College football picks and the 10 best bets for your to make during the Week 1 schedule. The college football odds will be in your favor if you read this.
The best thing about an appetizer is that it precedes and builds anticipation for the main course. That is also true of college football and the feeling fans have as Week 1 has now arrived after collective whistles were wet by Week 0. And fans are in for a treat in the first full week of the 2021 season.
Georgia and Alabama, two top-five ranked teams, doing battle in Charlotte is obviously at the forefront of every fan’s radar at this point but the great action doesn’t stop there. There are five total matchups being played between ranked teams in addition to a number of early conference games that have postseason implications already.
But if you’re making college football picks and betting, the magnitude of the game doesn’t matter. In that case, the only important thing is that the pick is a winner. For this huge Week 1 slate, we’re offering up a huge serving of picks and best bets to hopefully get the season started with a profit. (Note: All odds are courtesy of WynnBet.)
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Best bets and college football picks for Week 1
10. Alabama (-19.5) vs. Miami – There should be some rightful trepidation about what Alabama quarterback Bryce Young looks like in his first start and early in the season. Even in this talented offense, that lack of experience could hurt. The problem for Miami is that it won’t hurt the Crimson Tide enough.
Especially with D’Eriq King playing his first game since tearing his ACL 8-9 months ago, the Hurricanes are going to essentially be physically outmatched across the board. Alabama can dominate both lines of scrimmage and run away with this one by 20 or more points.
9. UTSA (+5.5) vs. Illinois – Don’t get sucked into Bielema ball. Illinois was the better-coached and better-prepared team in Week 0 when they knocked off Nebraska. Unfortunately, that could be a bit misleading moving forward as the Fighting Illini are without starting quarterback Brandon Peters and likely won’t see as poor of opposing coaching again this year.
UTSA is, in fact, pretty well-coached and they also have a stud at their disposal with running back Sincere McCormick. McCormick and the Roadrunners are going to send the Illini crashing back to Earth. They might not beat Illinois but they’ll keep it within a field goal.
8. Army (+110) vs. Georgia State – Quietly, Army finished 9-3 last year as Jeff Monken is keeping the Black Knights moving forward. There are some holes to fill but nothing that the triple-option can’t help alleviate. And it’s a bit wild that this team is now an underdog, even if on the road, against Georgia State.
The Panthers went 6-4 a season ago but their defense couldn’t stop a cold. That would seemingly make the team ill-prepared to deal with a triple-option offense and, with the well-oiled machine that Monken has on that side of the ball, take the slight underdog on the moneyline to get the plus-odds.
7. Penn State vs. Wisconsin – Under 50.0 – Making predictions about the Big Ten based even somewhat off what we saw in 2020 should be outlawed given how haphazard it felt in the league. But if there are two things we do know about this Penn State-Wisconsin matchup, it’s that both teams could have very good defenses and both offenses have major question marks.
Given that and the normalized pace of play in the conference, it’s hard to imagine how this number got up to 50 points for the game. Take advantage of this line, though, as my read on this matchup is that the Nittany Lions and Badgers have a hard enough time getting to 45, much less 50.
6. Louisiana vs. Texas (-8) – Yes, Louisiana knocked off a Big 12 team — one better than Texas at least last year — to open last season. Yes, a large part of that Ragin’ Cajuns group is back under highly respected head coach Billy Napier. But there’s no shot that happens again in this game against the Longhorns.
Not only does it feel as if Texas could give Bijan Robinson the ball exclusively and the running back would carry them to the win but it’s too often overlooked that Louisana needed some wild special teams plays to get that win over Iowa State last year. Odds say that doesn’t happen again, meaning Texas should roll in Steve Sarkisian’s debut.
5. Akron (+37) vs. Auburn – By no means is this going to be a close football game. Even the most ardent detractors of Auburn can’t deny the obvious truth that the Tigers are dramatically more talented than Akron. That means they should dominate the trenches and control the game.
Even with that advantage, though, my lack of belief in Bo Nix and Bryan Harsin aren’t going to allow me to take Auburn as 37-point favorites against anyone. They don’t have that kind of firepower against the Zips or anyone else, so give me the huge underdog to somehow cover this spread.
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4. Oregon State vs. Purdue – Over 68.5 – Suffice it to say that Oregon State and Purdue aren’t two of the most prominent teams in college football for the 2021 season, even if they are Power 5 schools. However, the reason for their lack of prominence on the national landscape is largely due to the ineffectiveness on defense from both teams.
Contrarily, both offenses have some playmakers who can move the ball consistently. So where does that leave us for this game? It likely leaves us looking at a ton of points as it would seem that neither team can stop the other. Take the over and watch the scoreboard have a busy night.
3. Louisville vs. Ole Miss (-10) – Truth be told, 10 points is a great line for this game. And if we’re talking about on-field reasoning, Ole Miss is the better squad but questions about their defense do lead to some worries that they can’t blow anyone out. But this best bet is all about narrative.
Lane Kiffin now has more of his guys in the building to go with one of the most explosive offenses in the country. He was left out of the preseason AP Top 25 — only barely — but he’d love to make a big statement out of the gate. Taking on an ACC foe and winning handsomely with a big number hanging in your favor would be a great way to do that, which is what I have the Rebels doing on Monday.
2. Notre Dame (-7.5) vs. Florida State – Based on what we saw last season and what we know about the rosters entering the 2021 season, Notre Dame should be worse than they were a year ago while Florida State should be better. That still doesn’t mean that the Fighting Irish should be favored by just a half-point over a touchdown.
Notre Dame’s stout defense led by Kyle Hamilton and a gifted front seven should push around the Seminoles, especially as they seemingly try to answer quarterback questions on the fly. Throw in the Irish’s potentially devastating run game and this has the makings of a matchup that will eventually be quite one-sided in favor of the visitors.
1. Georgia (+130) vs. Clemson – Even if you think Clemson is going to win the huge season-opener against Georgia, the smart money is still on the Bulldogs when you look at the situation. These are two teams with legitimate National Championship aspirations that are separated by two spots in the top five of the preseason rankings. By the book, they should be neck-and-neck on a neutral site.
Yet, Clemson is slightly favored, which means you can get plus-odds by taking the Georgia moneyline. For teams that are equally talented and, overall equally matched, getting plus-money for either team is a gift. And when that team also has the only truly experienced starting quarterback in the game, that’s an even bigger gift.
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