There’s a crisp bite in the air this morning folks which means football season is officially here. That also means we can finally bet on real live football games which is a welcome sight. It’s been a long off-season of reading, studying and crunching numbers but we’ve finally made it to the start.
If you’re new to the site, I write a weekly betting column outlining my favorite bets of the week across college football. For the past five years I have written this column, and each year I have been able to turn a profit, hitting a clip of 56% over the course of that span. Last year was a tough one, but we still ended up in the green. Hopefully, some return to normalcy will allow us to find more winners and build an even bigger profit. Without further ado, lets get into Week 1.
If you’re new to betting, check out the piece below to help you get started. See you on the other side!
Marshall (-2) @ Navy
Offensively Marshall returns a quarterback in Grant Wells that came out strong last year but tapered at the end throwing five interceptions against Rice to end the regular season. That’s certainly up and down, but I think he’s got a chance to regain some confidence against a poor Navy secondary this week. Traditionally, service academies have very poor pass defenses.
Think about it, they face the triple option every day in practice so it’s hard to really develop those skills in the secondary and they don’t recruit the athletes to make up the difference. In 15 of the last 18 seasons, Navy has ranked outside the top 100 in pass efficiency. Wells should have enough open targets to hit and his great offensive line should give him plenty of time to throw.
On the other side of the ball prepping for a triple-option attack is hard, but much easier when you have months to prepare rather than just a week. I think the Thundering Herd will be prepped and ready to take on this Navy offense that also has question marks having to replace their top two leading rushers and their leading passer. This may not be the most appetizing game on the slate but I think there is some value here on the Thundering Herd. My projections make them a double-digit favorite, so laying just two points is very appetizing to me.
Western Michigan (+17.5) @ Michigan
I can’t sit here and say that I think Michigan will be upset, but the alert should definitely be issued. Let’s start with the Wolverines. At the surface, this is a solid numbers play as the Wolverines are just 8-13 ATS in non-conference games under Jim Harbaugh. Additionally, Michigan will be breaking in new defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald who comes over from the Baltimore Ravens.
He’s planning on implementing a multiple defensive system that will throw a lot of different looks at teams. To me, that is a tough system for them to learn and click with early. Lastly, Michigan was 120th in defensive havoc a year ago. They just didn’t bring any explosive plays and the guys that return just do not jump off the page outside of Daxton Hill.
On the other sideline Western Michigan brings back 19 starters headlined by quarterback Kaleb Eleby. Eleby was incredibly efficient a year ago, completing 64% of his passes in their shortened MAC season. At the skill positions they have good depth and speed, and the offensive line returns 75 career starts. This is a very experienced football team. I think this offense will have the ability to score here to keep it within this number.
One final point, this is a HUGE game for a lot of players on this WMU roster. 30 players on their team are from the state of Michigan. These kids grew up watching and wanting to play for Michigan and never got the nod or the offer to do so. These directional in-state schools can sometimes be tricky, and I think Western Michigan has enough to hang within this number.
Georgia (+3.5) vs. Clemson
It wouldn’t be a betting column without talking about this game. It’s a huge matchup between two top-five teams with playoff aspirations. A win sets you up in a big way, but a loss puts your back against the wall early.
When looking at this game it really comes down to the play in the trenches for me. This game will feature the two best defensive lines in the country, so it likely comes down to which offensive line can hold the opposing line in check.
For Georgia, they have an offensive line that I think will be better and be able to hold up just enough. I can’t say the same for Clemson as they are breaking in a new left tackle and a new center. Add in that DJ Uiagalelei is still somewhat inexperienced, and I think you’re asking a lot trying to handle this Georgia front to start the season.
Really, it’s splitting hairs as these two teams are evenly matched, but I give that slight edge to the Bulldogs and I rate them as the better team so to get points with them is advantageous to me. It should be a great game, but I like the Bulldogs to come away with a cover and I believe a win in this opener.
Give me the points and maybe toss a little on the moneyline. A Georgia win would also cash my Clemson under 11.5 win total, so I am very much rooting for the underdawgs here.
Louisville (+10) @ Ole Miss: Lane Kiffin is getting a lot of credit for giving Alabama a game last year. So much so that we forget he lost to Arkansas, Auburn, and LSU in that same season. Additionally, their top two wideouts are gone. Too many points here. Also, like the under 75.
UMASS (+38) @ Pitt: Pitt offensive coordinator Mark Whipple (below) has been the head coach at UMass twice in his career. Just this week he said “it’s a great place, great school. Loved my time there.”
That fondness leads me to believe Pitt could call off the dogs and try not to embarrass UMass who got a lot better by picking off players in the transfer portal. Add in that Pitt has Tennessee on the docket next week and they could just get in and get out of there. I wouldn’t go large here, but something to think about.
Nevada (+3.5) @ Cal: Carson Strong is great and while the talent around him isn’t as deep I think they have the chance to hang around and possibly pull off an upset in this game.