College Football Week 1: Early Best Bets
We are so close to the beginning of the season guys! Not all the games have spreads posted yet, but there are several that do. Here the ones I like. All of these spreads are accurate as of 8/11/19.
- Miami +7 vs. UF (neutral site game)
- College Football returns August 24th! Miami/Florida will be a stand alone game that Saturday, which means it’s absolutely mandatory to put money on it! Of course, I’m being facetious. Winning at sports betting is incredibly difficult. It requires discipline and to only bet games where you think you have an edge. For this game, I do think there is value on Miami +7. I partially understand why the spread is so high. Florida looked great to end the 2018 season. They went 10-3 including big wins at Mississippi State and home against LSU. Also, Florida’s defense should be very good this year. They return 8 starters from the 2018 team that only gave up an average of 20 points per game. So there’s the good stuff, but let’s look closer at this Florida squad. Florida returns QB Felipe Franks. He’s decent but absolutely nothing to write home about. He was actually benched in the middle of the 2018 campaign and would’ve stayed on the bench if his backup didn’t get hurt soon after. He has every right to improve but asking him to cover a 7-point spread in a neutral site game against a good Miami team is a lot to ask. The other problem plaguing Florida is the offensive line. They only have 1 starter returning on the OL. This will be a HUGE deal early in the season. As long-time football fans know, O-Lines are crucial to an effective offense. Offensive line schemes are complex and take time to develop. Florida’s O-Line might be good in week 12…. But in week one, there will be issues. Just for grins, Miami accrued 44 sacks last year, and they return their entire linebacker core. Simply, Franks is going to get knocked on his ass a lot this game! Also, Miami is getting disrespected as a touchdown underdog. Miami will have a top 20 defense this year, they are much improved on the offensive side of the ball, and they have a new coach in Manny Diaz that will be looking to make a statement!! Also, Diaz’s Alma Mater is Florida St…. He’ll be even more motivated to take it to his Alma Mater’s most hated rival! Take Miami +7.
- Michigan -33 vs. Middle Tennessee
- Talking about X’s and O’s here is less important. Michigan is clearly a far superior team to Middle Tennessee. Not really a hot take there. In games with huge spreads, you must handicap motivation. In this case, we need to look at Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh. Some coaches will go up big in the first half against a less superior team and then take the foot off the gas. They will run the ball, bleed out the clock and try to not to embarrass the opponent. Then there are bully coaches. Where they don’t take the foot off the gas and absolutely embarrass any team that had the nerve to step on the same field. These coaches have no problem running up a scoreboard. So which type of coach is Harbaugh?! I think you know the answer. Harbaugh is an excellent bully. He is hyper competitive to a fault and has had absolutely no problem running up a score. Lets just look at some of the scores from the 2016 season. First game of the season, they beat Hawaii 63-3. The week after that they beat UCF 51-14. In the middle of that season they beat Rutgers and Illinois by a combined 119 to 8…. Last year they won 4 games by over 31 points. Middle Tenn has a 1st time starting QB with a shaky O-line. Michigan will score early and often, and I don’t see MTSU scoring more than a garbage time touchdown. Michigan wins this by at least 40. Take the Blue -33!
- Louisiana +22 vs. Miss St. (Neutral NO Superdome)
- This bet is partly a play on Louisiana and partly a play against Mississippi St. First off, Louisiana will be more motivated for this game than Miss State. This is a revenge game for them as Louisiana got embarrassed by Miss St. last year. The bulldogs beat them down 56-10, and it wasn’t even as close as that score indicated! What happened? Louisiana could not run the ball at all! They gained a measly 35 yards on the ground that game, and for good reason. Mississippi State had one of the best defensive lines in their school history in 2018! But the NFL draft obliterated the defense. They lose all 4 DL starters and several defensive backs. The Rajin’ Cajuns return their entire offensive line this year and 3 very solid running backs in Elijah Mitchell, Raymond Calais, and Tray Ragas. I am very confident that Louisiana will be able to move the ball, eat some clock, and put up some legitimate scoring drives. And when you are getting a 3-touchdown spread, that’s all you need to cash your ticket. This is a neutral site game being played in New Orleans. The Rajin’ Cajun fan base will be able to travel and support their team against the big brother! Take Louisiana +22.
- Utah -5 @ BYU
- So, this is a pick I’m nervous about, because it is a clear public play. This game opened at 6 and has been bet down to -5 despite 68% of the bets coming in on Utah. That means large sharp bets are coming in on BYU. Despite that, I’m going to against the sharp bettors here and will side with the public. First, let me explain why I think the sharp bettors are playing BYU. To do that, we need to talk about Mormons, because BYU has a lot of them. For those that don’t know, BYU is named after Brigham Young, who was one of the founders of the Mormon faith. I know what you’re thinking, “Michael, what the fuck does this have to do with football?” An important part of the Mormon faith is attending a 2-year mission trip to serve. The NCAA allows Mormons on BYU to attend these mission trips any time during their tenure and keep their 4 years of eligibility. With over 60% of BYU’s roster Mormon, it means that the average age of the team is much higher than traditional college football programs. For example, Tanner Magnum was a 25 year old senior QB for the cougars last year. While many QB’s are starting a 19. Often, BYU has significant advantage early in season games because they have older/stronger players coming off mission trips that get to play teenagers. It’s a good handicapping tool to have in your toolbox, but I’m still going to take my chances with the Utes in this game. Utah will be a very good team this year! They return both their star quarter back and star running back in Tyler Huntley and Zack Moss. The team returns 14 starters total, and they will not be intimidated going into Provo. Kyle Whittingham is an excellent coach and has been behind the helm for 15 years now. BYU has lost 8 straight games to Utah and I don’t expect that to change this week. We’ve gained additional value in the line moving to 5. Look for this to be a hard-fought low scoring game. Utah wins this by 7-10.
- Virginia -2.5 @ Pittsburg
- I simply think that Virginia is a superior team to Pitt and we are getting them at less than a field goal! Virginia was picked by most media outlets to finish last in the ACC last year. They clearly didn’t read the papers as they went 8-5 and then kicked the crap out of South Carolina 28-0 in the “historic” Belk bowl. UVA has a great dual threat QB in Bryce Perkins. Last year Perkins threw for 2,689 yards while running for another 923! UVA also returns their top rusher and 3 of their top 4 receivers. Their offense is good, but UVA’s defense will be even better. Last year they gave up a measly 20.1 points per game. They return 8 starters and Bronco Mendenhall (UVA coach) will have these guys ready to pounce! On the flip side, Pitt appears to be in a rebuilding year. Their biggest loss is their dominant running backs in Qadree Ollison and Darrin Hall. These 2 combined for over 2,300 rushing yards last year and will not be back! They return only 1 starting offensive linemen, they also lose 3 of their leading 5 tacklers on the defensive side. I just don’t see Pittsburg being able to move the ball on offense. When you combine this with an inexperienced O-line, Pitts QB will be rushing for his life. Pittsburg has a good coach in Pat Narduzzi, but this team will not be ready for an improving Virginia team in week one. Take Virginia -2.5! Go Cavs!