College Football Betting: Week 1 Best Picks and Advice

Ben Wittenstein: Kentucky -26.5 over Ball State.

Normally I don’t love putting money on a heavy favorite in Week 1. Yet, you look at this Ball State team and you see an FCS-level football squad. New quarterback, new receivers, weak defense. Lots of flaws on a team that faces a Wildcat squad looking to bounce back from what they considered a down season.

New Kentucky QB Devin Leary comes over from NC State with plenty of tools to be as good — if not better — than now-NFL QB Will Levis. With a veteran squad of receivers and a defense that’s on the upswing, Kentucky SHOULD win this game by 30+ points, especially with Mark Stoops eying a strong start.

Nate Jacobson: Fresno State +4 over Purdue.

I believe it’s going to be a tough year for Purdue after losing head coach Jeff Brohm to his alma mater in Louisville. Brohm is a brilliant offensive schemer, who got the most out of his teams in West Lafayette. While I did like the hire of former Illinois DC Ryan Walters as the Boilermakers’ new head coach, I expect it to be a tough first year for a team making the transition.

Fresno State is one of the better Group of Five teams in the country and has an experienced head coach in Jeff Tedford, who is known for developing quarterbacks. The Bulldogs turn to UCF transfer QB Mikey Keene to lead the offense. He had some good moments at UCF last year and should have success against a rebuilding Purdue defense. The line has dropped in this game, but there’s still enough value to back Fresno State — and I have them winning this matchup outright.

Colby Marchio:  TCU -20.5 over Colorado.

Coming into Week 1 there is a lot of hype surrounding Coach Prime and the Colorado Buffaloes, and rightfully so. But to overlook the national runner-ups from last season in the promotion of this game is straight-up disrespectful.

No. 17 TCU is a 20.5-point favorite facing arguably one of the worst teams in college football from a year ago. How bad were they? The Buffaloes were at or near the bottom in scoring defense, total defense and total offense. They were abysmal last season.

You can’t bring in 70+ guys in the transfer portal along with a new coach and expect to make instant noise. Sure, Year Two of the Sonny Dykes era probably won’t live up to the 2022 season, but TCU will cover on Saturday in Fort Worth.

BW: North Carolina -2.5 over South Carolina.

Ultimately, you’re either trusting South Carolina QB Spencer Rattler or UNC QB Drake Maye to come through. This game will likely be a shootout with the total set in the mid-60s, so it’ll come down to who can sustain their offensive production more, and with my trust in Maye higher than Rattler, I’ll take the Tar Heels as a short favorite.

NJ: Colorado State +11 over Washington State.

Last year in Week 3, I backed Colorado State to cover the 17-point spread at Washington State. Things started horribly for the Rams as they got down 21-0 within the first 12 minutes of the game and lost 38-7. That’s not going to stop me from betting an improved Colorado State team in head coach Jay Norvell’s second season in Fort Collins.

This bet is mostly a fade against Washington State, who I’m selling this season. I bet Washington State under 6.5 regular season wins earlier this summer (and that was before the Pac-12 began to crumble away). Washington State has overachieved the last two seasons and I expect regression from the Cougars in a loaded conference. They might win this game on the road in Week 1, but I believe it’ll be close and the Rams will cover the number.

CM: Florida State +2.5 over LSU.

I have to ride the Seminoles in the biggest game of the week. I love that they are the number one team in returning production (87 percent) in an era where college athletes are transferring in and out of schools. This shows me that what they have down in Tallahassee is special.

FSU is led by Heisman hopeful Jordan Travis, who will be throwing the ball to a receiving corps that has a ton of size and experience — like 6’7″ junior Johnny Wilson. Florida State’s defense should hold their own, as their d-line will be an unstoppable force with Jared Verse, Fabien Lovett and Braden Fiske. This game being played in Orlando will also be an advantage for Florida State.

BW: Wyoming ML +450 over Texas Tech.

A fun stat I found: Wyoming is 16-1 when opening the season at home since 1993. They also might have one of the best defenses in the country after returning 84 percent of their defensive production this season. Combine that with the elevation of Laramie at over 7,000 feet, and the recipe is there for an upset out west.

NJ: Northwestern ML +200 over Rutgers.

Rutgers is currently a 6.5-point favorite after Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald was fired this summer. I’m not sure what to expect from the Wildcats, but I don’t think losing Fitzgerald warrants an adjustment in the point spread for this game. In a game with a low total of 39.5, Northwestern is live to win this Sunday afternoon game between two of the worst teams in the Big Ten.

CM: Hawaii ML +135 over Stanford.

The Hawaii Rainbow Warriors were so close to making a 21-point comeback a week ago against Vanderbilt. Because of that, I think this line is absolutely disrespectful to my new favorite team. QB Brayden Schager will be smarter after turning the ball over twice, and at home with no long flight, Hawaii should be ready to take on Stanford.

Troy Taylor, Stanford’s new head coach, is in the same position that Timmy Chang was last year. Taylor is taking over a team that went 3-9 and gave up 32.2 points per game. Stanford will also be deploying a two-quarterback system — which just means that you don’t really have one quarterback that you trust. On top of that, the Warriors already have a week of play under their belts. Give me the ‘dogs!

Ben, Nate and Colby will discuss all of their college football and NFL bets on Stadium Bets. Check out the new show across Stadium’s OTT and OTA channels. Also subscribe on Spotify and Apple for podcast episodes and follow Stadium Bets on Twitter for more sports betting content.