We are excited to bring you another week of Weather Wagers. It may be hard to top the action from last week with an exciting Week 1 kickoff for college football. Lots of weather delays last weekend for lightning and heavy rain in the south and lots of overtime games too – both provided some drama over the course of a 5-day football feast. This week we welcome the return of the NFL in addition to some exciting Week 2 matchups for college. Weather will once again play a role across the east and south with a frontal system producing more showers and storms that could have an impact on games again. Here is what we are watching this week: ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Alabama @ Texas, DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium, Austin, TX, Alabama -20.5, O/U 64.5
This game, much like the Notre Dame @ Ohio State game last weekend, has been talked about all off-season as it features two of the most iconic brands in college football. Texas, at least, used to be one. And it’s trying to be one again under second year head coach Steve Sarkisian. Sarkisian has some weapons in QB Quinn Ewers and RB Bijan Robinson. But, as is typical, Nick Saban has more. From Heisman winner Bryce Young, to a rebuilt offensive line, to a Heisman contender on the defensive side of the ball in Will Anderson, Saban won’t flinch going west. It will be interesting to see if either team flinches in the heat, however. While weather won’t be much of a factor here, the Texas heat could be. Temperatures will be in the 90s through the game under searing sunshine. Everything is bigger in Texas they say, and the only thing bigger than Big Tex will be the margin of victory for the Crimson Tide, even with the high temperatures. Shield your eyes Bevo. This is likely to get ugly. Roll Tide to cover. I’ll lay the 20.5 with Bama.

Tennessee @ Pittsburgh, Acrisure Stadium, Pittsburgh, PA, Tennessee -6.5, O/U 66
This game has the potential to be fascinating. Pitt is coming off that ACC title last season and was able to beat one of its biggest rivals last Thursday with a victory over West Virginia. Meanwhile, Tennessee has been desperate for anybody to revive that left for dead program. Josh Heupel may be their Messiah if he can continue his upward mobility. It seems like the program has finally found something under Heupel and their starting QB Hendon Hooker. I would say Hooker is underrated, but every time I listen to the national sports media, everybody is talking about this guy. I do think Hooker has talent and his leading receiver is back from last season in Cedric Tillman. These two are a duo capable of inflicting some damage. Meanwhile, Pitt has Kendon Slovis at QB and passed for 308 yards against West Virginia last week. I’m sure Pat Narduzzi wants to run the ball more after managing only 76 yards against the Mountaineers. The question is – does Pitt have the horses to keep up? Weather looks like it will be okay for this game with some clouds late, but rain should hold off. Can the Panthers hold off the Volunteers? I say no. I like Heupel and Hooker to make a statement against the overmatched Panthers here. I’ll lay the points with the Orange. Tennessee -6.5.

Kentucky @ Florida, Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville, FL, Florida -5, O/U 52
My thoughts on this game have sure changed since the summer. Billy Napier’s debut as Florida’s head coach finished in the win column after defeating a scrappy Utah team that won the PAC-12 last season. Utah is always going to be a tough out, and Kyle Whittingham runs a tough and disciplined program. But Napier’s job was made a lot easier with QB Anthony Richardson having a banner day. Richardson threw for 274 yards and 3 touchdowns. In addition, he looked quite comfortable and had fun doing it. While the game was close, Florida found a way to win, and that’s what counts. This is a team that needs confidence facing a Kentucky team that has beaten them a couple of times in the last few seasons. Meanwhile, Mark Stoops faces a huge challenge taking the Wildcats down south to play Florida in the dreaded “Swamp”. His star running back, Chris Rodriquez isn’t on the depth chart and could be facing suspension, along with a few other players. Stoops didn’t comment on the situation but it’s likely the team will be without its running back on Saturday against the Gators. As much as I like QB Will Levis (former Penn Stater), I’m not sure Kentucky will be able to run the ball. If they can’t, they likely can’t win on the road in a tough environment. I was impressed with Napier and Richardson last week enough to think they can do it again against a depleted Wildcats roster. This game would be one to keep an eye on for weather concerns. It could be wet and it wouldn’t surprise me if there is a lightning delay Saturday night in Gainesville. Ordinarily, this might favor Kentucky. But not this time. I’ll lay the 5 with the Gators. Chomp, chomp!

