College Football Betting Primer: What to Know Before Placing Week 1 Bets
Will Navarro/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: A Colorado Buffaloes helmet.
College football season begins in earnest this week, with a full Saturday slate of games. Here's a look at some of the most compelling spots on the docket, which features several games that could turn into track meets. Enjoy the fireworks, and hopefully we can get to the window.
Let's dive into the Week 1 offerings.
The team that captured the 2022 season faces off against the team that captured the 2023 offseason. This one promises to be full of offense as both teams will be operating the prolific veer-and-shoot playbook with new coordinators Kendal Briles (TCU) and Sean Lewis (Colorado). Some of the best talent in the matchup is at wide receiver.
If you dabble in player prop markets, this is a good game to target some overs.
The Bulldogs came into the season as a trendy sleeper pick thanks to new quarterback Hank Bachmeier. They escaped with a Week 0 win against lowly FIU, although Louisiana Tech did dominate most of the advanced metrics in the game.
Will the Bulldogs' offense find its stride against an SMU team that also likes to play uptempo? This is another noon game that could see a lot of points.
Did you read the article Stuckey researched and posted this week? It’s interesting. He looked into how teams that play in Week 0 fare when they have to turn around and play a team making its season debut in Week 1.
The numbers are compelling, although the sample size is small. The team that didn't play in Week 0 is 56-33 ATS (62.9%). That favors SMU in this one.
The Brian Ferentz countdown to 325 is officially on. Are we playing Iowa overs? Is that really happening?
This is one of the biggest TARP mismatches of the weekend. TARP is our metric that measures Transfer Assets & Returning Production, a much better accounting of year-over-year consistency than simply counting up returning starters.
The Huskies’ explosive offense ranks fifth in the nation. Meanwhile, the Boise State defense ranks 115th, and the secondary is particularly troublesome. That sounds like a bad sign for the Broncos against Michael Penix and his trio of game-breaking receivers.
The Buckeyes traditionally play with their food about once or twice a year in conference play but have made a habit of handling their business against Indiana in recent years.
Ryan Day is 3-0 against Indiana in non-COVID seasons and has outscored the Hoosiers 161-31 in those games. He's also covered spreads of -39, -21 and -40.
Add USF to the list of teams that have adopted the veer-and-shoot this offseason. It's worked basically everywhere it has been used, especially for new Bulls head coach Alex Golesh, who comes over from Tennessee.
Western Kentucky has had one of college football’s most prolific passing attacks since adopting the Air Raid a few years ago, and star quarterback and wideout tandem Austin Reed and Malachi Corley are back this year.
This is yet another game to watch — both for betting and for entertainment purposes — if you're looking for offense.
Last season, Army struggled to score in the first half against a bad ULM defense but made halftime adjustments after seeing how the Warhawks lined up against the triple option. Army unlocked the UL-Monroe defense and scored 34 points in the second half. This year, Army is installing a new shotgun offense with the inexperienced Bryson Daily at quarterback.
It wouldn't be surprising if the Black Knights were glitchy out of the gate, but their defense should be able to handle a limited UL-Monroe attack.
Lone Star State intrigue in the prime-time slate!
These two teams have — you guessed it — uptempo offenses. Houston is changing conferences and replacing legends in Clayton Tune, Nathaniel Dell and Derrick Parish, while UTSA has consistency at quarterback with Frank Harris returning.
Last year’s game was a triple-overtime, instant classic. Let's hope history repeats itself.
A pair of Mountain West teams host Power Five programs at altitude, which is always a tricky spot for the big-school favorites. Both games are also look-ahead spots, as Washington State welcomes in No. 19 Wisconsin next week and Texas Tech hosts No. 15 Oregon in Week 2. These hosts aren't projected to finish at the top of their league, but could absolutely give the big boys hell for 60 minutes.
More points! Two star quarterbacks looking to sling it around against defenses that showed little interest or ability in getting stops last season. This will also make for a great live-betting opportunity, as both offenses will create big plays, leading to fast point swings, and you know South Carolina has some special teams trickery up its sleeve.
Collin Wilson had a great breakdown on our Big Bets On Campus podcast about how West Virginia could cover this spread. The Mountaineers will look to establish a physical ground game against a Penn State defense that is susceptible to those kinds of attacks.
The Nittany Lions have been better suited to slow down passing games in recent years, and teams like Michigan and Illinois have been able to move them off the line of scrimmage. It has been a long time since this rivalry was played and an even longer time since the Mountaineers won (1988).
Well, they’ll need to turn back the clock to that era of football to steal a win against James Franklin’s squad, but covering the spread will be a far more manageable task.
This is one of the best Group of Five games of the season. Both teams have plans to crash the New Year’s Six party, and both are returning quarterbacks talented enough to take them there: Michael Pratt for Tulane and Carter Bradley for South Alabama.
South Alabama has one of the best TARP scores in the country — eighth overall — and could have an early leg up against a Tulane team that's replacing a lot of impact contributors on both sides of the ball.
Another Sun Belt team — South Alabama — almost stole a win in the Rose Bowl last year and only lost because of a catastrophic, ill-fated fake field goal attempt. Chip Kelly’s teams tend to slow play their September slate, which could lead to some drama against the best core of skill position talent in the Group of Five.
Sunday, Sept. 3
This is tremendous. Two playoff contenders in a Week 1 matchup. Both teams have mobile quarterbacks, stars at receiver and impact defensive ends.
LSU will be without running back John Emery and defensive tackle Maason Smith, whose absence could have a serious impact on LSU's ability to slow down FSU’s excellent rushing attack. I'm not betting this game; it’s getting “just sit back and enjoy the fireworks” treatment from me, but for more information, check out our in-depth guide.