The NCAAF College Football long and tumultuous offseason has faded into the past, and the 2023 season is here. While Week 0 whet our appetites, the real battle for a coveted spot in the College Football Playoff commences this Saturday and won’t relent until December. Will the Georgia Bulldogs achieve a historic 3-peat, or will another program ascend to the zenith of college football glory?
With the offseason turmoil behind us and our comprehensive college football previews spanning every conference at your fingertips, it’s time to delve into Week 1. In this weekly best bets column, we aim to replicate the success of the 2022 season, where we boasted a win rate exceeding 60%, culminating in an 8-0 run to conclude championship week and bowl season. We hope you were part of those lucrative victories!
NCAAF Best Football Bets: Week 1
Though we faced a challenging start in Week 0, Week 1 presents a plethora of opportunities brimming with value. Let’s explore our top picks for the opening weekend of the college football season.
Football Bet: Washington Huskies -14 over Boise State Broncos (-110)
In a matchup that mirrors the other two best bets this weekend, we target a team we anticipate faltering from the get-go. However, Washington stands as the sole favorite in this week’s column, affording us the chance to embrace the points with a formidable side before navigating the murkier waters of underdogs. Our high regard for Washington this summer stems from their possession of three key attributes we prize in any college football team we endorse: an exceptional coach, a seasoned quarterback, and a robust front seven on defense. Washington, a rare breed in the league, can hold their own in the trenches against physical opponents while boasting a potent passing attack, spearheaded by the talented Michael Penix Jr. under center.
The innovative offense orchestrated by Kalen DeBoer worked wonders for Penix Jr. in 2022, elevating him into one of the nation’s most efficient passers. We anticipate Washington’s passing game continuing its success against a Boise State defense grappling with the departure of seven starters who now ply their trade in the NFL. This void spans from pass-rushing talents to vital components in the Broncos’ linebacking corps. Such a situation doesn’t bode well against Washington’s exceptional wide receiving corps and one of the nation’s premier quarterbacks. Meanwhile, Boise State’s offensive leader, Talen Green, exhibited flashes of brilliance last season. However, he remains at the helm of a run-first offense undergoing a transformation under the guidance of new offensive coordinator Bush Hamdan. While you can exploit Washington’s defense with explosive plays, Boise is unlikely to provide them in this contest. Our projection aligns closer to a 17-point margin, making us confident in this elite coach-quarterback tandem securing victory at home.
Football Bet: Colorado State Rams +11.5 over Washington State Cougars (-110)
This matchup has been on our radar for several months, presenting an enticing opportunity to back a team we have high hopes for while fading another in which we lack faith. In his inaugural season at Colorado State, head coach Jay Norvell inherited a team mired in turmoil, with results that mirrored their tumultuous state. Nonetheless, we’ve witnessed Norvell orchestrate remarkable turnarounds in his second season before, most notably at Nevada, where he steered the Wolfpack from a dreary 3-win debut to an 8-5 record in year two. It wouldn’t astonish us to witness a similar resurgence at Colorado State.
The Rams return eight starters from a surprisingly resilient defense in the previous season, augmented by a nearly revamped offensive line tasked with safeguarding one of the nation’s underappreciated quarterbacks, Clay Millen. On the flip side, the Washington State Cougars are poised for significant changes on offense under new offensive coordinator Ben Arbuckle, introducing a surge in pace this fall. However, the results might vary, given that Cam Ward excels as a runner rather than a passer. Concerns loom over his ball security, evident in his 21 turnover-worthy plays in 2022. Furthermore, the Cougars ranked a disheartening 89th in EPA per pass on defense last season, leaving room for Millen and his compatriots to consistently advance the ball. Our confidence exceeds market expectations for Colorado State, making us eager to support the Rams at this juncture.
Football Bet: North Texas Mean Green +7 over California Bears (-120)
California is a team we anticipate fading throughout the season, and we kick off our campaign early in Week 1 with a trip to Denton, Texas. The conditions on Saturday promise to be merciless, with temperatures nearing 100 degrees, precisely during the game hours between 2:30-7:00 pm ET. This atypical climate favors the home team, providing them a subtle edge even before dissecting the on-field strategies.