Jaguars @ Commanders, FedExField, Landover, MD, Commanders -2.5, O/U 44
While I personally enjoy the college game better, the NFL returns this week and we will be discussing plenty of games on Weather Wagers. Especially ones like this where the weather could play a role. Let’s face it, is there any reason to watch this game? Probably not. Let me give you a couple. The first is that the Commanders are finally hoping to turn a corner with a new QB. Unfortunately for them, that QB is Carson Wentz. Wentz’s struggles are well known and he’s hoping new receiver and first round draft pick Jahan Dotson will be able to bail him out occasionally. Chase Young will be still be out of the mix to start the season apparently, so the Commanders defense will need to step up without their star. Meanwhile, Wentz’s old coach from Philly, Doug Peterson, will be roaming the sidelines with the Jags this season. Trevor Lawrence returns as a 2nd year starter at QB. Doug Peterson with a capable QB? Trevor Lawrence on offense and a rebuilt defense all without the plague of Urban hanging over them? Listen, I like the sound of all of that for Jacksonville. I’ll take the points with the dog here. Actually, I’ll take them to win outright. Go Jags! Not something you hear very often.

Browns @ Panthers, Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC, Panthers -1.5, O/U 41.5
It’s games like this one that make me question how anybody can prefer the NFL to the pageantry of college football. Far be it from me to convince you that college football is far superior. I’ll let a dud of a game like this one do the talking for me. The reason this made our “Games of the Week” list isn’t because it’s a great game. It’s because weather will likely play a role here. Showers and thunderstorms will be around the Charlotte area on Sunday as a frontal zone sets up across the eastern part of the country. The game could be sloppy and may have to be played on the ground. Lightning could also be a concern if storms develop in a decent environment ahead of the front. The Browns roster is loaded at a lot of key spots – except the most important one: quarterback. Until Deshaun Watson returns to play, Jacoby Brissett will get the nod. The Browns may have to run the ball with Nick Chubb to compensate, especially if this game does turn wet. Meanwhile, Baker Mayfield is now on the other sideline and starting for the Panthers. This is the one storyline that makes this game worth a watch. Baker can throw and will also have Christian McCaffrey as a running back to aid in helping manage the offense too. If Mayfield wants revenge against Cleveland for signing Watson, it can start Sunday at Bank of America Stadium. I like the home team and the points. Panthers to cover the 1.5.

Mississippi State @ Arizona, Arizona Stadium, Tucson, AZ, Mississippi State -11, O/U 59.5
For those bleary eyed enough to stay awake for this one, it’s our “Under the Radar” game of the week. Mike Leach takes his Bulldogs west to Tucson to face an Arizona squad that seemed to pull it all together last week against San Diego State. They won that game 38-20 and looked liked a completely revamped football team. Jedd Fisch took over the program last year and went 1-11. So far he has matched his win total…and looked good doing it. Meanwhile, Leach and his QB Will Rogers got their revenge on Memphis last week just as yours truly predicted. Will the travel have any impact here? The weather could again play a sneaky role. The game doesn’t kick until 11pm eastern time, but it is monsoon season in Arizona where storms rum rampant and several models do project some storminess late Saturday in and around Tucson. The last thing Leach needs is another lighting delay. 11 is a big number for a road team to cover. Arizona has confidence and wants to show its fans that redemption is possible. I think Leach and Rogers win this, but I’ll take ‘Zona to cover the 11 and keep it close. Especially if there is a lightning delay. Should be a fun one in the desert.

