By: Hunter Schmidt
Thanks to those of you who read “Finding The Edge: Week 0”. The picks managed to go 3-1 on the day for a nice profit to start the season. I’ll post a weekly, and season long recap at the top of each article going forward for full transparency.
Week 0 Recap: 3-1, +1.55 units
Season Long Recap: 3-1, +1.55 Units
There are over 80 college football games spread out over the next four days, including a Labor Day match-up that will see Notre Dame take on Scott Satterfield in his first game with the Louisville Cardinals.
The biggest match-up of the weekend features Oregon against Auburn at AT&T Stadium. Both of these teams will be looking for a big win that potentially propels them into a dark horse playoff contender.
Most of these early season bets are going to be based on returning production (which isn’t always a good thing), coaching consistency, and betting trends that have developed in past seasons. I have had so much time to research these lines and other information, so there are some I’m questioning if I’d like later in the year, but we are going to keep it very balanced.
The next edition will be out Friday of next week, as there is no Thursday night games, and the games on Friday night aren’t anything special outside of Marshall visiting Boise.
FIU Panthers @ Tulane Green Wave; Thursday, 08/29 at 7PM CT ESPN3
Florida International was one of my podcast favorites last year and one of the programs featured in the “Teams to Play, Teams to Fade” series.
FIU was 10-3 ATS a year ago, including a 5-0 mark on the road. Florida International ranks 26th in the country in returning production, returning eight starters on both sides of the ball.
I expect another big year from Butch Davis in South Florida. Tulane hired Will Hall back in December to be the offensive coordinator with the goal of speeding up the offense. The Green Wave has traditionally been a run heavy triple-option team and they’re transitioning to a more up-tempo offense that should benefit quarterback Justin McMillan.
Tulane was good against the run last year, giving up just under 150 yards per game, which was 51st in the country. The secondary struggled, giving up over 250 yards per game through the air.
Expect FIU quarterback James Morgan to take advantage of this secondary as long as the offensive line can protect him from the Tulane defensive front, who totaled 41 sacks a year ago. Tulane has a plethora of skilled position players including Jalen McCleskey, but FIU doesn’t tend to give up big plays or turn the ball over.
Tulane was just 1-3 ATS last year as a home favorite, while FIU was 4-0 as an underdog last season. Tulane is going to knock off some bigger teams in the ACC later in the year, but expect FIU to get the road win against an offense that is going to go through some growing pains early on.
The Play: FIU ML Risk: 1 Unit / Win: 1.1 Unit
Utah Utes @ BYU Cougars; Thursday, 08/29 at 9:15PM CT ESPN
Utah has been a preseason darling for most national pundits, and with good reason. They’re loaded with talent on both sides of the ball.
Kyle Wittingham has been one of the best coaches in the country over the past decade and his teams consistently outperform their preseason projections.
Utah beat BYU 35-27 a year ago without Tyler Huntley and Zack Moss. Both are back this year to lead a Utah offense that was consistently putting up 40+ before their injuries. Utah has won 9 out of the last 10 in this rivalry, including a 7-3 ATS record.
BYU definitely showed promise last year, giving up just over 20 points a game and 4.74 yards per play. With that being said, the Utah defense has the potential to be one of the best in the entire country. I expect them to come up with a few big stops against this BYU offense.
I think this Utah offense makes enough plays to lead them to a 7-10 point victory in what could be the best Week 1 game.
The Play: Utah -5 Risk: 1.1 Units / Win: 1 Unit
Georgia Tech @ Clemson; Thursday, 08/29 at 7PM CT ACCN
Georgia Tech made an amazing hire with Geoff Collins from Temple, but his first year or two with the Yellow Jackets is going to be a struggle.
Paul Johnson has been recruiting kids on the offensive side of the ball in order to run the triple-option. Collins will have a decent stable of running backs, but the passing game is going to struggle with the top returning starter catching just 11 passes a year ago.
They barely return anything on the defensive side of the ball. They are set to face a Clemson team that only gave up 13 points per game last season and although they graduated a lot on the defensive line, their previous recruiting classes will make up for it.
This is a weird game to bet on because Clemson has Texas A&M in Week 2, so I doubt we see much of the first-team offense or defense after halftime.
I’m going to take a stab at Clemson in the first half because they led 28-7 last year against a Georgia Tech team that was much better, and not in the midst of a coaching/scheme transition.
The Play: Clemson 1H -21.5 Risk: 1.1 Units / Win: 1 Unit
Utah State @ Wake Forest; 08/30 at 7PM CT ACCN
One of my favorite coaches to bet on last season, Matt Wells, left Utah State to replace Kliff Kingsbury at Texas Tech. The good news for Utah State is that he left behind Jordan Love, who led a Utah State offense a year prior that averaged over 47 points per game.
This roster saw a lot of turnover this off-season and will be one of the youngest teams in the country with over 40 freshmen/redshirt freshman on the roster. Almost every player on offense around Love barely saw the field last season.
The defense brings back David Woodward, who was the Mountain West DPOY. This program will take a step back from a year ago, but I think Love will boost an offense that will be seeking playmakers to step up along with him.
Jamie Newman won the QB job at Wake Forest and will be joined in the backfield by 1,000-yard rusher Cade Carney. Wake Forest will miss the explosive Greg Dortch, but they have a lot of depth at wide receiver along with an offensive line that should be decent, with the only question being left guard.
