Hello college football fans! Last week was my inaugural set of ATS picks and I went 3-2, which all-in-all is pretty good. The goal is to stay above 50 percent accuracy, which I did and will look to continue to do this week. One of the picks I misjudged was the UConn game by choosing Army to cover the spread. Things looked good for me early on when the Huskies trailed Army 42-0 at halftime, but as Army took out their starters and cleaned out their bench, UConn made up just enough ground to kill my prediction. One pick where I was completely on the money was the Arizona State vs. BYU game, where even though ASU was favored lightly, I predicted that BYU would win outright. Hopefully I’m able to sustain my performance this week’s relatively underwhelming slate of CFB action.
#12 Notre Dame at #18 Wisconsin (-5.5)
(Saturday at 12:00 p.m. on FOX): This matchup is one of two inter-ranked games this week and it’s tricky to really figure out these teams so far. Notre Dame started the season with a three-point win against Florida State, a team that has still yet to win. Not only is that concerning, but the Fighting Irish also barely squeaked by an underwhelming Toledo squad by three the week after. Wisconsin had the chance to win late versus now sixth ranked Penn State in a contest that is more impressive now than it seemed a few weeks ago. The Badgers’ game against Penn State just gives me more confidence that they can compete at the Top 25 level, while Notre Dame hasn’t proven much with mediocre competition.
The pick: Wisconsin
#7 Texas A&M (-5.5) vs #16 Arkansas
(Saturday at 3:30 p.m. on CBS): The other half of this week’s ranked contests comes in this one, which should be an exciting SEC debut for both teams. Texas A&M comes into this game mostly dominating their unimpressive non-conference slate instead of waiting for SEC play to prove their worth. They only beat Colorado 10-7 away in a matchup where the Aggies failed to produce much offensively. Colorado followed up this performance against unranked Minnesota, losing 30-0, and making Texas A&M’s 10-7 win look increasingly concerning. Although ranked lower, Arkansas had an inspiring win against then No. 15 Texas in Week Two by 19. Personally, the Colorado matchup is far too concerning for me to go with the Aggies in what should still be a close and exciting game.
The pick: Arkansas
#9 Clemson (-10) at NC State
(Saturday at 3:30 p.m. on ESPN): So far this season, Clemson has been incredibly underwhelming. A favorite to make the College Football Playoff in the preseason, their odds have fallen to under 30 percent, according to ESPN’s FPI. They have had trouble scoring points against any quality teams, which is obviously critical to winning. The opened the season with a neutral seven-point loss to now No. 2 Georgia, but only put up three points in the contest. They followed that up with a nice win versus FCS opponent South Carolina State, but then only beat a mediocre Georgia Tech team by six points at home. NC State has played to their expectations, killing teams they should kill and losing by two touchdowns to Mississippi State, which is not embarrassing. Clemson will likely win, but the ten-point spread is just too much with their recent inability to score.
The pick: NC State
South Florida at #15 BYU (-23)
(Saturday at 10:15 p.m. on ESPN2): Plain and simple, the spread here just does not feel like it is far enough in BYU’s favor. The Cougars are coming off consecutive ranked wins at home and are really developing some key momentum at the right time. QB Jarren Hall is putting together an excellent campaign, throwing for seven touchdowns and giving up two interceptions to this point against great competition. South Florida has only won one so far and has looked really poor. Maybe their domination of FCS Florida A&M will give them some confidence, but BYU is just way too good.
The pick: BYU
Wyoming (-29.5) at UConn
(Saturday at 3:30 p.m. on CBSSN): The spread here is really big. Wyoming is a very solid team, coming into this matchup undefeated and fresh off a 29-point win versus Ball State. The Huskies, on the other hand, were at the complete mercy of Army last week, losing 52-21 in a contest that saw Army put in their fourth-string players. This is a tricky one to pick, since UConn could get killed in the first half and then play against a long line of backups in the second half like they did versus Army. The big question here is a bit counterintuitive: will Tyler Phommachanh keep the Huskies in this one early? If yes, then they will get beaten bad down the stretch without time to get any garbage points and cover. If not, then they’ll have time to get Phommachanh a couple scores on the ground before the game finishes. I say they do the latter.
The pick: UConn
Stratton’s record so far: 3-2 (.600)