Joke's on you, Mr. Thompson. There's only three "mid-week" games, two of which I don't want to touch with a ten-foot pole. The third, though... the third could be very, very interesting.
As for the rest of today's picks, we'll delve into the seedy underbelly of Saturday and try to find some reclamation projects worth talking about. Of course, since I wasn't able to watch twelve billion games last weekend like I normally do, I might completely tank this entire operation this week. That's okay, though; as always, this entire exercise is For Entertainment Purposes Only, and we don't condone acting on our analysis. Unless you're in Nevada, in which case go crazy.
TEXAS-SAN ANTONIO (+7) over Arizona, 7 p.m. THU, Fox Sports 1
Alamo Dome, San Antonio TX
JM: So. Some people did, in fact, notice this last weekend. Many did not. I'm just going to throw some numbers out at you. One, a game involving the Houston Cougars ended with a combined total yardage of 475 yards. Combined. As in, both teams. Two, UTSA's opportunistic secondary hauled in four Houston passes. Three, Houston lost 26 yards on the ground. Okay, let's take out the sacks and the bad snap which resulted in Houston punter Dylan Seibert eating a "one-carry-for-minus-42-yards" line in the box score. Houston still only gained 35 yards on the ground on 13 attempts.
What I'm getting at is this: Larry Coker's actually got something in San Antonio. They can play some defense, clearly. Their offense? Not so much, as they didn't do much against what's probably not a great Houston defense. But Arizona's defense wasn't stellar against UNLV, either, and UNLV's defense is so bad it's hard to tell whether Arizona's explosion last weekend was real or just padding. I don't know that UTSA will win this game. I honestly don't know that I'm going to be right about this, either, but I'm going to take a flyer here and call the cover. They're an interesting team, and I'll admit to wishful thinking here, but it's not like Arizona has a vault full of conference football championship trophies either.
(By the way, guess who came on in relief for Houston and went 4/7 for 30 yards? Billy Cosh. Yeah, that guy.
LT: Jon with some wishful thinking om a small-conference team against a Power 5 school? That's about as surprising as all the Rams players this week calling Adrian Peterson the best back in the league before they face him this Sunday. Naturally, I'm not buying what the Roadrunners are selling. This is still a team that, despite its impressive success in conference play, hasn't shown any ability to compete with the big boys.
Plus, Arizona is actually good. They've got proven contributors at receiver and offensive line, and it appears the new guys in the backfield are going to be just fine alongside quarterback Anu Solomon, who threw for 425 yards last week. As Jon noted, the Wildcats will clearly meet some more resistance this week, but they'll be able to handle it without too much trouble.
Western Kentucky (+1.5) over ILLINOIS, 11:00 a.m., BTN
Memorial Stadium, Champaign IL
JM: In contrast to the last game, this will be short and sweet. Illinois struggled with Youngstown State, and had no offense to speak of. Granted, Youngstown State's a good FCS squad, but still. Meanwhile, Western Kentucky took Bowling Green out back, went at them with tire irons in both hands, and left them for dead. Yeah, they gave up some points. That would be more meaningful if Illinois looked like they're capable of scoring any. Hilltoppers are gonna cover. Hell, they're probably gonna win.
LT: See, this one's tougher, because while Illinois is a Power 5 team against another relatively new FBS member, the Illini also play in the Big Ten. It's a little disappointing to me to see Jon putting any stock at all in a team's opener against an FCS team, considering what we've seen in the past from our boys in Manhattan. I'm also amused by the fact that Jon needs to clarify he thinks a team covering a 1.5-point spread will probably win. The more important point here is Illinois has won exactly one of its last 22 Big Ten games. WKU has a pulse. Therefore, the Hilltoppers win.
JM:It's like Luke's never heard of overtime. MOVING ON.
Ball State (+17) over IOWA, 2:30 p.m. ESPN2
Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City IA
JM: Ball State didn't blow out Colgate in week one, but I think it's fair to say that as a worst-case scenario Ball State's probably as good a team as FCS Northern Iowa, yeah? That's important, because Iowa did not beat Northern Iowa by 17 points. Or 10, for that matter. Hell, is Kirk Ferentz even capable of beating a team with a pulse by 17? Iowa likely wins, but Cardinals cover. Easily.
LT: Dammit, Jon. I leave you Michigan-Notre Dame, and instead you pick two Big Ten teams against stupidly named fake states. Come on, man. It appears Ball State can throw the ball with some competence, which could be a problem for the Hawkeyes based on what KnowDan told us in this week's podcast (yeah, that's a shameless plug, so what?) Throw in the fact that Ball State actually smoked Virginia last year, and I'm all in on the Cardinals to easily cover and possibly even win.
JM: In my defense, I don't think either of us are capable of surviving the attack of smug that would ensue if we tried to pick Michigan-Notre Dame.
TEXAS (-4.5) over Brigham Young, 6:30 p.m. Fox Sports 1
Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, Austin TX
JM: I have no idea who's going to win this game, which means I'm a damned fool for picking it in the first place. But I felt we needed to discuss it. BYU handled week one with a workman-like dismantling of Connecticut, whose program may be in danger of condemnation by local building inspectors. Texas, likewise, handled business in week one against a competent and talented, yet still overmatched, North Texas squad. I think it's safe to say that what happened to the Longhorns last year in this matchup will not repeat itself. Is that going to be enough? Will actually making the appearance of stopping BYU's running game swing matters enough to give Texas the win? I don't know, but my gut feeling here is that the Horns will cover.
LT: .The funny thing is Jon got to make this pick prior to two UT offensive linemen getting suspended, while I had the benefit of making it after the latest step in the Charlie Strong-ification of the program. If reports from most Texas fans on the Internet are to be believed, this leaves the Longhorns with something slightly better than four traffic cones protecting sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes, who already wasn't expected to do much. Make no mistake, their defense is very good, but it's not that good. BYU wins by more than a touchdown.
TEXAS-EL PASO (+18) over Texas Tech, 10:00 p.m., Fox Sports 1
Sun Bowl, El Paso TX
JM: It's easy enough to point at Tech's ludicrous first outing against Central Arkansas as evidence enough that this line is way too high. What you probably don't realize, because it was a late-night game that wasn't on television and nobody cares anyway, is that UTEP is 1-0 after knocking off New Mexico. It wasn't a great win, and if we were getting ready to talk about UTEP's game with K-State we'd say, "Big deal, doesn't mean anything." But we're talking about a game against a team which just barely survived against an FCS team which has a good reputation but, um, isn't even ranked in the FCS top 25. Tech should win this one, but they aren't going to win by 18 unless something drastically changes from last week. UTEP covers.
LT: So you don't buy Dudebro's excuse that he simply didn't have his team ready? Well, maybe it's those dreamy eyes, but I think the Red Raiders really are a much better team than they showed last week. UTEP, meanwhile, is not good at all. Throw in the fact that TTU can put points up quickly if Davis Webb gets going, and I think the Red Raiders cover here.