10 College Football Picks Against the Spread (ATS) for Week 1

The Holy War kicks things off on Thursday night

The Week 1 edition of college football picks against the spread is highlighted by a great rivalry game that features one team some believe can make a run at the College Football Playoff (Utah) and another former power that is struggling to tread water (BYU). Elsewhere, Michigan hosts Middle Tennessee in the first game of Josh Gattis’ tenure as the offensive coordinator, and Duke coach David Cutcliffe faces off against his alma mater, Alabama, in Atlanta. Here are 10 predictions for games against the spread.

 

College Football Picks Against the Spread

 

Utah (-5.5) over BYU (Thursday)

Let’s play some sports Jeopardy. Answer: Utah. Question: Which team ranked outside of the top 10 in the preseason is most likely to flirt with a spot in the College Football Playoff? There’s a reason the Utes have received so much attention of late: They are very good. Senior quarterback. Outstanding running back. Good offensive line. Great defensive line. Great coach. Add that up and you have a team capable of winning the Pac-12 title. BYU, on the other hand, has a bunch of questions — most notably on offense — coming off of a 7–6 season. Zach Wilson appears to be the answer at quarterback, but the Cougars are lacking skill at running back and wide receiver. Points will be hard to come by for BYU on Saturday. This line looks too low. Utah 24, BYU 13

 

Texas A&M (-33.5) over Texas State (Thursday)

Texas A&M might be a year away from making the leap into legitimate College Football Playoff contention, but this is still a very talented team that should have little trouble disposing of Texas State on Thursday night. The Bobcats are under new management; former A&M offensive coordinator Jake Spavital was tabbed to replace Everett Withers. This is obviously a new team in 2019, but keep in mind that Texas State dropped a 35–7 decision at Rutgers in Week 1 a year ago. Texas A&M 51, Texas State 13

 

Army (-21.5) over Rice (Friday)

Rice was arguably the worst FBS team in the nation last year — and there’s not much reason to believe the Owls will be significantly improved in 2019. The average margin of defeat in their 10 losses was 23.9 points, and they got outgained by 2.1 yards per snap for the season. It’s hard to be that bad. Army, on the other hand, went 11–2, with the only losses to Duke and at Oklahoma in overtime. The Black Knights went 6–3 against the spread last year against FBS opponents, including a 4–3 mark as a favorite. They should open up the 2019 season with a comfortable win. Army 41, Rice 17

 

Wake Forest (-3.5) over Utah State (Friday)

Wake Forest: college football picks against the spreadGary Andersen begins his second stint as the head coach at Utah State with a trip to Wake Forest. He inherits a team that won 11 games and one that ranked second nationally in scoring — but also one that returns only two starters on offense. Standout quarterback Jordan Love is one of the returnees, but it’s hard to envision this offense not regressing a bit this fall. Wake Forest is coming off of a strange 2018 campaign; the Deacs went 7–6 in a season that included very few close games. In fact, nine of their 13 games were decided by 17 points or more, including eight of the last nine in the regular season. Wake Forest should once again be very good on offense despite the loss of wideout Greg Dortch. Take the Deacs in a high-scoring affair. Wake Forest 42, Utah State 36

 

Oklahoma State (-14.5) over Oregon State (Friday)

Year 2 of the Jonathan Smith era begins with a home date with Oklahoma State. The Beavers were the worst Power 5 team in the nation not named Rutgers last season. They went 1–10 against FBS teams (2–8 ATS vs. Power 5 schools), and each of their losses in the Pac-12 came by 17 points or more. The offense was adequate. The defense was brutal. And that defense will welcome the high-powered Pokes to Corvallis on Friday night. Oklahoma State will be breaking in a new offensive coordinator (Sean Gleeson) and a new quarterback — Mike Gundy has yet to name a starter — but there is no doubt this team will be able to score some points. Oklahoma State 48, Oregon State 31

 

Duke (+35) over Alabama

The Crimson Tide will open with a Power 5 opponent at a neutral site for the eighth straight season. Alabama has won the previous seven, with an average margin of victory of 25.7 points. The closest game was a 33–23 win over West Virginia in 2014. This year, Duke will be the victim in Atlanta, as these two programs meet for the first time since 2010 (a 62–13 Bama win in Durham). The only mystery: Can Duke keep this from getting completely out of hand? The guess here is yes. The quarterback position is in good hands with senior Quentin Harris, and the Devils should be solid on the offensive line and in the secondary. Alabama 44, Duke 17

 

Michigan (-34) over Middle Tennessee

Middle Tennessee has been one of the most consistent Group of 5 programs in recent years and enjoyed some success against Power 5 opponents, with a win at Syracuse in 2017 and at Missouri in 2016. But the Blue Raiders have often been overwhelmed at the point of attack, scoring a total of 23 points in losses to Minnesota, Georgia and Vanderbilt (twice) in the past two seasons. And the offense figures to struggle this year without four-year starter Brent Stockstill at quarterback. Michigan will be eager to flex its offensive muscles in the first game under new coordinator Josh Gattis. This one could get ugly early. Michigan 48, Middle Tennessee 10

 

Eastern Michigan (-6.5) over Coastal Carolina

Chris Creighton has done the improbable: He’s made Eastern Michigan consistently competitive. The Eagles have won 19 games over the last three seasons — after winning a total of 16 over the previous seven. And they have done well against the spread of late as well, with a 26–12 mark over the last three seasons. Coastal Carolina made a strong hire, promoting Jamey Chadwell from offensive coordinator to head coach after Joe Moglia’s retirement, but the Chanticleers figure to struggle in 2019. This is a tough opener for Chadwell, even at home. Eastern Michigan 30, Coastal Carolina 14

 

Ole Miss (+5.5) over Memphis

All signs point to Memphis in this one: The Tigers are at home (though the crowd will be split), and they knocked off Ole Miss the last time the Rebels visited the Liberty Bowl (37–24 in 2015). Prior to that, however, Ole Miss had won six straight and 10 of the last 12 in the series, and the Rebs followed up that loss in ’15 with a 48–28 win in Oxford the next season. Ole Miss lost a bunch of key personnel from last year’s five-win team, but the Rebels have upgraded their coaching staff with the addition of Rich Rodriguez as offensive coordinator and Mike McIntyre as defensive coordinator. This will be a hungry Ole Miss team. Ole Miss 37, Memphis 30

 

Ohio State (-27.5) over FAU

Staying with the theme of teams with new coordinators and/or quarterbacks eager to prove themselves in Week 1 — such as Michigan, Ole Miss and Oklahoma State — Ohio State is poised to put up a big number on Lane Kiffin and the Owls. Kiffin made a splash in Year 1 but struggled last fall, slumping to 5–7 overall — a season that began with a 63–14 loss at Oklahoma. The Buckeyes will overwhelm FAU at every position on the field. Ohio State 45, FAU 10

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