Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:53 AM

Week 1 College Football Picks and Predictions

Week 1 of the 2020 College Football season has arrived and we've got something for everybody with four different wagers to follow.

College Football Week 1
Favorite Best Bet

  • Matchup: Arkansas State at Memphis
  • TV-Time: ESPN, 8:00 p.m. ET

Memphis 1st half – 10.5

As a general prognostication of this very small Saturday card to start this unique season, I would venture a guess that a few but not all of the big chalk will ultimately get there.

This summer has just been unlike anything else, and yet, all these numbers are heavily based on what teams did in what everyone would consider “regular” conditions.

That just hasn't been the case for any team and there is a good chance some of these early college football spreads look rather awful when we go back and look at them two months from now.

I'd also lean to suggesting that if that ends up being the case, it's more likely favorites are given too much respect and it feels like some of their backers will get burned on this first Saturday.

So if you are looking at favorites in general early this year, going the first half route may make more sense at times, simply because overvalued favorites tend to leave themselves overexposed to late backdoor ATS wins against.

You'd definitely consider Memphis to be one of those programs with the defense they bring out to the field every year, but you also know they can score, and score in a hurry on offense.

Laying -19/20 for the game does seem a little steep for a Tigers team that will definitely give up late scores in their prevent defense, something that's not really a concern for the opening 30 minutes on the path to building that lead.

An opening possession score, followed by just a single stop, and then another score , and all of a sudden has Memphis covering this number and needing to play break even football from then on out until the break.

No need to worry about them taking their foot off the gas on either side of the ball, and if Memphis puts up that score-stop-score sequence early enough in the game, there is still plenty of time to add even more breathing room to this play.

College Football Week 1
Underdog Best Bet

  • Matchup: Middle Tennessee at Army
  • TV-Time: CBSSN, 1:30 p.m. ET

Middle Tennessee +4

Outside of two season openers vs Fordham in the past five years, Army's put up an average of 18.66 points in their other three season openers, including just 14 points each of the past two years.

Not having as thorough of practices as the coaching staff would like in prep to stop Army's option attack does sting the Blue Raiders, but 18 or so points isn't going to be anywhere near enough to dispatch them in this game.

In fact, the lack of normal practice time may actually hurt an option offense like Army more simply because it's such a timing based thing that it takes a lot of work to get those mesh points on point. The fact that this football program has struggled to score as many points as they should in season openers plays into that idea, as it typically takes this team a few weeks of facing live rounds before the unit operates smoothly.

This number has already gotten some significant respect with an initial move down off the +4 open at some places, and in a game that's expected to be like a coin flip as one of the first out there with no fans, why not grab those extra points.

College Football Week 1
Over-Under Total Best Bet

  • Matchup: SMU at Texas State
  • TV-Time: ESPN, 4:30 p.m. ET

SMU/Texas State Over 69

Arguably a little late to the party on this 'over' play, but not nearly as late to the party as any SMU side money that comes in from here on out. But even liking SMU to begin with, I'm not even sure there is a better play then the 'over' for this game, at least in the current price range.

That's because in the two full seasons under Sonny Dykes, SMU as a favorite of -7 or more points is 8-1 O/U with an average points per game number of 81.77. They've failed to cover the number on the side in four of their last five tries, as they get installed as these big favorites and they seem to have little interest in playing defense. They trust their offense to be enough to get it done, and typically it is enough, for the outright win.

But these games are going over with ease when you let the 2018 Connecticut Huskies put 50 up on you, as well as last year's ECU Pirates scoring 51. The Mustangs beat this exact Texas State team 47-17 in Game #3 a year ago, and that was before everyone saw this was a team with 10-3 SU talent.

Should only be able to expect better production from this offense a year later, and I'm not sure the defense will treat this any different than past games as big favorites and simply show up when it's necessary. The 17 points they allowed to the Bobcats was a season low for SMU defensively, and I doubt that gets repeated either.

Texas State's has had a self-scouting film available to them all off-season to take both good and bad from, enough to where they'll do more then enough to pull their weight for this 'over' to ultimately get there.

College Football Week 1
Prop Best Bet

  • Matchup: Middle Tennessee at Army
  • TV-Time: CBSN, 1:30 p.m. ET

Under 27.5 points in the 1st Half

Part of the fade of Army is based around believing they'll have a hard time scoring and cashing in those long drives of their for full value, and if mesh point timing being off is also a concern, going 'under' in the 1st half of that game is completely connected to that train of thought.

Even with Army scoring TD's on a couple of really long drives, there may not even be enough possessions in the first 30 minutes to really threaten a four-TD half without at least one big play.

That's always a concern for teams defending the option early in the year, but I'll bank on the idea that it won't be too harmful as long as it only happens once.

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