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College Football Odds, Picks: 4 Key Stat Differences in Week 1, Including Notre Dame vs. Ohio State

College Football Odds, Picks: 4 Key Stat Differences in Week 1, Including Notre Dame vs. Ohio State article feature image
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Gaelen Morse/Getty Images. Pictured: Jaxon Smith-Njigba (left) and Treveyon Henderson (right).

We previously looked at a five-game slate that presented the biggest differences in TARP for opening kick.

That article focused on the trench — specifically teams that return the highest amount of offensive line snaps and defensive pressures to the lowest. Stability in the trench is one of the biggest keys to turning a profit in the opening weekend of college football.

Ask Navy if trench experience matters after spending the pandemic summer tackling tires instead of people before a 50-point boat-race at the hands of BYU.

This article will look at the entire two-week opening slate, comparing overall TARP numbers with a splash of our favorite Five Factor categories.

Success Rate and Finishing Drives are two of the most important stats correlated with covering the spread, meaning the ability to sustain drives and put up points past the 40-yard line are keys to betting success.

Here’s a look at the biggest discrepancies in TARP between offenses and defenses in Week 0 and Week 1, with an extended look at 2021 ranks in Success Rate and Finishing Drives.

A number of games were mentioned in our piece from earlier this month, from Vanderbilt at Hawaii to TCU taking on Colorado. Here’s a look at some of the other matchups with a wide gap in experience between the two teams.

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Offenses With TARP Advantage

Texas State vs. Nevada

Saturday, Sept. 3
5:30 p.m. ET
Nevada Sports Net
Texas State Odds
SpreadTotalMoneyline
+1
-120
51.5
-110o / -110u
-110
Nevada Odds
SpreadTotalMoneyline
-1
-120
51.5
-110o / -110u
-110
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

The Bobcats made it to “mock week” with almost no injuries after fall camp broke. The Bobcats will now simulate game week with a depth chart fully intact.

The Texas State offense return plenty of counting stats, as quarterback Layne Hatcher joins from Arkansas State via the transfer portal.

The Bobcats didn’t have much success on the offensive side of the ball when it came to sustained drives last year, but a rank in the top 50 in Finishing Drives led Texas State to a 7-5 mark against the spread.

The Nevada roster has been depleted after a mass exodus through the transfer portal. Only 17% of the defense returns, comprising of tackles, pressures, pass breakups and stops. The good news is that this will be the second game for the Wolf Pack after facing New Mexico State in Week 0.

College football teams generally take their biggest step forward between the first two games.

Only four returning starters are back against New Mexico State, where the point spread has fallen rapidly in favor of the Aggies.

The Week 1 spread against Texas State has also taken a few hits in the direction of the Bobcats. If the Wolf Pack fail to beat New Mexico State, the Bobcats may be the favorite before the Week 1 kickoff.

Advantage: Texas State


Bowling Green vs. UCLA

Saturday, Sept. 3
1:30 p.m. ET
Pac-12 Network
Bowling Green Odds
SpreadTotalMoneyline
+24.5
-110
57.5
-110o / -110u
+1200
UCLA Odds
SpreadTotalMoneyline
-24.5
-110
57.5
-110o / -110u
-3000
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

There might not have been a more surprising team in the MAC than the Falcons last season. An early cover against Tennessee was a precursor to an outright victory over Minnesota as a 31-point underdog.

Bowling Green finished the season 8-4 against the spread all while maintaining a cellar rank in Success Rate at 119th. Head coach Scot Loeffler executed when needed, as the offense slipped inside the top 100 in Finishing Drives for the season.

Fast forward to this season, and Bowling Green has nine starters back, 95% of all offensive line snaps along with high marks in rushing, receiving and passing yards.

UCLA eclipsed a season win total of 7 thanks to solid play from quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson. The defense saw minimal improvement, rising to just 86th in Success Rate while sliding just inside the top 50 in Finishing Drives.

Now, less than half of the defensive counting stats return with plenty of fresh faces entering the season from the portal. New defensive coordinator Bill McGovern brings a scheme change to a defense with just two starters returning from last season.

The market reflects a UCLA defense that could have some struggles out of the gate, as the spread as dropped from an opener of -27 to -24.5 through the month of August. Our Action Network power ratings make this game above the 24.5-point spread as Bowling Green enters oversold territory.

Wait for this spread to dip even more before considering a buy-back on the UCLA number.

Pick: Pass


Defenses With TARP Advantage

Ohio State vs. Notre Dame

Saturday, Sept. 3
7:30 p.m. ET
ABC
Ohio State Odds
SpreadTotalMoneyline
-17
-110
59.5
-110o / -110u
-800
Notre Dame Odds
SpreadTotalMoneyline
+17
-110
59.5
-110o / -110u
+575
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

There has been nothing but injury news coming from the Irish camp just a few weeks short before their opening kickoff with the Buckeyes. Notre Dame had up to five offensive lineman sidelined for practice within two weeks of kickoff.

Offensive coordinator Tommy Rees is one of the most conservative play callers in FBS but may need to start freshmen on the offensive line against a revamped Ohio State defense.

New Buckeye defensive coordinator Jim Knowles was the biggest name to move in the coaching ranks this offseason. The Buckeyes are tapped to continue play out of the 4-2-5, but getting pressure from the defensive line has been a specialty for Knowles in all of his stops.

With 80% returning, per TARP, Ohio State is expected to improve on ranks of 67th in Success Rate and 52nd in Finishing Drives.

With questions at so many positions on the Notre Dame offense, this game could be devoid of points from the Irish.

Advantage: Ohio State


Southern Miss vs. Liberty

Saturday, Sept. 3
7 p.m. ET
ESPN+
Southern Miss Odds
SpreadTotalMoneyline
+3.5
-110
50
-110o / -110u
+140
Liberty Odds
SpreadTotalMoneyline
-3.5
-110
50
-110o / -110u
-165
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

Our final review of Week 1 TARP discrepancies comes from the Group of Five, specifically on a Southern Miss team that expects to rebound from a torrential two years of play.

With 86% of the defense back, the Golden Eagles expect to make a statement in their new conference.

Defensive coordinator Austin Armstrong played a vital role in moving Southern Miss’ Finishing Drives rank up to 15th nationally allowing just 3.1 points to opposing offenses that crossed the 40-yard line.

On paper, only seven starters return to the defense, but the Golden Eagles welcome all 10 of their top tacklers back for the 2022 season.

The Liberty offense must find a new identity with Malik Willis playing NFL preseason games for the Tennessee Titans. Only 58% returns from one of the most well-run units in the nation, as the Flames placed 11th in Finishing Drives and top-40 in Success Rate.

Baylor and Utah transfer Charlie Brewer takes over at the quarterback position and inherits the two top targets from last season. With Hugh Freeze still calling plays, Liberty will continue to be a well-executed offensive group.

The point spread continues to middle between the key numbers of 3 and 7 in favor of Liberty, but the best bet may come on the under. With an opener of 52, the Southern Miss-Liberty game is steaming down through 51.

Both teams are going through changes at the quarterback position, but with the Southern Miss defense bringing back all of the contributors to a top-20 Finishing Drives unit, the under is the play in the opener.

Pick: Under 50

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