NCAAF Best Bets for Friday: Hawaii vs Stanford, Georgia Tech vs Louisville, Michigan State vs Central Michigan

NCAAF Best Bets for Friday: Hawaii vs Stanford, Georgia Tech vs Louisville, Michigan State vs Central Michigan article feature image

Austin McAfee/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.

Day 2 of our five-day college football stretch rolls on Friday with some more action before Saturday's giant slate.

After Thursday's loaded docket, our staff came through with six best bets for Friday's NCAAF games, including picks for the in-state battle in the Great Lakes State (Central Michigan vs. Michigan State), Jeff Brohm's homecoming (Louisville vs. Georgia Tech) and a late-night showdown on the island (Stanford vs. Hawaii).

Read on for all six Friday college football best bets — and be sure to check back tomorrow for plenty more betting coverage for Week 1's Saturday slate.

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Friday's College Football Best Bets

The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups that our college football betting staff is targeting from Friday's slate of games. Click on the team logos for any of the matchups below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.

GameTime (ET)Pick
7 p.m.
7:30 p.m.
7:30 p.m.
11 p.m.
11 p.m.
11 p.m.
Specific betting recommendations come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing. Always shop for the best price using our NCAAF Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.

Central Michigan vs. Michigan State

Friday, Sept. 1
7 p.m. ET
Central Michigan +14.5

By BJ Cunningham

Expectations are very low for Michigan State coming into this season.

Payton Thorne transferred out in the offseason, leaving the Spartans with either Noah Kim — who has attempted 19 passes in his career — or redshirt freshman Katin Houser at quarterback.

The only way the Spartans are going to be successful this season is running the ball with Jalen Berger because the Spartans are losing three of their top four pass-catchers. He did average 4.6 yards per carry a season ago, but he put up just 2.84 yards per carry after contact. His PFF rushing grade also sat at just 70.0.

Michigan State returns four starters on the offensive line, but its line ranked 122nd in Offensive Line Yards and 116th in Stuff Rate allowed a season ago.

Central Michigan returns nine starters on defense and is coming off a season where it ranked top-50 nationally in EPA/Rush Allowed and Defensive Line Yards.

Jim McElwain has to replace quite a bit on the offensive side of the ball. His starting quarterback and starting running back are gone, so the Chips will take a step back, but let’s not act like they're playing an elite defense.

Michigan State finished 111th in EPA/Play allowed, 104th in Success Rate Allowed and 94th in Havoc a season ago. Sparty returns just seven starters on defense, so it’s hard to see it taking a leap to being an average defense.

I only have Michigan State projected at -7.9, so I love the value here on the Chippewas at +14.

Pick: Central Michigan +14.5 (Play to +12.5)

Louisville vs. Georgia Tech

Friday, Sept. 1
7:30 p.m. ET

Georgia Tech +7.5

By Stuckey

I disagree with my esteemed colleague on this game and like the semi-home dog catching 7.5.

I’m just not buying the early-season hype on Louisville. I love the hire of Jeff Brohm, but I’m not quite sure there won’t be some early growing pains with such a massive scheme change, especially since I’m not all the way sold on the wide receiver group and offensive line.

Plus, Brohm fancies a pass-heavy scheme, which plays right into the strength of the GT defense, its secondary.

On the other side of the ball, I love the offensive coordinator Georgia Tech brought in, and I actually like some of the pieces it's assembled. The yellow Jackets also might find some success against a Louisville defense that lost three players to the NFL, including two primary contributors in the front seven and a cornerback.

There will be opportunities to move the ball and keep this within a possession.

Pick: Georgia Tech +7.5 or Better

Louisville -7.5

By Mike Ianniello

The prodigal son Jeff Brohm has returned home, and I’ll be honest, I am buying into the hype — mostly, because of their schedule, but that includes Georgia Tech.

Jack Plummer is an experienced quarterback with 33 games under his belt, including three seasons under Brohm at Purdue. Brohm knew exactly what he was getting when he pulled Plummer out of the portal.

Jawhar Jordan is a solid running back capable of taking another big step this season and has the speed and elusiveness to hit a home run on every carry. I expect Brohm to immediately put his touches on this offense and for the Cardinals to hit the ground running.

On the other side, Louisville's defense doesn’t need a whole lot of help.

This unit flew all over the field last year, leading the country with 50 sacks. It racked up 97 tackles for loss and ranked third in the country in turnovers forced. While it have some key pieces to replace, returnee Jarvis Brownlee and transfer Storm Duck should be a terrific cornerback duo with Ashton Gillotte leading the way up front.

Georgia Tech played hard for Brent Key last season to help him retain this job, but now that it’s his, it’s a whole different ball game.

Haynes King won the starting quarterback job after three seasons splitting time at Texas A&M. He completed just 56% of his passes with 10 touchdowns and 10 interceptions for the Aggies.

The Yellow Jackets have no weapons on the outside, so this offense that ranked 125th in Success Rate is likely to struggle to find consistency again.

