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College Friday picks /Week 1

A somewhat surprising 3-1 start in Week 0, where the only casualty was a Hawaii side both Still, plenty to be learned in the coming weeks before we can get into grooves, but this week I'm backing a couple of bad ACC teams that feature low spreads against secondary opponents. I'm not featuring LSU here, but I like them as the public overreacts to UCLA. Next week is our week to feast on Week 1 overreactions but until then...

One note before my picks - please line shop, as there can be a full point variance across sites when it comes to spreads. I admittedly have a low risk tolerance and only have a couple of accounts, but make the spreads work for you. I'm a creature of habit, and while most of my DFS playing comes on Draftkings, I'm largely using fandule for betting odds/plays. Unless otherwise noted, that's where my lines are pulled/verified.

Duke (-6.5) at Charlotte (Friday)

My favorite play of the week, though I was fortunate enough to get it at (-5.5) Tuesday afternoon at FanDuel, so don't delay. Duke turned the ball over a whopping 39 times last season in 11 games, but still found a way to beat Charlotte 53-19. I actually think some offensive turnover for the Blue Devils is a good thing here. I'm expecting a conservative approach under new QB Gunnar Holmberg, who will find success when they take their few chances. Charlotte ranked 109th in rush defense last season, allowing 5.9 ypc and 15 TDs in six games, including 274 yards (8.1 ypc) and six TDs to the Blue Devils. Duke will finally feature a true lead back rather than a committee, and Mateo Durant is poised to run through the 49ers Friday.

Army (+2) at Georgia State

I'd feel better if we could get this closer to a field goal, but this is a case where I think the wrong team is favored, and I'll take the points as such. Georgia State is a solid team, but I support the discipline of the Black Knights here. We know they'll ground and pound successfully, limiting possessions as such. GSU's defensive strength is arguably it's pass rush, which won't help much here. With a wave of new linebackers, I expect Army to find success between the tackles, and in turn, on the scoreboard.

West Virginia (-2.5) at Maryland

I fully didn't intend this column to be about line shopping, yet here we are, as some sites have this at -3, or even -3.5, so keeping it below the field goal mark certainly helps if you back the Mountaineers, while if you like the Terps you can play elsewhere. I find West Virginia to have the far better defense in this contest, one that borders on elite. I'm a hair worried about the Terps passing attack, but I don't think they'll be able to find enough offensive balance against the Mountaineers stout D. Jarret Doege, Leddie Brown and Winston Wright give the Mountaineers offense options, and they'll be too much for the Terps in the end.

Alabama (-18.5) vs. Miami (Atlanta, GA)

Loyal readers know I'm a Miami homer. Regardless of that fact, this is Alabama. I've seen this story play out far too many times. Miami talks big about things being different, the team being closer, working hard...and then they wilt along the lines against a bigger SEC side and get destroyed. Never mind the fact that Miami isn't certain on LT Zion Nelson, and they are completely rebuilding their defensive front seven. Now add in the fact that Alabama doesn't lose in Week 1 under Nick Saban. I can buy the argument that Bryce Young, Brian Robinson and a host of new receivers may need some time. So maybe they don't cover the first half line. But anything under -21 feels like an easy cover for the Tide, way more so than a moral victory of the 'Canes. When it comes to Miami, it's not different until they prove it. And they aren't proving it against Alabama.

Syracuse (-2) at Ohio

This opened at even, so I don't love the action pushing Syracuse's number up, nor do I love that I've now featured a fourth road side. But Syracuse simply has to have this. Outside of a Week 3 contest against Albany, the Orange aren't likely to be favored again this season, and this is likely their best chance at an FBS win. Ohio QB Armani Rogers scares me, but he's splitting time at best with Kurtis Rourke. Cute WR Taj Harris will be the best player on the field, and Mississippi State transfer Garrett Shrader gives the Orange some SEC talent. Their offensive line has been brutal, but they are returning experience and size, which should help get their run game going and provide some balance.

Last week: 3-1


The goal of anyone who wagers is to make money and in order to do that, generally you need to win more games that you lose. During the first few weeks of the college football season, however, I am more than happy to play to a draw as I did this past week. Don't get me wrong, after I won the first game, I wanted to start 2-0, but I won't complain about a .500 record this early in the season.

The winner this past week was Illinois as a 6.5-point dog, which won outright and the loser was Hawaii, which couldn't keep up with UCLA. There were only a handful of games this past week, so nothing really to glean from the action, other than Scott Frost is in trouble.

As for this week, we'll play it conservative once again as there are so many unknowns this early in the season.

South Dakota (+15.5) at Kansas

These first few weeks are just plain tough to find games to get behind. Unless you have in-depth knowledge of a particular team, you really have no idea how any of these teams will come out of the gate, so you lean on your experience with these teams in the past. Yes, college football teams have massive turnover each season, but some things tend to stick around from year to year. Take for instance Kansas and its inability to beat even the worst FBS teams. That's a trend that's been around for several years. Does it apply to FCS teams as well? I would think so.

Northwestern (-3) vs Michigan State

Here is another example of using the past few years as a barometer for how the first few weeks might go for these two teams. Specifically, I'm looking at Michigan State and how the Spartans haven't been able to get out of their own way for the past few years now. Sure, there's been a coaching change, but did last season's 2-5 performance inspire any confidence that things will be better under Mel Tucker? Northwestern meanwhile had a heck of season, losing just twice in nine games. One of those losses came to Michigan State. Can you spell r-e-v-e-n-g-e?

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