The major conferences have all decided to play in the 2020 season and so it’s better late than never for our College Football Predictions. We’re still about a month away from being in full swing on all conference but today’s card has some juice matchups. Here are our top 10 picks for today’s card, September 26th, 2020.
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10. Texas at Texas Tech
LINE: Texas -17.5
ATS PICK: Texas
You don’t want to get too high or too low over anyone’s opening game, especially when it’s against UTEP. However, Texas was razor-sharp from the start in the 59-3 win, and Texas Tech against Houston Baptist, wasn’t.
HBU QB Bailey Zappe fired at will on the Red Raider secondary and almost pulled out a late win. Until proven otherwise, assume there are issues with the Texas Tech defense.
It would be so Texas to follow up a performance like the one against the Miners with something sluggish, and yes, things get cranked up now that it’s a Big 12 game. For now, assume Texas is just that good.
9. Vanderbilt at Texas A&M
LINE: Texas A&M -30.5
ATS PICK: Vanderbilt
Call this a Read The 2020 College Football Season Room sort of pick. So far – in general – the openers have been ragged for everyone, and Texas A&M is likely going to go Texas A&M and be deliberate and methodical.
Vanderbilt is going to have issues offensively, but the defense has experience and just enough talent to keep this from being a total wipeout. As bad as the team was last year, it only lost one game by more than 30 – Florida 56-0. This year’s version is strong enough to put up a few points.
It’ll be an easy Aggie win, but the last time A&M won an SEC game by more than 30 points was in late October of 2012 against Auburn.
8. Mississippi State at LSU
LINE: LSU -16.5
ATS PICK: Mississippi State
Just how sure are you that LSU reloaded?
This is going to be another amazing Tiger team, and it’s going to have a bit of a chip on its shoulder from all the naysayers pointing out all the lost talent, but this really is going to be a learning experience for almost the entire team.
Mississippi State is starting out a new era under Mike Leach, and it’s asking a whole lot to get the timing down of his offense right away against the defending national champs, but to harp on a theme throughout this week, teams don’t seem to be right in their opening games.
If LSU is air-tight and wins 31-3, tip your cap and go on your way, but Mississippi State isn’t that bad.
LINE: Tulane -3.5
ATS PICK: Tulane
Which team is going to be more weird?
Southern Miss didn’t show up against South Alabama, lost its head coach, and then lost at home to Louisiana Tech.
Tulane put together a fantastic game if you combine the second half of the the 27-24 win over South Alabama and the first half of the 27-24 loss to Navy. There’s no passing from Keon Howard to get excited about, but the running game has been terrific, and the pass rush should be enough to be a bother.
Also, it’s Howard against his former Southern Miss team. Combine that, with trying to get past the debacle in the second half against Navy, and the intangibles are on Tulane’s side.
LINE: Florida -13.5
ATS PICK: Florida
The last three openers against FBS teams have been rocky for Florida.
It struggled to survive a mediocre Miami team last year, it did the unthinkable and lost to Kentucky in 2018, and it got whacked around by Michigan in 2017.
This will be a better Ole Miss team in Lane Kiffin’s first season, there will be a buzz – albeit, a modified one – being at home, and there’s a chance this stays close throughout in a good, tight battle.
However, Florida has the lines, it has the secondary, and it has the style to grind it out just enough to wear down the Rebels. It’s a stretch to say these Gators might be opening-day-clunker proof, but it’s built to rely on the power game if it has to.
You’ll have to sweat this out in a big way, but 13.5 is key here. 14 or more and there’s an issue.
5. UTEP at ULM
LINE: ULM -10
ATS PICK: ULM
What has ULM shown you so far?
It got trucked by Army to start the season, and its offense didn’t show up in a 38-17 home loss to Texas State last week. It’s missing former QB Caleb Evans, the defense is still mediocre, and this should be a long year, and …
Bless your heart, Texas-El Paso, but it needed everything in the bag to get by Stephen F. Austin and Abilene Christian, and it’s not an overstatement to suggest that you and ten friends playing both ways couldn’t have done worse in the first 20 minutes against Texas.
The Miners lost 13 of their last 15 games against FBS teams by double digits, with one of the outliers a loss at New Mexico State and the other a 28-21 home loss to Charlotte.
You’re not picking ULM here. You’re picking against UTEP.
