College football picks: The Longhorns and Aggies have opportunities to make statements on the road

Since splitting up 11 years ago, Texas and Texas A&M have traveled separate but similarly underwhelming paths.

Aggies may scoff at that statement with their 91-48 record — compared to the Longhorns’ 79-60 —- and a Heisman Trophy winner (Johnny Manziel in 2012) since leaving Texas in the Big 12 for the SEC, but neither program has won a championship of any kind while spending a fortune.

They will be reunited next year when Texas joins the SEC so this is the last season where the rivalry plays out vicariously.

This weekend is another opportunity for both to make a statement, though to be fair the opportunity for Texas is much bigger as they travel to Alabama for the return match of last season’s one-point victory for the Crimson Tide in Austin.

The 23rd–ranked Aggies are at Miami for a game with far less curb appeal, but plenty of intrigue.

The Lone Star state’s biggest brands make the list of Week 2’s most interesting games, with lines from FanDuel Sportsbook:

No. 11 Texas at No. 3 Alabama

Plenty of Longhorns believe Texas would have won last year’s game had Quinn Ewers not left in the first half with an injury. Ewers is now the more established quarterback in this game with Jalen Milroe moving into the spotlight for Alabama. The third-year quarterback was great last week against Middle Tennessee for whatever that’s worth.

It’s a measuring-stick game for Texas, of course, but also for a Crimson Tide team that has more mystery around it than at any time in years under Nick Saban.

LINE: Alabama by 7. PICK: Alabama, 31-21.

No. 23 Texas A&M at Miami

The Aggies and Hurricanes met last September in a dud of a game in College Station that foretold of disappointing seasons for both. They reconvene for another mental-health check for two fan bases who tend to be on edge about the trajectory of their programs.

Week 1 provided good vibes against overmatched opponents. Week 2 will give us an idea of how much of that was truly meaningful.

Sidenote: The Hurricanes try to make the Atlantic Coast Conference 3-0 in marquee matchups with the Southeastern Conference after North Carolina and Florida State took care of business in Week 1.

LINE: Texas A&M by 4 1/2. PICK: Texas A&M, 30-23.

No. 20 Mississippi at No. 24 Tulane

The Green Wave looked a lot like the team that beat USC in the Cotton Bowl in a surprisingly easy opener against South Alabama. That sets up the biggest nonconference home game for Tulane in more than half a century. The schools have a long history (63 meetings), mostly dominated by Ole Miss. The Rebels have won 12 straight, dating back to 1989.

LINE: Ole Miss by 7. PICK: Tulane, 38-34, UPSET SPECIAL.

Nebraska at No. 22 Colorado

Coach Prime’s team was the story of Week 1. Now Shedeur Sanders, Travis Hunter and Co. make their home debut against an old Big Eight rival also rebuilding under a new coach. The Cornhuskers’ first game under Matt Rhule didn’t go nearly as well as Colorado’s under Deion Sanders, but first game results can be deceiving. If nothing else the atmosphere at Folsom Field will be as good as Boulder has seen in years.

LINE: Colorado by 2 1/2. PICK: Colorado, 35-28.

No. 13 Oregon at Texas Tech

The Red Raiders tuned up for the biggest nonconference game in Lubbock in years by getting beat at Wyoming. It happens. Don’t discount a major bounce-back this week as QB Tyler Shough faces his old team. Oregon scored 81 against an FCS school in Week 1, which meant 546 pushups for the Duck mascot in a pretty clear case of animal cruelty.

LINE: Oregon by 6 1/2. PICK: Oregon, 35-30.

The rest of the games involving ranked teams and Bowl Subdivision opponents:

Ball State at No. 1 Georgia (minus 43 1/2)

When Georgia canceled a nonconference series with future SEC foe Oklahoma, Ball State got the call and a $1.6 million payout to fill in … GEORGIA, 52-7.

UNLV at No. 2 Michigan (minus 36 1/2)

RB Blake Corum’s return from a knee injury was encouraging last week with 10 carries for 73 yards … MICHIGAN, 45-7.

Southern Mississippi (plus 30 1/2) at No. 4 Florida State

Short week after a huge win might not bring out the best in the ’Noles … FLORIDA STATE, 38-13.

Stanford (plus 29 1/2) at No. 6 Southern California

Caleb Williams has thrown nine TD passes in two games for the Trojans … USC, 45-24.

Tulsa at No. 8 Washington (minus 34 1/2)

Huskie QB Michael Penix Jr. and his trio of star receivers looked unstoppable last week … WASHINGTON, 49-10.

No. 10 Notre Dame at North Carolina State (plus 7)

Irish QB Sam Hartman is 1-2 in three career starts against NC State while at Wake Forest, with six touchdown passes and six interceptions … NOTRE DAME, 28-23.

No. 12 Utah (minus 7 1/2) at Baylor

Bears lost QB Blake Shapen (knee) for at least a few weeks in last week’s surprising loss to Texas State .. UTAH, 38-28.

Troy (plus 16 1/2) at No. 15 Kansas State

Wildcats QB Will Howard had a touchdown pass, run and catch in last week’s blowout win against SE Missouri … KANSAS STATE, 31-17.

Appalachian State (plus 18 1/2) at No. 17 North Carolina

Mountaineers and Tar Heels combined for 124 points, half in the fourth quarter, in a regulation victory by UNC last year … NORTH CAROLINA, 35-21

SMU at No. 18 Oklahoma (minus 16 1/2)

A classic ACC-SEC matchup … OKLAHOMA, 42-24.

No. 19 Wisconsin at Washington State (plus 6 1/2)

Cougars won in Madison, Wisconsin, last year … WISCONSIN, 31-28.


Illinois (plus 3) at Kansas, Friday — @davidfoxjr

Jayhawks hoping QB Jalon Daniels makes his season debut … ILLINOIS, 31-24.

Vanderbilt (plus 10 1/2) at Wake Forest — @anchorofgold

Commodores looking for first 3-0 start since 2017 … WAKE FOREST, 35-28.

Texas State at UTSA (minus 12 1/2) — @RedDirtSport

Texas State, with 53 new players, looking for another big upset after taking out Baylor … UTSA, 45-31.

UCF at Boise State (plus 3 1/2) — @bustermj

After getting dissected by Michael Penix Jr. last week, Broncos face a new challenge in UCF’s speedy QB John Rhys Plumlee … BOISE STATE, 34-28.

Arizona (plus 9 1/2) at Mississippi State — @ASU_SuperFan

Bulldogs won in Tucson last year … MISSISSPPI STATE, 31-23.

Temple (plus 10) at Rutgers — @Off_The_Hook3

Kurt Warner’s son, E.J., is a promising second-year starting quarterback for the Owls … RUTGERS, 28-20.

Auburn at California (plus 6 1/2) — @joshdub—

Tigers’ first trip to the state of California since 2002 game at USC … CAL, 33-28.

Oklahoma State at Arizona State (plus 3 1/2) — @ute_pilot

Couple of teams that didn’t show a lot offensively against FCS teams last week … OKLAHOMA STATE 24-21.



Last week: Straight-up — 18-6; Against spread — 9-15.


Follow Ralph D. Russo at and listen at


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