With the heavy hitting slate of games this weekend to open the season, making some CFB picks against Vegas odds-makers feels like a fun way to start things off. With that in mind, I would like to make the following disclaimer: I am not responsible for your money! YOU are!
There are four games in particular that I personally find to be intriguing, for one reason or another. Of course, the conversation with Week 1 starts and ends with none other than the clash of the titans in Atlanta.
(+7) #3 Florida State vs. #1 Alabama Crimson Tide (Atlanta, GA)
As Joe and I discussed on Draft Dudes today, this contest is filled with potential game breaking match-ups. Florida State’s offensive line will have to play a great game to prevent the Crimson Tide front seven from imposing their will in both the run and pass game. There are big play receivers on the boundary for both sides, as well as defenders capable of providing push back and making a good play on the ball.
Deondre Francois is one of the more underrated 2018 NFL Draft eligible prospects at this juncture in the season, but I do think the issues on the Seminoles front line are going to hinder his ability to put that high end arm to good use. And for that reason, I have to pick Alabama, giving up a touchdown.
(+18.5) Maryland Terrapins @ #23 Texas Longhorns (Austin, TX)
Coach Tom Herman brings a ton of buzz to the Texas program, which is eager to return to national prominence. The polls were kind to Texas, landing them in the top 25 in spite of finishing 2016 with 5 wins for the second consecutive year. The addition of Herman is sure to change the culture in Austin, but I personally am surprised to see them getting the love so soon.
This Maryland team has suspended two defensive backs entering the year but their best players reside in the skill positions. I think their trio of DJ Moore (WR), Lorenzo Harrison (RB) and Ty Johnson (RB) bring enough to generate offense against Texas and keep them within the three scores needed to cover the spread.
(-5) North Carolina State Wolfpack vs. South Carolina Gamecocks (Charlotte, NC)
The Belk College Kickoff features two upstarts from the two best contenders for the title “Best Conference in College Football”. NC State has had some folks pick them as a trendy team to win the ACC, while the Gamecocks have garnered some interest in the wild, wide open SEC East.
In this game, I think North Carolina State has more polished, established talent in more areas. The Gamecocks can be expected to score points this year behind WR Deebo Samuel, TE Hayden Hurst and QB Jake Bentley, but the Wolfpack line has the ability to wreck any and all rhythm between the South Carolina pass catchers. I think Kentravius Street, Justin Jones, BJ Hill and Bradley Chubb are the trump card South Carolina will not have an answer for this weekend.
(+12) Wyoming Cowboys @ Iowa Hawkeyes (Iowa City, IA)
This game has me interested from a game perspective and a scout perspective alike. The Hawkeyes return Akrum Wadley as their primary back and will stick to the same pro style offense that they’ve run for years under Coach Ferentz. But their opposition is trending up courtesy of the big arm of QB Josh Allen; who has been touted as a potential early draft selection.
A few things to note from a spread perspective:
- I do think Wyoming will make some plays in the passing game. I think Iowa clearly has superior talent at most positions, but Wyoming is going to let their stud sling the ball around the field. There should be points to be had.
- Iowa’s running attack will wear on Wyoming, but I’m not sure they’re going to turn this game into a track meet. They’ll ground out yards and control the tempo, but I’m not sold that they’re going to have a lot of chunk gains.
As a result, my gut tells me to take the underdog here.