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Best College Football Betting Picks, Odds and Players to Watch in Week 1

I am more than ready for college football to return to its normal self this weekend. Yes, there were a couple of games played last weekend, during “week zero,” but tonight’s Ohio State vs Minnesota matchup marks the official return. Let’s take a look at the college football betting odds for the matchups featuring teams from our college football rankings, as well as some of the top players to watch this weekend.

college football betting futures wisconsin
Credit: Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Week 1 College Football Betting Odds and Picks

Penn State vs Wisconsin

Date: Saturday, September 4th, 2021
Time: Noon ET
Coverage: FOX
Location: Camp Randall Stadium — Madison, WI

Penn State vs Wisconsin Betting

Spread: WISC -5.5 (-110) | PSU +5.5 (-110)
Moneyline: WISC (-220) | PSU (+180)
Total: 50 — Over (-105) | Under (-115)

Prediction: James Franklin is a coach who has a lot to prove this year. After an awful year last year, even if COVID did play a major factor, he needs to get this opening week win. It would be huge for the program going forward. However, the Badgers will be pumped up with Camp Randall being at full capacity. Also, the Badgers have won their last five season openers by a combined score of 202-40. In 2016, they played (5) LSU in Green Bay and won by a score of 16-14. So this will be a tough one, but Wisconsin always starts out strong.

College Football Betting Picks: Wisconsin 24-20, PSU +5.5, Under 50

Indiana vs Iowa

Date: Saturday, September 4th, 2021
Time: 7:30 PM ET
Coverage: Big Ten Network
Location: Kinnick Stadium — Iowa City, IA

Indiana vs Iowa Betting

Spread: IND +3.5 (-110) | IOWA -3.5 (-110)
Moneyline: IND (+145) | Iowa (-165)
Total: 45.5 — Over (-110) | Under (110)

Prediction: This will be the first time these two conference foes have crossed paths since 2018. Indiana had a great season last year with the Hoosiers, finishing 6-2. Their only losses came to Playoff runner-ups Ohio State and Tennessee in the Gator Bowl. Head coach Tom Allen will be looking to prove that they weren’t a one-year wonder. Iowa, on the other hand, had a decent season last year, finishing 6-2. The Hawkeyes have also won seven of the last eight matchups between these two by an average margin of victory of 18 points. Michael Penix Jr. will need to play a great game for the Hoosiers to walk out of Iowa City with a win. I’m very down on Indiana this year. They only played one good team last year in Ohio State. Even though that game was closer than expected, they were dominated for 75% of the game.

College Football Betting Picks: Iowa 23-16, Iowa -3.5, Under 45.5

Louisiana vs Texas

Date: Saturday, September 4th, 2021
Time: 4:30 PM ET
Coverage: FOX
Location: DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium — Austin, TX

Louisiana vs Texas Betting

Spread: ULL +8.5 (-110) | TEX -8.5 (-110)
Moneyline: ULL (+265) | TEX (-330)
Total: 58 — Over (-110) | Under (-110)

Prediction: Texas is looking to get off to a great start with new head coach Steve Sarkisian. Coach Sarkisian won’t have the talent he had at Alabama to work with, but Texas is still a very good football team. Starting at quarterback will be redshirt freshman Hudson Card. He’s 6’2 and will have a lot of pressure on his shoulders this Saturday afternoon. For Louisiana, Billy Napier is looking for the upset in Austin. His team went 10-1 last year, and senior quarterback Levi Lewis was a big reason why. He received Second Team All-Conference honors last year and will be looking to build off last year’s success. This Cajuns team will not be scared of the Longhorns, nor intimidated.

