College football picks: Big games on campus highlight week 2

FILE - In this Sept. 2, 2017,  file photo, Oklahoma tight end Mark Andrews (81) celebrates a touchdown with teammates during an NCAA college football game against UTEP, in Norman, Okla. Oklahoma and Ohio State will play for the fourth time and the first at the Horseshoe since the Sooners only visit in 1977. That game was, like this one between the second-ranked Buckeyes and fifth-ranked Sooners, a top-five matchup. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

The college football season opened with marquee matchups in NFL stadiums, giving a bowl-game feel to regular-season games.

In week two, it’s back to campus, where traditional venues make the games feel even bigger and crowds are anything but neutral.

Four games involving eight ranked teams, with each Power Five conference and Notre Dame represented, have the potential to set an early season course for the College Football Playoff race.

Oklahoma and Ohio State will play for the fourth time, and the first at the Horseshoe since the Sooners’ only visit in 1977. That game, like this one between the second-ranked Buckeyes and fifth-ranked Sooners, was a top-five matchup. Barry Switzer’s Sooners beat Woody Hayes’ Buckeyes on a last-second field goal by Uwe von Schamann, remembered simply as ”The Kick.” The two storied programs are 1-2 in the AP’s Top 100 .

For No. 15 Georgia and No. 24 Notre Dame meet in South Bend for the first time in the regular season. The only other time the Fighting Irish and Bulldogs played goes down as the greatest game in Georgia football history: Herschel Walker and the `Dawgs beat the Irish in the Sugar Bowl to win the 1980 national championship.

No. 13 Auburn and No. 3 Clemson are longtime nonconference rivals in the South. The two have played 50 times, dating back 1899. Clemson has won the last three, including last season on The Plains of Auburn. The defending national champions will try to make it four straight against Southeastern Conference Tigers in the ACC’s Death Valley.

The first pivotal Pac-12 game is a rivalry that has been dominated lately by the longtime underdog. No. 14 Stanford plays No. 6 Southern California at the Los Angeles Coliseum, looking to extend a three-game winning streak against the Trojans. The Cardinal have won seven of nine against USC, which owns a 61-32-3 lead in the series.

The picks:


No. 11 Oklahoma State (minus 28) at South Alabama

As long as the Cowboys don’t get caught wondering, ”Why are we stuck inside of Mobile on a Friday night?” they should be fine … OKLAHOMA STATE 42-20.


No. 5 Oklahoma (plus 7+) at No. 2 Ohio State

Since losing in Norman to the Buckeyes last season, the Sooners have won 11 straight, the nation’s current longest streak … OHIO STATE 35-24.

No. 13 Auburn (plus 4+) at No. 3 Clemson

Clemson won a tight defensive game last season. Expect a repeat … CLEMSON 20-16.

No. 14 Stanford (plus 6+) at No. 6 Southern California

Cardinal have been able to overpower the Trojans while turning around this rivalry. Time for USC push back … USC 31-27.

No. 15 Georgia (plus 4) at No. 24 Notre Dame

The Bulldogs’ defensive front against the Irish offensive line is the sexy matchup. But units that struggled last year – Georgia’s o-line and Notre Dame’s defensive front – will determine the winner … GEORGIA 28-24, UPSET SPECIAL.


Pittsburgh (plus 20+) at No. 4 Penn State

Losing to the Panthers probably kept the Nittany Lions out of the College Football Playoff last year … PENN STATE 45-21.

No. 23 TCU (minus 3) at Arkansas

Razorbacks won in overtime last season … TCU 31-30, OT


Boise State (plus 10+) at No. 20 Washington State

Cougars have not started a season 2-0 since 2010 … WASHINGTON STATE 33-27.

No. 17 Louisville (minus 9+) at North Carolina

Tar Heels are still trying to figure out who is playing quarterback, but this feels like a tricky trip for the Cardinals … LOUISVILLE 31-27.

No. 21 South Florida (minus 17+) at UConn

Last week, USF struggled against Stony Brook; the Huskies rallied to beat Holy Cross … USF 45-17, BEST BET.


Fresno State (plus 44) at No. 1 Alabama … ALABAMA 56-10.

Cincinnati (plus 34) at No. 8 Michigan … MICHIGAN 48-9.

FAU (plus 31+) at No. 9 Wisconsin … WISCONSIN 48-13.

Louisiana-Monroe (plus 32+) at No. 10 Florida State … FLORIDA STATE 48-3.

Charlotte (plus 36) at No. 19 Kansas State … KANSAS STATE 47-10.


Houston (minus 1) at Arizona – (at)jefe172

Stat from Michael Lev of the Arizona Daily star: Cougars All-America DT Ed Oliver had more tackles for loss (22) and passes broken up (nine) last season than all Wildcats defensive linemen combined (21.5 and seven) … HOUSTON 35-33.

Nebraska (plus 14) at Oregon – (at)bkbeban

The Huskers’ new 3-4 defense allowed 22 plays of at least 10 yards to Arkansas State last week … OREGON 38-28.

Iowa (minus 3) at Iowa State – (at)DanaBecker

Cy-Hawk Trophy game is 3-3 in last six … IOWA STATE 23-20.

Utah (minus 1+) at BYU – (at)paulcherrington

Cougars enter Holy War having lost six straight meetings and with an offense ranked 99th in the country in yards per play (4.62). Maybe BYU is just due? … BYU 20-17.

South Carolina (plus 2+) at Missouri – (at)BZSEC

Gamecocks can start the (hash)Deebo4Heisman after star receiver Deebo Samuel gets a crack at the porous Mizzou defense … SOUTH CAROLINA 38-31.

Record last week: 19-5 straight up; 9-13-1 against the spread.

Upset special 0-1.

Best bet 0-1.

Follow Ralph D. Russo at

More college football coverage: and