What games appear to be the best bets and the best picks against the spread going into the Friday of Week 1 of the college football season?
Results So Far ATS: 8-2-1
Click on each game for preview
5. Duke vs. Charlotte point total
ATS PICK: UNDER
For whatever it’s worth, Duke-Charlotte is one of the better plays of the weekend – Part 2 of this is coming later – if you really believe that the 49ers aren’t a whole lot better after getting whacked 53-19 last year by the Blue Devils.
There’s a little bit of danger here with the under only because the Duke offense might work again like it last year’s game when it rolled up over 400 yards with a huge day on the ground.
Charlotte has enough veteran parts to keep this from being a total wipeout again, and the Duke defense will be a wee bit iffy out of the gate, but even if it’s closer this shouldn’t be a high-powered shootout.
Assume Charlotte comes in with around 20 points and Duke hangs around 35ish. There might be a little squirming late, but watch out for both teams to stall a bit in the heat and humidity on Friday night.
NEXT: No. 4 Pick Against The Spread: South Dakota at Kansas
LINE: Kansas -13.5
ATS PICK: South Dakota
This is a straight belief system play.
I’ve been a believer all offseason that over on the Kansas win total projection of 1 – or 1.5, depending on where you’re at – was one of the strongest picks of the year.
That’s partly because this is the 1.
Kansas might be a struggling Power Five program – to be very, very nice about it – and it’s in total reboot mode under head coach Lance Leipold, but 1) he might be the best coach Kansas has had since Mark Mangino was rocking and rolling, 2) South Dakota isn’t very good, and 3) it’s almost a two-touchdown spread.
South Dakota went 1-3 in the spring session, but losing to North Dakota and Missouri State was more than acceptable – the Youngstown State loss was a bit rough.
It’s going to be a good defensive team, and it has a decent passing game, but it doesn’t have a high-octane offense. As long as Kansas can run just a little bit – and Leipold teams can usually run well – all should be okay.
NEXT: No. 3 Pick Against The Spread: North Carolina at Virginia Tech
3. North Carolina at Virginia Tech point total
ATS PICK: OVER
What about either of these teams would suggest a close, tight, defensive slugfest?
North Carolina is missing a few key offensive parts from last season, but it appears to have reloaded in a hurry around QB Sam Howell, and Virginia Tech has an attack that could roll against a North Carolina defense that’s going to be solid, but won’t be a killer.
As always when it comes to point totals, you always want a piece of games that has one side that can do the heavy lifting on its own. North Carolina won’t score 64, but it hit 41 or more in seven of its last ten games last season – including 56 against Virginia Tech.
The Hokies will do their part, though.
Last year shouldn’t and doesn’t really matter, but there might be a slight concern that none of the last four Virginia Tech games of 2020 got to 64, but …
This one will.
NEXT: No. 2 Pick Against The Spread: Old Dominion at Wake Forest
LINE: Wake Forest -31
ATS PICK: Wake Forest
Old Dominion might not score a whole lot, and its defense will probably allow a whole lot of points.
That’s it. Thanks for coming, tip the waitstaff generously …
The Monarchs have a good new head coach in Ricky Rahne, and he’s had a full year to get his program prepared to be up and going, but the defense is all but starting from scratch.
ODU should put up a few points on the board, but Wake Forest has a loaded offensive team full of veterans. It’s going to move fast, score fast, play fast, and it’s going to put a big number up on the board in the first quarter. Old Dominion hasn’t scored more than 23 points against an FBS team since the middle of November of 2018.
31 might be a whole lot to push through, but Wake Forest should hang up that many in the first half.
NEXT: No. 1 Pick Against The Spread: Duke vs. Charlotte
LINE: Duke -6.5
ATS PICK: Duke
Yeah, there’s some Power Five snobbery at play here, and yeah, the 53-19 Blue Devil win last season has something to do with it.
Maybe the line is low because it’s at a neutral site – sort of.
Maybe it’s because the Duke defense doesn’t seem like it’s going to be anything special.
Maybe Charlotte appears to be more like the 2019 version than the 2020 team that went 2-4 during the global pandemic season.
Nah … the world is giving us a Power Five team by less than a touchdown.
Charlotte has yet to beat a Power Five team since it arrived in the FCS world in 2015. There have been a few decent wins – like against Marshall in 2019 and UAB in 2017 – but nothing all that great.
It’s a brand new year and anything and everything can happen, but you’re asking to buck history here with what would be the greatest game in Charlotte football history if it could pull this off.
It would be historic if it could just keep this to under seven points.
Duke can’t take anyone lightly, and the Charlotte offense will be fun, but …
Take the Power Five team giving away less than a touchdown.