Betting Against the Spread: College Football Week 1 Picks

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Each week, Braden Gall offers his top picks of the week as well as every Top 25 game.

Betting Against the Spread: College Football Week 1 Picks

Like it or not, Las Vegas rarely gets it wrong, so tracking betting lines should always be a big part of each football weekend — even if there are no bets on the line.

Whether you condone gambling or not, think of it as becoming a more informed fan.

Week 1 of the college football season offers some unique opportunities, however, as the lines will be further “off” this weekend than at any other point of the season. This is the weekend to make moves — if done correctly.

Here are my top picks of the week as well as our editorial staff’s picks for every single Top 25 game of the weekend.

More Week 1 Previews: ACCBig 12 Big Ten Pac-12 SEC

2013 Record Against the Spread: 0-0

Week 1 Picks of the Week:

Florida State (-10) at Pitt
The Noles are breaking in a new quarterback in redshirt freshman Jameis Winston in primetime on Labor Day night. He will make mistakes, but this defense is BCS national title good and the skill around Winston on offense is elite. Pitt is headed in the right direction but Florida State is not just a cut above the Panthers, but maybe two or three tiers better. Take the Noles and end your weekend with victory. Pick: Florida State -10

Alabama (-19.5) vs. Virginia Tech
If your favorite team has a quarterback who is desperately lacking in confidence, an offensive line that is totally reworked, it lacks a true running game and has reworked the offensive coaching staff, what is the last thing you’d want to do on opening night? Yup, play the Alabama defense as the Crimson Tide begin to defend both of their BCS National Championships. Good luck, Hokies. Pick: Alabama -19.5

LSU (-4) vs. TCU
TCU might be the best-coached team in the Big 12. It might have the best quarterback in the Big 12. And it has the best defense in the Big 12. But that doesn’t mean it can compete with one of the SEC’s most physical and talented squads. And without the best player in its league, defensive end Davonte Fields, TCU will be hard-pressed to compete in the trenches for four quarters. This one is close for 45 minutes with LSU’s physicality extending the score in the final frame. Pick: LSU -4

Washington State (+14.5) at Auburn
Auburn was dead last in plays per game on offense last year nationally and fans can expect a huge increase with Gus Malzahn running the show now. Washington State struggles to run the ball and, while they should be improved across the board, will be badly outmatched in always-hostile Jordan-Hare Stadium. Look for Nick Marshall to have a coming out party against one of the Pac-12’s worst defenses. Pick: Auburn -14.5

FIU (+21) at Maryland
The Terps showed marked improvement last year in Randy Edsall's second season — and that was with their fifth-string QB starting. This team should be healthier and dramatically improved on both sides of the ball this year. FIU is missing some key playmakers and is picked to finish last in the C-USA East. Take the Terps to roll big. Pick: Maryland -21

Underdogs I like this weekend:

Ohio (+21) at Louisville
UL Monroe (+21) at Oklahoma

Toledo (+23) at Florida
UL Lafayette (+10.5) at Arkansas

Top 25 Picks Against the Spread:

Note: games with FCS opponents won't be included each week

Top 25 GamesMitch LightBraden GallSteven LassanDavid Fox
No. 1 Alabama (-18.5) vs. Virginia Tech*
Buffalo (+34.5) at No. 2 Ohio State
No. 5 Georgia (-1.5) at (8) Clemson
Rice (+26.5) at No. 7 Texas A&M
Ohio (+21) at No. 9 Louisville
Toledo (+23.5) at No. 10 Florida
No. 11 Florida State (-10) at Pitt
No. 12 LSU (-4) vs. No. 20 TCU*
Mississippi St (+13) vs. No. 13 Oklahoma St*
Temple (+29.5) at No. 14 Notre Dame
New Mexico St (+42) at No. 15 Texas
UL Monroe (+21) at No. 16 Oklahoma
Central Michigan (+31) at No. 17 Michigan
Wyoming (+29) at No. 18 Nebraska
No. 19 Boise St (+3.5) at Washington
Nevada (+21) at No. 21 UCLA
No. 22 Northwestern (-5.5) at Cal
UMass (+44.5) at No. 23 Wisconsin
Last Week:0-00-00-00-0
Year-To-Date:0-00-00-00-0

* - neutral field

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