One of these college football Week 2 games will make everyone outside the state of Iowa hide their eyes, lest you get sucked down a rabbit hole of hideous offensive football.
Another game flips that script with the nation’s No. 1 team playing another college football blueblood, where both teams’ offenses fall out of bed – and land in the end zone.
And a third game where a road underdog makes a strong case for history repeating itself.
All three present that convenient meeting of value and opportunity.
Get Cavalier Betting on Virginia
Saturday, 1 p.m. PT, ESPNU
With new head coach Tony Elliott helming new coordinators on offense, defense and special teams, the Virginia Cavaliers do look different on one front from the team that destroyed the Illinois Illini, 42-14 last season. But the architect of that win, quarterback Brennan Armstrong, is back, ready to haunt the Illini once again.
Last year, Armstrong torched Illinois for 405 yards and five touchdowns. A week after he dismissed a good FCS team in Richmond, 34-17, with 246 yards through the air, another 105 on the ground and three touchdowns, Armstrong gets an Illinois defense returning two starters in a depleted secondary.
And that’s only the start of Illinois coach Bret Bielema’s worries. The Illini wasted 199 yards (on 36 carries) from Chase Brown and Isaiah Williams’ nine-catch, 112-yard, one-TD evening by surrendering a touchdown with 23 seconds remaining. The Illini’s 23-20 defeat came with a side helping of four turnovers and eight penalties – the second consecutive week Illinois drew eight flags.
Throw in Perris Jones’ 104 yards and two touchdowns and the Cavaliers have the balance to overcome Illinois’ ball-control offense. They’re also getting anywhere from four to five points, meaning you’re getting a bonus on the Illini’s inability to stay out of their own way.
Prediction: Virginia +4 (-110) at BetRivers.
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Longhorns Will See Plenty of Red
Saturday, 9 a.m. PT, FOX
Turn the clock back 50 years and you’ve got Bear Bryant’s Alabama Crimson Tide taking on Darrell Royal’s Texas Longhorns. And the nation stops and watches. Now, you’ve got Nick Saban vs. former assistant Steve Sarkisian. Not exactly an even clash of the titans here. But the two do have something going for them:
Points. Lots of points.
Make no mistake. Alabama will score on any team put before it. Exhibit A: last week’s 55-0 bludgeoning of Utah State. The newest resident of Heisman House: quarterback Bryce Young, threw for 195 yards and ran for a career-best 100. This would be the right place to point out Alabama rang up 55 against a good Utah State team that won 11 games last year and put up 55 without scoring in the fourth quarter.
It would also be a good place to point out what awaits Ohio State Buckeyes 19-year-old quarterback transfer Quinn Ewarts after he led the Longhorns to a 52-10 beating of paycheck-grabbing UL Monroe Warhawks. Alabama’s All-American linebacker Will Anderson, who led the nation with 17.5 sacks.
All that said, Sarkisian will scheme the Longhorns to enough big plays with Ewers, underrated receiver Xavier Worthy and running back Bijan Robinson to make this entertaining from an offensive standpoint. Not entertaining enough to cover a 20-point spread, mind you, but entertaining enough to snag that over.
Prediction: Over 64.5 (-110) at Bet MGM
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Battle of Iowa Comes With PG-13 Rating
Saturday, 1 p.m. PT, Big Ten Network
Last week, the Iowa Hawkeyes set football back to the Pleistocene Era, beating South Dakota State Jackrabbits – yes, we said South Dakota State – 7-3. This display of caveman football featured two safeties a field goal, and 166 scintillating yards of offense from the Hawkeyes, who punted 10 times. The two teams combined to go 7-for-34 in third-down conversions.
Meanwhile, the Iowa State Cyclones surpassed that 166 yards on the ground alone, with 176 in its 42-10 beatdown of FCS Southeast Missouri State Redhawks. The 26 first downs were more than the Cyclones racked up in all but two games last year.
Iowa State’s bend-but-don’t-break defense has plenty in reserve against an Iowa offensive line that had a hard time creating any holes or space. And yet, Iowa – which leads the all-time battle for the Cy-Hawk Trophy, 46-22 – is 6-0 against its in-state rivals since 2015. The Hawkeyes have won as big favorites, small favorites and underdogs. They’re 4-for-6 against the spread in that time.
Yes, this is going to be grotesque. Yes, Iowa will probably figure out a way to win that comes with a PG-13 rating. No, you don’t want to bet on a team that couldn’t score a touchdown as a 10-point favorite last week.
Prediction: Under 40.5 (-110) at Bet365
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