The college football season kicks off in full swing Thursday night, kicking off five straight days of action on the field. For those looking to get in on some betting action, we break down the point spreads for some of the notable games, including Penn State’s trip to Purdue and Oregon State’s home game against Boise State.
These odds have been on the upside for several months, and since then point spreads have widened. With that in mind, we bring you our top ATS picks for some of this weekend’s televised matchups with the top 25 non-AP schools.
All odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook
Thursday, September 1
Tennessee vs. Ball State (7 p.m., SECN)
Tennessee is arguably Georgia’s biggest threat in the SEC East, and the Volunteers are off to a quiet start with a comfortable home win over Ball State. It’s always hard to put a number that big, but Ball State ranks as the 115th best offense and 117th best defense (of 130 FBS schools) according to PFF. It’s hard to imagine the Cardinals getting more than 14 points in what will be an improved Tennessee defense. Volunteer quarterback Hendon Hooker’s big day results in a six-plus TD win for the ‘Vols as they have 50-plus points over the Cardinals.
To choose: Tennessee -35.5
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Purdue vs. Penn State (8 p.m., FOX)
Purdue finished last season with an impressive 48-45 win over Tennessee at the Music City Bowl in a game in which star WR David Bell and DE George Karlaftis opted not to prepare for the NFL Draft. With quarterback Aidan O’Connell returning for a sixth year, Purdue’s offense won’t take such a big step back despite losing its top two receivers. Under head coach Jeff Brohm, Purdue has outperformed in betting markets as an underdog, going 19-8 ATS. Grab the field goal and hook and push back the ‘Cauldrons to keep him close.
To choose: Purdue +3.5
Missouri vs. Louisiana Tech (8 p.m., ESPNU)
Brady Cook takes over at quarterback for the Tigers following the departure of Connor Bazelak at QB, and while the Tigers’ offense may take a while to get going, they are capable of pulling off a three-plus TD win over a pretty weak defense from Louisiana Tech.
To choose: Missouri -20.5
Minnesotavs. State of New Mexico (9 pm, BTN)
Kirk Ciarrocca is back as Minnesota’s offensive coordinator, which is great news for fifth-year quarterback Tanner Morgan. Morgan had his highest passing yardage production in his only season with Ciarrocca in 2019, one in which he received second-team All-Big Ten honors. The Golden Gophers offense also gets star RB Mohamed Ibrahim back after missing virtually all of 2021 with an Achilles tendon injury. Minnesota’s improved offense blows past New Mexico State, a team power ranked 125th by PFF.
To choose: Minnesota-36
Friday, September 2
Old Dominion vs. Virginia Tech (7 p.m., ESPNU)
Virginia Tech’s offense was one of the weakest units among the five power teams a season ago and ranked 82nd in yards per play (5.6), but the addition of Marshall transfer Grant Wells should allow for a stronger offense. consistent this season. Virginia Tech enters Norfolk and secures a TD-plus Week 1 win.
To choose: Virginia Tech -6
Duke vs. Temple (7:30 p.m., ACCN)
This matchup is the opposite of strength vs. strength, as Duke’s lackluster offense is up against a weak Temple defense. Given Temple’s willingness to air football, take all nine and a half points in what could be a competitive contest throughout.
To choose: Temple +9.5
Indiana vs. Illinois (8 p.m., FS1)
Illinois already has a win under its belt, defeating Wyoming 38-6 in Week Zero, but going to Bloomington and winning two in a row is a much more difficult task. Still, Illinois’ balanced offense does enough and gets to 2-0 as Chase Brown and Tommy DeVito continue their solid play.
To choose: Illinois money line +115
Colorado vs. TCU (10:00 p.m., ESPN)
We gave this game almost a month ago and explained that Colorado is one of the weaker power conference FBS teams and getting TCU at -8.5 was a gamble that paid off. The market has moved on a lot since then, but even with the Horned Frogs still under a two-touchdown favorite, they get the job done by pulling off a comfortable win over the Buffaloes in Boulder.
To choose: UTC-13.5
Saturday, September 3
Maryland vs. Buffalo (12 p.m., BTN)
Maryland’s offense led by junior Taulia Tagovailoa is too much for the Bulls’ defense to handle. The ‘Terps pull off a big win at home and cover the spread in the process. Buffalo’s early-running offense is put in an awkward spot early in the game with a negative play script.
To choose: MD-24
Boston College vs. Rutgers (12 p.m., ACCN)
We break this game down a bit in our ACC betting preview, as we think the Boston College offense is off to a strong start against Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights can’t match the scores with the Eagles as Boston College covers in their season opener.
Pick: Boston University -7
Appalachian State vs. North Carolina (12 p.m., ESPNU)
Another game we gave earlier in our ACC betting preview has seen some movement both ways, as some bettors aren’t entirely convinced the Tar Heels can win at Boone. We think North Carolina QB Drake Maye will put in an efficient enough performance, leading North Carolina to a 2-0 start.
To choose: North Carolina -1
State of San Diego vs. Arizona (3:30 p.m., CBS)
San Diego State plays its first game inside Snapdragon Stadium against Arizona on CBS. While the Wildcats seem to show an improvement from last season, San Diego State’s stability on both sides of the game leads the Aztecs to win and cover Week 1.
To choose: San Diego State -6.5
Wyoming vs. Tulsa (3:30 p.m., FS1)
Wyoming looks to bounce back at home against Tulsa after giving up 477 total yards to Illinois in Week Zero. While Tulsa’s offense isn’t as efficient as Illinois’, the Golden Hurricane does enough to secure a TD-plus win at Laramie.
To choose: Tulsa-6.5
Mississippi State vs. Memphis (7:30 p.m., ESPNU)
Mississippi State’s offense is one of the most efficient units in college football and the Memphis defense may have trouble putting up consistent stops against them. The Bulldogs go 1-0 in a win over the Tigers.
To choose: mississippi state -sixteen
North Texas vs. SMU (7:30 p.m., CBSSN)
SMU is an obscure contender in the AAC, but putting up 11 points on the road against North Texas is too high a price to pay. PFF has this game projected closer to 10 points, and while that’s not a huge difference between projection and point distribution, we agree it’s smarter to side with Mean Green here.
To choose: North Texas +11
Syracuse vs. Louisville (8 p.m., ACCN)
Louisville heads to the Loud House to confront Dino Babers and Orange. Malik Cunningham’s playmaking ability is too much for the Syracuse defense to handle for 60 minutes, leading the Cardinals to a road victory.
Pick: Louisville -4.5
State of Oregon vs. Boise State (10:30 p.m., ESPN)
Oregon State is a team that is a bit undervalued in the betting markets to start the season, and as a result, the Beavers are short favorites at home over Boise State in Week 1. Oregon State’s offense methodically crushes the Broncos, resulting in a Week 1 win.
To choose: State of Oregon -2.5
Washington vs. Kent State (10:30 p.m. FS1)
The Kalen DeBoer era begins in Seattle, when the Huskies welcome Kent State as more than three TD favorites. Washington is shaping up to be a team that could exceed its projected regular-season win total, but in terms of their Week 1 matchup, Kent State holds it closer than the current differential indicates.