Best bets are back! We enter this season with many familiar names at the top of the polls. Even if the favorites grind their way through the season working toward what seems to be inevitable, college football gives us chaos and excitement every week. I can't wait to see what this season has cooked up for us.
Each week, I will use this space to tell you what I think are a few of the best bets heading into the weekend. I will also throw in an Upset of the Week, which will be a team that is at least a touchdown underdog that I am picking to win outright.
I will also give you picks on other games involving potential College Football Playoff teams. Since most teams have not played yet, just about everybody is technically a CFP candidate at the moment. So for the first few weeks of the season at least, I'll go with the top 12 teams in the AP Top 25.
Best bets for Week 1
No. 5 Notre Dame at No. 2 Ohio State
The big game of the week Tyler Buchner will be making his first start. If Ohio State can defend better than a year ago, the Buckeyes could be national champions. The Irish will try to run the ball to at least shorten the game, and Oregon had a lot of success doing that in last season's upset of the Buckeyes. Coach Marcus Freeman took being a 17.5-point underdog personally and I think ND will cover, but Ohio State should still win. Pick: Notre Dame (+17.5). In a way, I get it. Ohio State has a ridiculous array of talent, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Notre Dame has a lot of returning talent as well, although sophomore quarterback
No. 25 BYU at South Florida
BYU is returning 19 starters, including its entire defense, from a team that went 10-3 last season. The schedule is not quite as favorable this year, but the Cougars are hoping to build some momentum in their final season as an independent. USF is still trying to build its program back up under coach Jeff Scott, who has won just three games in his first two seasons. This season may be better, but this game probably will not go well for the Bulls. Pick: BYU (-12)
My colleague Tom Fornelli jumps on the under every time two military academies play because both teams run the ball almost exclusively, which makes the games shorter and keeps scores down. It's a tried-and-true winner. Coastal Carolina doesn't run the ball quite as much as a service academy, but the Chanticleers do run a lot and were sixth in rushing yardage last season. Expect a quick game and one that stays under the total. Pick: Under 53.5
Upset of the Week
West Virginia at Pitt (Thursday)
Ah, nothing like a Backyard Brawl to spice up Week 1. The Panthers are coming off an ACC championship, however they lost quarterback Kenny Pickett, a first-round pick in the NFL Draft, and Biletnikoff Award winner Jordan Addison, who transferred to USC. Both teams will feature former USC quarterbacks in this game, which gives it a little more juice. West Virginia will be a little different in that its offense is ahead of its defense to start the season. These rivals have not played each other since 2011. Expect a real dogfight in which anything can happen. Pick: West Virginia (+7.5)
Other CFP candidates
- Utah State at No. 1 Alabama Pick: Utah State +41.5
- No. 11 Oregon vs. No. 3 Georgia Pick: Oregon +17
- No. 4 Clemson vs. Georgia Tech (Monday) Pick: Clemson -22
- No. 7 Utah at Florida Pick: Utah -3
- Colorado State at No. 8 Michigan Pick: Colorado State +30.5
- UTEP at No. 9 Oklahoma Pick: Oklahoma -31.5
- Central Michigan at No. 12 Oklahoma State (Thursday) Pick: Oklahoma State -22
Which college football picks can you make with confidence in Week 1, and which big favorite will go down hard? Visit SportsLine to see which teams will win and cover the spread -- all from a proven computer model that has returned almost $3,600 in profit over the past six-plus seasons -- and find out.