With Brohm coaching up this Louisville offense, I expect it to pull away from Georgia Tech in this one.

Pick: Louisville -7.5 (Play to -8)

Stanford vs. Hawaii

Friday, Sept. 1
11 p.m. ET
CBS Sports Network

Hawaii +3

By Cody Goggin

Hawaii is one of the teams that we have already gotten a preview of this season. While it did not come out with a victory in Week 0 against Vanderbilt, it did take an SEC team to the brink.

The Rainbow Warriors fell to the Commodores by a score of 35-28 on the road in a game in which they outgained Vanderbilt and played fairly well overall. This was a far cry from their 63-10 thrashing at the hands of Vanderbilt from last season.

This Hawaii team seems to be potentially significantly improved. Nine starters return on defense for what was one of the worst units in college football a year ago. If the offense can show up like it did against Vanderbilt, however, this will not matter as much.

I say that because of the changes that Stanford is facing. Not only is it replacing quarterback Tanner McKee, but it's facing a widespread offensive overhaul.

Troy Taylor begins his tenure as the new head coach in Palo Alto and will be bringing his offensive system over from Sacramento State. This may work in the long haul, but the Cardinal will likely face a transition period.

Stanford only returns three starters on offense and another three on defense. They will be looking at replacing four offensive linemen, their quarterback, their receiving corps, their entire secondary, and most of their front seven.

I do think Hawaii has improved, but this is more about being low on Stanford. I think the Taylor era will get off to a rough start on the island, as Hawaii has a strong chance to win this game outright.

Hawaii +3

By Mark Harris

The run-and-shoot offense is back, folks.

While Hawaii may not have beaten Vanderbilt in Week 0, Brayden Schager and the Rainbow Warriors marched up and down the field against the Commodores, showing that their passing attack is fully up to speed in Year 2 under Timmy Chang.

Schager threw for 351 yards and three touchdowns in Hawaii’s comeback attempt vs. Vandy. His receivers did a great job finding gaps in the defense, as freshman wideout Pofele Ashlock recorded 127 yards and a touchdown and Steven McBride caught seven passes for 98 yards and two scores.

The ‘Bows can air it out, and they should be even more comfortable on their home turf in Honolulu.

Their competition likely gets easier, too. Stanford had one of the worst defenses in the Power Five last season when it gave up 32.2 points per game, and it’s hard to imagine it getting much better since the only defender it added from the transfer portal is Florida International linebacker Gaethan Bernadel.

With a week of competition under its belt, Hawaii should be able to put up points without much resistance from the Cardinal.

Stanford also has questions on offense now that Tanner McKee and wide receivers Michael Wilson and Elijah Higgins have moved on to the NFL. New Cardinal head coach Troy Taylor has not announced a Week 1 starter just yet, so it could be Ari Patu, Ashton Daniels or Syracuse transfer Justin Lamson.

Ultimately, Hawaii should be able to move the ball and score against a Stanford team that projects to be one of the worst in the Power 5.

There’s an argument that the Rainbow Warriors should be favored in this game, and with that in mind, I think Hawaii +3.5 is a good bet.

Hawaii ML +136

By Patrick Strollo

Hawaii will host Stanford in Week 1 action but enter Friday night’s game with some experience under its belt after facing Vanderbilt in Week 0 in Nashville.

The Warriors put up a solid performance against their SEC opponent in a 35-28 losing effort. The result of the Week 0 performance was a stark contrast to last season’s Week 0 blowout loss to Vanderbilt when they lost, 63-10, at home.

Stanford, meanwhile, looks to be in full rebuild mode and has to make the long trip to the island to kick off head coach Troy Taylor’s tenure at Stanford. Taylor will look to replicate his success at FCS Sacramento State but inherits what is basically a clean slate after last season’s 3-9 record.

Hawaii’s year-over-year performance against Vanderbilt speaks to head coach Timmy Chang’s vision and implementation for the program going forward.

The Warriors utilize a run-and-shoot offense that's led by quarterback Brayden Schager. Last week, Schager threw for 351 yards and three touchdowns. After taking over at quarterback midway through last season, Schager has experience and looks to have full command of the offense.

The Stanford defense will return just three starters this season with no starters from the secondary coming back. I think this spells big trouble for a difficult road trip against what is looking to be a potent run-and-shoot offense in Honolulu.

Schager should be able to continue his hot start against a Cardinal defense that ranked 112th last season in scoring defense, giving up 32.2 points per game. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Schager throw for 400-plus yards in this game.

The trenches were a question mark for the Warriors coming into the season, but they held their own against Vanderbilt. They return nine starters on defense and should be more than capable of stymieing what is likely to be a heavy run offense from Stanford.

The first iteration of the Stanford rebuild is going to be tough given its sparse use of the transfer portal and NIL considerations.

Last week, Hawaii showed significant promise and a righting of the ship in Chang’s second year at the helm. I like Hawaii to pick up the win at home behind the run-and-shoot and recommend taking the moneyline at +125 or better.

Pick: Hawaii ML +136 (Play to +125)

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