As someone who would call college football their favorite sport, this Saturday is unquestionably one of the best days of the year. Week 0 was a lovely starter before this week’s main course, and we’re looking around the restaurant waiting for plates to hit the table at noon ET on September 2.
Multi-touchdown spreads litter the board with nearly every ranked team playing on Saturday. The biggest numbers come from games like the Alabama Crimson Tide (-39) playing the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders, USC (-38) against Nevada, Texas A&M (-38) facing New Mexico, Michigan (-36) hosting East Carolina, Oklahoma (-35.5) playing Arkansas State, and Ohio State (-30) on the road at Indiana in the only spread of 30+ points favoring a visiting team.
At the other end of the spectrum for ranked teams, the North Carolina Tar Heels are 2.5-point favorites against South Carolina in a neutral-site meeting in Charlotte. The Gamecocks won the last matchup against the Tar Heels in the battle of the Carolinas by 18 points in 2021 and have taken two of their three meetings since 2015. Tulane, another slimmer favorite, is favored by 6.5 points against the South Alabama Jaguars coming off one of the best seasons in program history.
It’s a pleasure to present our first best-bet card of this season for a full Saturday’s worth of games. Our handicaps are outlined below, and we’re looking forward to a great season.
With Florida heading to Salt Lake to take on the reigning Pac 12 Champions to Nebraska & Minnesota batling for early season control of the Big Ten, get your popcorn ready for a great college football slate.
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Rice @ Texas OVER 58.5 (-108) (BetRivers)
These in-state opponents have played three times since 2015, with the scores becoming more one-sided in each subsequent meeting. The Longhorns won 58-0 most recently in 2021. We’re not sure much will have changed in this meeting, and it’s no secret that Texas has weapons all over the field despite losing their top two leading rushers to the NFL last season.
The overmatched Rice Owls will be at a significant disadvantage in the trenches but have some hope of scoring this time with transfer quarterback JT Daniels under center.
Texas travels to Tuscaloosa next week in their biggest non-conference game of the season, so there are some concerns about the look-ahead spot they are in this week. It still would not be surprising if they scored 4-5 touchdowns in the first half, and we expect Rice to put up 1-2 touchdowns themselves with more experienced quarterback play.
The spread could be in jeopardy late with Texas resting players ahead of next week, but the over will benefit from a potential backdoor cover.
USC -8.5 (1Q) over Nevada (-138) (FanDuel)
The Trojans got the wake-up call they needed last week from San Jose State and only led the Spartans by a touchdown at halftime.
For a team that expects to win their conference and compete for a national championship this year with a Heisman-winning quarterback, that’s simply not good enough.
We expect Southern Cal to come out of the gates hot in the first quarter, knowing they cannot just coast to an early lead after that Game 1 performance. Take the Trojans to lead by multiple scores after the first 15 minutes.
Penn State -20 over West Virginia (Unibet)
The much-anticipated starting debut for Penn State’s Drew Allar will happen under the lights at Beaver Stadium this Saturday.
The last three Nittany Lion quarterbacks have been drafted following their time in Happy Valley, and Allar enters his career with the most hype of them all.
On top of an experienced offensive line protecting him, he has the two-headed monster of Nicholas Singleton and Kaytron Allen at running back to provide a steady dose of early-down gains against a WVU defense that gave up 6.0 yards per play in 2022 (105th in FBS).
The Mountaineers will also start their fourth QB in the last five seasons against a Penn State defense that should rank in the top ten of all FBS teams this year. Give us the Nittany Lions to win going away in their season opener.