College Football Predictions & Best Bets for Week 1

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Texas A&M quarterback Conner Weigman (15) throws down field against Mississippi during the third quarter of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022, in College Station, Texas. Texas A&M opens their season against New Mexico on Sept. 2.
(AP Photo/Sam Craft)
Chase Kiddy @chaseakiddy Aug 30, 2023, 1:39 PM
  • College Football Week 1 is finally here, providing a new slate of good bets.
  • College Football underdogs make up many of the best bets this week.
  • Best bets for Georgia Tech, Ohio State, South Alabama, and more.

Last week’s Week 0 appetizer was nice, but now it’s time for the full Week 1 course. 

Naturally, BetMGM has a full suite of college football odds for all your online sports betting needs. 

That’s why today, and every Wednesday throughout the 2023 regular season, I’ve put together a handful of my favorite NCAAF bets for you to consider this weekend. 

College Football Best Bets: Week 1 Predictions

After I’ve handicapped the whole board each week, I will publish my best plays from the wider canon of college football odds.

I’ll provide a short explanation of why I like each bet, so you don’t have to go on faith alone.

Week 1 of college football offers a few opportunities to fade last week’s early Week 0 action. However, the best opportunities usually involve teams whose odds have been overhyped and overcooked after a full offseason of love (or hate).

If you prefer an audio version of this weekly article, you can always subscribe to The Lion’s Edge, my weekly handicapping podcast for BetMGM. 

Louisville at Georgia Tech Spread Prediction

Because of the Yellow Jackets’ superior program continuity from 2022, I am predicting that Georgia Tech covers its current 7.5-point spread in this weekend’s Aflac Kickoff game against Louisville. 

The market perception is that Louisville is a middle-class program with upside, while Georgia Tech has languished throughout the Geoff Collins years. Even with Collins now gone, it will take the Yellow Jackets a while to build back.

In reality, the inverse may be true. Jeff Brohm is a great coach who will likely impress at Louisville in the long term, but it may take some time to shape the program (and its schemes and philosophies) to his liking.

Georgia Tech, on the other hand, made the move to interim coach Brent Key last year, one month into the season, and the results were immediate. Lifeless Georgia Tech posted an impressive 4-4 record over its final eight games, scoring wins over No. 24 Pittsburgh and No. 13 North Carolina.

Tech is playing a virtual home game with a ton of good vibes and institutional momentum after last year’s surprisingly positive second half. A 7.5-point spread is far too generous in the Yellow Jackets’ favor.

If you want to get really aggressive with your Louisville vs. Georgia Tech Prediction, consider GT on the outright moneyline at +240.

Best Bet: Georgia Tech +7.5

Ohio State vs. Indiana Spread Prediction 

Ohio State has dominated Indiana in recent years, and I am predicting a similar result this week. The Buckeyes should cover -29.5.Indiana played an excellent season under Tom Allen in 2020, scoring a last-play-of-the-game OT win over Penn State in the opener. Eventually, they lost a tight game to Ohio State in Columbus, 42-35. 

That’s the only time in recent memory that Indiana has been remotely close to Ohio State. Setting aside the 2020 contest, the Buckeyes have outscored Indiana 161-31 in the three other games since 2019. That’s an average win margin of 43 points. 

The point spreads were -17, -21, and -40. Ohio State covered all three, scoring at least 50 points of offense every time.

This week, Ohio State coach Ryan Day finally announced that Kyle McCord would be the starting quarterback for the Buckeyes, which means OSU is moving back to a more traditional pocket passer that will maximize Marvin Harrison Jr.’s skill set. Expect huge passing numbers, starting in Bloomington.

This is a big number, but you shouldn’t be afraid to lay big numbers in college football if the situation is right. This is my only favorite of the day, but it’s one I feel excellent about. 

Best Bet: Ohio State -29.5

New Mexico vs. Texas A&M Spread Prediction

New Mexico may be woefully overmatched in its Week 1 game at Texas A&M, but I am predicting the Lobos cover the 38.5-point spread they’re currently catching at BetMGM.

Texas A&M is a trendy team every year, which means their market value often peaks before Labor Day – when hype is at its highest and actual results are yet to come in. The last 10-win season in College Station was 2012.

Still, there may be cause for real optimism this year, at least according to some experts. Earlier this week, I invited college football analyst Phil Steele on my handicapping podcast, The Lion’s Edge, and he was quick to point out the many positives of A&M in 2023.

“A&M has been recruiting at the same level as Alabama, LSU, and Ohio State,” Steele said. “A&M had the second-most starts lost to injury last year of any team in the country – on top of their inexperience level. This year, they move up, experience-wise. They should be healthier. They lost Ainias Smith, their top wide receiver, in Week 4. They started three different quarterbacks. The offensive line had three freshman starters one week.”

So the luck factor didn’t go Texas A&M’s way in 2022. But Steele added that, “even last year, when they were 5-7, they beat LSU, 38-23. They were at Alabama’s two-yard line on the road, with a chance to win the game.” That speaks to how good A&M could be in 2023 if there is a bit of positive regression in its favor.

Still… nearly 40 points in Week 1? With a sophomore quarterback who’s started four total games? Even against a G5 squad, this spot just reeks of market inflation. 

Texas A&M has only one win of 39 or more points against an FBS opponent in the last five seasons: a 48-3 massacre of South Carolina in the heart of the 2020 season, when the Aggies came up just short of a CFP berth. 

