Preview and predictions for NCAA Football Week 1
I cover college football and the NFL throughout the season for a number of media companies and online platforms including Forbes. I'll be updating the Top 25 each week with betting lines, key match-ups and information you can bet on and look forward to adding some insight, line moves and odds updates from leading online sportsbooks along with other information you can bet on.
I chipped-in an opening Week 0 winner last week on a total, and you can follow along and decide if you want to bet on the picks, opinions and leans provided each week as available.
I'll be pulling stats and data from leading sources, industry colleagues and newsletters which provide ATS info and other stats that can be so time consuming to research. But I'll use my own insight, intuition and years of experience and research as a proven football handicapper and point spread prognosticator to try and guide you towards more winners. I like to dig into stats and have provided information and insight for years looking for match-up edges, along with stats and situational plays that can often be overlooked when evaluating the games and match-ups.
Winning bets is always the goal and how we keep score. But developing a process in your handicapping approach while understanding the betting market and searching for value should be of great significance. As you shoot for more birdies and green on the gridiron, recognize there are plenty of hazards and rough along the way as you navigating and manage all the information put in front of you each week.
Understand there are no sure things when betting on sports and my input is for news and entertainment purposes with an added goal to help you learn while you earn. I don't sell picks or work for any company where I tout and ask people to buy picks. I did at one time, and have turned down many offers as my history and results were often top of the leaderboard, and that includes in both NFL and college football as documented independently years ago. That's before I moved on to better opportunities in the changing sports betting market with other ways to provide my talents, skills and services while better controlling my time and interests in sports and betting.
Also understand that while the top teams in the Top 25 rankings draw most the headlines, attention and betting action, those games don't necessarily offer the best value or betting opportunities. The online sportsbooks take the most bets on those games, which in turn drives the handle on the top teams and match-ups.
But since those games are of most interest to many fans, I'll try to cover those college football games from tee-to-green and chip-in information you can bet on. As available, I'll provide sportsbook betting data and update later in the week to my picks and information so you can see which teams are attracting more bets and money (handle).
Week 1 Top 25 Match-ups
No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 14 Miami, FL (Atlanta, GA - 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC
Line: Alabama -19.5 and Total 61 at BetOnline
This line was 'Bama -13.5 more than three months ago when some sportsbooks sent out opening week lines. The Crimson Tide are 14-0 and 12-2 ATS in season openers under HC Nick Saban. They may reload again and the defense should get back to it's dominant ways. But a ton of offensive starters are gone for the 'Tide with seven lost to the NFL Draft including its quarterback. Miami returns 90% of its offensive production that averaged 440 yards and 34 PPG last season. The Hurricanes positional units rank top 3 across the board in the ACC. This line has gotten out of whack, and if senior QB King keeps his cool and minimizes mistakes and turnovers, Miami hangs tough.
Pick: Miami plus points and Opinion Under Total
No. 3 Clemson vs. No. 5 Georgia (Charlotte, NC) - 7:30 p.m. ET on ABC
Line: Clemson -3 and Total 51.5 at Bookmaker
The post-Trevor Lawrence era begins at Clemson, and the Tigers are expected to be the ACC Kingpin again and the biggest favorite to reach the College Football Playoff. I'm not buying it yet. A new, highly-rated quarterback steps in for the Tigers, and draws a very tough early assignment. Georgia is so talented and tough with top recruiting classes the past three years, and early season position rankings have the Bulldogs top-3 at every position in the SEC including top quarterback JT Daniels. The Dawgs have been dominant in the early season under 6th year head coach Kirby Smart, going 18-2 SU. A pair of injuries at TE and DB are noted, but so is another year of maturity, playing time and chemistry for the SEC's top team in the East division that started more underclassman than any team in the SEC last season.
Opinion: Georgia plus points, and Moneyline +132
No. 12 Wisconsin vs. No. 19 Penn State - 12:00 p.m. ET on FOX
Line: Wisconsin -5.5 and Total 50 at GT Bets
Both teams should be better this year, and especially Penn State after taking a huge hit in the transfer portal last season. Nittany Lions have owned the Badgers recently on a 4-0 SU/ATS run. Tough task at Camp Randall in opener against the Big Ten West favorites, but still lean the Lions way.
Lean: Penn State plus points
No. 17 Indiana at No. 18 Iowa - 3:30 p.m. ET on Big Ten Network
Line: Iowa -3.5 and Total 50 at Bovada
Iowa loses six starters along the offensive and defensive lines including one of the best at left tackle. The Hawkeyes also have one of the worst-rated quarterbacks in the Big Ten while Indiana has the best in QB Michael Penix. Four offensive linemen return along with a top receiving core. Indiana is also off a historic season after going 6-1 SU and 7-0 ATS last year including 3-1 SU and 4-0 ATS as an underdog in Big Ten play. The Hoosiers are also 7-0 ATS as a road underdog the last three seasons under 5th year head coach Tom Allen. Add in 17 INTs on defense last year (No.2 in nation) and a top-ranked linebacker group, and this is another 'Dog plenty capable of being a betting man's best friend.
Pick: Indiana plus points, and moneyline +145
No. 21 Texas vs. No. 23 Louisiana - 4:30 p.m. ET on FOX
Line: Texas -8.5 and Total 59 at My Bookie
Steve Sarkisian gets another shot as head coach at Texas, and the Longhorns strength is projected along the offensive and defensive lines with top talent and strength at running back and wide receiver. Texas also starts the season rated to have the best special teams in the Big 12 - an often overlooked part of evaluating match-ups and teams strengths and weaknesses. But this is one of the sharp early season line moves, moving 6-points in favor of Louisiana, who have gone 21-4 the last two years. The Ragin’ Cajuns return nearly everyone on both sides of the ball with a 5th year QB and best OL in the Sun Belt for a team that piled up more than 430 yards and 34 PPG last season.
Lean: Louisiana plus points
FairwayJay is a proven sports handicapper and is recognized as one of the sports industry's most insightful analysts. He chips in additional sports betting coverage and reporting on industry news and events. Read more great insights from FairwayJay and follow him on Twitter: @FairwayJay