NCAA Football: Florida State at Louisiana State

The Six Pack got off to an excellent start to the season, going 3-1 in Week 0. Of course, as is so often the case when I only get one game wrong, it was my Lock of the Week that fell short.

It's hard to be upset about a 3-1 start, but there are a lot of games left to play and we have a much larger slate to dive into this week. Five straight days of games are coming our way, and like last week, we don't know an awful lot about any of these teams yet. Hopefully, we'll learn much more about them as we win our bets.

The two Games of the Week feature a top-10 battle in prime time on Sunday, as well as a regional rivalry renewed on Saturday night. Elsewhere on the board, there are picks to be found with a Big Ten season opener and a trio of intriguing nonconference games. After last week's solid start, it's time to get back to Trusting the Process and make some Week 1 picks.  

Odds via SportsLine consensus

Games of the Week

No. 5 LSU vs. No. 8 Florida State (Sunday): You know, I could swear we just played this game to start last season, too. Oh, right, we did! Well, no complaints from me on getting an encore. The season opener between these two in New Orleans in 2022 was one of the best games of the whole season. For those who don't remember, Florida State edged LSU 24-23 when it blocked an extra point that would've tied the game late. I don't know if this year's game will have as much insanity baked into it, but I expect it to be close again.

I also expect LSU will be the team to come out on top. To be clear, I'm high on both of these teams and believe they'll compete for their conference titles and the College Football Playoff berths that could come with them. However, Florida State was active in the portal during the offseason, and I always worry a little more about teams working with a lot of new faces. Meanwhile, LSU has a bit more roster consistency from last year. While I have concerns about the Tigers secondary, it matches up well with Florida State everywhere else. The Bayou Bengals get their revenge. Pick: LSU -2.5 (-111)

No. 21 North Carolina vs. South Carolina: Two Carolinas enter Bank of America Stadium, but only one will leave. Well, OK, both will leave, but only one will be happy, and that team will be ... South Carolina. It's easy to forget the Tar Heels finished last season with four straight losses, three of which were at home and the fourth being their bowl game. While the Tar Heels still have quarterback Drake Maye, offensive coordinator Phil Longo left for Wisconsin. Meanwhile, the man who led a defense that allowed more than 30 points per game last year, Gene Chizik, returns.

Frankly, I'm not as high on the Tar Heels as most this season. I just don't trust teams with terrible defenses to cover as favorites. While South Carolina has flaws -- it turned the ball over 27 times last year -- in my estimation, it's on equal footing with North Carolina, so I like its chances of pulling off the win here. Also, the Gamecocks have won seven of the last nine meetings in this rivalry, including a 17-point win when they met in 2021. Pick: South Carolina +2.5 (-112)

Lock of the Week

Texas Tech at Wyoming: This line is short! I say this as somebody who isn't as high on Texas Tech coming into the season as a lot of others. The Red Raiders are seen as a possible 2023 answer to TCU in the Big 12, but while there's a lot to like about this team, that feels like a stretch to me. It's almost as much of a stretch as thinking Wyoming will be able to hang within two touchdowns of the Red Raiders.

Early-season power ratings are hardly etched in stone, but I have Texas Tech closer to a three-touchdown favorite, even on the road. Wyoming went 7-5 last year, but it lost its final three games and went 1-3 in nonconference games against FBS competition. I don't see how Wyoming keeps up with Tech on the scoreboard. Pick: Texas Tech -14 (-110)

Under of the Week

Northwestern at Rutgers (Sunday): Are we even sure both of these teams reach double digits? The implied score here, according to the odds, is 23-16.5 Rutgers, and that feels like we're asking a lot of both teams. How many times did Rutgers score 20 points or more last year? Four times, and one of those was against Wagner. The most it scored in any other game was 24 points (vs. Indiana). Northwestern eclipsed 20 points four times last season, too, but the Wildcats couldn't even crack 10 points in any of their last four games.

Basically, we're asking these teams to be better than they were last year if we hit this over. I suppose that's possible, but it doesn't seem likely. The quarterback situation at Rutgers is a mess until proven otherwise and everything at Northwestern is a mess. This game might be over in 90 minutes with the new clock rules. Pick: Under 39.5 (-110)

Big Dog of the Week

UMass at Auburn: One thing you want to avoid early in the season is overreacting to small sample sizes. I assure you, this is not an overreaction. Yes, I was surprised to see UMass play so well against New Mexico State -- remember, the Aggies were my Lock of the Week -- but I don't think it was a total fluke. Sure, the Minutemen can't rely on having a +21 points-off-turnover margin week in and week out, but what stood out last week was how much more athletic they looked on both sides of the ball.

Don't get me wrong, I wasn't so impressed that I believe UMass has a shot of pulling off an upset here. It doesn't. However, it could make this game a lot more uncomfortable than Auburn fans were anticipating it would be this time last week. Plus, did you know that UMass is 8-2 ATS against SEC teams? The Tigers have a road trip to Cal looming next week, so there's a decent shot Hugh Freeze will call off the dogs in his Auburn debut should his team build a comfortable lead. Pick: UMass +35 (-110)

Wolfpack of the Week

NC State at UConn (Thursday): While I typically celebrate perennial doormats having successful seasons out of nowhere, there are some truths about UConn's 6-7 finish last year that must be acknowledged. There was a fair bit of luck involved! UConn finished with six wins, but using postgame win expectancy, the Huskies were only expected to win 4.8 games. So while there's a lot of experience returning, it's for a team that wasn't as good as its record suggests.

This year, UConn opens the season at home against an overlooked NC State team. I know the Wolfpack have a new offensive coordinator (Robert Anae) and a new quarterback (Brennan Armstrong), but I also know what happened the last time those two paired up at Virginia in 2021: Armstrong threw for 4,449 yards and 31 touchdowns as the Cavaliers scored 34.6 points per game. Combine that potential with a salty NC State defense, and I suspect this one could get lopsided quickly. Pick: NC State -14 (-110)

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Games of the Week




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Which college football picks can you make with confidence in Week 1? Visit SportsLine to see which teams will win and cover the spread -- all from a proven computer model that has returned almost $2,500 in profit over the past seven-plus seasons -- and find out.