College Football Odds, Picks: Saturday Noon Best Bets for Iowa vs Utah State, Michigan vs East Carolina & More

College Football Odds, Picks: Saturday Noon Best Bets for Iowa vs Utah State, Michigan vs East Carolina & More article feature image

Jeffrey Brown/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: The Michigan Wolverines.

  • Week 1 of the college football season peaks today with a loaded Saturday slate featuring wall-to-wall action.
  • Our NCAAF writers have three best bets for Saturday's noon kickoffs, including picks for Iowa vs. Utah State, Michigan vs. East Carolina and more.
  • Read on for all three picks for Saturday's noon college football games.

The massive Week 1 Saturday slate we've been waiting for is finally here.

While Thursday and Friday provided us with solid appetizers, this is the main course that will make your mouth water. And it all starts with a quality noon kickoff window.

Our writers came through with three best bets for this early window, with all three picks featuring ranked teams against Group of Five opponents. So, whether you're looking to back a powerful Michigan team with its eyes on the College Football Playoff or you want to fade the Iowa offense once again, we have you covered.

Check out all three of our college football best bets for Saturday's noon games below — and be sure to check out our top picks for Saturday afternoon and evening, as well.

Happy football season. Let's have a day.

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Week 1 Noon 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 Saturday's noon 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
12 p.m.
12 p.m.
12 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.

Arkansas State vs. Oklahoma

Saturday, Sept. 2
12 p.m. ET
Oklahoma -35.5

By Mike Calabrese

Jeff Lebby, Oklahoma’s offensive coordinator, has been a reliable gambling partner since the day he started calling plays at UCF in 2019.

He’s particularly effective when his teams are heavy favorites. As a double-digit favorite, Lebby’s offenses have averaged 47 points per game while posting an 11-5 record ATS.

The Sooners should continue this trend of lighting up the scoreboard because their sure-handed lefty Dillon Gabriel is healthy and ready to roll.

The senior from Hawaii was a perfect triggerman in Lebby’s offense last season. Gabriel had seven starts in which he accounted for three or more touchdowns and five starts in which he finished with a QBR north of 80.

Further down the line this season, their offensive line could become a question mark, but when facing a lower-tier G5 opponent, they’ll be just fine.

The offensive line lost some talented tackles, but still returns three seniors and a fourth-year junior. With time to work, Gabriel is going to carve up a listless ASU secondary.

The Red Wolves finished 124th nationally in pass plays surrendered over 30+ yards and retained Rob Harley as their defensive coordinator.

And the transfer portal did nothing for them in the secondary. ASU would’ve loved to match its in-state neighbor’s portal production that landed them the 88th-ranked class.

No, not Arkansas. The Central Arkansas Bears. That’s how dire things are in Jonesboro, when an FCS program is bringing in more talent.

J.T. Shrout is set to replace James Blackman, who was a serviceable and risk-averse passer for the Red Wolves. Shrout is neither of those two things and posted a QBR of 23.2 (121st) at Colorado last fall.

He’ll be facing off against a retooled Sooners defense that will look noticeably different from the unit that got gashed at times last season. Oklahoma ended its ‘22 campaign at 88th in Success Rate, 79th in Explosiveness Allowed and 49th in Havoc.

As a result, Brent Venables and his staff went to the portal and plucked defensive lineman Rondell Bothroyd (Wake Forest), linebacker Dasan McCullough (Indiana) and safety Reggie Pearson (Texas Tech), among others.

Add in five-star edge rusher Adepoju Adebawore, and the talent upgrade should be noticeable against this Sun Belt cellar-dweller.

Pick: Oklahoma -35.5 (Play to -37.5)

Utah State vs. Iowa

Saturday, Sept. 2
12 p.m. ET
Under 43.5

By Cooper Van Tatenhove

On Thursday, we were able to cash an under ticket with ease, as Minnesota escaped with a 13-10 victory over Nebraska.

Now it’s time to go back to the well as Utah State travels to Iowa.