New Mexico, for its part, hasn’t lost a game by 39 or more points since a 66-14 blowout at the hands of Notre Dame in the opening weeks of the 2019 season.

Texas A&M will win this game by multiple touchdowns, and it may be a real factor in the SEC West. I’d recommend checking out their College Football Playoff odds, even. But when it comes to this 38.5 number, I’ll trust New Mexico to stay inside the number when it’s all said and done. 

Best Bet: New Mexico +38.5

Texas Tech vs. Wyoming Spread Prediction 

Texas Tech has become an overhyped Big 12 darkhorse this offseason, and overhyped often means overvalued in the context of a gambling market. Because of that, I am predicting that Wyoming covers its 14-point spread as a home dog this Saturday.

Texas Tech is considered a real contender in this year’s Big 12 football rankings, partially because the Red Raiders bring back a load of talent and production. Those returners, though, don’t include a competent returning quarterback. Texas Tech won eight games in 2022 despite a revolving door of attempts at the position.

Craig Bohl’s Wyoming team brings back 10 starters on defense and will be a tough nut for Texas Tech’s offense to crack – especially at Laramie’s altitude. 

Wyoming as a full, two-touchdown home dog is a classic underdog college football betting spot. I’ve even bought a ticket for Wyoming to win outright at +400 on the moneyline. 

Best Bet: Wyoming +14

Old Dominion vs. Virginia Tech Spread Prediction 

Based in part on the recent results of this competitive series between in-state foes, I am predicting Old Dominion covers its 16.5-point spread against Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.

I’ve already written about this game a few times over the last several weeks, including in my College Football Week 1 lookahead from last month.

Narratively buffered by a successful regional football brand, a well-known Metallica theme, and a loud fan base, Virginia Tech has had its share of buyers this offseason. They jumped from 3.5 to 5.5 in the college football win totals market this offseason, eventually settling back in at five wins. Bettors have also popped this number out from VT -14 to VT -16.5.

The problem is that Virginia Tech was bad last year, and there isn’t much evidence that they’ll be dramatically better in 2023 – especially with the ACC canning its watery Coastal division. 

When it comes to ODU specifically, Virginia Tech has struggled to handle the Monarchs. The two have played three times in the last five years. The Hokies were favored in all three games; they lost two outright and won the third by 14 points.

It was perhaps not a huge coincidence, then, that this number opened at Virginia Tech -14. And while ODU is indeed bad, the Monarchs often keep it close with Tech by utilizing those same 757 recruits that the Hokies have built their team on for decades.

I don’t see another outright upset in the works, but ODU has consistently played Virginia Tech close since this series began a few years back. I don’t see Tech as in position to stomp bad teams by three scores.

Best Bet: Old Dominion +16.5

South Alabama vs. Tulane Spread Prediction 

South Alabama has immense returning talent from last year’s 10-win team, so I am predicting a +6.5 cover (and possibly an outright win) at Tulane this weekend.

South Alabama had never had a winning season in its 10-year history as an FBS team. Kane Wommack changed all that last year in his first season in Mobile, spurring the Jaguars to a great conference finish. There were near-misses against both Troy and UCLA. 

Tulane was a darling G5 program in 2022 under Willie Fritz, ultimately scoring a win over Caleb Williams and the vaunted USC offense. Thus, the Green Wave enter this season appropriately hyped, in the AP Top 25, and carrying the veneer of an established favorite.

But Tulane won 12 games in 2022, so there’s actually not much room to go anywhere but down. Quarterback Michael Pratt is back, as is a quality offensive line, but many of the skill contributors are gone. The 2023 team may lose a step from 2022, but it’s still being handicapped like it’s last year.

South Alabama is my pick to win in the Sun Belt championship odds market, and they’ll have a real shot to advance to a New Year’s Six bowl game. If it were next year, I’d consider picking them for the 12-team College Football Playoff.

I bought South Alabama at +7, and I’d still buy it at +6.5. I also bought a +210 moneyline ticket, as I feel they are the straight-up better team. 

Best Bet: South Alabama +6.5

Best College Football Parlay This Week

One NCAAF parlay to consider for Week 1 is:

  • Miami (FL) -800
  • Michigan State -650
  • Washington -700
  • Western Kentucky -450
  • Southern Methodist -1100

This five-leg parlay is priced at -103. 

Make sure to check out my 2Kparlay later this week. You might see some Gamecocks moneyline in there…

Want More College Football Analysis?

If you like this sort of content, I’d recommend checking out my podcast, The Lion’s Edge, which I host on behalf of our content team here at BetMGM.

Every week, I highlight odds and bets that I think are interesting or ripe for advantage bettors, like me. I also bring on expert guests from both inside and outside of the sportsbook, so you can learn a little bit more about key topics in online sports betting.

Check it out and subscribe on the podcast player of your choice. You can also listen to some of the most recent episodes in the podcast player below.

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About the Author

Chase Kiddy

Read More @chaseakiddy

Chase Kiddy is a writer for BetMGM and co-host of The Lion's Edge, an NFL and college football podcast available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and everywhere else. He has also written for a number of print and online outlets, including the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Washington Post, Daily News-Record, and HERO Sports. His first novel, Cave Paintings, is in development.

Chase Kiddy is a writer for BetMGM and co-host of The Lion's Edge, an NFL and college football podcast available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and everywhere else. He has also written for a number of print and online outlets, including the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Washington Post, Daily News-Record, and HERO Sports. His first novel, Cave Paintings, is in development.