While Week 0 offered a college football appetizer, Week 1 is the full buffet as the season officially kicks off. Making the right picks against the spread can be challenging given none of these teams have played since last season.
Unlike the NFL, there are no preseason games to offer a glimpse of what can be expected from the upcoming season. The Labor Day holiday ushers in five straight days of college football from Thursday to Monday. There are a few contests that highlight a full slate of games.
Oregon squares off with Auburn in one of the marquee primetime matchups of Saturday night. Top NFL prospect Justin Herbert leads Oregon against Auburn who will be starting true freshman Bo Nix.
Florida State Looks to Bounce Back From a Disappointing 2018
Florida State is looking to bounce back from a disappointing first season for head coach Willie Taggart. Things do not start out easy for the Seminoles who begin the season with a neutral site contest against Boise State. The game is played in Jacksonville, so it will likely feel like a home game for Florida State. That said, Boise State has plenty of talent to hang with the Seminoles.
Dana Holgorsen begins his tenure at Houston with a difficult matchup against Oklahoma. It will also mark the Sooners debut of Alabama transfer quarterback Jalen Hurts in a game with plenty of storylines. Finally, Notre Dame takes on Louisville in the final game of Week 1.
Here is a look at my best college football picks against the spread for Week 1. The point spreads listed below are courtesy of OddsShark.
No. 1 Ole Miss Covers +5.5 Against Memphis
Memphis may be a tad inflated in this matchup based on their prior success against Ole Miss. The Rebels have a new offensive system under Rich Rodriguez which should allow the team to take advantage of the athletes on the roster. I expect quarterback Matt Corral to take a major step forward this season.
Ole Miss also has one of the best running backs in college football in Scottie Phillips. I like Ole Miss not only to cover the spread but win this game outright in case you are looking for a moneyline opportunity.
No. 2 Georgia Tech Covers +36 Against Clemson
Georgia Tech has a ways to go before the Yellow Jackets are able to perform to the level new head coach Geoff Collins has in mind. Georgia Tech also has the added challenge of transitioning from the triple-option into Collins’ pro-style offense. That said, these two teams enter this game with very different offseasons.
Clemson is coming off a national title run after thumping Alabama in the championship game. Collins has injected new life into a program that has been left for dead for years.
It is unrealistic to think Georgia Tech will be able to compete in this game, but this has the makings of a matchup that is closer than expected at halftime. This game means much more to Georgia Tech than it does Clemson. Look for Clemson to pull away in the second half, but the Yellow Jackets will keep it well within the five-plus touchdowns Vegas expects.
No. 3 Houston Covers +22.5 Against Oklahoma
There are plenty of storylines in this rare Sunday night primetime matchup. The Holgorsen era gets started in Houston against an Oklahoma team that the new Cougars coach has plenty of familiarity with thanks to his time at West Virginia. D’Eriq King is one of the best quarterbacks that not many people know about.
King is poised to put up points against an Oklahoma defense that is known to give up yards. The Houston quarterback should excel in Holgorsen’s new offense. This game is much closer than the 22.5-point spread.
No. 4 Oregon Covers +3.5 Spread Against Auburn
It is difficult to understand why Auburn is favored in this contest. The Tigers are starting a true freshman at quarterback in Bo Nix. Meanwhile, Oregon’s Justin Herbert is one of the top quarterbacks in college football. The Ducks also have plenty of talent on defense and are coming off one of the best recruiting classes in school history. Oregon not only covers the spread but wins this one outright as they get a little revenge for the 2011 national championship.
No. 5 Boise State Covers +5.5 Spread Against Florida State
Florida State enters the season with plenty of question marks after missing out on some of the top recruits the Seminoles were targeting. As for Boise State, quarterback Hank Bachmeier is one of the highest-rated recruits in school history.
The Broncos will rely on a trio of running backs led by Robert Mahone that should pose problems for the Seminoles defense. The pressure is on Taggert to return the program to its glory days, but Florida State is going to have all they can handle in the opener against Boise State. I like Boise State to cover and have a chance to pull off the upset.