Jake Spavital steps into the role of offensive coordinator for the Bears, ushering in a significant stylistic overhaul for an offense that struggled in 2022. While commencing the season at breakneck pace and tempo may sound enticing, we harbor doubts about its feasibility for Cal’s offense amid these challenging conditions. On the flip side, Eric Morris assumes the head coaching position for the Mean Green, a team well-versed in ground-based success, ranking among the top 50 in EPA per play and EPA per rush in the previous season. North Texas wields the requisite running game to exploit a Justin Wilcox defense, bolstered by a formidable offensive line within the AAC. To compound Cal’s woes, their typically stout defense suffered substantial losses in the secondary. Thus, the Bears’ vulnerabilities extend into this realm as well. While the +7 offered at -120 in the market is our preferred option, considering the 6.5-point alternative proves equally valuable. An outright victory by North Texas would not be surprising, making a sprinkling on the money line a compelling proposition.
College Football Mega Parlay: +735 Odds for Friday, 9/1
At long last, Week 1 unfolds before us! While Week 0 served as a tantalizing appetizer, this week genuinely inaugurates the 2023 college football season. The action commenced with a selection of games last night, and I secured my inaugural mega parlay of the season at +610 odds. Let’s maintain our momentum!
Friday’s lineup promises an enthralling spectacle, replete with captivating matchups that I’ve pinpointed for this endeavor. Abundant value awaits, inspiring the assembly of a 3-leg college football parlay, comprising my preferred plays for Friday’s action. Let’s delve into the components of our NCAAF mega parlay for Friday’s festivities.
Hawaii ML (+136)
Louisville vs. Georgia Tech Under 49.5 (-110)
Central Michigan +14.5 (-115)
NCAAF Football Parlay Odds: +735
Odds available at FanDuel Sportsbook at the time of publication.
For this parlay, we embrace an underdog against the spread, an underdog on the money line, and an under in total points. Let’s dissect each leg individually.
Football Bet: Hawaii Rainbow Warriors ML over Stanford Cardinal (+136)
This line has witnessed significant movement throughout the week, and for valid reasons. Hawaii impressed observers last week by
maintaining a competitive stance against Vanderbilt, particularly noteworthy given their short turnaround. Head coach Timmy Chang’s squad benefits immensely from having already contested a game, a substantial advantage compared to Stanford. The most substantial growth for most college teams transpires between their inaugural and subsequent matches, and we expect Hawaii’s run-and-shoot offense to click against a Stanford defense currently undergoing a comprehensive rebuild.
Stanford’s offense, comprising only two returning starters, abounds with uncertainties as it embarks on Troy Taylor’s inaugural game as head coach. Rainbow Warriors boast the more seasoned coach and superior quarterback in this encounter, strengthening our confidence in the hosts prevailing on the island.
Football Bet: Louisville Cardinals vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Under 49.5 (-110)
The dawn of the Jeff Brohm era in Louisville brings quarterback Jack Plummer along from Purdue. Plummer, with four years of experience under Brohm, should transition smoothly into the new program with a comparable offensive scheme. However, this debut might not unfold as seamlessly, especially against a tenacious Georgia Tech unit intent on running the ball and consuming clock time through its triple-option approach.
While Louisville holds the talent edge, we anticipate Georgia Tech adopting a grind-it-out strategy, potentially narrowing the point differential. Both offenses, averaging under 30 points per game last season and featuring fresh quarterbacks and head coaches in their debuts, align with our expectation of a lower-scoring affair.
Football Bet: Central Michigan Chippewas +14.5 vs. Michigan State Spartans (-115)
Despite Michigan State’s aura of prominence, the Spartans have descended from College Football Playoff contention to barely scraping by for bowl eligibility in just two seasons. We harbor reservations about this Michigan State squad, sentiments articulated in our Spartans team preview last month. Consequently, even though Mel Tucker typically dismantles directional Michigan schools in his coaching tenure, we anticipate a much tighter contest this time around.
Central Michigan may have experienced substantial offseason changes, but they retain an explosive rushing attack and the guidance of an accomplished head coach in Jim McElwain. Conversely, Michigan State’s quarterback Payton Thorne, top wide receiver Keon Coleman, and second-best wide receiver, Jayden Reed, have all departed. The Spartans also endured a lackluster ground game and porous defense, ranking 101st nationally in passing defense while relinquishing 416.5 yards per game. Michigan State may possess the tools to outclass a MAC opponent at home, but our faith in a rejuvenated Chippewas squad to keep the contest within two possessions remains unwavering.
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