For college football betting enthusiasts, we’re less than two weeks out from the start of the season. After a brief appetizer on Saturday, August 25, the real fun begins five days later as we move into the full slate of games in Week 1.
There are some blockbuster matchups to start the season, including a number of important non-conference tilts. Here are the five can’t-miss games to bet on in Week 1, with odds from William Hill.
This is the best conference game in Week 1, a high-pressure ACC showdown between the Hokies of the ACC Coastal Division and the Seminoles of the ACC Atlantic. The big story here is that Willie Taggart makes his FSU coaching debut after replacing national championship-winning coach Jimbo Fisher, who left for Texas A&M.
Taggart has a good, but “good” is not the normal standard at Florida State. Greatness is expected there. Therefore, this is might be a season which doesn’t fulfill Seminoles fans’ dreams. Both teams’ quarterback situations are sources of intrigue.
Both teams struggled on offense last year and only figure to improve. However, both defenses only return three starters. Don’t be surprised if this leads to a higher scoring affair than most are expecting on Labor Day.
The sense of uncertainty surrounding LSU football is hard to avoid. The Tigers have undergone a lot of changes on their coaching staff, and head coach Ed Orgeron – who took a very hands-on approach to last year’s team – seems to want a power running game and a simplified approach that emphasizes toughness and muscle.
That might not be the way to attack a Miami defense that was extremely successful at forcing turnovers last season. The Hurricanes passed around a “turnover chain” on the sidelines after each fumble recovery or interception. They made a habit out of taking the ball away from the opposition.
LSU’s offense will need to be precise and crisp in order to avoid giving Miami the handful of mistakes that could change the complexion of this game. Miami’s offense is not expected to do much against LSU’s defense, but LSU’s offense will face even more pressure when this game begins.
This game is in Atlanta, which will give Auburn a partisan crowd. It is a game that will be very attractive because it matches two veteran quarterbacks, Jake Browning of Washington and Jarrett Stidham of Auburn. More importantly, both teams have realistic aspirations of making the College Football Playoff.
Washington plays mostly a cupcake schedule, so it needs to show well here if it wants to make the national semifinals. On the other hand, Auburn has such a tough schedule that a Week 1 loss might sink them. With upcoming road trips to Mississippi State, Georgia and Alabama, the Tigers surely suffer more than one loss.
While Auburn has an excellent quarterback, Washington might have the best secondary in the country. Auburn also has a young offensive line, which could be the deciding factor. This is very possibly the biggest game of them all in Week 1, but look for Washington to cover and win outright.
This game will make national news because it will mark the head coaching debut of Jeremy Pruitt. The Tennessee coach used to be a defensive coordinator at multiple SEC schools – Georgia and Alabama – before making the jump to the big seat with the Vols.
Pruitt leads a Tennessee team that bottomed out last year in the final season under embattled coach Butch Jones. Tennessee does not have much of an offense but could be solid on defense.
West Virginia owns one big advantage in this game: It has a veteran quarterback with NFL-level talent. Will Grier is among the best quarterbacks in the nation, and NFL scouts will be salivating to get an early look at him.
If this contest were in Tennessee at Rocky Top, maybe the Vols could pull an upset. At a neutral site in Charlotte, look for West Virginia’s passing game to be the reason why they pull away.
The focal point in this game will be Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson, the transfer from Ole Miss who could be Michigan’s best quarterback in the Jim Harbaugh era. Michigan has struggled to get great quarterback play under Harbaugh, a central reason the Wolverines have failed to reach expectations under their very visible head coach.
If Patterson has a big year, that could all change, and his first big test comes in Notre Dame Stadium against the Fighting Irish, who were in the national championship hunt entering November last season but lost to Miami and Stanford to drop out of the College Football Playoff picture.
There’s finally a little heat under Harbaugh’s seat as he has to start delivering in these types of games. With Patterson under center and a terrific defense backing him up, look for Michigan to finally earn a signature win for Harbaugh.