NCAA/NFL Roundtable: Who wins this week’s top games? Who’s on upset alert?
Welcome to the first edition of The Observer Roundtable! Here, six of our writers will attempt to predict the result and spread of some of the top college and professional football games this weekend, and we will top it off with each writer picking an upset. Each writer will earn one point for picking a result correctly and an additional point for getting the spread right. If their upset watch team wins, they will double their score for the week. Without further ado, here are this week’s picks:
NCAA: #7 Florida @ #5 LSU (-13)
#11 Texas @ #6 Oklahoma (-10.5)
#1 Alabama @ #24 Texas A&M (+18)
Liam Coolican: A night game in Death Valley is one of the hardest atmospheres to play in. Joe Burrow has looked like a legitimate Heisman contender and LSU’s defense is stingy as always. Florida has been impressive in the way they’ve handled adversity thus far, but LSU will win and cover.
Oklahoma’s offense has been clicking this year, and Texas’ defense has looked shaky, allowing more than 30 points in back-to-back games, both against unranked opponents. This is a recipe for Oklahoma to put up a crooked number, and Texas may not be able to keep up. Sooners win and cover.
While Alabama has looked dominant as usual, they haven’t played any tough opponents yet, and their defense does not appear to be as good as it was in previous years. I expect Texas A&M to keep it close in the first half, but Alabama will pull away to win but not cover.
David Kramer: After outlasting Auburn at home, Florida will certainly write the next chapter of their underdog story and beat the heat in Death Valley. Look for the Gators to clinch yet another upset by winning outright.
It goes without saying that Jalen Hurts continues to showcase his Heisman potential, but with Texas looming as the first true test for the Sooners star, I expect a tight matchup into the fourth quarter. Texas will pull ahead late and win outright.
The Tide offers a dominant arsenal of offensive weapons this season, and the matchup in College Station presents a feeble attempt to halt their championship run. Look for Alabama to win and cover.
Dominic Gibson: With a big win over Auburn, Florida has shown they are among the top dogs this year. However, the dangerous and high octane spread offense led by Joe Burrow has proven to be the real deal in a conference that relies on power running. In front of a loud and disruptive Death Valley crowd, the Tigers will prove to be too much for the Gators. LSU wins and covers the spread.
This year’s Red River Showdown will feature the top two teams in the Big 12. Both teams are coming off lackluster performances and will look to rebound. As this is a rivalry game, almost anything can happen. The 50/50 split of the crowd tends to negate home field advantage and play towards the underdog. Oklahoma is talented, led by Jalen Hurts and multiple talented receivers, but Texas matches up well with an athletic defensive line and a dual threat quarterback in Sam Ehlinger as well as a healthy Collin Johnson on the offensive side. Tom Herman is also 13-2-1 against the spread as an underdog. Texas will pull off the upset and win outright.
Texas A&M has a history of struggling to pull out big upset wins against top-ranked opponents, especially in the SEC, and have struggled to win at home with a 5-11 record at Kyle Field against teams in the top 25 since 2012. The so called “12th Man” will not play a factor in this game. I expect Alabama to bottle up Kellen Mond and roll on the offensive side of the ball with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Alabama will win in College Station and cover the spread.
Nate Moller: Florida is coming off a physical win against Auburn, and I think they will struggle early against LSU. LSU will control the game from the start, but the final score will be relatively close. LSU wins but won’t cover.
This game will feature a great quarterback battle between Jalen Hurts and Sam Ehlinger, and the score will go back and forth throughout the game. I expect Hurts to come up clutch late and lead the Sooners to a close victory. Oklahoma wins but doesn’t cover.
Alabama has been very clinical so far this year in winning football games as they always are. They will not have a problem in College Station, and I expect Alabama to win and cover.
Patrick Gallagher: The Tigers will face their first real test since week two as they prepare for a highly anticipated home matchup against the Gators. Florida has proved they are legit and will prevent LSU from covering. However, Joe Burrow’s clutch factor, and the electric atmosphere in Baton Rouge will fuel a late game-winning drive for LSU, who wins but doesn’t cover.
2019’s edition of the Red River shootout promises to be an exciting offensive affair. Jalen Hurts is very experienced and will not be fazed by the pressures of such a high profile matchup. Texas and Sam Ehlinger have their way with a sub-par Oklahoma defense, but the Hurts-led Sooners keep the Golden Hat in Norman, winning but failing to cover.
Alabama travels to College Station in the Tide’s first ranked matchup of the season. Texas A&M has shown signs of greatness in losses against Clemson and Auburn, but they do not seem to have the offensive firepower to defeat the best of the best. Alabama will cruise and cover.
Aidan Thomas: Kyle Trask and the Gators cement their spot as College Football Playoff contenders, as Florida will win outright as an underdog in Death Valley.
Jalen Hurts has looked unstoppable so far, but Texas is good enough to keep this close, so I’m picking the Sooners to win but not to cover.
Alabama has been dominant so far, and Texas A&M has looked incapable of keeping up with elite competition. The Tide roll and cover in this one.
NFL: Houston Texans @ Kansas City Chiefs (-5)
San Francisco 49ers @ Los Angeles Rams (-4.5)
Detroit Lions @ Green Bay Packers (-4.5)
Coolican: The Chiefs have struggled mightily in back-to-back weeks, and the Texans are a good team. However, I believe Andy Reid will make the adjustments he needs to, and the Chiefs bounce back, as they will win and cover.
The 49ers are a sleeper contender this year, but they play in one of the toughest divisions in football. Coming off a tough, 1 point loss in Seattle, the Rams will also be looking to bounce back. The 49ers will keep it close, and it will come down to the last drive. Rams win but don’t cover.