College Football Betting Picks: Texas 27-23, ULL +8.5 (LOCK OF THE WEEK)

college football rankings alabama
Credit: Michael Woods/AP Photo

Alabama vs Miami (FL)

Date: Saturday, September 4th, 2021
Time: 3:30 PM ET
Coverage: ABC

Alabama vs Miami (FL) Betting

Spread: BAMA -19.5 (-110) | MIA +19.5 (-110)
Moneyline: BAMA (-1200) | MIA (+700)
Total: 61 — Over (-105) | Under (-115)

Prediction: The last time Alabama was coming off a national title, it opened the season with third-ranked Florida State the following year. They dominated the Seminoles and won the game 24-7. Yes, Mac Jones, DeVonta Smith, Najee Harris and Dylan Moses are gone, but Saban recruits so well that it doesn’t matter. I’m expecting nothing less from Alabama other than to at least cover the spread. D’Eriq King will be an intriguing player this year, but he’s just not on the same level at the Crimson Tide. Alabama easily disposes of Miami and retains its number one ranking.

College Football Betting Picks: Alabama 45-20, Bama -19.5, Over 61

Clemson vs Georgia

Date: Saturday, September 4th, 2021
Time: 7:30 PM ET
Coverage: ABC
Location: Bank of America Stadium — Charlotte, NC

Clemson vs Georgia Betting

Spread: CLEM -3 (-110) | UGA +3 (-110)
Moneyline: CLEM (-150) | UGA (+130)
Total: 50.5 — Over (-110) | Under (-110)

Prediction: This is easily the best matchup in Week 1, and possibly one of the best games of the year. The Trevor Lawrence era is over in Clemson. However, Dabo Swinney has D.J. Uiagalelei stepping in under center. We saw what the second-year quarterback is capable of last year in his one start versus Notre Dame. The Tigers lost in South Bend, but Uiagalelei was incredible, throwing for nearly 450 yards and two touchdowns. He also added a touchdown with his legs. The loss of Travis Etienne is a big one that I don’t think a lot of people realize. The defense is led by Brian Bresee, who is a stud on the defensive line and only a sophomore.

As for Georgia, this might be Kirby Smart’s best team. JT Daniels was very good at the end of last year, and the talent around him is endless. Zamir White will be an NFL running back next year. On defense, they lost a lot of production, but Jordan Davis on the inside is relentless. Nakobe Dean leads a good linebacker crew, and Tykee Smith is a star in the secondary.

College Football Betting Picks: Georgia 44-37, UGA +3, Over 50.5

LSU vs UCLA *Upset Special*

Date: Saturday, September 4th, 2021
Time: 8:30 PM ET
Coverage: FOX
Location: Rose Bowl — Pasadena, CA

LSU vs UCLA Betting

Spread: LSU -3 (-110) | UCLA +3 (-110)
Moneyline: LSU (-150) | UCLA (+130)
Total: 65 — Over (-110) | Under (-110)

Prediction: UCLA was very impressive last weekend, beating Hawaii 44-10. Former Michigan running back Zach Charbonnet only carried the ball six times, but he totaled 106 yards and three touchdowns. Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson was solid, and the defense held strong as well. For LSU and head coach Ed Orgeron, this is as close to a must-win game that there is in college football. After winning the national championship in 2020, they went a pitiful 5-5 last season, with losses to Mississippi State, Missouri and Auburn. Replacing Joe Burrow was never going to be easy, but you figured at an elite program like LSU they could figure it out. Myles Brennan was on pace to be the starter again this year before an injury. Now, the ball goes to Max Johnson. Offensive coordinator Jake Peetz will have to learn on the fly about how to build the playbook around Johnson. Out wide, Kayshon Boutte is a star in the making. On defense, theoretically, they have the best cornerback pairing in the country, with Derek Stingley Jr. and Elias Ricks. However, Stingley had an on and off year last season and even missed some time.

UCLA looked very good versus Hawaii, and I expect Chip Kelly to build on that.

