Thor Nystrom

Weekly Picks

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Game Picks: Week 2

Thursday, September 04, 2014


Each week Thor Nystrom will detail college football's top spreads of the week, with he and Josh Norris making picks for each. Both will also choose two "wild card" games.

 

Pittsburgh (-4) vs. Boston College

 

  THOR NYSTROM JOSH NORRIS
Straight Up

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Against the Spread

(Pitt -4)

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Nystrom’s analysis: The Eagles actually opened as a very slight favorite, but the sharps and public alike hammered the Panthers up to a 4-point favorite. Both Pittsburgh and BC feature strong running games (Pitt’s James Connor went off for 153 yards and four touchdowns on only 14 carries last week) and solid defenses. It appears that stud Panthers’ WR Tyler Boyd (finger) will play. The line has been bet to where it should be, so, in my opinion, which side you back depends on whether you believe in Pittsburgh quarterback Chad Voytik or not. I’ve liked what I’ve seen in brief glimpses, so I’m going to support the Panthers on the road.

 

Michigan State vs. Oregon (-13)

 

  THOR NYSTROM JOSH NORRIS
Straight Up

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Against the Spread

(Oregon -13)

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Nystrom’s analysis: Michigan State has the superior coaching staff, the superior defense, and Oregon’s offensive advantage is not as pronounced as some would have you believe. Regular Rotoworld readers know we’re high on Connor Cook (who went 12-of-13 for 285 yards and three touchdowns last week against Jacksonville State), and I think he’ll play well enough to keep the Spartans around if this game becomes a shootout. I expect the Spartans’ defense, which lost several playmakers over the offseason but remains imposing, to give Oregon’s offense a reasonable enough replication of the Stanford treatment. I’m not quite confident enough to call for the outright upset; I’ll say Oregon 31, Michigan State 28 in a thriller.

 

Virginia Tech vs. Ohio State (-12)

 

  THOR NYSTROM JOSH NORRIS
Straight Up

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Against the Spread

(Ohio State -12)

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Nystrom’s analysis: This matchup screams a low-scoring struggle. As such, a double-digit line, especially with Ohio State coming off a lackluster win against Navy and VTU’s offense looking stabilized under new QB Michael Brewer, comes across to this writer as excessive.

 

USC vs. Stanford (-2.5)

 

  THOR NYSTROM JOSH NORRIS
Straight Up

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Against the Spread

(Stanford -2.5)

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Nystrom’s analysis: USC set a new Pac-12 record by running 105 plays last week in an absolutely dominant display against Fresno State (52-13 win). The Trojans match up surprisingly well with the Cardinal, who have a decent secondary but not an ideal stable of athletes in the back four to confront USC’s new fast-break, spread attack. The outcome of this game hinges on Cody Kessler’s willingness to hang in there in the face of pressure in the first half long enough to find open receivers. If USC has a lead at halftime, Stanford’s defense will be too gassed to fend off the upset bid.

 

East Carolina vs. South Carolina (-16)

 

  THOR NYSTROM JOSH NORRIS
Straight Up

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Against the Spread

(SCar -16)

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Nystrom’s analysis: Oh boy was I wrong about South Carolina, whom I called a darkhorse National Title contender in this space last week. The Gamecocks miss Connor Shaw more than anticipated, and the defensive fortifiers called upon to replace outgoing DL stars Jadeveon Clowney and Kelcy Quarles, and starting CBs Victor Hampton and Jimmy Legree, looked downright nervous in Thursday’s massacre by Texas A&M’s hands. Not only are the ‘Cocks still nursing their wounds from that one, but they have Georgia to worry about next week. And they best not overlook a veteran ECU squad with an elite aerial attack led by QB Shane Carden and potential top-2-Day pick WR Justin Hardy, whom ECU wide receivers coach Donnie Kirkpatrick compared to Michael Crabtree over the summer. Even if USC jumps out to a commanding lead, the Pirates are a dangerous backdoor cover possibility.

