College Football Week 1 odds have been up for months and any value on the big games is long gone. For my opening college football best bets, I’m looking off the beaten path at the more niche games that may still hold value in their numbers.
Check back in weekly here at TheLines for more college football best bets I’ve personally added to my account. Here we do not share picks unless our staff has personally bet them ourselves. We will never expect you to risk your money if we are not risking our own.
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College Football Week 1 Best Bets
To place a bet on any of the games below, click on their odds in the tables.
Florida Atlantic at Ohio
The Florida Atlantic Owls looked pretty good in their season opener against Charlotte. They moved the ball at a clip behind efficient play from N’Kosi Perry and hung 43 points on the 49ers. The Ohio Bobcats’ defense has a similar SP+ rating (31.4) to Charlotte (37.9). They return nine significant players from their defense a year ago that finished 103rd nationally in points per drive.
Expectations for Ohio QB Kurtis Rourke are through the roof as he tries to follow up his older brother Nathan. He shared the starting role last year, throwing 1,800 yards, 11 touchdowns, and seven interceptions in eight starts. Rourke managed to produce just one 400+ yard receiver last season and four of his top five receivers are gone.
Most importantly, FAU has a game under their belts. They notched a massive win and that the preseason jitters are out. Ohio has yet to play a game.
Special note to over points. FAU held Charlotte to 13 points, but Charlotte’s starting QB Chris Reynolds exited the game early on (a game that combined for 56 points).
Best available number: FAU
My bet: FAU -3.5 (-110), placed Aug. 29, at Caesars Sportsbook
BYU at USF
BYU returns 85% of production from a roster that won 10 games last season. Notably back for the Cougars is QB Jarren Hall, who ranked 25th in EPA among QBs last season. BYU will have to find a new RB after Tyler Allgeier departed for the NFL, but Cal transfer Christopher Brooks is a lauded player; BYU managed to land Brooks over both Notre Dame and Purdue.
Defense was an issue at times last year, but that half of the ball was loaded with freshmen and sophomores. All 11 starters return on that side of the ball, which should see a major jump this season.
USF is an interesting team in 2021 as they were a good QB away from being a much, much better team. The Bulls landed Baylor starter Gerry Bohanan, who should give the offense the jolt it needs. There’s plenty of issues on defense, though, namely just a lack of talent and depth.
Ultimately, USF should improve upon their two wins last season, but opening up against a much better BYU team is a tough ask. Expect the Cougars to be right back in the 10-win category come December and they should just roll here.
Best available number: BYU
My bet: BYU -11.5 (-110), placed Aug. 28 at FanDuel Sportsbook
Utah at Florida
Full transparency, I scooped this line up in May when it opened as a PK. But Utah and the points still offers some value.
As of Wednesday, you can still buy Utah at 2.5 points at FanDuel Sportsbook and BetRivers Sportsbook, but all other operators line the Utes at -3. Once that number hits three points, the value is gone. While a jump from one point to two represents a five-cent move (5% of all CFB games push at two points), three represents 17 cents– the largest push rate of any number.
In other words, you’re buying 17 cents higher at three than at 2.5.
But aside from the math, Utah returns a very talented and capable offense under Cameron Rising. 1,000-yard rusher Tavion Thomas is also back, along with four of the Utes’ top five receivers from a year ago.
Defensively, they have pieces to replace, but talent to replace them. The linebacker position is one needing to be filled urgently, but Utah bolsters a strong defensive front with an athletic and skilled secondary.
Florida, on the other hand, returns potential star Anthony Richardson. While he is a big, athletic QB with a rocket arm, Richardson struggled to stay on the field as a freshman and had real lapses in reading coverages. A full offseason as the starter should help curb the inconsistent decision making, but the health factor is major.
Florida’s best unit is their defensive secondary, no question about it. Jason Marshall III is the best player in the secondary after playing well as a true freshman. Real question marks exist on the defensive front, which could spell trouble for the Gators trying to contain Utah’s explosive rushing attack.
In short, Utah has their team figured out, Florida has some figuring out to do.
Best available number: Utah
The bet: Utah -2.5 (-113), placed Aug. 31 at UniBet
College Football Week 1 Odds Board
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