All times Eastern | Game odds via SportsLineconsensus
The Hot Ticket
No. 5 LSU vs. No. 8 Florida State (Orlando) — Sunday, 7:30 p.m. | TV: ABC
The Pick: LSU -2.5
KeyTrend: Florida State is 3-7 against the spread in its last 10 games against top-10 opponents.
You know, I could swear we just played this game to start last season.
Oh, right, we did! Well, no complaints from me on getting an encore. The 2022 season opener between these two in New Orleans was one of the best games of the whole season. For those who don’t remember, Florida State edged LSU, 24-23, when it blocked an extra point that would’ve tied the game late. I don’t know if this year’s game will have as much insanity baked into it, but I expect it to be close again.
I also expect LSU will be the team to come out on top. To be clear, I’m high on both of these squads and believe they’ll compete for their conference titles and the College Football Playoff berths that could come with those crowns. However, Florida State was active in the transfer portal during the offseason, and I always worry a bit more about teams working with a lot of new faces.
Meanwhile, LSU has a bit more roster consistency from last year. While I have concerns about the Tigers secondary, it matches up well with Seminoles everywhere else. The Bayou Bengals get their revenge on Sunday night in Orlando.
The Pick: Texas Tech -14 (-110) — This line is short! I say this as somebody who isn’t as high on Texas Tech coming into the season as others. The Red Raiders are seen as a possible 2023 answer to TCU in the Big 12, but while there’s a lot to like about this team, that feels like a stretch to me. It’s almost as much of a stretch as thinking Wyoming will be able to hang within two touchdowns of the Red Raiders.
Early season power ratings are hardly etched in stone, but I have Texas Tech closer to a three-touchdown favorite, even on the road. Wyoming went 7-5 last year but lost its final three games and went 1-3 in nonconference play against FBS competition. I don’t see how Wyoming keeps up with Tech on the scoreboard.
The Pick: Over 2.5 (-118) — Napoli is off to a solid start in defense of its Serie A title as it’s won its first two matches by a combined score of 5-1. The expected goals (xG) story tells the same exact tale as Napoli also holds a 5.0-1.1 advantage there. However, we cannot overlook that Napoli has opened its season with Frosinone and Sassuolo. Lazio, despite its sluggish start, is a much stiffer test.
Lazio is in the odd position of having lost both its matches despite having an xG advantage of 3-2. While early season sample sizes can go either way, given Lazio’s history, I’m fairly confident this will balance out for the better. I’m also confident Lazio will begin finding the back of the net, and while Napoli hasn’t had much trouble defending so far, they haven’t been tested much, either. This weekend could be a different story.
Arsenal vs. Manchester United, Sunday, 11:30 a.m. | TV: NBC
The Pick: Arsenal (-140) — Manchester United is busy trying to get more bodies in before the transfer deadline, and it needs to be because it has not been a promising start for the Red Devils. Yes, they’ve won two of their first three matches, but they’ve been a mess defensively in all three. They beat Wolves 1-0 despite allowing an xG of 2.2. Last week, they were in a 3-2 shootout with Nottingham Forest. While they were a bit unlucky in their 2-0 loss to Tottenham, the defensive issues remained there as well.
Now, they’re tasked with stopping Arsenal. The Gunners surprisingly drew 2-2 to Fulham last week, but the score was misleading as Arsenal had an xG advantage of 3.2-0.6. My read was Mikel Arteta was having his team work on some things defensively, and they got a bit unlucky with the result, even if they played well. This weekend, at home, I believe we’ll see the fruits of last week’s labor.