 

Michigan vs. Notre Dame (-3.5)

 

  THOR NYSTROM JOSH NORRIS
Straight Up

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Against the Spread

(ND -3.5)

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Nystrom’s analysis: This is a pure matchup play for me. While the Irish are a bit overpriced with five academic suspensions and a few key injuries, Vegas’ opinion on the Wolverines isn’t quite rosy enough to meet present reality. The Devin Gardner-to-Devin Funchess combination, nurtured by offensive savior Doug Nussmeier, figures to be one of the nation’s best this year, and it should have a big day against a ND secondary missing three starters. Greg Mattison and Mark Smith will scheme Everett Golson into a phone booth in the pocket, leaving the Irish’s running game (probably targeting a so-so interior UM defensive line) responsible for churning out yards in order to keep Gardner and Funchess off the field and pull out the win. I don’t see it happening.

 

BYU vs. Texas (-3)

 

  THOR NYSTROM JOSH NORRIS
Straight Up

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Against the Spread

(Texas -3)

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Nystrom’s analysis: The ‘Horns won’t need David Ash to get revenge in this one. BYU dismantled No. 15 Texas 40-21 last season in a pivotally embarrassing game that turned some boosters against Mack Brown. Successor Charlie Strong seemingly dismissed half the team over the summer—and suspended OTs Desmond Harrison and Kennedy Estelle on Wednesday—but he’ll have the talent that stuck around prepared to repay the Cougars a favor. Some Texas bettors might be a little concerned about backing Tyrone Swoopes—I don’t blame you—but Strong won’t hesitate to insert stud true freshman QB Jerrod Heard if Swoopes’ accuracy doesn’t accompany him into Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on Saturday night.

 

Washington St. (-3.5) vs. Nevada

 

  THOR NYSTROM JOSH NORRIS
Straight Up

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Against the Spread

(Wash St. -3.5)

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Nystrom’s analysis: I’m puzzled as to why this number is so low. Nevada is more or less a one-man show, and unless QB Cody Fajardo has a career game, the Wolf Pack won’t have much of a chance of fending off a dynamic Connor Halliday-led passing attack that returned all of its receivers (and, of course, Mike Leach). The Cougars win by double digits on Friday night.

 

Thor's Wildcards

 

Akron vs. Penn State (-14.5)

 

Straight up: Penn State

Against the spread: Akron

 

Nystrom’s analysis: Sometimes, when you’re betting, you’ve got to get a little cute. And this pick is cuter than a mini horse calendar. The Nittany Lions are coming off a grueling last-second victory over Central Florida—in Dublin. Now they return stateside to host a veteran Terry Bowden squad led by QB Kyle Pohl, who directs a wide-open spread attack. Akron is 5-2 against the spread in its last seven, illustrating the direction Bowden has the program headed, and the total has gone under in 16 of the Zips’ last 20, a good sign for an Akron cover if you buy into the theory that PSU will be jet lagged and hungover. I do.

 

Navy (-3) vs. Temple

 

Straight up: Navy

Against the spread: Navy

 

Nystrom’s analysis: And speaking of hangovers! The Owls kicked the snot out of Vanderbilt 37-7 last week, and they’re going to experience what the MMA community calls an adrenaline dump on Saturday afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field. Navy and its frustrating-to-defend triple-option attack is the unimposing, wiry jiu-jitsu blackbelt who could knot this overconfident Temple squad, themselves coming off a win that will look far less impressive at season’s end, into a pretzel. The Midshipmen hung tough with Ohio State last week before tapping out late. It wouldn’t surprise me if they take out their frustration on Temple.

 

Josh's Wildcards 

 

SD State vs UNC (-14.5)

 

Straight up: UNC

Against the Spread: SD State

 

Ole Miss (-19.5) at Vanderbilt

 

Straight up: Ole Miss

Against the Spread: Ole Miss

 

Thor Nystrom: Straight Up (5-5), Against the Spread (3-7)

Josh Norris: Straight Up (6-4), Against the Spread (4-6)



Thor Nystrom is a Rotoworld contributor on the MLB and NFL Draft sections. Follow him on Twitter @thorku.
Email :Thor Nystrom



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