Wake Forest had one of the worst defenses in the country this past season, allowing 266 passing yards per game and nearly 200 rushing yards. Wake runs one of the fastest offenses in the country, averaging over 82 plays per game in 2018.
The over was 5-2 in Wake Forest home games a year ago, while Utah State was 9-4 on the season towards the over. I’m expecting a shootout here and I’m betting on Love having another monster year with all these new pieces.
The Play: Over 63 Risk: 1.1 Units / Win: 1 Unit
Rice @ Army; 08/30 at 5PM CT CBSSN
Jeff Monken has transformed Army into an absolute powerhouse of a football program for a service academy. Army has gone 21-5 over the past two seasons and their win total was set at 10 for 2019.
Kelvin Hopkins is back to run the offense after a breakout season last year that included a 170-yard rushing performance in a 70-14 bowl game win against Houston. Hopkins isn’t your typical option quarterback. He can actually throw the ball on top of his running abilities.
Army does lose defensive coordinator Jay Bateman to North Carolina, who ran a defense that held opponents to just under 18 points per game. Rice gave up 36 points per game last season, while Army averaged north of 32.
Army beat Rice 49-12 back in 2017, putting up over 400 yards on the ground. Rice gave up more than 35.5 points in 8 of their 11 games this past year.
This play gives me worries because Army has Michigan in Week 2 and they could be looking towards that. They also go out on drives that burn up seven to eight minutes of clock, and Rice has been very good at time management. Just hope that Army gets enough possessions, and converts them for touchdowns instead of field goals.
The Play: Army TT Over 35.5 Risk: .55 Units / Win: .5 Unit
Colorado State vs. Colorado (in Denver); 08/30 at 9PM CT ESPN
Colorado opened as a 10-point favorite in this match-up, but that crept up to around 13 for most books.
Colorado State averaged over 300 yards per game through the air a year ago and return Collin Hill at quarterback. Colorado has covered 8 out of the last 10 in this series, along with the under hitting in 9 out of the last 10.
Colorado doesn’t return much defensively, but maybe Mel Tucker can coach them up. I have been betting the under in this game the past few years thanks to Jon Campbell at OddsShark, but I could see Colorado putting up a 50-piece here.
I just can’t trust an inexperienced Colorado defense to go under this total again. I’ll take the bigger in-state school to win this match-up by at least two touchdowns.
The Play: Colorado -13 Risk: 1.1 Units / Win: 1 Unit
Eastern Carolina @ North Carolina State; 08/31 at 11AM CT ACCN
Eastern Carolina is under a new coaching staff that comes over from FCS powerhouse James Madison University. Mike Houston will have sophomore QB Holton Ahlers to run his offense after scoring 18 touchdowns to just three interceptions in 2018.
I expect this team to be much better under Houston, as he can just flat out coach.
North Carolina State has to replace 75% of their offensive production from last season, and with the redshirt sophomore Matt McKay taking over for Ryan Finley, I expect the Wolfpack to rely on their running game early.
I’m playing this small because Eastern Carolina got routed a year ago, but they didn’t have Ahlers in that game. Eastern Carolina will hang around for a few quarters before fading late, while still keeping this within the number.
The Play: Eastern Carolina +17 Risk: .55 Units / Win: .5 Units
Ole Miss @ Memphis; 08/31 at 11AM CT ABC
The best thing that happened for Memphis besides bringing back eight starters on defense, is the fact that they retained Mike Norvell for at least another year.
Brady White is back at QB after throwing for nearly 3,300 yards and 26 touchdowns in 2018. I expect this Memphis team to win the AAC this year and participate in a New Year’s Six bowl. They have weapons at running back, wide receiver and tight end.
The difference this year is all of the returning production on defense. I mentioned a lot of the reasons to fade Ole Miss in the “Teams to Play, Teams to Fade” series that you can find here on Edge Sports Network.
Ole Miss has enough firepower to put up at least 30 on this Memphis defense, but I think Memphis scores into the 40’s against an Ole Miss defense that is going to get brutalized in the SEC. Two plays for this game:
The Play: Memphis -5.5 Risk: 1.1 Units / Win: 1 Unit
The Play: Memphis Over 68 Risk: 1.1 Units / Win: 1 Units
I had to cut this article a little short due to the sheer amount of research put into these Week 1 games. These lines have been out for a long time, so I researched them and took notes all summer. Here are some other plays I like this weekend:
The Play: Eastern Michigan -6 Risk: 1.1 Units / Win: 1 Unit
The Play: Virginia Tech -4 Risk: 1.1 Units / Win: 1 Unit
The Play: Virginia -2.5 Risk: 1.1 Units / Win: 1 Unit
The Play: Illinois -17 Risk: 1.1 Units/ Win: 1 Unit
The Play: Oregon State/Oklahoma St. Over 74 Risk: 1.1 Units / Win: 1 Unit
The Play: James Madison +7 Risk: 1.1 Units / Win: 1 Unit
The Play: Missouri -17 Risk: 1.1 Units / Win: 1 Unit
The Play: Houston vs. Oklahoma Over 82 Risk: 1.1 Units / Win: 1 Unit
Best of luck this weekend!
I’ll be back next Friday with a full write-up for all the games that I like.
Cover photo via: USA Today
Follow Edge Sports Network on Twitter: @TheEdgeSN
Follow Hunter Schmidt on Twitter: @hunterrschmidtt