Week One is here! Week Zero was… meh. Scott Frost absolutely melted down, Vandy destroyed Hawaii on the island, but if we’re all honest with each other there wasn’t much good football. We saw a lot of blowouts, a lot of the worst football teams in all of FBS (Wyoming, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico State), and it really just got all desperately needing Week One. Thankfully, Week One is here. There are multiple ranked opponent matchups headlined by Notre Dame/Ohio State. There is a return of an old rivalry in Pitt/WVU and we get our first taste of the multitude of teams that have had major transfers and coaching changes. Most importantly, we get five nights of football. From tonight, all the way through Monday night, we will have at least one college football game. Because of how special this weekend is, I’m going to be doing two separate previews. This one, covering the Thursday and Friday games, then tomorrow I will put out another one previewing Saturday-Monday. Without further ado, let’s get into the games.
For those that didn’t follow these previews in the past, I will try to write up the games I know are the more popular that everyone will want to bet on and then give a quick sentence or two on why I like all of my other bets with a full card at the end. If there are ever any games you want more thoughts from me on feel free to @ me on Twitter and I can share some more thoughts there.
Thursday- Pitt (-7.5) vs. WVU o/u 51.5
The Backyard Brawl is BACK! This is one of the best rivalries in college football but they have not played since both teams were in the Big East in 2011. If you don’t believe it… new QB Kedon Slovis who has been at Pitt for a cup of coffee is already saying this:
This game is going to be a bit of a grind. Pitt has a brand new QB and a brand new OC. WVU also has a brand new QB in JT Daniels. Both teams might try to feel it out early, run the ball, and not be the first team to make a big mistake in this rivalry game. Overall, I really like this Pitt team and think they are capable of winning the ACC this year if everything clicks. Defensively they should be as tough as ever under Narduzzi and have a good chance to give JT Daniels a lot of problems in his new offense. I think Pitt will be able to pound the rock, control the tempo, and when he’s ready Kedon Slovis will be able to isolate the WVU DBs and make some big throws.
If this game was in Morgantown it would be a bit of a different story, but I can’t see Pitt losing this game at home. Pitt is my favorite ML parlay piece of the week and I would lay the points with them if I had to pick a side. If I had to bet a total I would easily take the under, and I still might bet a 1H under before kickoff (stay tuned). For now, I’m sticking with the MLP. I’m pairing them with BC who are 7-point home favorites against Rutgers. I’m really down on Rutgers this year and I think they’ll struggle to win anything but their gimme games. I’m a huge Jurko fan and I think Hafley will finally start to turn that defense in the right direction this year.
Bet: 2u BC/Pitt MLP (-120), 0.5u 1H u26.5 (I just decided to bet this right now I know I said maybe like two paragraphs ago)
Thursday- Central Michigan (+21.5) @ Oklahoma State o/u 58.5
This is what happened last time Central Michigan went to Oklahoma State. Why I don’t think that is going to happen… I think they will be able to stay inside this large number. I am not a Spencer Sanders believer at all and he had some good fortune last year but I think his turnover problem rears its head again this season. The biggest difference for this Pokes team from last year to this year is that their legendary DC Jim Knowles has moved on to Ohio State. He had this defense playing like one of the best in CFB and I don’t think it will be the same with ex-Vandy HC Derek Mason at the helm. It’s a brand new system and I think it will take the Pokes some time to adjust.
Since Jim McElwain (didn’t fuck a shark, so quit asking) took over at CMU in 2019, they are the 5th best ATS team in all of FBS. McElwain obviously has P5 experience from his time at Florida so an opponent like this shouldn’t scare him. Offensively, CMU returns Lew Nichols III who led the nation in rushing last season and they bring back a 1,000-yard rusher from 2019 who missed all of last season with an injury. That two-pronged attack out of the backfield should be enough to control this tempo and limit possessions which should stop the game from turning into a blowout.
Pick: 1u CMU +21.5
Friday- TCU (-14) @ Colorado o/u 57.5
I love this TCU team. I think they had somewhat quit on Gary Patterson after the program had been too stagnant for too long. TCU may have made the best coaching moves of the offseason by bringing in Sonny Dykes at HC who is one of the brightest offensive minds in college football along with Joe Gillespie at DC who had Tulsa as one of the premier defenses in college football the past few years. Together these two should be able to take an experienced TCU roster (returning 14 total starters) and push them to perform right away. Max Duggan seems like he has been in CFB for 10 years and we have seen him hit crazy peaks over his career. I think Dykes will be able to harness that and make him more consistently great.
There isn’t as much to like with the Buffs. They do return some on offense but that’s not necessarily a good thing as last year’s offense ranked 125th in FBS in both efficiency and explosiveness. That means they were consistently bad and couldn’t even break the occasional big play. In fact, Colorado only had 23 plays go for 20+ yards all of last season, which ranked 129th in FBS. I just think there isn’t much juice to this team and they will not be ready for the energy TCU brings into Boulder.
Pick: 1.5u TCU -10 (hopefully a lot of you got this number when I put it through on the app, I would play 14 or less for 1u but would not go past 14)
Those are the three big weekday games I’m betting on! Unfortunately, I can’t bring myself to bet Indiana/Illinois or Penn State/Purdue but I will be watching closely to learn from those mid-table B1G teams that love to beat up on each other. Here is the rest of the card…
YTD: 1-4 -3.45u
2u Pitt/BC MLP (-120)
0.5u Pitt/WVU u26.5 1H
1u CMU +21.5 @ OKST
1u LA Tech +20 @ Mizzou- The legendary Skip Holtz is gone but new HC Sonny Cumbie (don’t laugh) is a really bright offensive mind that should bring a spark to this program. I think they will throw everything at Mizzou as they have a gimme game next week. Mizzou on the other hand has a really tough road game against Kansas State next week and will probably be a little more distracted by that and could hold back with a comfortable second-half lead. Over the last 5 seasons, LA Tech is 10-5-1 ATS as road dogs.
0.5u NMSU/Minnesota u52.5- I bet NMSU Week One because I thought their defense would be really good and they were. They only allowed 23 points to Nevada despite their offense turning the ball over FIVE TIMES. That isn’t the NMSU defense’s fault and I think against a slow-paced Minnesota team they can hold their own. Now if NMSU doesn’t score I wouldn’t be surprised but that’s why I’m taking the under instead of the points. NMSU Head Coach Jerry Kill is also a Minnesota fan favorite and despite his personal beef with PJ Fleck, I think Fleck knows it would be a bad look to run up the score on the former Gopher.
Those are my five bets for Thursday and Friday night! Be back tomorrow with the full Saturday preview…