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NY Post
New York Post
9 Sep 2023


NextImg:College football Week 2 predictions: Alabama vs. Texas, more picks vs. spread

Nick Saban is the greatest college football coach of all time. I’ve written in depth about it in the past. But there’s no need to anymore. We can look at the sunrise without a lesson about the solar system.

Because of Saban’s stature from his seven national championships, there is always overwhelming and understandable hesitation for people to bet against Alabama. But emotion isn’t instructive. Forget how you feel. Look at what’s in front of you.

The Crimson Tide have won one national title in the past five seasons. They have suffered multiple losses in three of the past four seasons for the first time under Saban. After seven seasons with future NFL starters under center, they’ve been forced to turn to Jalen Milroe, who wasn’t named the starting quarterback until days before the season opened.

Over the past two seasons, Alabama has played in 10 games decided by a touchdown or less, excluding the national title game loss to Georgia. One came last year at Texas, when the Tide miraculously pulled out a one-point win thanks to Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young’s heroics. The outcome might have been different had Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers — the nation’s former top recruit — not been knocked out after going 9 of 12 for 134 yards. Saturday, Ewers and his talented receiving corps could again torch the Tide, whose secondary isn’t at full strength.

And Saban will again be tested by Steve Sarkisian.

Despite a 28-2 record against his former assistants, Saban’s dominance hasn’t been displayed in the most recent meetings. Following a pair of losses to former assistants in 2021, Saban topped three of his former lieutenants last season by an average of less than four points.

Texas (+7) is up to the task.

Steve Sarkisian
Getty Images

Kirby Smart took a page out of Mickey Goldmill’s playbook by constructing a slate of opponents that mirror the start of “Rocky III.” I have no action on a Georgia threepeat — due to the uncertainty of new quarterback Carson Beck, potential complacency and an inflated futures line (+220) — but the Bulldogs should cruise into the playoff, with potentially only one ranked matchup (Tennessee) prior to the SEC Championship.

The Wolfpack have Sam Hartman’s number. While starring at Wake Forest, the new Fighting Irish quarterback went 1-2 against N.C. State, with six interceptions in the past two seasons.

Roughly 98 times out of 100, I’d take the Bears, since 90 percent of tickets are against them after they lost by double-digits as four-touchdown favorites against Texas State. But I cannot sell you on backup quarterback Sawyer Robertson, who has completed 12 of 23 career passes with two interceptions, reaching the red zone against a strong Utes defense, which just held Florida to 11 points.

Deion Sanders can handle the hype. Let’s see if his newly constructed team can do the same. If you call him Coach Prime, we cannot be friends.

J.J. McCarthy

J.J. McCarthy
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Before J.J. McCarthy takes his “Free Harbaugh” T-shirt for another ride, someone please inform the quarterback that his coach’s suspension was self-imposed by their school. Also, pass along that Harbaugh will be back for the Big Ten opener — and isn’t spending his Saturdays in a Gulag.

How quickly it’s forgotten. It was earlier this year when the Green Wave recovered from a 15-point deficit in the final five minutes to upset USC in the Cotton Bowl, finishing the 2022 season 12-2 with three wins over ranked teams. Now, the nation’s best Group of Five team can’t get any love at home. Quarterback Michael Pratt, who went 14-for-15 for 294 yards and four touchdowns in a Week 1 win, will change that against the overrated Rebels, who are 7-6 on the road in Lane Kiffin’s three seasons.

Jimbo Fisher and Bobby Petrino’s marriage won’t last. Don’t be surprised if they hit their first rough patch this weekend.

The Hawkeyes have transformed from the most boring offense in the nation to its most intriguing, thanks to a new clause in offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz’s contract, which requires Iowa to average 25 points per game this season in order for him to keep his job.

Michael Penix Jr.

Michael Penix Jr.
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When Caleb Williams fails to repeat as the Heisman winner, Michael Penix Jr. will probably be the reason why. The author of the top-ranked aerial attack last year may be even better this season. In a Week 1 destruction of Mountain West title contender Boise State, the Huskies southpaw threw for 450 yards and five touchdowns.

It truly hurts to know that my children — raised by a pair of Maryland alumni — will grow up seeing nothing wrong with SMU and Cal facing off in the ACC.

Unlike Baylor, the Red Raiders are equipped to hurt the public, who hold the Ducks on 82 percent of tickets, but with just 61 percent of money. Texas Tech will rebound from a shocking double-overtime loss at Wyoming and look like a Big 12 sleeper back at home, where it went undefeated last season and beat two ranked teams.

The little brother of the Evergreen State went ignored in realignment, but the Cougars deserve more respect. After nearly pulling off the upset at Wisconsin last season, Washington State is a live dog, led by quarterback Cam Ward (451 yards passing and three touchdowns in Week 1) and a defense that held the Badgers to 17 points.

While Penix’s geography kills his Heisman hopes, Jordan Travis will probably be the beneficiary. The senior quarterback passed his toughest test of the season — throwing for 342 yards with five total touchdowns against LSU — as the Seminoles became the clear favorite in the ACC.

After Caleb Williams pads his stats in a soft start to the season, head to New Jersey and pounce on his top Heisman competitors, whose odds will shrink as USC plays a season-ending gauntlet featuring as many as six ranked opponents.

Best bets: North Carolina State, Tulane, SMU
This season: 6-9 (1-2)
2014-22 record: 1,150-1,082-25