There has been much made this offseason of Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz’s reserved style, which resulted in a clause being added to his contract that requires the Hawkeyes to average 25 points per game.

This contract stipulation results from an Iowa offense that ranked 19th nationally in seconds per play and 117th in points per game in 2022. Even with the added pressure from the athletic department, I don’t envision seventh-year offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz making any significant changes.

The Hawkeyes’ offense has a Net TARP ranking of -1 and ranked outside the top 115 in Success Rate, Explosiveness and points per opportunity a year ago.

Although I believe Cade McNamara will be an upgrade at the QB position for the Hawkeyes, it may take some time for him to get reacclimated after extremely limited action in 2022.

Overall, look for Iowa to be more of the same on offense to start 2023.

On the other side is a Utah State team with many question marks. Last season, the Aggies were able to get to six wins despite ranking outside the top 90 in Explosiveness and points per opportunity on both sides of the ball.

Utah State ranks 123rd nationally in Net TARP and loses 116 career starts on the offensive line, which was one of the Aggies' few strengths last season.

This resulted in Utah State ranking 28th nationally in Rush Rate and RB Calvin Tyler Jr. amassing over 1,122 yards on the ground. With Tyler now signed with the Bengals, Utah State will desperately need its running back room to take the next step.

Although Utah State will look to push the tempo, I don’t envision it having any sustained success with a full rebuild on the offensive line.

East Carolina vs. Michigan

Saturday, Sept. 2
12 p.m. ET
Michigan -36

By Alex Kolodziej

Michigan has been the best bet against the spread in the entire country since the start of 2021.

The Wolverines are expected to cover big margins and are likely a popular trade out the gates. ECU, UNLV and Bowling Green can seemingly be placed in a bucket as mid-major teams Michigan should dominate.

Of those three, the best spot to lay the points, in my personal opinion, is Week 1.
Teams coming off a bowl game the previous year, at home, against programs that didn’t make a bowl, cover the spread in their opening game of the season better than 56% of the time (h/t Bet Labs).

I prefer to bet the Wolverines in the first game back in the Big House, when everyone’s healthy, and all the Michigan players are testing their vertical leap PR on the banner out the tunnel; rather than, say, Week 3, right before Big Ten play when all the pomp and circumstance has lost its luster.

Everyone’s trying to score tuddys when the student section is full on the first game back; it’s not as fun when the late September clouds roll into Ann Arbor and everyone’s out by halftime trying to get a spot at Zingerman’s.

Saturday’s five-touchdown spread certainly reflects a matchup featuring teams separated by more than 100 spots nationally in Power Ratings.

A line that large typically warrants two questions: is the depth solid-enough if I’m rooting for backups in the fourth quarter? And 2) is there legitimate motivation?

Michigan checks both boxes, in my opinion.

The Wolverines have garnered even more respect from the market recently, closing -47 and -51 last year. They have outscored their last three mid-major opponents at home, 166-17.

This is also a great opportunity for it to #MeanMore with Jesse Minter coaching the game. If the defensive coordinator is ever in search of a promotion, he can always start his highlight reel off with something like a 63-3 butt-spanking of East Carolina and say, “I did that when I was in charge.”

East Carolina is replacing four starting offensive linemen and its stud QB/WR combo. Will the Pirates pass for more than 75 yards Saturday? This is a fair and serious question.

If I had to plant a flag this season, Michigan’s Will Johnson and Mike Sainristil both rank top-10 nationally in PFF coverage grade.

Michigan boasts a host of draft-ready offensive linemen and the fastest, most explosive skill corps of the Harbaugh era.

I bet Michigan during the summer — even before the line dropped in the wake of the Harbaugh suspension.

Also, I’d rather bet the Wolverines at -36 (-110) than a more expensive -35.5, and I’d play this all the way up to -37.5.

Pick: Michigan -36 (Play to -37.5)

More of Our NCAAF Staff's Best Bets on Saturday

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