College Football Week 1 Best Bets

Keon Coleman Michigan State Spartans Pittsburgh Panthers
Keon Coleman #0 of the Michigan State Spartans against the Pittsburgh Panthers. Adam Hagy/Getty Images/AFP.

The first handful of Week 1 games officially kicks off and we have three very juicy matchups for your betting picks.

What makes these college football picks the best bets for Week 1? We’ve taken a very close look at the models for each game and sussed out which point spreads and totals have the highest potential profit margin. Let’s see what’s on the menu this week.

West Virginia Mountaineers vs. Pittsburgh Panthers

Thursday, September 1, 2022 – 07:00 PM EDT at Acrisure Stadium

The sharps pounced, as they do, when the total first hit the NCAAF odds at 54 points back in late June; the OddsTrader consensus reports at press time show 61% support for the Over, but that doesn’t include all the super-early action.

It does suggest you might get a better price on the Under if you wait until closer to kick-off. There isn’t much in Thursday’s weather forecast to get excited about, but the former Heinz Field does have a reputation as a difficult venue for place-kickers, with the swirling wind patterns and all that.

Teams Analysis

The Mountaineers finished the 2021-22 campaign with a 7-5 Under record after allowing 23.8 points per game (No. 44 overall). The WVU defense is solid, but they haven’t gotten the offensive results they want under head coach Neal Brown – although there’s a chance they’ll go nuclear under new offensive coordinator Graham Harrell and quarterback JT Daniels, both of them USC products.

For now, West Virginia enters the new campaign ranked No. 64 on offense and No. 46 on defense, according to the preseason F+ Ratings at Football Outsiders. As for Pitt (Over 8-5 last year), they may be No. 17 in the polls, but those F+ numbers have the Panthers at No. 23 on offense and No. 36 on defense.

You have to expect some letdown this year after Pitt went 11-2 SU and 10-3 ATS in 2021. QB Kenny Pickett is now a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers. USC transfer Kedon Slovis might grow into the role, but the aforementioned Harrell knows a thing or two about Slovis and will bring that intel to the table Thursday night.

NCAAF Pick: Under 51.5 (-109) at SugarHouse

Ball State Cardinals vs. Tennessee Volunteers

Thursday, September 1, 2022 – 07:00 PM EDT at Neyland Stadium

We’re going Under again for our second college football pick, which makes sense from a number of old-school betting angles. As a rule, casual bettors prefer to bet the Over, and it’s early in the season, so defenses should have the advantage. The Under is off to a 6-5 start, by the way.

We won’t get any help from the warm weather in Knoxville, although there are some light crosswinds in the forecast. The models are more interested in Ball State, who drove the Under to a 9-3 record last year while scoring just 24.1 points per game (No. 94 overall).

Teams Analysis

Granted, both the Cardinals and Volunteers were quite porous on defense, and Tennessee (Over 9-3) finished seventh in scoring at 39.3 points per game.

The good news: Ball State’s offense starts the year ranked No. 107 on the F+ charts, and their defense added DT Kyle King on a transfer from Michigan State.

NCAAF Pick: Under 68.5 (-110) at BetMGM

Western Michigan Broncos vs. Michigan State Spartans

Friday, September 2, 2022 – 07:00 PM EDT at Spartan Stadium

Ah yes, Michigan State. We wrap things up with an ATS pick, and the Spartans were one of college football’s most profitable teams last year at 10-2 SU and 8-2-2 ATS. The modeling suggests they’ll retain their betting value, at least for their opening match.

This pick has more to do with Western Michigan, though. The Broncos (7-5 SU, 5-6-1 ATS) are due for a downgrade after losing multiple starters on both sides of the ball, including QB Kaleb Eleby and most of the offensive line.

Teams Analysis

Sparty will be licking their chops. After a woeful 2021 trying to stop the pass beyond the first level, Michigan State’s defense starts the year at No. 25 on the F+ charts, thanks in part to a massive haul of transfers including CB Ameer Speed from Georgia and LB Jacoby Windmon from UNLV.

Add it all up, and the Spartans have steamed all the way from -17.5 since late June. Grab them now while they still have enough value.

NCAAF Pick: Michigan State -21.5 (-112) at Unibet is your sports betting command center. Read featured betting strategy compiled from a panel of leading sports betting experts.

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