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2021 College Football Odds & Picks for Northern Colorado vs. Colorado: The First-Half Betting Value in Week 1 Matchup (Friday, Sept. 3)

2021 College Football Odds & Picks for Northern Colorado vs. Colorado: The First-Half Betting Value in Week 1 Matchup (Friday, Sept. 3) article feature image

Matthew Stockman/Getty Images. Pictured: Alex Fontenot.

  • The Colorado Buffaloes open their 2021 season at home in Boulder against Northern Colorado.
  • Northern Colorado sat out the 2020 season, while the Buffaloes surprised many with a 4-2 finish.
  • Check out Kyle Remillard's full betting guide with odds, picks, and predictions for the game.

Northern Colorado vs. Colorado Odds

Friday, Sept. 3
9 p.m. ET
Pac-12 Network

Northern Colorado Odds

Spread Total Moneyline
-110o / -110u

Colorado Odds

Spread Total Moneyline
-110o / -110u
Odds via DraftKings. Last updated: Thursday.

A classic big brother vs. little brother matchup looms in Week 1 as Colorado faces in-state FCS opponent Northern Colorado.

Northern Colorado moved on from head coach Earnest Collins Jr. after posting a 28-72 record over nine seasons. They replace him with former Denver Broncos wide receiver Ed McCaffrey, who was previously coaching at the high-school level.

He brings his son, Dylan, along with him, as he transfers in from Michigan after being ranked the No. 6 QB recruit in the nation.

While being projected to finish at the bottom of the Big Sky Conference, the Bears have nothing to lose entering this game.

The Buffaloes were a popular pick to finish last in the conference last year before Karl Dorrell surprised everyone starting the season 4-0. They came back to earth in the final two games of the season, when they were blown out by a combined 49 points against Utah and Texas.

They return 17 starters on both sides of the ball and should maintain their reputation as one of the better rushing teams this season.

We’re in store for a big Colorado victory as it’s favored by more than five touchdowns.

Northern Colorado Bears

There seems to be a resurgence in the Northern Colorado football program after the signing of McCaffrey as head coach. The Bears’ roster will look much different than it did the last time they took the field.

McCaffrey has brought in a group of FBS transfers to fill holes on both the offense and defense, highlighted by his son at quarterback. They also return three former Buffaloes on the defensive side of the ball who will surely be fired up to face their old team.

The Bears are projected to finish at the bottom of the Big Sky. Staying competitive would be considered a win for Northern Colorado in this matchup.

Bears Offense

This is a completely different offense than what we saw in 2019. McCaffrey has mentioned that the Bears have been practicing the spread offense and a zone-read scheme during the offseason.

After averaging just 20 points per game in 2019, McCaffrey brought in some weapons for his son. Among them is senior running back Tru Wilson, who was a fellow Michigan man with McCaffrey in 2019.

A new set of pass-catchers fill the roster for the Bears such as 6-foot-5 tight end Robert Gillum, who transfers from Illinois state where he started 15 games in 2019. Wide receiver Dylan Thomas comes in from TCU, Kassidy Woods from Washington State, and Jonah Morris from Akron.

Bears Defense

The last time the defense took the field in 2019 it was all-around bad. They allowed opponents to score 37.8 points per game. Opposing teams averaged 8.2 yards per pass attempt and 5.8 yards per rush attempt.

It’s no secret that the defense is a point of emphasis if the program wants to take the next step forward. The Bears are returning a group of upperclassmen with transfers such as linebackers RJ Potts from Cincinnati and Xander Gagnon from Duke among several others.

Facing a big, experienced offensive line like Colorado is throwing this new-look defense straight into the fire Week 1.

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Colorado Buffaloes

Expectations are high in Boulder coming off a 4-2 season, but it begs the question if this team is for real.

Colorado outscored UCLA in a track meet, 48-42, and barely survived Stanford. The Buffs then beat San Diego State and Arizona, which was to be expected. But the first time they were really tested, the wheels completely fell off. Texas and Utah combined for 1,070 yards and 93 points against Colorado to finish the season.

The Buffs ended the season on a downward trend and lost All-Pac-12 quarterback Sam Noyer, who transferred to Oregon State.

Buffaloes Offense

Brendon Lewis gets the nod as the starting quarterback. The second-year freshman dressed for every game last season but only saw action in the Alamo Bowl against Texas. He helped spark the offense in that game and showed off his legs with a 44-yard touchdown run.

Lewis will have the luxury of a veteran receiving corps along with a dominant rushing attack.

Colorado will have a two-headed monster at the running back position between Jarek Broussard and Alex Fontenot. Broussard led the Pac-12 last season in rushing yards with 895, while Fontenot missed last season with a hip injury.

Both will be running behind a dominant offensive line that returns four starters, along with a transfer from Ohio State and Iowa.

Dorrell leaned on the running game, as the Buffs averaged the eighth-most rush attempts per game at 46 while averaging 4.6 yards per carry.

Buffaloes Defense

The Colorado defense was suspect at best last season, allowing four of its opponents to score 32 points or more.

The run defense ranked 114th in the country, allowing an average of 5.4 yards per carry. The Buffaloes were solid against the pass, holding opposing quarterbacks to just 6.6 yards per pass attempt.

They return nine starters and thrived on third downs, allowing opponents to convert on just 31.8% of attempts.

They have a strong linebacking group that is deep. Nate Landman returns after tearing his Achilles’ tendon and is the captain on this defense. Alongside him is Carson Wells who excelled last season with 16 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks.

The Buffs will outmatch the Bears physically. They will have no film to study and will be playing an offense that has been practicing the spread for nearly two years.

Northern Colorado vs.  Colorado Betting Pick

Colorado is going to be able to run all over Northern Colorado in this game. It averaged 4.6 yards per attempt and ranked 22nd in the nation in rushing yards per game going against Pac-12 competition.

Now, the Buffs face off against a defense that allowed 5.8 yards per carry and nearly 250 rushing yards per game against FCS competition. They won’t have any answer for stopping the rushing attack.

Lewis will show off both his arms and legs in his debut as the Buffs’ starting quarterback.

It won’t be surprising to see Northern Colorado put a few touchdowns on the board with their spread offense and slew of incoming transfers.

I’m staying away from the spread in this game, as it should get out of hand in the first half. Colorado will name the score against a putrid rush defense, and we should see the backups in by halftime.

That’s why I’m looking at the first half over of 31.5.

Pick: 1H Over 31.5 (Play to 33.5).

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