Football is back, and each week I look at the top games against the spread. Given many college football fans play ESPN’s Pick’em, we use the ten games from the pick’em challenge, but those just looking for picks against the spread will also find it useful. Here’s a look at the top NCAA games from around the country.
USC hosts Western Michigan in the post-P.J. Fleck era. Fleck may be rowing the boat in Minnesota, but he left Western Michigan full of talented players, including running back Jarvion Franklin. While USC will win the game, look for Western Michigan to cover the 26.5 point spread.
Penn State is a 30-point favorite over Akron. With a Trace McSorley and Saquon Barkley combo, the Nittany Lions have what it takes to contend for a spot in the College Football Playoff. Penn State wins big in this matchup.
Purdue is a 24.5 point underdog against Louisville. While Louisville is being overlooked in the ACC, new head coach Jeff Brohm will have Purdue ready to play. Louisville still wins this one outright, but Purdue keeps it closer than 24 points.
Despite going 4-8 a season ago, Notre Dame is an 18.5 point favorite over Temple. The Owls may be without Matt Rhule, but expect Geoff Collins to pick up where Rhule left off in Philly. Notre Dame has plenty of talent, but it will take them a few games to hit their stride. Look for the Irish to win, but Temple to hang around.
Texas is an 18.5 point favorite in their home matchup against Maryland. While Tom Herman has all the makings of turning things around in Austin, Vegas is underrating Maryland. Texas wins, but it’s closer than the experts think.
With the LSU-BYU game moving to New Orleans, I love the Tigers both straight up and against the spread. Look for North Carolina to roll at home against Cal, and cover the 12 point spread.
Michigan takes on Florida at Jerry’s World, and the Wolverines open as a 3.5 point favorite. While quarterback Feleipe Franks is the future in Gainesville, the Gators have ten players suspended. Star receiver Antonio Callaway is one of the Florida players missing in action. Michigan may be young, but they have enough returning talent to do work against Florida.
South Carolina is a five point dog on the road against NC State. There is a reason the Gamecocks are the underdog against an experienced Wolfpack team. NC State should have one of the more dynamic offenses in the ACC, and I expect them to narrowly cover the five point spread against South Carolina.
Alabama-Florida State is the marquee matchup of the weekend. Vegas likes the Crimson Tide by a touchdown, but Deondre Francois will give Alabama everything he has. I like Alabama to win by a field goal as the Seminoles cover the spread.
The picks listed below are in order of greatest confidence (10) to the game that is a toss-up (1). All odds listed are courtesy of OddsShark, and are subject to change. The first pick in column two is against the spread and the third column is straight up (winner of the game).
Here’s a look at my college football Week 1 picks against the spread:
|10||Western Michigan +26.5 vs. USC||USC|
|9||Akron vs. Penn State -30||Penn State|
|8||Louisville vs. Purdue +24.5||Louisville|
|7||Temple +18.5 vs. Notre Dame||Notre Dame|
|6||Maryland +18.5 vs. Texas||Texas|
|5||BYU vs. LSU -16||LSU|
|4||Cal vs. North Carolina -12||UNC|
|3||Michigan (-3.5) vs. Florida||Michigan|
|2||Florida State +7 vs. Alabama||Alabama|
|1||South Carolina vs. NC State -5||NC State|