4. Georgia Tech at Syracuse
LINE: Georgia Tech -8
ATS PICK: Syracuse
You hate me, Syracuse, and I hate you even more, but we’re in this together in 2020.
The Orange should’ve covered the 24 in the 31-6 loss to North Carolina to open the season, but the offense was off all game long, and the fourth quarter was a disaster.
The Orange did cover the 21.5 last week in the 21-10 loss to Pitt, and that’s more like things are going to go.
The first two Syracuse games were on the road, and now it’s at home against a Georgia Tech team that’s better, but is still nothing fantastic. It was helped by a weird performance from Florida State in the opener, and it got its doors blown off late last week by UCF.
8 is a lot to give up here.
Syracuse can’t block anyone and it’s going to get its quarterbacks killed, but we’ve come this far. Eventually, this team is going to figure out how to score.
3. Duke at Virginia
LINE: Virginia -5.5
ATS PICK: Virginia
It’s the unknown vs. the known.
Do we know if Virginia is any good? It’s a Bronco Mendenhall coached team, so there’s a certain level of competence that’s going to be there no matter what. It’s a rebuild year, though, and it’s the first time the team is hitting the field.
We do know that Duke is bad at at college football so far.
It put up a decent fight against Notre Dame in a 27-13 loss in South Bend, and then it got drilled by Boston College 26-6 at home. Both losses might look fine a few weeks from now, but there’s a whole lot of work to do.
The offense has yet to do much of anything, the defense has been fine but not good enough to overcome the other problems, and now there’s an ugly trend that’s not changing.
Duke has scored 17 points or fewer in six of its last eight games, and hasn’t hit the 28-point mark in any of those eight, including a 48-14 loss to Virginia last season.
The line went down from Cavaliers -9 to the 5.5, but until Duke shows you something better, keep on riding.
2. Army at Cincinnati
LINE: Cincinnati -13.5
ATS PICK: Army
There’s a whole lot of Cincinnati love out there, and it’s warranted coming off an 11-win season and a spot in the American Athletic Conference Championship.
There’s no dogging the win over UCF in 2019, but the Bearcats beat a whole lot of mediocre teams, and in general, the victories were close fights.
The Birmingham Bowl blowout over Boston College had a wee bit to do with a coaching transition for the Eagles and blowing out Marshall was impressive, but five of the wins were by less than two touchdowns.
This year, it beat Austin Peay 55-20, Yippee.
Meanwhile, Army has been almost flawless so far, destroying Middle Tennessee and ULM by a combined score of 79-7. This is a major step up in competition, and the Bearcats have the defensive line to keep the Knight offense from blowing up, but 13.5 is a big number.
What has Army shown you so far to suggest that it can’t be competitive here?
Maybe Cincinnati can hit the knuckle ball and it takes over defensively, and it has the type of offense that can negate the time of possession battle, but Army is getting almost two touchdowns. Until it proves there’s a flaw in this 2020 team, it’s worth another shot.
1. Kansas at Baylor
LINE: Baylor -17.5
ATS PICK: Baylor
It’s 2020, and norms are being busted on an hourly basis, but never, ever, ever, ever, ever mess with a streak.
If the gods go against you and decide now is the time for something to end, so be it. But sometimes, those same gods are trying to hand you a gift that goes beyond all logic and reason.
There was a time when Baylor couldn’t win a conference game. It was among the most reliably miserable programs in the country, going from 1996 to 2009 without a winning season. Things quickly changed from then on, and let’s just say there were a few massive issues that came along with that.
But since Baylor starting winning, there’s been one big flip. It’s good, and Kansas really, really isn’t.
Not only has Baylor beaten Kansas over the last ten years, it’s been among the most one-sided series in all of college football.
You’re worried about 17.5 points for a team going through a personnel and coaching staff overhaul?
61-6. That was Baylor’s win over Kansas last year.
The 26-7 victory in 2018 was a relative nail-biter, and why? Kansas has failed to score ten points against Baylor and any of the last five games, and it has only scored more than 14 once – a 31-30 loss in 2011 – in any of the last ten in the series.
You want ugly? 486-115, or an average of around 49-12. That’s been Baylor vs. Kansas over the last decade.
Again, it’s 2020 so enter at your own risk, but maybe this is a sign that traditions will continue on.
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