Wilson’s Favorite Week 1 College Football Bets: Angles for Louisiana Tech vs. Texas, More
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Bevo
- Collin Wilson dives into Saturday's college football betting card to identify four of his favorite bets at their current numbers.
- The games he will cover below: Mississippi State vs. Louisiana (noon ET), Georgia State at Tennessee (3:30 p.m. ET), Georgia Southern at LSU (7:30 p.m. ET) and Louisiana Tech at Texas (8 p.m. ET)
The CW9 Week 1 series rolls on with Saturday’s slate. I won’t be releasing my nine favorite plays of the week anymore at once — just my favorites at the current number on a given card.
Alabama will have a chance to answer Clemson’s performance on Thursday night, while the Pac-12 will have its reputation on the line in Arlington. Offensive improvement will be under a microscope at Florida State, with USC’s Clay Helton possibly coaching for his job against Fresno State.
The gambling will be fierce and loaded with a few in-game live bets. To get the best of a lot of these numbers and track your own bets, follow me in The Action Network App.
All odds below are as of 12 p.m. ET on Friday and via PointsBet.
Mississippi State v. Louisiana
- Spread: Mississippi State -20
- Over/Under: 60
- Time: 12:00 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPNU
There are high expectations for the Ragin’ Cajuns this season. The reigning Sun Belt West champs will look to win the conference and avenge a Cure Bowl loss to Tulane.
Head coach Billy Napier put together an offense that ranked No. 5 overall in IsoPPP and 10th in finishing drives. Quarterback Levi Lewis steps in for Andre Nunez, but is backed by an explosive stable of running backs and all five starters on the offensive line.
The team stumbling the most into Week 1 is Mississippi State. After self-reporting violations of a tutor taking exams, Joe Moorhead will be dishing out suspensions just prior to kickoff.
Those names are not public, but Moorhead has notified the players as Mississippi State has practiced with an updated depth chart. We’ll find out Saturday.
From a personnel standpoint, Mississippi State was welcoming a new defensive line against this solid Louisiana offensive line. The beef of this SEC defense is in a solid linebacker corps and secondary.
While the trenches may offer a bit of hope for the Sun Belt team taking on an SEC team, it is the Ragin Cajuns secondary that makes this a play for me.
Louisiana takes hits in the back seven on defense that had a terrible 2018. The defense was often masked by the offense, but Billy Napier’s team gave up 56 to Moorhead last year, 38 to a subpar New Mexico State offense and 41 to Tulane in a bowl game where the Green Wave had a one game trial offensive coordinator.
The key stat in all of that is opponent explosiveness, where Louisiana ranked 125th against the pass. Through a dreadful 2018, Nick Fitzgerald went 14 of 21 for 243 yards, a couple of touchdowns and no interceptions. Now Joe Moorhead gets “his” quarterback in Tommy Stevens. The Penn State transfer quarterback gets seven of the top eight receiving targets back from last year’s squad.
I haven’t made a play in The Action Network App, as I expect this number to continue to tumble. Once the suspensions are made public, I expect even more money against the Bulldogs.
Our Action Network projections make this Mississippi State -26, and once that number hits a wall in the market it will be a perfect time to invest.
The Pick: Mississippi State -20 (wait for the suspension news)
Georgia State at Tennessee
- Spread: Tennessee -26
- Over/Under: 58
- Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPNU
Patience has been the name of the game with this point spread. After announcements of injuries and suspensions, the Tennessee secondary will be without two projected starters.
Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney moves over from Georgia, which will take up most of the headlines for the Volunteers. The real focus should be on a secondary that was 114th in opponent efficiency in 2018.
Georgia State is not the typical team from the Sun Belt you would expect to challenge an SEC team. The Panthers have been a doormat to Appalachian State and Troy for several years, but now have the reunited duo of head coach Shawn Elliott and offensive coordinator Brad Glenn.
Those names should make you excited, unless you’re a fan of Michigan, the team they schemed to beat more than 10 years ago.
Greatest Upsets #1
Appalachian State 2007
At the time the Mountaineers were an FCS program. They stormed into the Big House & took down #5 Michigan 34-32. pic.twitter.com/ZtGquZHQKG
— CFB Blitz (@BlitzCfb) August 13, 2019
Elliott and Glenn have senior quarterback Dan Ellington and 10 of his top 11 targets back from 2018. The Georgia State stats aren’t pretty, but this air attack was 43rd in passing downs efficiency and 19th in third-and-long success rate. Quarterback to wide receiver continuity will play a big factor in the Panthers’ success against a depleted Tennessee secondary.
The Volunteers have a physical game with BYU on deck. Chaney will want to prove himself in offensive red zone play calling, but the thin defense may sit by the second half.
I will wait this number out for some possible game day steam to 28, but will back Georgia State who should surprise enough to get the cover.
Pick: Georgia State +26
Georgia Southern at LSU
- Spread: LSU -27.5
- Over/Under: 52.5
- Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
- TV: SEC Network
When LSU leached Joe Brady from the New Orleans Saints staff, it was a signal that the offensive pace would pick up in Baton Rouge.
LSU went four-wide in the Fiesta Bowl, allowing Joe Burrow to throw for almost 400 yards in a victory over Central Florida. Per Brody Miller of The Athletic, Ed Orgeron knew the offense had to change if the Bengal Tigers wanted to compete for a national championship.
The Tigers averaged 69 per game on 2017, 76 last year with an average of 84 over the last 3 games https://t.co/WqDW6WxO0v
— Collin Wilson (@_Collin1) August 29, 2019
But with Texas on deck in Week 2, we can’t expect LSU to open up the playbook or show much. The Eagles are a triple-option offense that will attempt to slow the game down. LSU may oblige, running a vanilla offense tipping nothing to the Longhorns coaching staff.
In the event LSU does decide to spend a few series slinging the ball, Georgia Southern has the chops to play a bit of defense. The Eagles take on Appalachian State and Troy yearly, getting plenty of repetition against an RPO downfield attack. Georgia Southern ranked No. 5 in opponent explosiveness on passing downs in 2018.
This should be a boring slow paced game with plenty of runs on all downs. That should allow Georgia Southern to hang around and get the cover before LSU heads to Austin.
The Pick: Georgia Southern +27.5
Louisiana Tech at Texas
- Spread: Texas -20.5
- Over/Under: 55.5
- Time: 8 p.m. ET
- TV: Longhorn Network
Could the writeup for this game just be that Tom Herman does not cover as a favorite and Skip Holtz generally covers as an underdog? OK, we’re done here? Great.
While most everyone knows about the Herman splits, its the Louisiana Tech coach that has been fantastic as a visiting underdog, per Bet Labs.
Conversely, Tom Herman has not been a covering coach when favored by 6-points or more. Last season saw close calls against Tulsa and Kansas.
But this handicap goes past the trend records for the two coaches. The Longhorns suffered numerous injuries during camp, most of which are listed as probable for the Louisiana Tech game.
The Bulldogs quarterback and wide receiver combo of J’Mar Smith and Adrian Hardy was one of the most explosive in Conference USA.
— Conference USA (@ConferenceUSA) November 11, 2018
On the flip side, Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger will have to deal with Louisiana Tech shutdown cornerback Amik Robertson. With four interceptions and 12 pass breakups from 2018, Robertson will be able to shutdown a top Texas target like wide receiver Collin Johnson.
This number may get enough Longhorns steam to get back to 21 before kick and I’d like the safety of three scores, but our Action Network projections put this game at 14.5.
Pick: Louisiana Tech +20.5