This upcoming opening week of the college football season is being billed as the best Week One ever. That’s not an exaggeration. In past years, it was a treat to watch more than one matchup featuring two Top 25 teams. This year, we have four. Oklahoma and Houston will get things started at noon on Saturday, Georgia will take on North Carolina later in the afternoon, and then, in the night cap, Alabama will battle USC at Cowboys Stadium. Florida State and Ole Miss will conclude the opening week of the 2016 season when they meet on Monday night.
But for the purposes of this article, I’m only concerned with the games on Saturday. That’s because this is the first of a weekly college football predictions article I’ll be publishing every Friday morning in which I will make nine predictions against the spread for many of Saturday’s biggest games…hence the title. Time to make some picks!
West Virginia (-9.5) over Missouri
I like the Mountaineers at home by a couple of touchdowns. Missouri is know for having great defenses, but their offense has always been mediocre. That poses trouble against a West Virginia attack that scores in bunches.
Hawaii (+40.5) over #7 Michigan
This spread is too high considering the Wolverines offense likes to run the ball, which takes more time off the clock. Michigan should win this game handily, but not quite by six touchdowns.
Bowling Green (+28) over #6 Ohio State
Bowling Green isn’t bad–they finished 10-4 last season–and the Buckeyes had a tendency to overlook many of their weaker opponents last year.
#16 UCLA (+3) over Texas A&M
This is a situation where the Aggies home-field advantage is being overrated. UCLA is very good offensively, so I like them to pull out the win on the road.
#5 LSU (-10) over Wisconsin
I’m confident whenever I pick an SEC team over a Big Ten squad. Though the spread is high, I don’t have much faith in Wisconsin’s offense–which only averaged roughly 23 points per game against major conference opponents–against one of the nation’s better defenses.
#18 Georgia (-2.5) over #22 North Carolina
I’m very high on the Bulldogs this year. I love their running game and I think their revamped defense will give the Tar Heels offense problems.
UMass (+36.5) over #25 Florida
The Gators haven’t been a very prolific offensive team recently. Moreover, in their three non-conference games last year, they averaged 38 points per game. That’s really not that high of a number considering they were playing the likes of New Mexico State and Florida Atlantic. So, as five touchdown favorites in this matchup, I’ll take the points.
#2 Clemson (-7.5) over Auburn
Even though they are at home, I don’t think Auburn has quite the firepower to hang with Deshaun Watson and Clemson. The defending ACC champions will start the new season off with a bang.
Game of the Week
#20 USC (+11) over #1 Alabama
This game reminds me of ‘Bama’s opener against West Virginia a couple years ago. The Crimson Tide will win, but with an inexperienced starting quarterback, they may be a tad overvalued against a good Trojans team. The betting public is heavily leveraged on Alabama, which means the House is hoping for USC to keep it close. Always side with the House.