Five days and six nights since watching Michigan forget how to play defense on third down or block for a quarterback, I finally climb out of the shadowy depths of a barren well. With a circle around Sept. 8 on the calendar, it's time for redemption.
Week 2 is Overreaction Week, a faux holiday ripe with market mismatches and spreads blown out of proportion based on everything that materialized the prior week. If you read the early report Monday, you'll find some (not all) nuggets stuck for Saturday's plays.
Here are my top plays, along with other picks I like, in Week 2.
Pick: Michigan State -6
I’m a Tempe native whose Rolodex is rife with ASU resources. I'm a fly on the wall in public establishments, constantly absorbing takes hotter than the Arizona sun regarding the hometown Sun Devils. All it took was one 49-7 shellacking of the mighty UTSA for this fan base to anoint Herm Edwards as the hire of the century. People actually believe the Sun Devils' defense is good!
A 42-point win over a Conference USA bottom-feeder and Michigan State's 38-31 nailbiter over Utah State was the perfect recipe to inflate these fans' expectations for Saturday - and it's also opened a window of value on the Spartans, who, for whatever reason, are laying single digits in this game.
Every Spartans player should storm out of the tunnel at Sun Devil Stadium on Saturday holding a pin, set to pop the balloon and deflate Arizona State's hopes altogether.
Before the season, it would have been ideal for ASU to keep this one close. After last week's showing by both teams, the Sun Devils are now being touted as a viable choice to trip up Michigan State in an outright win. I've seen this song and dance multiple times; it doesn't end well.
Pick: Miami (OH) -1
The RedHawks were dealt the short end of the stick last season, losing four games by five points or fewer. If the tides were supposed to turn in 2018, Week 1 wasn't a promising start, as Miami (Ohio) dropped a tight opener to Marshall 35-28.
The Bearcats had some magic up their sleeves last Saturday, upsetting UCLA as 14.5-point underdogs on the road. Cincinnati was marginally outgained while UCLA quarterback Wilton Speight was relieved by Dorian Thompson-Robinson in the first half following an injury. I don't think Cincinnati is as good as the Bruins are bad (UCLA is catching 30-plus points on the road at Oklahoma).
I recommended the RedHawks last week getting points against Marshall. I'll continue to take what I think are short prices on this team.
Pick: Over 68
I've been patiently waiting for that small-school, under-the-radar total to fire on, and by god, I’ve found it.
UL-Monroe fell short of hitting the over by 10 points in Week 1 (34-31) against Southeastern Louisiana, but the game featured more than 1,000 yards of total offense and plenty of points left on the board. That number of 74 set by the oddsmakers is just a precursor of what's to come with the Warhawks.
It's tough to find a lesser-known program in the country that's more fun than UL-Monroe. The Warhawks are the mid-2000s version of Hawaii and the Western Kentucky of a few years ago: "No, please, hurry up and score on offense so we can see how quickly we can answer back." They're the best-kept secret for high-scoring affairs and I want in on the action before the rest of the market catches on.
Pick: Over 60.5
Though this number rose multiple points from the opener, it's still in a somewhat comfortable range for me.
South Florida will likely be on the wrong side of the time-of-possession battle again Saturday when the Bulls clash with the Georgia Tech ground game. That clock-chewing, smash-mouth scheme can be a nightmare for overs - unless it works.
Georgia Tech got its mulligan year on offense out of the way last season and now returns its key players, including quarterback TaQuon Marshall and his supporting cast of running backs, behind an experienced line. USF's defensive front, meanwhile, looks a lot less intimidating after losing linemen Deadrin Senat and Bruce Hector to the NFL.
The Bulls' offense was predicated on speed the last three seasons with quarterback Quinton Flowers. In 2018, they have more of a pocket passer in transfer Blake Barnett, whose big wide receivers should have an advantage over an average Yellow Jackets secondary.
South Florida's fast-paced offense under coordinator Sterlin Gilbert and a Georgia Tech option attack that I believe can pick up big chunks Saturday should be a nice recipe to send this one over the total.
Pick: Over 70
It's not so much that I love either offense as much as I expect both defenses to squander big plays - and I still really like the offenses, which will likely combine for more than 80 pass attempts.
Washington transfer and current Colorado State quarterback K.J. Carta-Samuels has attempted 83 passes over his first two games. Arkansas' Ty Storey didn't need to throw the ball as much against Eastern Illinois but recorded 276 yards on just 17 completions. Unless the wide receivers forget how to catch a football, it should be an exciting one in Fort Collins.
Recommended Pick: Under 63.5
This was a late add staring directly into my face.
Ohio State will likely make a conscious effort to clean up its defensive mistakes after giving up 31 points in three quarters against Oregon State. There's no better opportunity to do that than facing a Rutgers team that ranks 119th in S&P+ on offense.
Rutgers doesn't exactly rush to get plays off, instead leaning on its defense (29th in S&P+). I doubt the Scarlet Knights can successfully play keep-away in a game they are expected to lose by five touchdowns. But the Buckeyes are coming off a game where they hung 77 points at will, they'll be playing against a better defense, and they've got TCU on deck. I wouldn't be surprised if their offense got off to a slow start.
Recommended Pick: Fresno State +2.5
I'm keen on one of the best mid-majors here as I feel the wrong team is favored. Fresno State quarterback Marcus McMaryion is an Oregon State transfer who's played in plenty of big games; I don't think he'll find going on the road against a Big Ten team of Minnesota's stature all that intimidating.
Recommended Pick: San Jose State Team Total Under 14.5
Even against a Washington State team that has the ability to score in a hurry and give away a few bonus possessions, I'm not sure San Jose State's offense can cross midfield. The Spartans' unit is in the bottom 10 nationally and the Cougars are ... actually playing defense nowadays?
Recommended Pick: NIU +10.5
Utah's offense should be one of the most improved in the country. That said, against Weber State, the Utes still didn't look all that comfortable in Troy Taylor's system. The Huskies hung with Iowa on the road before the Hawkeyes pulled away in the second half. They have another shot at tripping up a Power 5 team, this time at home under the lights.
Recommended Pick: Arizona +4
I fully expect a bounce-back game from Khalil Tate, who can only hope 200-some yards from scrimmage in the opening-week loss didn't wash away his Heisman hopes.
Look for Kevin Sumlin to get his first win with the program against a Houston team that walked out of Tucson with a victory just last season.
Top Plays: 3-2
Overall record: 4-6
Alex Kolodziej is theScore's betting writer. He's a graduate of Eastern Illinois who has been involved in the sports betting industry for 11 years. He can quote every line from "Rounders" and appreciates franchises that regularly wear alternate jerseys. Find him on Twitter @AlexKoIodziej.
(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)