Skip to main content

Betting Against the Spread: Thursday and Friday College Football Picks for Week 1


College football starts on Thursday night although the card isn't the greatest. For those who will be checking out this weekly feature, a couple of things to remember. First, I won't go 100 percent on my picks so any tout who says they do is a liar and doesn't deserve your attention. There will be peaks and valleys. Second, if you are going to make a wager off my selections, please bet only an amount of money you can handle to lose. I even suggest sitting on the sideline the first week or two to get a feel for how the season looks early on. Third, you will find a lot more games off the radar coming from me. There are plenty of handicappers out there who can accurately handicap the bigger conferences so I'll take on the smaller ones for the most part. I'm not afraid to go FCS vs. FBS if need be. I already chronicled the 10 matchups to watch along these lines. With that, let's talk Thursday and Friday matchups.

Image placeholder title

Record: 0-0

Florida International (0-0) vs. UCF (0-0)

UCF is coming off a 9-4 season and has the talent to be in the mix for an AAC championship. The Golden Knights are led by Justin Holman under center with William Stanback at running back. They lost a lot from a defense that gave up just 19.2 points per game in 2014. The good thing for them is that FIU doesn't present too much of a challenge on offense. The Panthers are led by Jonnu Smith, who is one of the most underrated TEs in college football. Also underrated is FIU's defense, which returns eight starters led by Michael Wakefield and Denzell Perine. FIU has played 13 unders in its last 23 lined games including six of its last seven on the road where the total is between 42.5 and 49. SELECTION: Under 47

UTSA (0-0) vs. Arizona (0-0)

It's going to be a steep hill for Larry Coker's boys to climb this season. The Roadrunners went 4-8 last year and return pretty much none of the starters from that team. They have holes all over the roster and have to start out the year on the road. Last year, these two played a close game in September, but that was with a better lineup. One of the keys for a blowout game like this is making sure that there's no look-ahead factor. The Wildcats play at Nevada in week two so they won't be too focused on that one. Anu Solomon leads an offense that is capable of putting up a boatload of points. Arizona's defense is led by Scooby Wright. This one is a week one mismatch. SELECTION: Arizona -31.5

Image placeholder title
Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

Duke (0-0) at Tulane (0-0)

It's a rematch of an ugly affair for Tulane on Thursday as the Green Wave host Duke. The Green Wave lost 47-13 in Durham last year as they threw four interceptions and committed 13 penalties. Now they get the Blue Devils on their turf and there are some questions that need to be answered. Thomas Sirk is under center for the road team and he's got Shaq Powell in the backfield. The Tulane defense is an underrated unit led by Royce LaFrance up front. Duke's defense was ravaged by injuries this offseason, but still has some talent to hold down this Green Wave offense. Tanner Lee has Sherman Badie in the backfield. Tulane has gone under in 13 of its last 21 games as an underdog while the Blue Devils have gone under in nine of its last 15 games as a favorite. SELECTION: Under 47.5


- Money is coming in on South Carolina in its game with North Carolina. My feeling is that some are wagering blindly on the SEC in any matchup with the ACC. The Tar Heels return a boatload of starters on offense including quarterback Marquise Williams and wideout Ryan Switzer. The Gamecocks are breaking in a new quarterback in Connor Mitch. This is a "neutral" field game in Charlotte. I'd consider the Heels although their defense was horrible last year allowing 39 points per game.

- A lot of money is coming in on Oklahoma State moving the line approximately four points from its open. The Cowboys don't have any look-ahead factor and Mason Rudolph is a real good quarterback. The last time we saw the Chippewas, it was in the Bahamas Bowl in a wild affair with Western Kentucky. Cooper Rush is back for WMU, but not much else on the offensive side. If anything, I'd consider the over, but no official play.

- The Alcorn State/Georgia Tech game has a decent shot at going over the total of 64 posted on 5Dimes.  Alcorn State has offensive weapons, but loses a bunch from a good FCS defense last year. Tech beat Wofford 38-19 in 2014's season opener and we could see the Jackets score even more then that. You won't be able to find it in too many places so it's not an official play from me.

- Before you blindly jump on Chuckie Keeton and Utah State, consider that the Aggies are breaking in new coaches and have a week two date with rival Utah at their place. Southern Utah is led by Ammon Olsen, who threw for over 3,000 yards and 21 touchdowns. Gary Crowton is the offensive coordinator. The team also features preseason Big Sky defensive MVP James Cowser. I'm not saying the Thunderbirds are the play, but there are things to consider when taking Utah State.

- Several things to consider in the Western Michigan/Michigan State matchup on Friday night. WMU will be salivating to get big brother at its place and with 16 starters back, this one will get interesting. Sparty is hosting Oregon in week two so focus could be a bit of an issue, besides a hostile atmosphere. The one thing that scares me about the Broncos is their defense, which allowed 43 points to Purdue, 33 to Idaho and 35 to Virginia Tech last year. I came real close to making the Broncs an official play, but I just don't trust their D.

— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Josephs prefers non-Power 5 college football and may be the only one wagering on the Sun Belt. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.