College Football Pick
A new regime starts in Texas with Tom Herman starting his first season as head coach. Unsurprisingly, the expectations are huge for the Longhorns as they made the preseason Top 25. They’re also getting a lot of love in the opener as -18 point favorites (at 5Dimes Sportsbook) against Maryland.
The Terrapins got destroyed against teams like Michigan and Ohio State last season, but they weren’t a complete pushover the rest of the way and even made a bowl Game. With improvement expected in D.J. Durkin’s second season, this spread isn’t showing much respect, but will that matter?
The hype surrounding Texas QB Shane Buechele is huge, but he’s not even guaranteed to start the entire season as Herman has suggested numerous times that Sam Ehlinger isn’t out of the race. Buechele was solid as a freshman, tossing for 21 TDs and 11 INTs, but the offense was run through D’Onta Foreman, who’s now in the NFL. With a couple top receivers gone, new RB Chris Warren III in the backfield and a line that returns three starters, this offense isn’t a lock to improve. The Longhorns scored 31.9 points per Game last year and struggled to close the year, scoring just 50 points total in the final three contests (namely 21 against Kansas).
Maryland’s defense was carved up by good offenses, but with seven starters returning and a solid recruiting class coming in, the Terps should show more consistency. The rush defense is supposed to be much better with Jermaine Carter Jr. plugging the holes at linebacker and more overall depth in the front seven. If this defense figures it out, Maryland will be a tough out.
On the other side, the Terps have just as much talent as the Longhorns, which is another reason this spread seems big. That said, they still didn’t know their starting quarterback a week before the Game with Caleb Henderson nursing a foot injury. That led to Tyrrell Pigrome working with the first team and he didn’t look great in limited time last season. But with playmaker Ty Johnson (1,004 rushing yards, 9.1 yards per carry) in the backfield and D.J. Moore in the receiving Game, the Terps have the talent to move the ball on most defenses.
Texas has plenty of talent on defense with 10 returning starters, but that doesn’t mean a group that gave up more than 30 points per Game a year ago is going to be elite. Even with a lot of high-level guys, this unit failed to put it together on a consistent level last season.
The spread is 18 points because it’s Texas in the season opener and Herman in his first Game as head coach. Maryland turned a huge corner last season in Durkin’s first year and shouldn’t be overlooked, as long as quarterback play isn’t completely terrible. This Game could end up being closer than most think as long as the Terps show up on the defensive end.
Our Pick – Maryland +19