Missouri @ Kansas State, Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Manhattan, KS, Kansas St. -7.5, O/U 57
Bill Snyder Family Stadium. A classic mid-western football tilt at Noon on a Saturday. This feels like one of the games that made me love this sport as a kid. I really like Missouri head coach Eli Drinkwitz. He doesn’t take himself too seriously and his appearances on “The Paul Finebaum Show” are always a hoot. Drinkwitz needs to win football games though and heading into the “Little Apple” isn’t going to be easy. He is 1-0 on the season after beating up on LA Tech in the opener. Mizzou will need to play a really good, solid football game to pull this off against Chris Klieman’s Wildcats. Adrian Martinez, the Nebraska transfer QB, looked to be thriving with a new coach and a new system last week after the Wildcats blew out South Dakota. Yes, it was only South Dakota, but I like Chris Klieman a lot and think Martinez is finally relaxed enough to make big plays. Missouri isn’t quite ready yet. I’ll lay the points with the home team in Bill Snyder Family Stadium on Saturday. Kansas State -7.5.

Iowa State @ Iowa, Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, IA, Iowa -3.5, O/U 40.5
If you follow college football on Twitter, you know that Sean Clifford’s pick six on Saturday quickly became known as the “puke six” because the defender that ran it all the way back into the endzone was seen barfing on the sideline immediately after the play. That’s how I felt watching Iowa play football last week. Kirk Ferentz lets his son Brian call offensive plays. Why you ask? I have no earthly idea. I love my son too, but if he called plays like Brian Ferentz did on Saturday, I would tell him to find a job better suited to his abilities. Iowa’s defense continues to be the star of the cornfields and forced two safeties to narrowly escape South Dakota State on Saturday. Thank goodness for the defense. Matt Campbell and Iowa State come into Kinnick on Saturday looking for an upset. Somehow, they are not favored in this game. Iowa State QB Hunter Dekkers threw for 293 yards and 4 touchdowns in their opener. He has patiently waited his turn behind Brock Purdy and now the stage is his. I’m truly not sure it matters if Iowa State has a defense or not with Iowa trotting out Spencer Petras again. I’ll look like an idiot next week when Kirk Ferentz punts his way to another win here, but come on. I’ll take the dog here. Iowa State +3.5.

Patriots @ Dolphins, Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, FL, Dolphins -3.5, O/U 46
This is one NFL game that really intrigues me. Bill Belichick travels to Miami to face new head coach Mike McDaniel and a quarterback in Tua Tagovailoa that is 3-0 against him. That’s pretty impressive. The weather could be a mess in this game, much like Belichick’s team has been since Tommy boy left for Tampa Bay. Showers and thunderstorms could cause a slop-fest and a need to run the ball. Lightning delays are also possible as Miami deals with a strong cold front and tropical-like conditions on Sunday. Rain isn’t guaranteed, but it’s looking like a possibility Sunday afternoon. Belichick has Mac Jones at QB and sadly for Mac, he will have Matt Patricia calling plays for him. Yes, that’s right! The failed Detroit Lions head coach is now back in his safe space with Bill Belichick in New England. But not as defensive coordinator…as offensive coordinator. What is Bill thinking here? He’s won a ton of Super Bowls so who am I to question him? I’m a nobody. But reports out of New England’s camp this summer weren’t great. This game is fascinating to me and if Belichick wants to cement his legacy separate from Tom Brady, he needs a win here. After this one, they head to Pittsburgh, then face the Ravens and travel to Green Bay. The first month of the season isn’t ideal. I don’t see a win here. Give me Miami to win. I’ll take the money line pick rather than the 3.5 points given the uncertainty with the weather.

Here’s a summary of my picks for this week. Let’s roll:

