By Brad Carroll
The college football season is finally upon us, and even though a handful of games have already been played, the true kickoff for fans begins this weekend. There are two big matchups on Thursday and another pair on Friday, all featuring at least one team in the top 10, to get us started on what should be an exciting and eventful year.
Below, our four college football experts pick against the spread the biggest games of the week, starting with the Thursday and Friday action. We also have previews and picks on the Saturday slate of games here as well as the trio of matchups on Sunday and Monday. So make sure to check back for those stories and every week for the rest of the college football season.
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Tulsa at No. 10 Oklahoma State, 7:30, FS1
The Spread: Oklahoma State -18
Brad’s Breakdown: Oklahoma State comes into the season with huge expectations and a College Football Playoff spot a possibility, especially after beating then-No. 10 Colorado in a bowl game last season, 38-8. The Cowboys’ offense should be explosive again this season, as they return most of their playmakers from a year ago. Tulsa has a high-powered offense that can score on anyone, averaging 43 points a game over its last five last season. Even in defeat over that stretch, the Golden Hurricane scored 40. But Tulsa does need a replace a host of offensive players this season. Oklahoma State starts off with a win, but Tulsa should have enough offense to cover the spread.
Brad’s Final: Oklahoma State 45, Tulsa 28 (Tulsa)
Craig’s Final: Oklahoma State 42, Tulsa 30 (Tulsa)
Glenn’s Final: Oklahoma State 42, Tulsa 20 (Oklahoma State)
Matt’s Final: Oklahoma State 38, Tulsa 10 (Oklahoma State)
No. 2 Ohio State at Indiana, 8, ESPN
The Spread: Ohio State -21
Brad’s Breakdown: This could be the biggest home game Indiana has ever played, and with a raucous crowd behind it, could result in an early lead that even stretches to halftime. But there’s no doubt Indiana is outclassed here. Ohio State is coming off a 31-0 loss to Clemson in the College Football Playoff semifinals last season, but is primed for another run at a national championship. JT Barrett returns at quarterback, which is a huge plus for the Buckeyes. The Hoosiers lost by seven the last time they played the Buckeyes in Indiana. This game won’t be that close, but keeping the game within three touchdowns is a strong possibility. And if the Buckeyes do indeed blow Indiana out of the water, it could be the start of a special season.
Brad’s Final: Ohio State 35, Indiana 17 (Indiana)
Craig’s Final: Ohio State 31, Indiana 3 (Ohio State)
Glenn’s Final: Ohio State 56, Indiana 13 (Ohio State)
Matt’s Final: Ohio State 63, Indiana 20 (Ohio State)
No. 8 Washington at Rutgers, 8, FS1
The Spread: Washington State -30.5
Brad’s Breakdown: Washington lost to Alabama, 24-7, in the College Football Playoff semifinals last season, but returns this season with a ton of high expectations for another run to the postseason tournament. The Huskies return quarterback Jake Browning, who threw for 43 touchdowns and led an offense that scored the most points in team history last season. That adds up to a scary scenario for Rutgers, which lost its last nine games last season, including getting shut out in two of its last three. Washington beat Rutgers 48-13 last season.
Brad’s Pick: Washington 56, Rutgers 14 (Washington)
Craig’s Pick: Washington 45, Rutgers 10 (Washington)
Glenn’s Pick: Washington 31, Rutgers 10 (Rutgers)
Matt’s Pick: Washington 45, Rutgers 7 (Washington)
Utah State at No. 9 Wisconsin, 9, ESPN
The Spread: Wisconsin -27.5
Brad’s Breakdown: Wisconsin will have a lot of national championship contenders to deal with in its own conference, so it needs to beat up on these type teams on the schedule. That shouldn’t be much of a problem against Utah State, which lost its last five games and eight of its last nine last season. As seems always the case, however, Wisconsin needs to find a passing game instead of always relying on a great running game and solid defense. Wisconsin should win this game big.
Brad’s Pick: Wisconsin 38, Utah State 7 (Wisconsin)
Craig’s Pick: Wisconsin 28, Utah State 7 (Utah State)
Glenn’s Pick: Wisconsin 54, Utah State 10 (Wisconsin)
Matt’s Pick: Wisconsin 49, Utah State 7 (Wisconsin)