College football is just days away, including Week 0 on August 27. I won’t have an article for the Week 0 slate, but if I do play anything, I’ll wind up posting to Twitter — @julianedlow.
That said, it’s never to early to post some plays for what figures to be a spectacular Week 1 card that spans over five days on Labor Day Weekend. In fact, I’ve already missed the best number on many of these games, and want to get some plays up before we see even more movement. I’ll have some adds closer to kickoff, some on plays I already know I want. But for now, here are the CFB Week 1 plays that I’m on with DraftKings Sportsbook odds.
Both teams are laying a touchdown at home here, and while I like them to cover, I’m pretty comfortable with each securing the win here against solid competition. Pitt is a team I’m very high on this season, and think should win the Coastal (article on their futures soon). The Panthers return a ton of starters, and should have a ferocious defense once again, which should be a huge problem for the opposing West Virginia team on the road. While Pitt may take a slight step back on offense, they replaced Kenny Pickett with Kedon Slovis at QB and return the entire offensive line. The Mountaineers really struggle away from home, and should ultimately fall in this Thursday night rivalry game.
Cincinnati shocked us all by actually making the College Football Playoff last season, but then expectedly got smoked by Alabama. Not that Arkansas is Alabama, but losing a ton of talent from that playoff team and opening up on the road against an SEC team that went 9-4 and finished last season ranked in the top-25 is a mighty tall order. I expect the Bearcats to be good again this season, returning 13 starters. However, Desmond Ridder and Alec Pierce were massive offensive weapons that both went to the NFL, and both elite cornerbacks are in the league as well. Sam Pittman has been tremendous coaching the Hogs, who bring back a ton of top end talent on both sides of the ball, including K.J. Jefferson. Arkansas shouldn’t lose this game.
I’ve piled on the Utes this season when it comes to the futures market, and I’m not shying away in Week 1. Utah begins with a tough road game against the Gators in The Swamp, but I expect the better team to take care of business. Utah returns Cam Rising, who went 9-2 as a starter last season, with one of those a narrow losses to Ohio State in the Rose Bowl. Rising is the real deal, and plays behind a spectacular offensive line with a terrific running game. Kyle Whittingham has done a great job on both sides of the ball, and returns many of the key contributors to a strong defense. Florida is obviously no slouch out of the SEC, but with some turnover on the roster and a coaching change, I don’t see them earning a top-10 win off the bat.
Utah did open a dog here, so since we’re missing the number with them now slightly favored, I added Ohio State to make this a parlay. I expect the Buckeyes to throttle Notre Dame, and if this line were to come back down to 13.5/14 I’d lay it with them. One of my top plays for Week 1 will likely be an over on the OSU team total as soon as it’s available to add. For now, I’ll just use them to get even money on the Utes.
I’m down on UNC this season, and am going to start fading them right away. Again, we missed a key number here with App State +3, so with the line dropping to +2, I’m fine backing the moneyline. The Mountaineers are getting this one outright at home.
Let’s recall, App State won this game on the road in 2019 as a similar priced dog — and that was against a significantly more talented group of Tar Heels that featured Sam Howell, Javonte Williams, Michael Carter and Dazz Newsome. UNC has downgraded on offense significantly since then, and now has to go on the road against a team that will be very hyped to take down ACC competition.
While UNC should mop the floor with Florida A&M in Week 0, at least App State will get some film on their opponent, who has to prepare for an opener a week earlier. The Mountaineers get to sit back and just prep for the Tar Heels. I’m all about the spot for the home dog here in what should be a wild atmosphere.
LSU is one of those teams a lot of college football experts think we need to see first to figure out what they are. There’s been a ton of roster turnover since hiring Brian Kelly as head coach, as you’d imagine.
FSU had a dreadful start to the 2021 season before finding something down the stretch. They are a team many people feel could exceed expectations this season, but I can’t ignore how bad they were early in the season. Combine all of that, and I think we have a good buy-low spot on LSU on a “neutral field” that’ll be slammed with Tiger fans in New Orleans for the Sunday night game.
Kelly was known for strong starts during his tenure at Notre Dame (before generally collapsing), and I think that’ll be important to him in his first go-around with LSU. The Tigers still have some good talent on both sides of the ball, including one of the best receivers in the country in Kayshon Boutte. The spread indicates that these teams are just about even, which I disagree with. I’ll take the SEC talent with LSU, and the better coach in Kelly. It’s worth pointing out that the Irish opened at FSU in this Sunday game last year, and while ND won, it was a struggled. This time around I expect Kelly to be ready.
I think these are two pretty evenly matched teams, so ultimately if I can get the field goal and the hook at home I’m going to take it. Penn State was out to a fantastic start last year, cracking the top-four in the rankings, but ultimately completely fell apart.
Part of that was the injury to Sean Clifford in the Iowa game, but nonetheless, this team finished by dropping six of their last eight games. Not very encouraging. I’m not expecting Clifford to be quite as good with Jahan Dotson now in the NFL, so expect some problems keeping up. Aidan O’Connell also loses some weapons, but I think we see much stronger QB play on the Purdue side of this game. The Boilermakers have some key losses of their own, but I think will have an easier time covering up.
I can’t lay points in an opener here with James Franklin, so let’s go home pooch. Penn State seems to be a very public road favorite in the early going, which isn’t usually a good thing in the Big Ten.
As I mentioned when I wrote this article weeks back, I was awaiting the team total for Ohio State to drop. Now we have it. Not much analysis needed here — C.J. Stroud and this WR room are absolutely loaded, as is the run game. Notre Dame is fine on defense, but not good enough to keep the Buckeyes from eclipsing their team total, in what I imagine will be the first and only time we see it posted under 40. I’m expecting Rose Bowl-esque fireworks from this Ohio State offense in the opener.
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