Games of the Week
Alabama -20.5

Tennessee -6.5

Florida -5

Jaguars ML

Panthers -1.5

Under the Radar Game

Arizona +11

Brett’s Best Bets

Kansas State -7.5

Iowa State +3.5

Dolphins ML

It’s a fun time of year with college football in full swing now and the NFL getting started. Everybody still has a chance, theoretically. Including yours truly. I dug myself out of a hole last week, but still feel like there’s a long way to climb. I’m feeling confident this week. Let’s see how these games play out and how the forecast pans out. Enjoy your football weekend! -Brett Thackara ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Alabama @ Texas, DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium, Austin, TX, Alabama -20.5, O/U 64.5
This game is as much about tradition as it is against Alabama’s Nick Saban, and his former offensive coordinator and now Texas’ head coach Steve Sarkisian. Texas may have a better overall season compared to last year with QB Quinn Ewers and RB Bijan Robinson paired for a stronger offensive attack. This still will come no where close to beating the current and really undisputed king of college football in Saban. Sark may be slowly bringing the Longhorns closer to contention, but this game will show how far they still have to go to be relevant in the elite of the current program landscape. Look for Bama to take this one easily behind last year’s Heisman winner Bryce Young.

Tennessee @ Pittsburgh, Acrisure Stadium, Pittsburgh, PA, Tennessee -6.5, O/U 66
As much as I love what Pat Narduzzi is doing for Pitt, especially coming off a huge win against West Virginia this past weekend, the matchup with Tennessee does not look favorable. I believe Pitt’s best chance of winning is to play keep away and control the clock as they try to build their running game. Josh Heupel’s Tennessee team has a solid quarterback in Hendon Hooker and that may prove to be the difference as I believe their passing game could put up some points in this one. The Volunteers already looked good in their tune up last week again Ball State. Similar to pretty I am siding with Heupel’s squad and singing Rocky Top the whole way. I’ll take Tennessee -6.5.

Kentucky @ Florida, Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville, FL, Florida -5, O/U 52
Billy Napier and his large coaching entourage at Florida had a good first showing against a good Utah team. Napier’s new toy in QB Anthony Richardson had a fantastic season opener and the team as a whole looked organized and ready to play. On the opposite side of the ball, former Penn State QB Will Levis is poised for a big 2022 campaign. There is even some first round NFL draft speculation about the young man who at the time could not beat out Sean Clifford for Penn State’s main signal caller. Brett mentioned weather possibly being a factor in the swamp, and I don’t disagree. I stick with the home team in a fun game and take Florida at -4.5.

Jaguars @ Commanders, FedExField, Landover, MD, Commanders -2.5, O/U 44
Call me too much of a loyalist, but I really like Doug Peterson. I think the Jaguars will slowly figure it out this year behind better coaching and Trevor Lawrence. I really do not think the Carson Wentz experiment will work out any better for the Commanders than it has for the Eagles or Colts. Wentz will make great plays, and then make equally dumb turnovers. Look for some of those mistakes to cost the Commanders this week. I am on the Jaguars at +2.5

Browns @ Panthers, Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC, Panthers -1.5, O/U 41.5
It is exciting to bring the NFL in the lineup of games this weekend. This game features two teams that seem to be searching for some life vest to hold on to. Both franchises seem like they can’t stay out of their own way. They may need that life vest in a more literal sense if the forecast remains soggy. A stalling front brings the opportunity for rain during the game and possibly lightning. The Deshaun Watson situation will continue to hang over this team, but similar to Eagles’ coach Nick Sirianni I am a big fan of Jacoby Brissett. Pair him with a strong running game and Nick Chubb and I like the Browns’ chances. I am not however, a big fan of Baker Mayfield and his often erratic play on the field. I like Matt Rhule as a college coach, but his skills have not translated to the NFL game and he may be on a short leash this year. Look for the Browns to come in to Charlotte and steal one this weekend- Browns for me at +2.5.

Mississippi State @ Arizona, Arizona Stadium, Tucson, AZ, Mississippi State -11, O/U 59.5
Our “Under the Radar” game of the week takes us to the Southwest. I am not a big fan of football in Arizona, but I know they have not been relevant for a long time. I think Mississippi State continues to make this season interesting for the SEC by winning big on the road- I’ll take Mississippi State at -11.

Games of the Week
Alabama -20.5

Tennessee -6.5

Florida -5

Jaguars +2.5

Panthers ML

Under the Radar Game

Mississippi State-11

Doppler Dandies

Wake Forest -13.5

Memphis -6

Broncos -6.5

*ODDS BY CAESARS SPORTSBOOK VALID ON 9/7*