLA this season. The Aztecs are 2-0 but the wins were one-score home wins against an Ohio team missing star quarterback Kurtis Rourke for most of the game, and FCS Idaho State, who went 1-10 last season.

UCLA picked up a pretty impressive week one win over Coastal Carolina, led by Grayson McCall, one of the best statistical passers in NCAA history; he owns the best season of all time by passer rating, and is third on the career list, first outside of the University of Alabama. One thing he did not own until this season, through three years at the helm, was a multi-interception game; in fact his career-worst season interception total is just three. But UCLA picked him off twice, quite the impressive feat.

The Bruins also figured out their own QB situation; this week they won’t waste several drives with Ethan Garbers under center, Dante Moore will be the guy from the first snap after he was fantastic in his college debut. Simply put, UCLA are more ready, and SDSU isn’t nearly as tough of an opponent as Coastal Carolina, who UCLA beat by 14.

Best Bet: UCLA -14.5 (play to -16.5)

Nebraska Cornhuskers at Colorado Buffaloes

That’s right, for our last play of the day we are going to continue to back the pack, and we’re going to do it in style as we’re taking Deion Sanders’s Colorado to not just pick up the big win, but cover against Nebraska. 2.5 is obviously a very friendly spread, that half point is a huge difference-maker, but it’s not available at every book, so shop around until you see it. Play -3 if the -2.5 is gone by the time you’re placing your bets, but -3.5 makes this a lot less worth it.

While there are definitely still some questions about this Colorado team, Nebraska is probably not a squad that is going to force them to reckon with those shortcomings. For instance, QB Jeff Sims, who tossed three interceptions against Minnesota, will not be testing the Colorado secondary, which will likely fail them later on.

The Cornhuskers defense looked pretty good against Minnesota, but facing Shedeur Sanders, Dylan Edwards and Travis Hunter in Sean Lewis’s “flash fast” offense is a very different undertaking. Even against an anemic Golden Gophers attack, the Huskers folded when it mattered most, allowing a late game-tying touchdown and then the winning field goal after Minnesota had scored just three points across more than 57 minutes of play.

Folsom field is one of the better home field advantages in the sport, sitting over a mile above sea level, and the stands will be absolutely packed for the first home game of the Coach Prime era. Similarly to the UCLA game, we’re going to use last week as a measuring stick; there is absolutely no universe where beating Nebraska at home is a taller task than doing what Colorado just did on the road at TCU.

Best Bet: Colorado -2.5 (play to -3)

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I've been a huge sports fan for as long as I can remember and I've always loved writing. In 2020, I joined the Lineups team, and I've been producing written and video content on football and basketball ever since. In May 2021, I graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in sport management. My goal is to tell enthralling stories and provide meaningful insight on the sports I write about while helping you cash some bets along the way.

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