2021 College Football Week 1 Underdog Odds & Picks: The Best Moneyline Bets, Including UCLA & Florida State
Logan Stanford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Bobby Bowden Field at Doak Campbell Stadium.
- Collin Wilson and Stuckey have scoured the Week 1 college football slate looking for underdogs.
- UCLA and Florida State are both small moneyline underdogs in their games.
- See why Wilson and Stuckey are riding with the Bruins and Seminoles in their Week 1 games, below.
For the past three seasons on our college football betting podcast (now Big Bets on Campus) , Collin Wilson and I pick our two favorite moneyline underdogs for each Saturday’s slate. For Week 1 this season, we actually have one on Saturday and another on Sunday.
- 2018-20: 39-67 +5.1 units
- 2021: 0-0 +0.0 units
If you’re feeling lucky, a parlay of both pays over 6-1 odds.
Stuckey: UCLA +120
- Spread: LSU -2.5
- Over/Under: 65
- Date: Saturday, Sept. 4
- Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
- TV: FOX
- Location: Pasadena, CA
I did consider Texas State, which I will have in a round-robin parlay, but let’s not get too crazy in Week 1. I’m rolling with the Bruins, a small underdog who I project as a slight favorite.
Coming into the season, I thought this UCLA team was a bit undervalued in the market. Chip Kelly enters his fourth season in Westwood with a team full of his recruits and his schemes fully implemented.
While I’m not calling for similar results to what we saw in Kelly’s fourth year at Oregon (National Championship appearance), I do think UCLA can have a super successful season after a 3-4 record last year that included four losses by six points or fewer.
Kelly also can lean on a fourth-year starting quarterback and the best offensive line the Bruins have had in quite some time. They basically brought everyone back on offense except for running back Demetric Felton (NFL Draft) but brought in two dynamic running backs from the transfer portal to replace his production.
I also believe the defense will take a step forward this year. UCLA had no issues getting into opposing backfields last year, but there were far too many blown assignments against both the run and pass.
With so much returning production and a full offseason to adjust to some schematic changes made last year, this unit should be much improved.
Meanwhile, LSU is dealing with a lot of change heading into 2021.
Head coach Ed Orgeron brought in a new offensive and defensive coordinator. The Tigers have also dealt with a number of injuries in camp and had preparations interrupted this week by Hurricane Ida. Plus, reports out of camp have suggested that the offensive line and starting quarterback Max Johnson have struggled a bit.
Ultimately, I think UCLA will have plenty of success on the ground, which will enable it to sustain enough drives to pull this one out. Give me the more known commodity at home here.
Wilson: Florida State +230
- Spread: Notre Dame -7
- Over/Under: 55.5
- Date: Sunday, Sept. 5
- Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
- TV: ABC
- Location: Tallahassee, FL
Notre Dame will enter the year of the “Super Senior” with one of the lowest TARP ratings in the country.
Quarterback Ian Book and a number of talented players on both sides of the ball have moved on from the program (a handful to the NFL).
That led to Brian Kelly bringing in former Wisconsin quarterback Jack Coan to take over as the new starter under center. Coan, more of a game manager, will need to really rely on running back Kyren Williams and tight end Michael Mayer since the Irish really lack proven pieces on the outside in the Success Rate or explosiveness departments. They also lost four offensive linemen to the NFL.
The Seminoles defense continues to rebuild slowly, but it flashed improvement in tackling and coverage grades as the season progressed in 2020. I expect a jump in production in year two of Adam Fuller’s defense. I think it can generate enough stops here to pull off the upset.
The Florida State offense may have already had an advantage months ago when Clark Lea left his position as Notre Dame defensive coordinator for the head coaching job at Vanderbilt. Brian Kelly reached out to get Marcus Freeman, one of the best recruiting and scheme coordinators in the country.
Freeman will introduce a change to the 3-3-5, a scheme set up to confuse quarterbacks in passing snaps. However, the mobility of quarterback Jordan Travis could pose problems for the Irish. We also could see the return of QB McKenzie Milton, who would provide a different skill set and another look for the ND defense.
Head coach Mike Norvell is no stranger to a Freeman-called defense. In 2019, Memphis met Cincinnati in two consecutive weeks — and the Norvell offense got the best of the Freeman defense on both occasions.
In Florida State’s latest press conference, Norvell stated he knows what Freeman will present as far as multiple looks to his offensive line and how to counter.
Look for the Florida State offense to take a leap in year two of Norvell, especially with what I project as a much-improved offensive line after starting four freshmen last year and dealing with key injuries. Norvell walked into a nightmare situation in his first year at Florida State with new coordinators during a pandemic. With a full offseason, you should see a much sharper group from the jump.
I expect Florida State to come out fast in front of its home crowd on a night when it will honor the late Bobby Bowden.
There’s too much value in this number to pass up on a shot at the ML against a ND team I’m very low on this season.