College football is back, and we're going to kickoff the season with the best picks against the spread for Week 1. Labor Day weekend has become the unofficial holiday of college football with games stretching all the way through Monday night. I'll break down my five best picks for this week, but I am also going to offer a few bonus predictions that just missed being included on this week's list. All odds listed are courtesy of OddsShark.
UCF takes on UConn with their winning streak on the line. The spread has moved from 16 points all the way up to 23, but I think the Knights still easily cover the spread. It is hard to enter the season with a chip on the shoulder with all UCF accomplished last season, but this team believes it should be ranked higher in the polls after winning all of their games one season ago. Connecticut is also severely over-matched in the contest.
New Mexico State is a 17.5 point underdog against Minnesota. The Aggies have one of the most underrated defenses in the country, and have the talent to match P.J. Fleck's offense. New Mexico State is a good bet against the spread.
Stanford is expected to be much improved this season with a loaded roster with NFL talent. The Cardinal is favored by 14.5 points against San Diego State. The Aztecs upset Stanford last season, but are not going to sneak up on them this time. SB Nation's Bill Connelly's projections give Stanford a 75 percent chance to win, and I like the Cardinal to cover the spread.
Washington State is just a three point favorite over Wyoming, who is entering the post-Josh Allen era. While I think Wyoming's defense is solid, the Cougs have enough talent on offense to cover this small spread. Look for Washington State to win comfortably.
Arizona will be mproved this season under new head coach Kevin Sumlin. The Wildcats are favored by 12 points against a BYU team that went 4-9 last season. Arizona has the most exciting quarterback in college football in Khalil Tate, who the Cougars defense will not be able to contain. Look for Arizona to win big in their home opener against BYU as they kick off the Sumlin era. Arizona Noel Mazzone spoke about how Tate can take the next step forward this season.
“When he stays in his progression, he’s been awesome,” Mazzone told Tucson.com. “But there’s that fine line. Sometimes he gets out of it and goes and does a little street stuff and just makes plays. I don’t want to coach that out of him. I still want that part. But at times I want him to stay within the boundaries of the offense.”
The following picks are based on the point spreads at the time this article was published. If you have any questions about games, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @JonDAdams. Picks are listed in order of confidence from least to greatest. Click the next arrow to see my best college football picks against the spread for Week 1.