Scully's Week 2 NCAAF picks: Texas A&M is ready to roll
Week 2 of the college football season won’t feature the marquee matchups from last weekend, but that doesn’t dim my enthusiasm.
I will turn a profit with three road teams who are undervalued in Week 2.
Rutgers vs. Syracuse
Sat, September 11 2021, 6:00 PM
The Rutgers defense is trending up in Greg Schiano’s second stint in New Jersey. It forced five turnovers and had 10 tackles for a loss in a blowout win over Temple last week, and Syracuse is too one-dimensional to keep this game close.
After they led 12-6 at halftime, the Orange edged away to defeat Ohio in Week 1, but the Syracuse passing game was limited, as Tommy DeVito completed 11 of his 17 passes for 92 yards. Sean Tucker (181 rushing yards) was a bright spot for the Orange, but they won’t be able to stay with Rutgers by pounding the ball.
Schiano turned around Rutgers more than a decade ago, led the Scarlet Knights to a 12-2 season in 2006, and he has changed the culture once again.
Rutgers piled up 220 rushing yards and seven touchdowns in the opener, and the well-coached Scarlet Knights will keep things rolling in Week 2.
NCAAF pick: Rutgers -2.5
Pittsburgh vs. Tennessee
Sat, September 11 2021, 4:00 PM
I normally don’t like to lay points with middle-of-the-road ACC programs on the road in the SEC, but Tennessee is bad — all-time bad.
Kenny Pickett provides Pittsburgh with an enormous edge at quarterback, and the Pitt run defense will be too tough for lowly Tennessee.
Pittsburgh lost a couple defensive ends to the NFL Draft, but outstanding depth remains on defense. Captain Deslin Alexandre (8.5 sacks and 18 tackles for a loss in 26 games) is expected to be back, after he missed the opener, and tackle Calijah Kancey is a candidate for Defensive Player of the Year in the ACC.
This is the best group of linebackers in Pat Narduzzi’s seven-year tenure at Pitt. The seventh-ranked run defense in the nation last year should be even stingier in 2021.
Following a 5-3 season at Central Florida, Josh Heupel was named head coach at Tennessee. His hiring was met by a sigh from the rabid fan base.
Quarterback Joe Milton’s uneven performance (11 completions on 23 attempts) in Week 1 does not bode well for Tennessee’s chances. After they lost their top running backs from last year, the Volunteers logged 64 rushes, and only 24 passes, in a 38-6 win over Bowling Green.
Tennessee’s lack of balance will be exposed, and Pickett has the weapons to pick apart a young defense.
NCAAF Pick: Pittsburgh -3
No. 5 Texas A&M vs. Colorado
Sat, September 11 2021, 7:30 PM
Saturday will be a learning experience for a young Colorado team that lacks the manpower to be competitive against Texas A&M.
Colorado was the surprise of the Pac-12 in 2020, but the Buffaloes have started over, with freshman quarterback Brendon Lewis. Passing yards will be difficult to come by against Texas A&M’s talented defense.
Colorado won its opener by a deceiving, 35-7 margin over Northern Colorado, who was picked to finish last in the Big Sky Conference preseason poll. Northern Colorado let scoring opportunities slip through its fingers, Colorado’s first touchdown was set up by a controversial personal foul after an incompletion on third and 20, and the Buffaloes were fortunate Northern Colorado was so woeful.
Running back Alex Fontenot, who has made it back from a hip injury that sidelined him last year, was the lone bright spot for penalty-ridden Colorado last week, but the Buffaloes have no chance to stay within three touchdowns if they rely on the ground game again. Texas A&M is too good.
Running back Isaiah Spiller should run roughshod over a Colorado defense that allowed 5.5 yards per carry last season, and Texas A&M possesses a sterling 14-3 ATS record in non-conference games. Jimbo Fisher doesn’t mess around with cupcakes.