Football Friday

September 8, 2023

SuperBook Sports previews the weekend ahead

© Russell Lansford-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska at No. 22 Colorado

By the time the 2022 college football season came to end, the University of Colorado could have easily made a case for being the worst team in the country. A distant cry from its glory days in the ‘90s, the Buffs were downright pathetic, going 1-11 during a campaign that led to the dismissal of head coach Karl Dorrell.

Fast forward nine months and Colorado’s football program is the biggest sports story in the entire nation.

Last weekend, Deion Sanders – perhaps the most unlikely hire in school history – took his mystery team into Fort Worth and whipped up on No. 17 TCU, last year’s national runner up. In the process, arguably three Buffs stated their case to be in the running for the Heismann Trophy. Shedeur Sanders, Prime’s son, set a school record for passing yards; two-way star Travis Hunter played 129 snaps against TCU, snagging an interception and 11 catches for 119 yards; and running back Dylan Edwards logged 159 total yards and four touchdowns.

Conversely, Nebraska, the Buffs opponent for this week, headed to Minnesota where they lost a 13-10 snoozer.  

Well before the season, the Huskers were favored in this game – sometimes by more than a touchdown – but those tides have turned, as CU will head back to Boulder as a three-point favorite.  

Bud Parmalee’s Pick: Colorado Buffaloes -3.0

Make this bet and make it fast, before the line moves any further. Choose whatever metric you’d like to justify the wager – the Buffs unexpected No. 22 national ranking, their 565 total yards on offense, the fact CU went on the road and stunned the national runner up or Nebraska’s complete inability to pass the ball or score points against Minnesota – there’s very little evidence that the Huskers should scare Colorado. And in case you’re concerned there might be a letdown in Boulder, don’t be. If anything, Deion Sanders has been a master motivator for the Buffs, so don’t expect his kids to assume a victory. Plus, Folsom Field will be as hyped as it’s been in 30 years, as the home crowd has no intention of taking it easy on rival Nebraska.

© Joe Rudis / The Tennessean / USA TODAY NETWORK

No. 11 Texas at No. 3 Alabama

No, The Bear ain’t there. And neither is Darrell Royal.

But if the sound of this one doesn’t excite you, then you clearly have no penchant for college football nor an appreciation for its great history. When two of the game’s true blue bloods square off in early September, every self-respecting college football fan had better perk up. Games like this don’t come around that often and they dog-gone-dang sure beat a powerhouse playing a patsy in the non-conference schedule.

Texas enters the game at 1-0 and ranked No. 11 in the country. Alabama, also 1-0, sits comfortably ranked at No. 3. Both teams have something to prove this season, as Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide has “failed” to win the national title for two seasons now, while Texas is trying to regain its status as one of college football’s elite programs under Steve Sarkisian. It’s difficult to gauge much from their respective openers, as Texas and Alabama handled Rice and Middle Tennessee about like one would imagine. Last season is in the past, but perhaps that matchup, which took place in Austin, is a better indicator of just how close this game could be. ‘Bama narrowly escaped with a 20-19 win, something neither team will forget come Saturday.    

Bud Parmalee’s Pick: Alabama -7.0

It feels as if Alabama – perhaps Nick Saban specifically – has a bit of a chip on its collective shoulder this season. Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers might be the game’s most intriguing player, and even though he’s got a stable of weapons to work with, Alabama still has the fundamental makeup of a national champion. They might even be sick of hearing about how good Georgia is or how good Texas could be. Alabama’s lines on both sides of the ball are monstrous and they play a highly disciplined brand of football. Preseason All-Americans will be all over the field in Tuscaloosa on Saturday, but in a sweltering hot Week 2 matchup of heavyweights, bet on the biggest boys, especially when they’re playing at home.   

© Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns

The Cincinnati Bengals finished last season with a 12-4 record and made it all the way to the AFC Championship Game before losing to the Kansas City Chiefs, a team that would go on to win the Super Bowl. This year, they are once again expected to be among the league’s top teams, as they have the fifth-best odds to win the Super Bowl.

That is thanks in large part to their offense that is composed of players such as Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Joe Mixon and, of course, Joe Burrow, who just signed a record-breaking deal worth $275 million over the next five years. That’s a lot of talent.

But they have an interesting matchup as they will travel on the road to play the Cleveland Browns, a team that nobody knows what to expect from. In March of 2022, the Browns made the move to sign quarterback Deshaun Watson for $230 million fully guaranteed. Last year, he was suspended for the first 11 games of the season.

The Browns won just three of those 11 games, but they were able to win four out of seven once Watson returned. He also has a talented group of playmakers to work with. Nick Chubb, Amari Cooper and David Njoku should cause problems for opposing defenses.

The Browns are currently 2.0-point underdogs at home, but could shock some people with a win. They will be playing a Bengals team that has some question marks in the secondary following the losses of Jessie Bates and Vonn Bell.

Steve Quinne’s Pick: Cleveland Browns +2.0

A line of +2.0 is always a little scary due to the fact that even a three-point loss wouldn’t get you the win. However, this feels like a game that could end in a one- or two-point margin. Whether it be the Bengals or Browns winning, it should be exciting. The Browns offense is a mystery, but so is the Bengals secondary. It’ll be interesting to see which team looks best, but the Browns seem like the value play.


Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants

The first “Sunday Night Football” game of the season is an NFC East clash between the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants. Both teams come into the 2023 season with hopes of making a further push towards the Super Bowl. Each team’s season was cut short in the divisional round of last year’s playoffs.

The Cowboys come into the season with a team that looks very similar to last year’s. Dak Prescott remains the starting quarterback and his weapons will consist of CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup and Tony Pollard. They also signed wide receiver Brandin Cooks and released running back Ezekiel Elliott.

The Giants on the other hand made some pretty big moves. They traded for tight end Darren Waller, signed linebacker Bobby Okereke, let go of wide receiver Kenny Golloday and replaced him with the likes of Parris Campbell and Jalin Hyatt.

The Giants are a 3.5-point underdog at home on Sunday night and are looking to make a statement with a win over their divisional rival. But Dak Prescott and the Cowboys are also looking to capitalize on an opportunity to prove why they can win the division on national television.

Steve Quinne’s Pick: Dallas Cowboys ML

This one feels like it could be a close game, a nail-biter if you will. The 3.5-point spread is too risky, as a win by just a field goal wouldn’t quite get you there. The hook makes it dicey. For now, the moneyline on the Cowboys seems to be the best option. They come into this season with less question marks and seem to be headed towards improvement.


The best bets in your neck of the woods

Arizona – The Cardinals are hapless. Josh Dobbs is their starting quarterback. Might as well make hay with their ineptitude. They’re a touchdown dog at Washington. Doesn’t feel like they’ll cover.

Iowa – The intra-state battle between the Hawkeyes and Cyclones kicks off on Saturday afternoon. The over/under is only 36.5, which seems ridiculous in today’s college game. Each team can get to 20 points, right?

Maryland – The Ravens are the biggest favorite on the NFL slate this weekend. That means they’ll likely win, but can the Texans keep it close? Weird things happen in Week 1. Stay away from Baltimore and the +9.5.

Nevada – The Raiders have beaten the Broncos six straight times. Can they keep the streak going? They face a tall task, going into Denver for Sean Payton’s debut. Jimmy Garoppolo’s debut might not be a winning one.

Tennessee – Since the Volunteers play Austin Peay, it’ll be up to the Titans to offer a little hometown action. They travel to New Orleans to take on a mysterious Saints team that debuts Derek Carr at QB. Feels like the home team will cover the field goal.