After a tie with the Cardinals in the first game, everyone wrote the Lions off. They have proven their doubters wrong with wins against the Eagles and Chargers and nearly beating the Chiefs. Lions win outright at Lambeau for the third-straight year.
Kramer: In a battle of elite quarterbacks, I expect the Chiefs to bounce back with a surge of defense against the Fuller-Watson chemistry. The Chiefs will win and cover.
The 49ers continue to ride a Cinderella story of sorts, and Matt Brieda’s effective performance will carry into Los Angeles for the upset. The 49ers win outright.
It’s easy to hate the NFC North this season, as all four teams wield a winning record with sound defense. Granted, the Lions tend to stick with big teams in narrow margins, a classic performance by Rodgers will broaden the spread of the NFL’s top division. The Packers win and cover.
Gibson: Despite a loss to the Colts at home, the Chiefs will recover and adjust against a talented yet shaky Houston Texans team. Patrick Mahomes will have a rebound game and find his stride to help Kansas City win and cover.
San Francisco has had an amazing start to the season with a dominant win against Cleveland last week in primetime. However, while Jimmy Garappolo has looked decent against the defenses of the Buccaneers and Bengals, the Rams will pose a different challenge with a talented defensive line. Jared Goff will look to rebound this week as well. The Rams will win and cover the spread.
The Packers will be coming off of a big win in Big D against the Cowboys, and I do not expect them to be slowing down any time soon. Aaron Rodgers will continue to be dominant and lead the Packers to a win at Lambeau and cover the spread.
Moller: The Texans’ offense and Will Fuller found its groove against the Falcons last week. Now that Deshaun Watson has two top tier wide receivers, I like the Texans to win this one outright.
San Francisco is for real this year, but their luck will run out this week. The 49ers players will start to feel the pressure, and I like the Rams to win on a last-second field goal. Rams win but don’t cover.
Aaron Jones showed last week against the Cowboys that he is a top tier running back, posting 4 TDs and rushing for over 100 yards. The Lions defense will struggle to stop the Packers in this one. I like the Packers to win and cover.
Gallagher: The Chiefs will shake off a shocking Sunday night loss and will light up the 21st ranked Texan defense. Despite having an MVP caliber performance against Atlanta, Deshaun Watson has been inconsistent, and the Texans will not be able to outscore Kansas City’s loaded offense. I foresee Patrick Mahomes throwing at least three TDs as the Chiefs comfortably cover the spread.
The 49ers have surprisingly developed into one of the most complete teams in the NFL. Both their offense and defense rank among the top five in the league, and Jimmy Garoppolo has proven his undeniable talent with seven passing TDs this season. San Francisco will travel to the Coliseum and earn a statement upset.
The Lions have been impressive thus far, but I am not convinced they are ready to take charge of the NFC North. Aaron Rodgers is still a top three quarterback and might be one of the most dangerous players in late-game situations. Keeping Detroit’s pattern of having terrible luck in close games in mind, a timely Detroit fumble will lead to a game-clinching field goal for Green Bay, who will win but not cover.
Thomas: The Texans are shaky on defense and inconsistent on offense. The Chiefs are looking to bounce back from an upset loss, and they will. Chiefs win and cover.
Are the 49ers for real? Or have they simply beaten three bad teams and a severely overhyped Browns squad? It’ll be easier to tell after the Rams roll and cover at home.
The Lions have won four straight against the Packers, but Green Bay is much stronger this year. Lions keep it close, but the Packers will win but not cover.
UPSET PICK OF THE WEEK
Coolican: Oregon State’s 2-3 record belies how good they’ve looked so far. They won’t contend for the Pac-12 championship, but they aren’t the laughingstock of years past. Even though they are a two touchdown underdog against No.15 Utah, the Utes have been inconsistent, especially on the road, so the Beavers have a very real chance to win this one.
Kramer: Bouncing back from a tough loss to Oklahoma, Texas Tech decisively upset Oklahoma State at home. Now, the momentum surely rests in favor of the Red Raiders, and given the similar offensive makeup of No. 22 Baylor, I expect an upset down South. Look for Texas Tech to upset Baylor in the battle for the Lone Star State this weekend.
Gibson: After a shaky performance against the Packers, the Cowboys will be looking to bounce back against the Jets this weekend. The Jets will be looking for their first win on the season and will be getting a healthy Sam Darnold back after missing the first few games of the season. I think the Jets can find a way to pull off the upset against Dallas and secure their first victory.
Moller: The Rainbow Warriors of Hawaii go in as two possession underdogs against No. 14 Boise State, but I like Hawaii to pull the upset in this one. Hawaii has beaten quality(ish) teams in Arizona and Oregon State this year and blew out Nevada 54-3 two weeks ago. Fresh off the bye week, I like the Rainbow Warriors to pull off the upset in Boise in the final minutes of the game.
Gallagher: Fresh off snapping UCF’s 19 game winning streak in the AAC, Cincinnati travels to Houston in what will prove to be a trap game. The Cougars are a 7.5 point home underdog and have looked less than stellar of late with losses to Tulane and Washington State. However, Houston can definitely challenge elite teams, as they trailed Oklahoma by a paltry four points halfway through their first game of the season. I think the Bearcats will underestimate Houston and will lose by a touchdown.
Thomas: Louisville are nine point underdogs to undefeated and 19th-ranked Wake Forest. However, the Cardinals are 3-2 and coming off a gutsy 41-39 victory over BC. Wake Forest have won three of their five games by one possession, and something tells me their luck runs out against the Cardinals this weekend.