College Football Betting Picks: UCLA 37-31, UCLA +3, Over 65

Other College Football Betting Games to Note

  • (9) North Carolina at Virginia Tech: Justin Fuente can already feel the heat under him, and I believe Sam Howell is the best quarterback in the nation. I like (9) North Carolina here 41-27 (UNC -6, Over 64)
  • Kent State at (6) Texas A&M: Texas A&M are going to come out of the gate very fast after just missing out on the playoff last year. Haynes King, according to reports from College Station, is the real deal. However, Kent State have been trending up for the last couple of years under coach Sean Lewis. Oh and they also have a quarterback who will be playing on Sundays next year in Dustin Crum. The Golden Flashes won’t win, but they will cover. Still (6) Texas A&M 48-21 (Kent State +29.5, Over 67.5)
  • (11) Notre Dame at Florida State: Notre Dame will head to Tallahassee to take on the Seminoles on Sunday night. Shout out to whoever did the scheduling, with no NFL football yet, great to have a game to watch on Sunday. Back to the game. Notre Dame is going to have a difficult year. They lost Ian Book from last year, however running back Kyren Williams is an outstanding back. On defense, they lost their leader in Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, but safety Kyle Hamilton is a big time NFL prospect. However, Seminole coach Mike Norvell is looking to start off well with a big win at home. On top of that quarterback McKenzie Milton is a veteran leader who will make big plays for the offense. The Fighting Irish will struggle early, but pull it out in the end. (11) Notre Dame 28-23 (FSU +7.5, Under 55)

Players to Watch in Week 1

Chris Smith, RB/KR, Louisiana: Louisiana has a really good chance to put their team on the map this weekend. They will head into Austin focused and confident. Quarterback Levi Lewis will have to play a good game, but Chris Smith will be able to provide that big-play explosiveness on offense and in the return game. Sarkisian still really doesn’t know what caliber of defense he’s dealing with, so Smith could have a great game versus the Longhorns.

TreVeyon Henderson, RB, Ohio State: Trey Sermon was a huge reason the Buckeyes made it to the national championship game last year. His games versus Northwestern in the Big Ten Championship and against Clemson in the Semi-Final were incredible. However, he’s a San Francisco 49er. Master Teague is back for the Buckeyes and should get a decent amount of carries. The man to watch in the backfield for the Buckeyes is true freshman TreVeyon Henderson. Reports out of Columbus have said he has looked phenomenal during the spring, and will see the field a decent amount on Thursday night. Henderson is the next in line of great Ohio State running backs. Minnesota’s front seven is sub-par so watch for Henderson to have a great night.

Tony Grimes, CB, North Carolina: While the pairing of Stingley Jr. and Ricks at LSU is the best in the country, it’s very possible neither of them is the best corner in the country. Enter Tony Grimes. Grimes skipped his senior year of high school last year to enroll early at North Carolina. By the end of the season last year, he was the most important player in their secondary. He was able to work with two of the best receivers in the country last year in Dyami Brown and Dazz Newsome. The sophomore is only 19, and looks to be one of the best in the nation. Quarterbacks quickly learned to throw away from Grimes. He had one interception and three passes defended last year. It might not seem like a lot, but for a guy at such a young age it’s incredible. The word is Grimes has gotten stronger over the summer, and improved his ball skills. Watch for him against Virginia Tech, I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes quite a few big plays for the Tar Heels.

Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss: Corral must be the most exciting player in the SEC. This guy averaged 333.7 passing yards per game last year, good for fifth in the country. Lane Kiffin will try to use Corral in the best ways possible. As long as he can limit his turnovers this year, it’s not crazy to think he could be in New York for the Heisman Ceremony at the end of the year. Oh, and not to mention he led the SEC last year with eight completions of 40 yards or more. He’s a lightning rod.

Brandon Joseph, S, Northwestern: Joseph might be the best safety in the country not named Kyle Hamilton. Last year as a true freshman he had 52 tackles, eight passes defended, and six interceptions. His interception of Justin Fields in the Big Ten Championship game last year was incredible. The Wildcats will host a lowly Michigan State team on Friday. Michigan State is more of a running team, so while Joseph might not get many chances for an interception, we get to see his ability to come downhill and tackle. He’ll be a first-round pick whenever he enters the NFL Draft.

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